The Lion’s Den Cafe has been in business for 10 years, but I only heard of it recently from other food bloggers. A Caribbean cafe with a preserved lion that also serves Okonomiyaki? I am definitely intrigued.
We stopped by the cafe for lunch. From the menu, you will learn the word “Japaribbean”. It means the fusion Japanese and Caribbean food, and therefore explains the existence of Okonomiyaki. The day I went, their daily special was Soul Food. They had cat fish, fried chicken and Jambalaya. I was more in a mood for curry, so I ordered the Curry Goat off the regular menu. My friend ordered the Jerk Chicken, also off the regular menu. I was really hungry that day, before my food arrived my table, I decided to also ordered the Jambalaya to share with my friend.
Food here looks really home made. My Curry Goat came with rice, and corn bread. The Curry Goat looked like there would be a lot of flavor, but it was actually pretty bland. There’s just wasn’t a lot of spices going on. I asked for spicy, but it wasn’t spicy at all. I’ve never had goat before, the meat was pretty tender, but there was more bones than I expected. I couldn’t really taste any goat flavor either. It also felt like the curry was microwaved, because some parts were really hot, and some parts were just lukewarm.
The Jerk Chicken on the other hand, had more flavors going on. It came with 3 chicken drum sticks. The meat was really tender, not dry. It was spicy, but the kind of spicy that builds up slowly. It was delicious.
We ordered the Jambalaya with sausage and shrimp. The Jambalaya here looked different that I am used to. It was probably because it was just sauce on top of rice, instead of everything mixed in together. The sauce was less stewy, it was rather more clear. It was tomatoey, and unlike the Jerk Chicken, you can taste the spiciness right away. And again, more flavorful than the Curry Goat. It was pretty good, but the shrimps didn’t have much flavor.
All 3 dishes came with a side of corn bread, which I liked a lot.
The restaurant had a great relaxing/hipster vibe. The owner had a great attitude, and was super friendly. He goes around to chat with everyone in the restaurant. He could tell if you are a first timer. And if you’re a first timer, he’ll tell you the story of The Lion’s Den Cafe, and will ask you to sign his guest book that he’s had since day one of his restaurant.
The food itself was OK, but the friendliness of the staff definitely added some bonus points to the dinning experience.
The Lion’s Den Cafe
651 E 15th Ave
Vancouver, BC V5T