Kingston Kitchen is easily one of my favourite summer events to attend in Kingston. Since Jamaica Rum Festival made Montego Bay, Jamaica its new home for this year the Kingston scene was excited for the city’s only other summer food festival. After a two-year hiatus, Kingston Kitchen the Night Market returned to Hope Botanical Gardens celebrating 10 years of being a food lovers’ paradise.
Kingston Kitchen 2019 vs 2022
My first Kitchen Kitchen was the last staging before the pandemic hit. 2019 saw me exploring food in ways I never had before. It was an enriching experience. But now that I’ve attended my second Kingston Kitchen I can point out improvements. And there definitely were some improvements.
This year tickets were sold in tiers. Early bird tickets were being sold at Gustazos.com for $1500JMD. These were gone within a matter of days. I secured my tickets during the early bird sale. Then there were the VIP tickets which went for $4000JMD presold which granted patrons discounted drinks and meals at various vendors, VIP parking and an event keepsake upon entry. General tickets were $2000JMD presold and at the gate.
Like in previous years, general and early bird tickets provided entry into the venue and security. While VIP tickets had some added perks.
What were meal prices like? For the most part, the prices at the Kingston Night Market were on par with what was done in the past. On average, meal options cost $2000JMD or less. I found that meals priced at $1000JMD and above were filling. A budget of $5000JMD or less even two years later would have allowed you to sample at least 5 restaurants if you spent $1000 at each.
The seating was vastly improved. In 2019 seats were scarce but the event organizers seemed to have taken notes and made a great comeback. This year seats were far more abundant. While the seating was still not enough to completely accommodate all attendees (it’s not a sitting festival so I understand) it felt like you had a much better chance of at least finding a chair while you had your meal.
Lastly, there were more vendors. There were so many vendors to choose from. I made it my point of duty to try to capture a photo of each one but when I got halfway through I was very impressed. I don’t remember how many there were last time but it felt like a lot more for this staging and patrons were glad for it. With people queued up to their favourite food spots in long lines all around the crowd favourites were in attendance. you were bound to find a food vendor to meet your tastes.
What did I eat at Kingston Kitchen?
I started the evening off with an appetizer. A small chicken soup from Soup King was the perfect starter and didn’t disappoint. After getting all my photos of the vendors in I decided to cool down with a drink from Cafe Dolce. This time I ordered a fun-sounding drink that I had no idea would be served as a fancy Starbucks frappe. Unfortunately, the whipped cream and caramel swirls couldn’t save this drink from my dissatisfaction. My husband and I quickly swapped drinks. He enjoyed my drink more than I did and I liked his more than mine so it was a fair trade.
After swapping drinks and making my third round of the venue I had my heart set on trying the Korean Shrimp Fried Rice from Pink Apron. By this time, the line had grown long and when it was my turn to order the item I wanted had run out. Instead, I had the pork tacos, which were delicious. With the nachos down it was time for new drinks. This time I opted for something light and refreshing. Coconut water! It was getting pretty late and I was still peckish but I couldn’t decide on what I wanted. So before I called it a night I ordered a fruit popsicle to go.
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