LA’s Ackee Bamboo is bringing real Jamaican cuisine to Long Beach this fall.
Scheduled to open between late September and early October at 3222 E. Broadway, in the former home of Café Piccolo (which closed in 2020), owners Marlene Sinclair-Beckford, 59, and her husband Delory Beckford, 61, have no doubt that the community of Long Beach will embrace their cuisine for the quality of the food they offer, as they bring flavors of the Caribbean to the Bluff Park area.
“We bring with us a love for the community … and a lifetime of delicious recipes,” Sinclair-Beckford said in an email, explaining that they had requests from customers living in Long Beach to open a location here. “We saw that there weren’t many Jamaican or Caribbean options available there and decided it would be a great opportunity.”
The Jamaican-born couple arrived in the U.S. in the late 1970s, and in the early 2000s Marlene decided they should open a business because, for Sinclair-Beckford, owning her own restaurant and sharing authentic food from her culture with her community had always been a dream and passion of hers.
The first location opened in a small storefront in 2004, and in 2005 they moved to their Leimert Park location where Ackee Bamboo has become a staple of the community thanks to dishes like their famous jerk chicken, which they bake in their traditional jerk marinade keeping it moist, savory and full of spicy flavor.
“The recipes originally came from my mom,” Sinclair-Beckford said, although she admits she has incorporated her own ideas and ingredients. “[And] it’s [that] traditional Jamaican cuisine that I have continued throughout the years.”
The name Ackee Bamboo is a tribute to Jamaica. Bamboo, Sinclair-Beckford says, refers to the resilient strength of the Jamaican people, and Ackee is the national fruit of the island nation, as well as one of the main ingredients in the country’s national dish, Ackee & Saltfish ($21.95): chunks of dried codfish prepared with sautéed onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Another favorite at Ackee Bamboo are Oxtails ($26.95): Baked oxtails smothered in a savory blend of Jamaican herbs and spices, which Beckford describes as “spicy, savory, fall off the bone cuts of meat swimming in a mouthwatering broth.”
All dishes are accompanied by the classic Jamaican sides, rice and peas, savory steamed vegetables, sweet fried plantains, and sweet and crunchy festival bread, a mildly sweet fried fritter made from cornmeal and flour.
Sure to be an exciting new addition to the Long Beach food scene, keep an eye on the development as Ackee Bamboo moves into town by following them on Instagram: @ackeebamboo or visit their website: ackeebamboo.com.
Fun Food Fact
Sinclair-Beckford recently joked that the Ackee & Saltfish they serve is “to die for,” but there’s an extra layer of meaning to that boast, and it’s one of the reasons to try this dish. It’s a “bucket list” dish to check off for all true foodies.
If ackee fruit is unripe it is extremely toxic. So toxic in fact that it is illegal to export fresh ackee fruit out of Jamaica for fear that someone might die from ingesting fruit accidentally picked in its unripe state.
When unripe, the poisonous ackee fruit contains hypoglycin A, a protoxin (meaning it’s only toxic when chemically changed by digestion) that causes vomiting with profound hypoglycemia, drowsiness, muscular exhaustion, prostration, coma and death. However, when fully ripe and cooked it’s said to have a mild taste similar to hearts of palm, or scrambled eggs.