Someone asked me what my spring break plans were. I said that I was going to Kingston. Oh, they replied, as in Kingston, Jamaica? I laughed at the response and informed them that no, actually, it was Kingston, New York. Clearly I was going to the wrong Kingston. While it is possible to fly to Jamaica, for now, I prefer to stay local and feel the Caribbean vibes at places like Kokomo, a restaurant in Williamsburg that serves elevated island food with a modern twist. I went recently for an early outdoor dining seating, and the island party vibe was well underway. The large patio for outdoor dining at Kokomo is outfitted with speakers at every table so that the island club beats drum directly into your ears. Kokomo makes it pretty clear that you’re here to party it up, not to wind it down. And what a way to drive that home with a spectacular cocktail menu. Coconut Negroni, Good Vibez, sign me up.
The atmosphere is fun but a little chaotic. There was a huge line to check in with the host at 5:00 pm, which is unusual to see. The earliest seating is usually the least busy time, so if they couldn’t handle that capacity, I could only imagine the chaos at 8:00. Despite the initial hiccup, though, the service was fine. Our server was prompt and efficient, and the food and drinks came out on time, not island time.
The food menu seems to have the alcohol content in mind. The portions are big and the food is hearty. There’s also generally a lot of pepper and heat in the flavors. Nothing is ever uncomfortably spicy, you just need to take a short break every now and then. The assortment of flatbreads will ease you into the meal, and the oxtail flatbread in particular is a good place to start. You might wonder what this tastes like? In many ways, it reminded me of the BBQ chicken pizza that I loved eating at Wolfgang Puck’s. There are so many things the two have in common–that sweet and savory sauce, the onions, the sprinkling of cilantro–it’s a winning combination in any restaurant.
Like the name indicates, the red peppa jerk chicken is a hot one, in all sorts of good ways. Eating this really gets the party started, like when the main act finally takes the stage at a concert, and you start to feel settled in your meal. The whole dish seems to reverberate through your body as you start breathing heavily to fan the heat and the island beats pulsate in the background. The Koko’s island pasta, on the other hand, is more of a slow roll, not an obvious showstopper. You twirl the pasta noodles around, not thinking too much about it, perhaps it reminds you of an alfredo pasta dish initially, and then suddenly you are sucked in by its addictiveness and cannot stop going in for seconds and thirds, subsumed by all the intoxicating cream. Soon the plate was empty, sadly indicating that the island stay was coming to an end. Spring break may be short, but a night out at Kokomo is always in season.
65 Kent Ave (at the corner of Kent and N 10th St)
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Reservations can be made here on Resy.