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Natraliart is one of the nodes of Jamaican culture in Los Angeles, a high-ceilinged restaurant on a faded corner of Washington where the background reggae pounds out of Peavey speakers on the dining-room floor, the big television shows silent hip-hop videos when it isn't tuned to police chases, and half the dreads in the city drift in and out over the course of a lazy afternoon - for flagons of fresh-squeezed carrot-lemon juice, for to-go cartons of vegetarian food, or to buy tickets to any of the half-dozen concerts that the guys behind the counter happen to be selling at any one time. This is real Jamaican food, you understand, not the stuff you find on cruise ships or at Ocho Rios resorts, strong, direct, sometimes nastily spicy cooking without a mango or a spiny lobster in sight; no prime rib, no sweet sauces, no fresh flowers posed on the plate. This is a place of tough, curried goat, practically vibrating with the taste of ground cloves; of stewed oxtails zapped with spice; of starchy gongo bean soup thickened with ground legumes. There is a lot of strong seafood at Natraliart, oily slabs of fried kingfish, flakes of salt cod sauteed with vegetables, stew fish fried hard and then smothered down to a pleasant leathery chaw with a pile of vegetables and aromatics. On Fridays, you can get fried fish with bammy, a sort of bland cassava latke not entirely far removed from what are undoubtedly West African origins; on Saturdays, the fish comes with fried dumplings that are the size and shape of ping-pong balls but which seem to have a specific gravity somewhere south of lead. See full review.
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