This is how Rehan learned what goes into Caribbean meals, she said, though it was not until she moved to Texas in 1989 that she started to cook. Fifteen years later, Rehan and her husband, Azaad, opened Taste of the Islands in Plano.
The couple was inspired to do this by a message from President George W. Bush, Rehan said.
“He was encouraging people to open small businesses,” she said. “At that time ... there was nothing Caribbean [in Plano]. There [was] every other cuisine that you can find.”
In their 17 years of business, the Bacchuses have watched different menu items grow into favorites. The No. 1 item for years was jerk chicken because of its spicy kick, Rehan said; however, it has since been overshadowed by the stewed oxtail, which is often served with rice and vegetables. Other popular menu items include beef and chicken patties as well as fried plantains and curry rotis.
“People are telling me that the new vice president—she likes roti,” Rehan said. “Maybe she’ll send somebody my way.”
Taste of the Islands also keeps an entire wall of Caribbean groceries in stock for customers to buy, from chicken jerk seasoning to fruit juice. Rehan said she is toying with the idea of expanding the grocery to repurpose the restaurant’s two connected storefronts, which used to house comedy shows, dancing and birthday parties. The business expanded into those spaces gradually over the last 17 years, but they have remained empty since last March.
“I am optimistic that this year, ... at least by September, we should be OK,” Rehan said. “I’m giving it until September.”
For now, Rehan said she is grateful to her customers for helping the restaurant make it through the last year, she said. Regulars took on the task of bringing in extra rice, masks and hand sanitizer when there were limits on purchases and issues with food deliveries coming in from Miami, she said. Others would come in more often than usual to keep Taste of the Islands open, and they have continued to do so, Rehan said.
“[Customers] are the ones that [are] keeping me going all these years,” she said.
Taste of the Islands
909 W. Spring Creek Pkwy., Ste. 300, Plano
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.