A Taste of Jam's Joy Bungalow
Jam is Jamilah Nixon-Mathis, of the former Forchetta Bastoni in Sebastopol, and here, she’s brought back her signature bold, beautiful flavors of Southeast Asia. Born and raised in Northern California, she spent her summers in Los Angeles learning to cook with her Mexican grandmother and Creole grandfather. Then, she moved Thailand, where she worked on a shrimp farm, learning to speak and cook Thai while she wrangled the seafood.
The result is the eccentric, mouthwatering recipes we savor today, such as the Sloppy Tacos of Massaman mild curry ground beef, makrut lime leaf, cabbage slaw, sriracha aioli and cotija cheese bundled in soft flour tortillas ($7).
After moving back to Northern California, Nixon-Mathis launched the popular Forchetta Bastoni, worked as a private chef, and then debuted Jam’s Joy food truck.
The look: A step up from the food truck, this tiny, take-out shack on the Sebastopol Square is a joy to behold, painted in bright yellow, rust-orange, teal and pink building yellow, with dining available at teal and pink chairs.
To eat: The menu changes daily, though you can bet that theirs is always banh mi ($11), rich with pate and barbecued meats in crusty French bread, crunched up with pickled carrot, cilantro, cucumber and jalapeno plus sriracha and mayo. You choose your protein, such as poached chicken, barbecued pork, fried tofu or five-spice brisket, and be sure to get a side of fish sauce for a little dip.
Why didn’t anyone think of a pho dip earlier? This is perfection, of five-spice brisket, spicy hoisin barbecue sauce, southeast Asian-accented chimichurri and charred white onions on a banh mi roll with a side of pho broth for dipping and slurping ($11). But first, start with lumpia, Filipino meat or veggie egg rolls dunked in plum or fish sauce ($8), then add in a salad. I go for the Nutty Nudes, starting with buckwheat soba on a chilly day, or glass noodles in warmer weather. It’s topped with spicy curried peanut sauce, cabbage, cucumbers, pickled shiitakes, fresh herbs, peanuts and crispy shallots ($9).
Jam’s is a great breakfast option, too. I’ll get up early anytime for this feast-worthy breakfast sammie of Chinese sausage, six minute egg, Thai shrimp chile jam and Havarti on brioche ($6); and khao mun gai rice porridge of poached chicken, crispy fried skins, rice, cucumber, broth, and a delectable sauce of fermented soybean paste, ginger, garlic, bird chile, vinegar and sweet soy ($7). Breakfast is served all day, actually.
To note: The menu is entirely flexible. You can turn a banh mi into a bowl, get any dish vegan or gluten free, add a six-minute egg, add any protein (even Spam), and swap out different breads including Hawaiian or milk buns.
Dessert: Fried bananas are sweetened with condensed milk.
To drink: There’s no alcohol, but you’ll be happy with sips like iced Thai tea ($4) and
coconut water ($3).
Details: 150 Weeks Way, Sebastopol, 707-843-9001, jamsjoybungalow.com.