Two Chili My Soul notes ...
- PaulF Sep 14, 2006 04:19 PM
Not sure if this matters to anyone ...
Had lunch at Chili My Soul yesterday, it seems to be the halfway point between my office in Westwood and some friends who work in the Valley, so every couple of months we meet there for lunch.
Same food as always, the chili is good, the turkey patty was good (I had the soul size) ... it's a fine lunch, though sometimes I feel it's a little expensive for what you get, but not too much.
They have a sign that says Kobe Beef is coming. If anyone ever wondered what Kobe beef would taste like in chili, you won't have much longer to worry.
They also are featuring -- with a sign on the wall -- Mexican Coca Cola. It points out it's made with real sugar and tastes better. I drink diet, so I didn't have any. But I've noticed it mentioned in a couple of threads here and thought it was worth noting.
Final comment: There aren't that many places to get good chili in LA. Chili My Soul is on the short list, no matter who is writing it. And I think because it's good chili -- and they have about 20 different types a day that rotate -- the place is popular. But it is always chaos in there. It's as if they are one person short staffed every time I go. Once they only had one person in the whole place, the kitchen staffed walked out on the counterperson. Other times, it's just that weird system. It takes forever to order because everyone is sampling chili and then standing around trying to decide and the phone doesn't stop ringing and the person taking the orders keeps interrupting you while you are ordering to answer the phone and when your food is up it takes forever for someone to come around out of the kitchen or from behind the counter to bring you your food and the tables are never bussed because the place is so busy and there seems like there are only two people in there. I picked up yesterday and the countergirl (counterwoman? -- she was a girl to me, no offense meant) was the daughter of the owner because she kept referencing her dad and she was on the phone in the midst of everthing trying to get someone in to help her out ...
Anyways, Chili My Soul has good food and I go back all the time. But the chaotic way they run the place is sort of like a stage show, once you get used to it. OTOH, it seems like one more person on the lunch shift solves the whole situation ...
I guess that was three notes.
re: Kitchen Queen
If it was nearby for me, I'd do take-out.
The parking is really easy at CMS, so getting in and out is no problem. They really work hard to make a variety of good chilis. I prefer the spicier ones, but yesterday opted for a turkey chili that was milder because I was feeling desirous of being healthy.
I live and work on the Westside. I'm not coming over the hill just for takeout. But if you are close by, I'd say take out is the way to go and I think you'll enjoy the chili.
They've had that Kobe beef sign up for a while. Consistent with the comment about they way the place is run, they often advertise plans to add things to the menu and then take a very long time before they actually make the menu. When they added burgers, the "coming soon" signs were up for months and they even had a coupon offering a discount on the burger months before they actually began serving burgers. The same thing happened with the dinner entrees.
As for Kobe beef, are you sure they are planning doing Kobe chili as opposed to a Kobe burger? I don't understand how chili would work. Chili My Soul cooks the chili for several days to eliminate the fat. The reason to get Kobe beef is because it has a higher fat content and is more marbled than other beef. The result is more tender and flavorful meat. I'm not sure if that would translate to chili, where the beef is ground up and slow-cooked.
You could be right.
I just assumed it was Kobe Beef Chili.
Maybe it is Kobe Burgers to go with the Chili.
This is the kind of place where the owner should partner up with some really smart MBA type. That way, the owner can concentrate on really good chili and the other person could run the business side. I'm not one to encourage expansion, necessarily, I wouldn't want to risk the quality. But Chili My Soul seems like a ripe concept for more stores, if they could work out the kinks.
I hope no one takes my observations on the service as too much of a negative. This is a worthwhile restaurant, IMO. It's just a little nutty at lunchtime and you've got to get used to it.
There have been expansion discussions in the past, but I think Randy's health problems have been the major stumbling block. At one point, they were negotiating for a location at the La Reina complex in Sherman Oaks (a big mistake, imho) and for a location on the westside (Westwood, I believe). Randy also prizes himself on quality control, and I think has concerns about expanding too much.
I love the food, but I also go in off-hours and always get take-out. In fact, an order of CMS nachos for dinner is sounding really good right now.
You are so right about not taking the la reina property - wanna buy a restaurant?! Randy's health is the issue, and his daughter is trying to keep things going, and they need to relocate location #1 to a better spot than post office adjacent, yet he will not due to high rents everywhere.
A convenient, larger facility is what is needed, and have people come to him.
As an ex owner of a small business, I can truly say that these small indie restaurants run on thin margins due to high taxes, workman's comp insurance, liability insurance...hey the list goes on which is why they probably can't afford the MBA. I would do take-out and continue to support the establishment. Thank you for the review.
The chaos probably depends on when you go in there. I've been a few times, always in the late afternoon/early evening for take-out orders, with no problems and hardly any other customers in there with me.
I do agree that Kobe-STYLED beef in chili is a bit of a waste (I really doubt they throw in the $20/oz. stuff from Japan in there) -- considering that their long (40+ hours) cooking process tenderizes meat anyways, and they de-fat the chili (and Kobe-styled beef tends to be fattier) -- but hey, I'll give it a go when it's available, provided it's not overpriced.
I usually go to CMS during the off-hours (usually a take-out to eat @ home later, they save very well) so usually not much of a fuss for me. Their chili fries are unbelievably good though!!
I really don't think Kobe Beef would work with chili.
Its so tender, the long cooking time of chili would just
about reduce it to paste (or gravy!)
And, nobody wants to pay for kobe paste chili.
Chili My Soul is definitely one of my favorite comfort food restaurants. Although short staffed at times, I've always loved the service there. Once was in a rush and made it known that I didn't have much time. They accomodated me and brought food out faster than I thought they would.
In terms of food..
The burgers are quite good.
The fries are excellent.. especially with soul sauce.
My favorite way to eat my chili right now is wrapped in a lavash.
The mango habanero chicken is a must try when they have it.
If the chili isn't spicy enough, they can make it spicier.
With the spicier chilis adding dairy products (sour cream, cheese, chocolate chips) will lessen the spiciness. Definitely try chocolate chips as a topping if you like mexican mole.
All in all, chili my soul is a jewel in the valley.
I got my nachos tonight. Chicken royale chili over chips with cheddar cheese, light sour cream and salsa. Darn good.
I asked the woman behind the counter about the Kobe beef and was told it will be for a burger. I said it sounded a little odd for chili, and she laughed, saying she doubted they would be able to sell Kobe beef chili for $20 a bowl.
I don't necessarily equate using better-quality ingredients in an otherwise simple, plain, common dish to a waste. It's kind of like how better spirits would make better cocktails (even though some people would argue that it's a waste to not be drinking them straight-up or just on the rocks)
Now, Kobe beef IN the chili would be a waste since a lot of the Kobe-styled beef flavor is fat-derived and Randy's chili cooking process includes quite a few de-fatting stages.
Used to drive from the Westside up to the Valley frequently to hit Chili My Soul, but became less enthused after frequent price hikes, the elimination of the veggies with dipping sauce, and the constant tinkering with the place's menu and decor. It is good chili, however, and the flavors are creative, fun, and unique.