Soul (Soul Cuisine with Aloha & Spice)
First of all let me make it clear that I don't know enough about soul food to fill a paragraph, let alone a page. Second, if you head over to Soul, be sure to bring your appetite, because the servings are generous. Finally a little background, Chef Sean Priester is former head chef at the Top of Waikiki, then opened a lunch-wagon (also named Soul?) His newest endeavor is this small eatery at the intersection of Waialae and St. Louis in Kaimuki (right next to The Fat Greek.)
A couple of people have mentioned it to me so I decided to walk over and give it a try, after all, it's only two blocks from home. I ordered the Fried Chicken and Chili plate. Two pieces (breasts) of fried chicken, a generous helping of beans, a hefty slab of cornbread, and sides of greens and slaw.
The chicken was definitely not KFC. This was real home made style fried chicken, served hot, moist, and crunchy. I don't know if the honey was put on after or as part of the batter, but the flavor was a nice balance to the mild but tasty herbs and spices in the batter. The vegetarian chili was more what I would call baked beans, very tasty, but not at all spicy. The cornbread was good, a little sweet for my taste but not overpoweringly so. The coleslaw has a little bit of cilantro in it. I'm not much of a cilantro fan, but there was just enough to give a bit of flavor, again it was not overpowering. It was nice and crisp and not swimming in mayo... i think they labeled it buttermilk coleslaw, but maybe I'm confusing that with the buttermilk fried chicken. Finally the one thing I know absolutely nothing about... greens. I can tell you that they were not bitter (which I've heard can be an issue with greens), in fact they really didn't have much flavor at all... except that generic "green" taste that you find in almost any green cooked leaf be it luau leaf, artichoke, or marungai leaf.
At $12 for a plate that probably could feed two people (yes I managed to eat it all by myself) it was a pretty good deal. The couple next to me were sharing a fried catfish plate and an order of macaroni and cheese. Either they were very hungry, or it was very good, and everyone I saw leave had a smile on their face. I will definitely have to do more research on this place. Well worth a two block walk.
Top of Waikiki
2270 Kalakaua Ave Ste 1800, Honolulu, HI 96815
I finally checked out Soul this weekend; on Friday for dinner and today for Sunday brunch. We were very pleased Friday night. No waiting, great prices, delicious food. We had the jambalaya with a side of corn bread and the rib plate. Didn't love the cilantro cole slaw, but otherwise the dishes were spot on, good soul food eats. We were especially pleased with the corn bread, which came out hot and had the topping melted into the bread. The collards were off-the-hook delicious. The jambalaya was PERFECTLY spiced; just enough heat to keep you going back for more. So we did! And we went back for more today, too.
Unfortunately our experience today wasn't as great. Got the fried chicken & sweet potato pancake, another jambalaya, more cornbread and the huevos rancheros. The pancake and huevos were yummy. However, the fried chicken didn't come out hot, leaving us with the impression that it had been reheated from the night before instead of freshly fried. The cornbread also came out cold, with the squiggle of honey on top instead of being melted into the bread. It tasted 'off', too; wasn't quite as moist, wasn't as flavorful--a real disappointment. The difference between the sweet tea on Friday and Sunday was noticeable, too, interestingly enough. Darker and sweeter on Sunday than it was on Friday.
It's nice that Chef Priester walks around serving, talking, helping out. Makes you know how dedicated he is to the success of the place. They have some kinks to work out as far as service and consistency, in my opinion. It'll definitely stay on the list for a nighttime meal, however, I have to say, as impressed as we were on Friday, I won't be returning for brunch.
I wish them luck! It's a nice change of pace.
Thanks for the review. I've heard from a number of people at work that the food there is good, especially his ribs and fried chicken. Is there space to eat there? It looks like a take out counter. Will definitely keep this place in mind when in the mood for some down home cooking.
you order at the counter, and they do a lot of take out, but you can also sit on the lanai if it is nice out, or they have a few tables inside (air conditioned.) This is about the 4th or 5th restaurant in this space in as many years, hopefully he does better than the last few.
ps: I've tried to add it to the honolulu restaurant list and put a link.... someday i might get it right
Hey! K-Man - I LOVE Love Love SOUL!! He also does "Soul Patrol" wagon at various locations around town that you can find out by following him on Twitter. Yesterday he continued his mission to feed the needy and had a special "Soul Patrol" in the morning. We have enjoyed his food since "TOW" and now with Soul & the Patrol. His crab cakes are just plain goodness of solid crabmeat, little filler and plenty flavor. The pulled pork sandwich sliders are awesome with the slaw. His collards are so light and flavorful I cannot master what he does to them! The cornbread is the ticket! Honey butter slathered on top giving a crunchy goodness to the crust. Have you had his chili? Awesome, Awesome! He's on to something and I am so happy for his success! I encourage everyone to try either the "Soul Patrol" wagon or his sit down restaurant.