Southern Kitchen

by KimHo on August 4, 2010 · 12 comments under: Food,Restaurant,Travel



Southern Kitchen
1716 6th Ave
Tacoma, WA
Southern Kitchen on Urbanspoon

In yesterday’s post, I made reference to a wish to visit a Southern restaurant. Why? Well, in Vancouver, we make a lot of emphasis in multi-culturalism but, even then, there are cuisines missing. As a result, whenever I visit to the US, I try some of those cuisines missing here. While browsing through Urbanspoon for possible good eats, one of them was Southern Kitchen. But, alas, on night #2, I was a bit too late but made note of the time they would close (8:00 p.m.). The following day I made sure I would be there in a timely manner and, fortunately, I was able to make it… And a lot of time to sit and enjoy a meal.

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Yup, if you look closely, this is not a fancy restaurant but a dive. In fact, there were several posters of no other than Guy Fieri, the host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (whom, a lot of times, I can’t help but shake my head that everything is good. But I digress). Putting that aside, when I walked in, there were several tables occupied for couples and a family while the staff was quite occupied cleaning tables and taking take-out orders. I wasn’t acknowledged at all and eventually I was told to sit on any open table.

Despite the restaurant being a literal dive, they still have a website. Hey, Internet is for everybody! Because of that, I already knew what to order and didn’t even have to look at the menu. (OK, I actually did because I wanted to make sure the items I wanted were still there). However, once again, they were really busy and it took a while before they dropped by my table and take my order. Again, not complaining…

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Did I mention something about it being a dive? How about a mason jar as a glass? Normally I would drink the can of pop from the can but, in this case, it does not matter. I had to pour it in the mason jar just for kicks….

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Now, to the food: In my head, one of the signature Southern dishes is fried chicken so I knew I had to order it. Here, a two piece order and I had the chance to order three sides. So, let’s go to those sides first…

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Collard greens, in my mind, another stereotypical Southern cuisine side. In this case, these were soft but still with a slight crunch in it. Aside from a slight bitter vegetable taste, there wasn’t anything else in it. But, you know what? As a side, it worked fine to me. After all, it didn’t detract from the main component.

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Candied yam. These were really soft and crumbled when I put it in my mouth. While the name is candied yam and had some sweetness in it, it wasn’t extremely so (as in dessert type sweet). Now, it wasn’t a white sugar type sweet but it seemed to be a natural sweetness from the yam. I really liked it and it served to balance the taste of the other components (specially that bitterness from the collard greens).

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Mac-n-Cheese. If one side failed, it would have been this one Now, there wasn’t anything wrong (though some might consider it too simple as it was mostly cheddar-like taste); rather, I believe they could have done better. What happens is that it wasn’t creamy; instead, the cheese was starting to solidify. Could it be I took too long taking pictures? Still, I believe some will like it as is.

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Corn cake. Think a pancake made with cornmeal. Alas, the concept worked better than the execution, as it was bland and tasteless. Sure, I was given a jar of honey but… Nah, it didn’t work at all for me.

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Now, just because it comes with three sides does not mean I can’t order an additional side! In this case, I asked for a whole catfish. Yup, that’s a whole fish! Unfortunately, no head but, hey, not really complaining! Oddly, though, I was asked if I wanted tartar sauce…. Now, I ended up not going for it, though I wished they provided some lemon/lime. Fried stuff with a squirt of lemon/lime, heaven!

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

The fish itself was as expected, really flaky but, it also showed that it wasn’t necessarily fresh, as it had some slight taste in it. But, then again, I won’t complain: the sin might be if you fry really fresh fish – you might instead do steamed with some green onions and ginger plus garlic and soy sauce. The exterior is a layer of cornmeal which added a level of crispy, crunchy exterior. In the end, for what it is, it was actually quite good!

Southern Kitchen, Southern, cuisine, Tacoma, Washington, chicken, fried, catfish, mac, cheese, collard, green, yam, candied

Finally, back to the chicken. Now, the chicken wasn’t large pieces but similar to what you can find nowadays in the supermarket. Both pieces had a crunchy “crust” which provide an interesting contrast to the moist chicken, which actually surprised me. Sure, you might think KFC or Church’s but, no, please, do not make such comparison. Now, as for seasoning, that’s the part that I believe it felt a bit short, though I could easily taste some pepper. Could it have been better? Certainly but, still, for what it was, I think it is still quite good.

Despite the description might make you believe it wasn’t the best meal, in the end, it was quite good. Again, by no means it is fine dining but, for what it is, I liked it. Would I come back? I think I will but there were still other dives in Tacoma for me to visit!



{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sherman August 4, 2010 at 6:24 am

Food looks good. You ate all that? My word. Too bad we don’t get much of this type of food in GVRD. You’re right about the fish, why fry live fish? I love how ppl order sweet n sour fish. Hehe, it’s the fish that croak in the live tanks that end up as such.

2 KimHo August 4, 2010 at 6:41 pm

Sherman, did I eat all of it? C’mon, you should know better by now! :D

3 jlomein August 5, 2010 at 12:27 am

Next time you’re in Washington you should check out Alligator Soul in Everett. It’s my favourite southern restaurant by far. I think their best items are the crawfish etoufee, seafood jambalaya, and crawfish grits. I’m not a southern expert, but it sure beats every southern restaurant I’ve tried up here in BC.

4 LotusRapper August 5, 2010 at 3:34 am

“I love how ppl order sweet n sour fish. Hehe, it’s the fish that croak in the live tanks that end up as such.”

LOL :-D

To your point about not having much Southern food in GVRD, I’m guessing you’re excluding the likes of Memphis Blues, Dix (RIP), Migz, etc.

BUT, I remember about 10 years ago, there *was* a Southern joint in Marpole, on either Selkirk or Hudson near 72/73 Ave. Standard fare like fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread, chili, corn on cob, etc. Food wasn’t glamorous but downhome. They even had a buffet IIRC, and live blues/jazz on the weekend.

5 KimHo August 5, 2010 at 6:49 am

LR, oh, you know what I mean about Southern food! The ones you mentioned are mostly BBQ places (nothing wrong with that) but it would be similar to saying that Cantonese encompass all Chinese food!

jlomein, welcome! Isn’t that technically cajun or creole? But, I wil still give it a try next chance I have!

6 jlomein August 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Yeah Alligator Soul is cajun/creole, New Orleans style. It’s a fantastic place with nothing like it in BC.

The last good southern restaurant we had in Vancouver was Dadeo’s on Cambie, and it closed down when the Canada Line construction killed its business. Now we’re left with Ouisi Bistro (not terrible, but expensive), and Boonie’s Southern Soul in Langley.

7 KimHo August 5, 2010 at 10:21 pm

jlomein, regarding Dadeo, you should check my post scheduled for this Saturday! :D

8 Richard August 17, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Actually ate at this restaurant during the August long weekend. I knew it was visited in Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives and thought I would try it out if I got the chance. Totally agreed with your review. My wife and I split the four piece fried chicken. Our sides were mac and cheese, collard greens and fried okra, which was good. I thought the corn bread/pancake was good also and not bland like you mentioned. Maybe you had a bad batch. I also liked adding the honey for more sweetness. We also ordered fried green tomatoes as an appy, and yes, that was good as well.

Also will try and check out jlomein’s recommendation of Alligator Soul in Everett next time I go down to Seattle.

By the way, great blog KimHo! Man, you sure eat out a lot! Keep up the great work!

9 KimHo August 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Richard, thanks for your thoughts! I drove through Everett not long ago but couldn’t visit the restaurant suggested by jlomein but hopefully in my next trip!

10 Vanessa September 19, 2010 at 2:28 am

Next time your down our way visit Hillside Quickie (Quickie Too). You will experience some of the best food you have ever eaten, and believe it or not, it is all vegan. The Mac and Yease is to die for, the greens are delish, and the sandwiches….I can’t even begin to pick a favorite. Don’t let the fact that it is a vegan restaurant scare you off. I have taken so many of my meat loving friends here, and they all beg to go back. In Seattle they have a more upscale restaurant callled Plun Bistro but, Quickie remains my fav!

11 KimHo September 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Vanessa, welcome and thanks for your thoughts! I don’t have plans to go to Seattle anytime soon but, if I do, I will keep these in mind! ;)

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