So far, Inglewood has treated me quite nicely, but after a couple days down there I turned to Google for food suggestions. It is probably my least favorite way of finding new restaurants, as the top results are typically the restaurants with the best SEO instead of the best food. Nonetheless, I needed help for lunch and this led me to Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen, a stone’s throw from court and with promising reviews.
The place was pretty full when I arrived and I found most seats in the restaurant taken by a good mix of people. Quickly, my eyes spotted Dulan (yeah, he has a picture of himself on the menu) and then they spotted the fried chicken lunch special for $8.99. This came with two pieces of chicken, two sides and two cornbread muffins. To test both dark and white, I got a breast and a wing, then picked mac and cheese and mashed potatoes as my sides. In true soul food fashion, each of my orders were plucked out of buffet-style troughs and dropped into a sectional styrofoam box. I paid up and took my eatings outside to enjoy.
First, I took a dive into the mac and cheese. This was truly some of the cheesiest mac I have ever experienced and although I never thought I would say this, it was almost too cheesy. Yes, the parts where there was perfect balance between cheese and mac were delicious, but there really wasn’t much balance and I found myself trying to seek it out too much. I didn’t like putting so much effort into my mac, but truly I would rather complain about too much cheese than too much mac. Besides, the portion was pretty huge and while some cheese remained at the end, I was certainly full.
Next, I tried out the mashed potatoes. For some reason I just wanted those sides first. These guys were flooded with gravy and the gravy itself was quite tasty. The problem was that these mashed potatoes were in no need of extra liquids because they were nearly in liquid form themselves. Rather than a mash, these were essentially a puree of potatoes. A well-seasoned and salted puree, mind you, but there was little texture to fight against the gravy.
Then, of course, I tackled the fried chicken. For some reason, I consider this the ultimate test of a soul food place and Dulan’s did not fail. It didn’t exactly blow me away, either, but I was not disappointed. Both the breast and wing were tender, juicy and flavorful. That was the chicken at least. The batter, though, was pretty run-of-the-mill. This is not a bad thing necessarily, because consistency is good, but I wouldn’t make a special trip to Dulan’s for their fried chicken with the knowledge that I could get something just as good or better elsewhere.
The corn muffins, though, were a completely different story. I ate them as my dessert and what a dessert they were! Corn muffins and corn bread have a nasty habit of being dry and crumbling, but these guys were perfectly moist and expertly sweetened. And you know that whole issue people have with muffin bottoms being inferior to muffin tops? Not a problem at Dulan’s. Through and through, each bite was as good as the last and tasted like corn heaven.
So Dulan’s (while having a Hell of a deal for lunch) wasn’t exactly amazing. Here and there I saw some good room for improvement, but maybe I am the only one that feels that way. Since Dulan has been slinging soul food since 1975 and has a second Soul Food Kitchen (also in Inglewood), he is clearly doing a lot right. Or maybe everyone keeps going back for the corn muffins…I know I would.