Restaurant Review – Chili My Soul

I had been simmering, waiting to go to two restaurants, for many months. One was a long-established vegetarian restaurant in Canoga Park, “Follow Your Heart,” (at the corner of Topanga Blvd. and Sherman Way) and the other was the tantalizing “Chili My Soul,” which Chris Gibson had alerted me to some months before.

Today, Sylvia left me in the house alone, and went off to see her friends with my car. I put new tires on her car, and then thought that I might drive it for a longer test drive. Where to go? Chili My Soul is much closer to home than Follow My Heart, so off I went.

First, I called them to see if they were perhaps closed for Easter weekend. But no: AND they had a recording of what chilis were available that day (!) I was tremendously excited when I heard about the Curry Chicken Chili, which decided matters for me. I arrived, and found that the place had been expanded into an adjoining space since the L.A. Times had written their review. They now have at least 10 tables, plenty of space. It was uncrowded when I arrived at 5:30 or so on Saturday night.

They have quite a generous tasting policy, so I first tried the Curry Chicken Chili, rated 7 out of a possible 10 hotness. (“Crave the exotic? This mystical blend of Mid-Eastern and Indonesian curry and Western chiles gives a unique twist to this non-traditional spicy theme.”) Not too hot at all, and extremely delicious.

Next, I tasted the Gunslinger Chili, an 8 (“Onion-free Western style chili with lean ground beef, bacon bits, and baby pinto beans with a ‘take no prisoners’ bite. This thick chili stands up to the palate of the most discerning chili connoisseur.”) Not bad at all, but I opted for the Curry Chicken as my first choice. I had a cup, rather than a bowl, but they brought what I could only call a small bowl. Who knows how big a bowl bowl might be? For my three free toppings, I picked Parmesan Cheese, Cilantro, and Sour Cream. I also had a choice of bread, and picked cornbread. The meal came with several carrot and celery sticks, a tasty dip, and a slice of orange. Soon, all that had been wolfed down.

More, must have more.

I went back and sampled Fusion Pepper Beef (a 6: “Ground white, black, and Szechwan peppercorns are infused in a red chile broth to create an intensely unique chili with just the right heat to bolster its complex flavor.”) Flavorful, and full of peppy pepper taste. Then I tried Tecate (a 6: “Savor the flavor of malted barley from premium Mexican beer with a touch of cinnamon in this ‘South of the Border’ beef and bean chili with distinctive warmth and character.”) This was quite unusual: I felt that I could really taste the beer. It’s meant to be quite good with chocolate chips, and I’m going to try that next time I go, but I didn’t have that as my 2nd cup this time. I then sampled Espresso Black Bean (a 4: “Spicy and zesty, this all vegetarian ultra-low fat chili is enhanced by the unmistakable aroma of premium de-caff espresso and earthy-rich Jamaican black beans, garlic, and lime.”) I don’t think that my sample was really big enough, and I’m going to sample it again next time I go.

There were miniature Tootsie Rolls in a bowl on the counter, and I was liberally eating these “to cleanse my palate” or something, or perhaps “because I really like them.”

I settled on the Fusion Pepper Beef, on top of a Knockwurst (“Steamed all beef Kosher knockwurst on a soft French roll topped with your choice of CHILI MY SOUL® Gourmet Chili; melted cheddar and onions on request. A knife and fork affair with extra napkins”). I had it with Cheddar Cheese, Cilantro, and Onions. It was OK, but I think I would have preferred another cup of chili instead — the Knockwurst doesn’t come with the cornbread, carrots, celery, and orange, and I had enjoyed those. Plus, I like to be able to pick up a chili dog, and maybe I just expect the flavors to be more standard, and to not cost $10. So, I don’t think I’ll repeat the Knockwurst.

On the way out, I sampled the Demon chili (a 10+: “Six of the world’s hottest peppers set this fiery beef chili aflame. This is the one for the true ‘Chilihead’ who can never, ever get enough heat. Sample this flavor last. We’re warning you!”) Really, it wasn’t as hot as I was expecting. I’m sure that I could finish a bowl of it — I’m pretty sure.

I brought home a quart of Curry Chicken chili with sides for the troops.