Recently, Young, our friend and co-owner of Phórale, recommended a soul food restaurant called The Comfort Zone, located inside of the Dragon Pearl restaurant in Burien. I had to repeat the location to confirm I heard it correctly…which still seemed odd even though our last hidden gem (Phorale) was located inside a convenient store in South Park. For a second, it didn’t make sense and just for that reason alone, it was right up my alley.
Note: Get your butt to Phorale if you haven’t been yet, these guys are getting busier and busier by the week. (https://goatfederation.com/2016/03/31/phorale-is-definitely-for-real/)
Anyway, I decided to check out Young’s recommendation and headed to The Comfort Zone on a Wednesday evening with a friend that trusts me when it comes to decisions involving food. We walked into the main entrance of the Dragon Pearl Restaurant and made an immediate left into the separate setup for The Comfort Zone.
We were greeted by some old-school R&B playing on the radio. There’s an old saying in Tennessee (I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee) that says, “If it doesn’t feel like 90’s R&B, I don’t want it”…I might have Bush-ified that a tad bit but these words couldn’t be any truer when it comes to my love for soul food. When I’m cooking at home, I find myself listening to 90’s R&B every-time, because it is a labor of love. You cannot have true soul food, without tasting the TLC that it was made with. The music was definitely a good first sign.
After receiving our order of fried gizzards, oxtail stew with rice and the shrimp and grits, the following 10 minutes was silence. Silence is a good thing in my book, when you’re eating. This means that you’re so immersed in your current experience that you completely block out reality for the moment and enjoy what’s in front of you. There’s also something about listening to baby making music while eating a plate of what I can best describe as ‘love’ that brings back nostalgia…not quite sure what of, but it just feels right and you know that you’re exactly where you were meant to be at that very moment.
The fried gizzards: fresh, well-seasoned and not oily, oxtails: fall off the bone tender, shrimp: fresh and juicy, grits: perfectly buttery and creamy. I’m pretty sure “Butta Love” by Next started playing during my first bite of the grits.
The 10 minutes of nostalgia would probably have lasted longer if not for, Talya, the owner of The Comfort Zone stopping by our table to assure that our dishes were prepared to our liking and asked if we had any feedback. Talya emphasized that she wanted to make sure that every guest felt like they were part of her family. We only had praise to offer and told her that we would be coming back, except with more people next time.
While finishing off my last morsel of oxtail, I finally understood what Brian McKnight’s “Back at one” had been about all of these years…his love for soul food.
Written by: Krishan Kumar