Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Chef Marilyn's Soul Food Express 99c Only" 20th Anniversary - Video

The "original" 99 cent chef is Chef Marilyn of Soul Food Express. This 99 Cent Chef first discovered her "99 cents & up" take-out one weekend driving down Crenshaw Blvd., and noticing a long line of customers dressed in their after-church Sunday best. Seeing the "99 cents & up" price sign, I made a mental note to return soon.

My first visit did not disappoint - while the queue was long, the crowd was jovial with anticipation, as the aroma of slow-cooking Southern cuisine wafted down the line. Upon entering, all you see is a steaming foggy glassed row of metal trays brimming with an incredibly tasty looking selection of comfort soul food.

You order and watch the cafeteria-style servers heap your large servings in to-go containers. The wait seems forever because you are surrounded by delicious sights and sumptuous smells, and you want your food now!

For your viewing pleasure, while waiting, be sure to check out Chef Marilyn's ex-Laker Girl "Foxy Brown" era poses; her celebrity shots with "Magic" Johnson, Stevie Wonder and Chaka Kahn; and a cool President Obama calendar. It is almost impossible to take it all in the first time you visit.

Now that the Chef and his significant other have been there over a dozen times, I have a few 99 cent favorites to recommend: spicy red pepper flaked beef hot links covered in a tangy/ sweet barbecue sauce, slow-cooked black-eyed peas, and tender steamed spinach.

The Chef's wife orders the non-99-cent entrees: a huge fillet of seasoned baked catfish, creamy mac and cheese, and candied yams. Back home at the dining room table, good luck finishing three huge portions in one sitting.

This is a great bargain-priced soul food restaurant I have been reluctant to divulge; but it is time to share with my audience, now that Marilyn's Soul Food Express 99c & Up is celebrating 20 years.

Single servings of fried chicken, baked salmon, and catfish, oxtail smothered in gravy, meatloaf, mac and cheese, collard greens, cabbage - I could go on and on - everything on their menu is 99 cents this 6th, 7th and 8th of March, and they're dishing it out from 6 am to midnight at their Crenshaw Blvd. location only; their sister restaurant on Pico Blvd. is carrying the regular 99 cents and up menu.

It is going to be a crazy crowded 3 days, so come early and order your dinner during breakfast - this type of food heats up perfectly in the microwave any time of day. We are lucky here in L.A.; it seems every month brings a classic eatery anniversary. I was especially lucky to live 5 minutes away from Marilyn's Soul Food Express; look for me as I will be in line several times this coming 20th anniversary weekend!

I had the pleasure of interviewing the charismatic Chef Marilyn on camera. Watch the video and find out how she came up with the 99 cent soul food concept; hint - think egg rolls. She also shares, in a 99 Cent Chef video exclusive, all the "extra" off-menu dishes she has in store for anniversary celebrants. This video takes you into the heart and soul of Chef Marilyn's unique temple to budget Southern and Creole gastronomy.
*Update: I showed up at 6:30 AM this morning (Friday) with only 5 people in line. They have a sushi-style checklist menu to speed things up, so bring a pencil; oxtail was not on the checklist but was being served. I recommend asking someone to save your place in line and go see what is out. Off menu items are promised - I will be back. There is a $20 order limit. Oh, and smothered oxtail with mac & cheese for breakfast is not bad! 
Soul Food Express 20th Anniversary - Video

Play it here. The video runs 6 minutes, 31 seconds.

A special 99 thanks to the crew at Soul Food Express for allowing the Chef to hang out last Sunday, and another big thanks to all the cool customers kind enough to chat on camera. Welcome to my neighborhood, and view the video to see how Chef Marilyn and The 99 Cent Chef roll South of the 10 Freeway!

Restaurant Locations:
2638 Crenshaw Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016 phone: 323) 737-8101
5068 W. Pico Blvd. Los Angeles, Ca 90019 phone: 323) 931-3879
* please note that the Crenshaw Blvd. address is where "everything" is 99 cents!
Click here to see the Soul Food Express website with a menu and map.

Soul Food Express caters, too!

Go here to embed or view video at youtube.


Pasadena Adjacent said...

dang. I was hoping this would be a daily thing. I've never had sole food.


99 Cent Chef said...

Hi Palm Axis, Chef Marilyn serves select 99 cent dishes every day!

Unknown said...

Your blog is so funny. I buy lots of food & produce at the 99 cent stores we have in Florida. I'm a bean guru and know dry bean cooking better than 99% of the women

Great honking soul music on your videos

I'm going to you tube to learn your fish and chips recipe. Thawed out frozen fish is fine for that

Take care!

99 Cent Chef said...

Welcome to my blog veraj! Dried beans are the best budget ingredient. Do you have a fave recipe to share?

Unknown said...

Hey Billy
I saw your cassoulet recipe

My best advice is

==be sure to soak your beans 12-24 hours

--- Shop for beans where they turnover. Old beans will come out hard. You want soft, melt in your mouth

-- I cook them in the soaking water
-add salt only at the end
-- ground up black pepper goes well with cooking many beans
-- cayenne too
--- tomato sauce with some but add that at the end
-- for split peas try adding some frozen peas at the end to jazz them up
-- cooked and drained bacon is good in many beans. Same for ham
--- a pressure cooker is useful for beans
-- I've never cooked beans with a ham hock but it sounds like a great idea

--beans need lots of salt to bring out the flavor. Salt goes in at the end when beans are soft

--- My best advice is plan ahead and soak them

oddlyme said...

Thank you Billy!

I would have never known about this event, if it wasn't for you. My hubby and I went today (Saturday) am and got in just before a crowd.

Our first time there and all the folks working were so nice and patient. All the food was good (I should have gotten TWO orders of the mac and cheese, so I could have more tomorrow) but the killer? Her peach cobbler. I don't know what she does to the crust but it is DIVINE.

Thanks agian for giving us the heads up on such a cheap and tasty adventure!

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