I have been to the Southern Gourmasian food truck at least half a dozen times. Though, I have only gotten one thing: the eggs benedict. It is the perfect eggs benedict with a perfect egg and delicious hollandaise sauce every. single. time. So, you can’t blame me. However, it has taken me and my foodie friends entirely too long to try their restaurant, but we finally did. Here’s the breakdown with the help of my favorite sis in law and friend, Lori.
Amy: Just like most new restaurants opening downtown these days, this space is very modern and nice. With slightly dimmed lights, an open floor plan, and a variety of different seating options, it is a great space to have dinner. However, on a Friday night, we were shocked to be one of the few people there at 6:00. By the time we left, more people were starting to pour in, but I am surprised this place isn’t packed?
Lori: I was also surprised at the lack of customers on a Friday night. It’s a few blocks away from the river market, so maybe that has something to do with it? I would be curious to know how busy they are at lunch. I sure wish they would have been open when I worked downtown!
Lori: The menu isn’t huge, but everything seems really well thought out and delicious! The only thing I wish they would add is a cocktail menu. I feel like they could come up with some really unique flavor combinations that could compliment their menu perfectly.
Amy: Everything on the menu sounds delicious, so it is so hard trying to figure out which to choose. From great sounding salads, to burgers, to ramen, I have a LOT to try here.
Pork Belly Corndogs, $7
Amy: This was my favorite thing I ate here. Three of us split this, so we each got a small hot dog for our appetizer. The corn meal batter was sweet, though not crispy, which I would prefer. However, the melt-in-your-mouth pork belly on the inside more than made up for it. These dogs are good on their own, but the tangy mustard and pickled onion paired really nice with the richness of the pork. I will definitely get these again.
Lori: First of all, corndogs are some of my favorite fried food (besides fries, we’ll get to that) so I was all about trying these pork belly corndogs. Amy and I are total opposites when it comes to bread though. I’m probably in the minority, but I actually like slightly doughy bread. I know that sounds gross but I can’t help it! Although I do normally like crispy corndogs, these were soft and the juicy pork belly made the inside of the corndog a little mushy, which I really liked. The pickled onions were the perfect addition. I would definitely order them again!
Hand Cut Fries with Sambal Ketchup, $2.5
Lori: So, fries. I love fries and ketchup, and I’m really not that picky. I love hand cut fries and like Amy, McDonald’s fries are some of the best, I don’t care what anyone says! These fries were good, although not crispy, the delicious ketchup made up for it. I had enough self control not to lick the bowl, although I wanted to, SO GOOD!
Amy: Honestly, these are my least favorite type of fries. You know the type, hand cut with not much crispiness on the outside. But McDonald’s has my favorite fries, so my taste on fries is pretty low class. However, the ketchup was interesting. It is a Sambal ketchup, so I expected the typical “hot sauce” to make the ketchup spicy, but it was very sweet. I liked it!
Korean Fried Chicken with Jalapeno Cornbread and One Side, $9.5
Amy: Cristianna got this plate with a side of smoky braised greens. I tried the chicken and the cornbread. My perfect fried chicken has a thick, very crispy batter. This one did not. It hardly seemed fried at all, really. However, the flavor was good and it was pretty juicy.
The cornbread was tasty. It was full of jalapenos, so it was very spicy but also very smoky. The crust was nicely browned and crunchy, too.
Cristianna said the greens were very smoky, but needed salt.
Lori: The fried chicken was the most disappointing thing I tried. If your restaurant has the word “southern” in the name, you better have a scold on some fried chicken! The batter didn’t seem to fry well and didn’t crisp up or keep the chicken juicy. I hope they keep trying to perfect it because it should be a menu staple!
Spicy Chicken and Dumplings with shiitake mushrooms, onions, and black bean chile sauce, $8.5
Lori: i only tried a small bite of this dish, and was surprised how unique and tasty it was. The dumplings were way different than anything I’ve tried before. They were a little chewy and doughy, so you know I liked them! I don’t think i could eat a whole bowl of this, but I’m glad I tried it.
Amy: This was my dish. I have wanted to try this famous dish for a long time, and I had high expectations…which is usually a set up for failure. But these did not disappoint! And it was still unexpectedly unique. I imagined the chicken would be pulled, but it was cut into small cubes, which made for easy eating. And there was a ton of chicken! The rice cakes, or “dumplings”, were very strange because I’ve never had anything like them. They were very dense and chewy. I also loved the big slices of shiitakes. All of this came together with that delicious spicy sauce! It was full of flavor with the perfect kick! Some have said it is too spicy, but please! By the time I finished the bowl, my nose just barely started to run and nothing was hurting from the heat. There’s enough heat to feel it, but not to overpower the other flavors. I loved it!
I did think, compared to the other dishes, this was pretty small for being more expensive than most of the other items on the menu. But after I finished it off, I realized how filling it really was.
Balinese Chicken with cilantro honey vin, $7.5
Lori: This was my dish, and I’ll be honest, wasn’t feeling all that adventurous so I got something I had tried before. I LOVE their steamed buns, again love doughy bread…so of course I got the steamed buns?! I really wouldn’t even care what was inside steamed buns, because…steamed buns! The chicken was tender and the flavor is something you just don’t find at any other restaurant. I love how unique it is. I subbed the chips for fries, mostly for more of that ketchup. I also really enjoyed the fresh, crunchy, spicy mango sriracha slaw they put on the side, I just wish i had more of it!
Chicken Fried Cauliflower Steak with sauteed veggies and pear ginger relish, $8
Amy: Lindsay, the group vegetarian, got this dish. It was really big for only being $8. Surprisingly, the fried cauliflower looked more like fried chicken than Cristianna’s fried chicken. And it was delicious! The cauliflower had the seasonings of fried chicken, though definitely still tasted like cauliflower, in a good way. But the crunchy coating was delicious and really made the cauliflower shine. I wouldn’t think of having sauteed veggies and a pear ginger relish with fried chicken, but that’s why I don’t own my own restaurant. #nocreativity The veggies cooked perfectly so they still gave some bite and the pickled relish was sweet and complimented the fried cauliflower perfectly. I loved it!!!
Lori: I was so surprised at how crispy this cauliflower was, WAY crispier than the fried chicken?? If you put it side by side with the chicken, you would have thought this was the chicken. I don’t know what they do differently, but they should try to make the chicken just as crispy as the cauliflower, because that was amazing. The flavors all worked SO well together, I would have licked the plate. We all relatively kept our manners about ourselves though. 🙂
Lori: I will definitely be back! This place feels like a hidden gem, even though their food truck is at nearly every event in Little Rock. We are so lucky to have a place with such unique flavors right downtown for such reasonable prices! While we were eating we were daydreaming about what their brunch menu would look like…Lindsay’s brilliant idea: the fried cauliflower on top of waffles! I mean….can we please make this happen, Southern Gourmasian?!? I also would LOVE some dessert steamed buns! Oh and some interesting mimosas while you’re at it! Can’t wait to see what the future holds for their brick and mortar restaurant!
Amy: I gotta get back there soon! Everything I had was delicious and surprisingly affordable. However, there are about a dozen other things on the menu I need to try. The ramen is #1 on that list and I can’t wait!