This Soup Obsession is Real!

Columns Ono, You Know

January 18, 2015

Story By: Alana Folen |

A new year always is refreshing. It’s literally 365 blank pages where you can continue to write your own story. I consider myself an outgoing optimist, so when I was hit with laryngitis and a Darth Vader-like voice on the second day of 2015, my promising year seemed to be in shambles. Imagine a self-proclaimed chatterbox, who wants to start off the year with a fully charged battery, left with no voice. Oh, the misery.

OK, enough with the sob story. Thankfully, now I’m fully recovered, but looking back, one good thing that springs from a week of laryngitis is the fact that I indulged in all the soup I wanted. It was great! What’s even greater is that I haven’t stopped. My soup obsession is real, guys!

Let’s not even discuss canned soup. We’re talking rich, fresh, homemade soup with insane layers of flavor. By no means do I consider soup an appetizer — I mean, it could be, but in my mind, a good soup is its own main course; a bowl full of savoriness and multiple dimensions of spice, zest and tang, etc.

This week, still wanting to splurge on soup, I paid a visit to the following OYK eateries expecting to be floored by the best soup ever. No pressure. The chefs whipped up mind-blowing concoctions that met my every expectation and then some. Let’s just see how far this soup obsession takes me.


My quest for substantial soup begins at GRYLT, an establishment founded by husband-and-wife duo Allen and Mayu Farinas, that bases its principles on healthy, fresh cuisine. GRYLT originally opened in 2011 at Manoa Marketplace, followed by two other locations at Kahala Mall and Ala Moana Center. The menu is handcrafted with chef-inspired selections, which utilize locally sourced, farm-fresh ingredients specifically designed for those on the go. Most recently, GRYLT has spruced up its soup offerings. Priced at $4.45 bowl; $3.45 bowl with plate, sandwich or wrap; $2.95 cup; and $2.50 cup with plate, sandwich or wrap, the soup of the day reflects the chefs’ creativity, as they are given the liberty to play up the recipes, tweak them and perhaps come up with something entirely unique.

“The chefs make so many random soups. What we offer is based on whatever they feel like that day; sometimes it’s spicy, sometimes creamy, you never know,” says Allen.

On my recent visit, Chicken Curry was the featured soup of the day, and a pot of Tomato Basil was simmering in the kitchen as well.

“The soup that we decide to feature on any particular day is completely unplanned, so I can’t guarantee when a soup will come back on the menu,” explains Allen.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble upon Chicken Curry soup, then you’re in for a treat, if you can handle the heat. Frankly, it ranks as one of the best soups I’ve ever had. The detailed recipe is kept under lock and key, but the owner reveals that the contents do include curry powder, coconut milk, strips of all-natural chicken and, of course, a handful of secret spices.

What matters most is that the end result is amazing. Every spoonful bursts with legitimate flavor, each slurp more gratifying than the next. I enjoyed every last drop of this super ono soup. Trust me, it will leave your heart and stomach warm and cozy, your sinuses cleared, and you’ll probably stop by the next day to see what’s cooking.

GRYLT Kahala Mall
(with additional locations at Ala Moana Center and Manoa Marketplace)

Golden Palace Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Red and gold dragon pillars framing the restaurant’s exterior make Golden Palace Chinese Seafood Restaurant on North King Street a can’t-miss culinary attraction in the heart of Chinatown. Renowned for “the best dim sum prices in town” and its impeccable Chinese-style comfort food, this family-run establishment is a popular choice among islanders.

No newbie to Golden Palace, I knew I would be pleasantly surprised with its soup options — and this time around, I wanted to stray from the typical hot and sour soup and egg drop soup that are served at practically every Chinese restaurant. So, with that in mind, general manager Gary Lam served up gigantic bowls of Shredded Pork with Preserved Cabbage and Rice Noodle in Soup ($6.25) and Curry Shrimp Vermicelli Casserole ($9.95). The first of the two features a clear pork-based broth that boils over with strips of meat, thin noodles, shiitake mushrooms and fermented cabbage. According to Lam, the cabbage is aged for about a month, and the tang and spice derived from the aged cabbage add intensified flavor to the soup. However, the spiciness is minimal enough as not to discourage anyone who can’t take the heat from trying it. As for Curry Shrimp Vermicelli Casserole, you may not identify it as a soup at first, but Lam says that it is a rather soupy dish. Morsels of shrimp, shredded bell pepper, onion and rice noodles come together in a Chinese-style curry sauce, which Lam explains is much more tame when it comes to spice, but still boasts the alluring aroma that curry is known for. As an extra bonus, the vermicelli is cooked al dente and on point.

I’m very much impressed with the slurp-worthy soup selection at Golden Palace.

Golden Palace Seafood Restaurant
111 N. King St.

Kit n Kitchen

My soup obsession became even more apparent at Kit n Kitchen. This time I ventured out to the Pearl City location excited for what was to come. With two locales (University Avenue and Pearl City), Kit n Kitchen brings all the flavors of Asia, South America and Europe under one roof. Patrons will tell you that the food is delicious, but there’s more to it than that. Owner May Yiu also serves as executive chef of Kit n Kitchen. A culinary genius and artist, she tests the limits and breaks boundaries with her passion for flavor. Every dish on the menu packs a punch that will send your taste buds into overdrive, including French Style Creamy Mushroom Soup ($3.95). Unlike the average store-bought canned cream of mushroom soup that’s watered down, this version is homemade using fresh button mushrooms, carrots, onion and celery simmered in butter and whole milk until rich and creamy. With no preservatives or artificial flavorings, the soup speaks for itself, and each ingredient brings a unique component to the dish.

“The only added seasonings that we use are salt and pepper. The flavor almost entirely is from the vegetable stock simmering in the milk and butter,” explains Yiu.

For an additional $1.95, you have the option to upgrade your soup to include a puff pastry topping, which is baked a crisp, golden brown. Personally, I wouldn’t want to have my soup any other way. The puff pastry is the perfect complement to Kit n Kitchen’s French Style Creamy Mushroom Soup, as it’s great for dipping. You don’t want to let a drop of this liquid gold go to waste.

Kit n Kitchen
1029 Makolu St.

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