Urban Belly

After many recommendations by several people to visit Urban Belly, I finally made it [to Chicago, in general]. Yes, this is also in a “strip mall”, but it’s in the city, so it’s cooler. They also covered up the storefront with a trendy facade, which I should’ve gotten a picture of, and a make-shift breeze-way. The flow of the restaurant is like the deli. It’s not full table service. You order at the counter after getting a table, and the food is delivered out to your table, labeled with a number. You do have a “waitress” that checks in with you and gets anything you may need.

We met up with the lovely Adrienne, and ordered half the menu. No, I’m not joking, half the menu. They should’ve paid US since everyone else in line after us kept asking what we ordered.

lamb and brandy dumplings with edamame:

The thinner skin of the wrapper is more like a gyoza than a potsticker, which would make sense considering the edamame garnishings…

duck and pho spice dumpings:

I liked these better only because as a personal preference, duck>lamb. Also, you can fry anything and it’ll taste good. More of a wonton shaped dumplings. Wish there were more of these!

pork belly rice bowl with pineapple:

I couldn’t stop eating this rice bowl. The flavors worked really well together, and is apparently more Vietnamese, hence the pineapple, and fried shallot toppings. The pork belly was a little drier than I was hoping for, but they were also diced into small pieces- not all pieces had a layer of juicy fat.

Udon with shrimp, coriander, and sweet chili lime broth:

Fat udon noodles with the best fried fish cakes I can remember eating. They didn’t taste processed or previously frozen. I could be wrong though. They didn’t seem to make much in-house with a tiny kitchen, and storage in the attic via a ladder.

urban belly ramen: pork belly, shiitake, pho broth:

I labeled this as fusion in the sense that it lacks an identity. american cooked fatty pork belly, japanese style shiitake mushrooms, and viet pho broth. It looked great when it came out, but the broth quickly turned gray (fine, just looked unappetizing), and the noodles melted into a ball of mush.  Ji Hye thinks they switched noodle producers since they don’t make them in-house, but they had the same consistency as instant noodles.  We only got a few slices of pork, and after those were consumed, we didn’t make as big of a dent in this bowl than the rest of the dishes. Definitely edible, just … not on the Momofuku level. The pork had great flavor, and the consistency of the meat stayed together long enough to get it in your mouth in one piece, then melted away like pork belly should.

note: I got lazy passing dishes around to photograph, and did this one from where I was sitting because I wanted to start EATING.

rice cake: chicken, mango, korean chili sauce

Rice Cakes (white discs underneath), mango slices, chicken katsu, Korean chili sauce… which was more like a soup;  so we were a little confused when it showed up.  The rice cakes were fantastic, the mango was a little odd, but worked with the chili sauce, and the chicken katsu just seemed out of place. Not only did it seem odd, but it got soggy quickly and ruined the otherwise lightly breaded fried quality to a good katsu. Maybe a tempura batter would’ve held up better in this sauce/soup.

Another trendy quality that I love about this place is that it’s BYOB like many

BYOB wine courtesy of Adrienne:

places I’ve seen in Chicago/NYC. I wish A2 would adopt some sort of BYOB law.

Snapshots of Urban Belly:

specials chalkboard wall

the lovely Adrienne

order counter

eaters sharing a table with us


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