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UrbanBelly - get your dumpling on!

UrbanBelly - get your dumpling on!
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  • Post #31 - August 22nd, 2008, 7:22 am
    Post #31 - August 22nd, 2008, 7:22 am Post #31 - August 22nd, 2008, 7:22 am
    aschie30 wrote:
    germuska wrote:There was a brief wait (10 or 15 min?) before we could order and sit. The place was full of LTHers! I think Gary counted 11 or 12.


    Can I ask when it was that you encountered a wait? (I'm thinking of going there today and will be without car, so I'd like to avoid a wait, if possible.) Gary said that he was there for lunch, and there was no wait.


    We showed up at around 7 and there was no wait at all. By 7:15, there was a very short wait, and by 8:15, the place was half empty. I wouldn't worry about it. Then again, today is Friday, so if you go for dinner, who knows?
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #32 - August 22nd, 2008, 7:51 am
    Post #32 - August 22nd, 2008, 7:51 am Post #32 - August 22nd, 2008, 7:51 am
    eatchicago wrote:
    jaybo wrote:As far as the food, my experience was not as splendiferous as the ones posted above. It was good, and I'd go back, but it was nothing transcendent. I'd be happy to expound further, but I'm still kinda sleepy.


    So, we get two paragraphs about tipping and nothing about your dissenting opinion on the food?

    Cheapskate! ;)


    Alright, alright!

    We split three dishes: the pork and cilantro dumplings, the short rib and scallion rice, and the ramen.

    First, the dumplings. My friend chose the pork and cilantro; I would've preferred something a little more exotic like the lamb or the duck. The dumplings were good, but nothing spectacular, similar to a lot of gyoza, potstickers or man doo. The green beans that accompanied them, however, were outstanding. I'd order that again just for those beans.

    Next, the rice. The short rib is done teriyaki style. If you've ever eaten at Aloha Eats or someplace similar, you know what I mean. Again, good, but nothing spectacular. I had real problems with the rice. The flavors were too bold; they seemed to be fighting each other. The lime was too strong for my taste, and it didn't go well with the meat. I wouldn't be inclined to order this again. I'd much rather get a short rib plate at Aloha Eats with a scoop of white rice and a side of mac salad.

    Finally, the ramen. I have to mention that, along with the pork belly and mushrooms, the ramen featured a nice helping of hijiki. I LOVE HIJIKI!!! I commend them for using one of my favorite foods. However, the hijiki kind of got lost in the ramen. I would rather they find a way to incorporate hijiki into one of their rice dishes. The mushrooms and the broth were very good. I ordered this dish for the pork belly, but I thought it was just OK. I felt it was underdone. I prefer my pork belly to be on the crisp side, and it would have added a nice textural component.

    As for the ramen itself, again, nothing spectacular. To me, ramen is ramen, the poor man's noodles, the single man's staple. Nothing to get excited about, the exception being the fabulous and ridiculously overpriced kani ramen at Katsu. I think if this dish had tofu instead of ramen, I would have liked it better.

    To reitarate, I liked my meal overall and I'll go back, but there was no OMG factor that a lot of the previous posts conveyed. I like to find dishes that blow me away and make me order them every time, regardless of what else is on the menu. I didn't find that here, but I do look forward to sampling more of the menu. If those green beans were featured on their own, I'd order them every time.

    It may be a while before I go back, though. I spoke to Chef Kim at the counter, and he asked me how I heard of the place. I said, "Online at LTH Forum." If he reads this (and I'm sure he will), he's gonna know exactly who I am and since I charged my meal, he's gonna know my name! It's almost impossible for me to keep a low profile as it is.

    Please know I mean no disrespect and I hope you succeed! lol
  • Post #33 - August 22nd, 2008, 8:50 am
    Post #33 - August 22nd, 2008, 8:50 am Post #33 - August 22nd, 2008, 8:50 am
    aschie30 wrote:Can I ask when it was that you encountered a wait? (I'm thinking of going there today and will be without car, so I'd like to avoid a wait, if possible.) Gary said that he was there for lunch, and there was no wait.

    Ellen and I were at UrbanBelly last evening with Germuska and friend and there was a 15-minute wait at approximately 7:30. Service was exemplary, and not on a 3-days in sliding scale, and communal seating gave us an opportunity to chat with neighbors, who turned out to be LTHer Smellen and husband. As Joe mentioned, I recognized 11 or 12 LTHers, though pretty much everyone in the place had the interested foodie/fellow traveler look. The what do you mean, no egg fu yung? crowd is a few weeks and a 190 North or Red Eye review away.

    Ramen was teriffic with just a wee bit of chew, pho broth mildly spiced, unlike duck and pho dumplings which are very, possibly overly, fragrant with star anise/cinnamon/clove, fat pocketed pork belly seductive. Mussels in rich coconut broth approach smooth/rich/creamy overkill, mussels and somen perfectly cooked, but I would have liked a sliver or six of hot pepper for counterpoint.

    Second visit and I am still keen to go back.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #34 - August 22nd, 2008, 9:00 am
    Post #34 - August 22nd, 2008, 9:00 am Post #34 - August 22nd, 2008, 9:00 am
    Two of us ate there Tuesday evening. We got there around 8:00 and there was a healthy crowd with the seating about 75% full and I would guess the same proportion indulging in BYO. A really nice place, as previously mentioned the simple tables, seating, water service, etc are big winners for me. \

    The tipping was a little confusing for me as well since we paid by credit card upon arriving and I did not think to put a tip. After sitting a couple minutes and seeing how much the staff was interacting with the diners and having my water glass filled about 4 times I started worrying about not having any cash for the tip. Luckily the better half was prepared and we tipped about 15% which seemed fare. However, when stuffing my money in the box by the register it was obvious that most were not tipping much in cash and I would guess many other did not have the foresight to include much when paying by cc.

    More importantly.

    The chicken & mushroom and pork & cilantro dumplings, both fresh and good. The wife preferred the pork due to the very complimentary cilantro and the accompanying green beans which are reason enough to go back. I liked the chicken because the smaller size and thicker wrap lent to a better crisp and more complex texture. The mushrooms were notable.

    Mains we had the short rib and the Asian egg noodles.
    The short ribs were very pronounced as jaybo says. I found the the rice to my preference while the wife likes teriyaki more than me so we deconstructed this one for great results.
    The asian egg noodles was interesting but not a great dish for us. The eggplant, tofu, and sauce were great but the noodles seemed to be a little bit of dead weight. The noodles were served in little crispy pattyies and while they did have an interesting texture and served well to foil the softer tofu and Japanese eggplant The did little to enhance the flavor or even absorb the fantastic sauce. I would have preferred to eat this dish sans noodles.

    Everything was served had a quality and freshness that sets this place apart at this price point. I can't wait to try everything on the menu.

    My indifference to teriyaki and egg noodles aside it is hard to make a case aginst this place being wonderful.
    “Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive.”
    George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright (1856-1950)
  • Post #35 - August 22nd, 2008, 9:38 am
    Post #35 - August 22nd, 2008, 9:38 am Post #35 - August 22nd, 2008, 9:38 am
    In terms of tipping, I think you can regard this place like any other fast food place with a tip jar. If you are so inclined, put a tip in there. The self service aspect (and the fact that the owner herself is the waitstaff) say to me that tipping is not necessarily expected, just nice. Having said that, I tipped approx 20% when I visited.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #36 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:00 am
    Post #36 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:00 am Post #36 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:00 am
    Visited UrbanBelly last night (with a co-worker, not a husband, but no offense taken from G Wiv), and was quite pleased with our meal.

    We ordered two dumplings, one rice dish, the eggplant side and two noodle dishes (and I have some leftovers which will make for a nice lunch this weekend). Total was ~$55, and I think we tipped $10 cash in the jar. Service was great throughout the meal. My friend got us water & chopsticks, but they refilled our water continually throughout the meal & cleaned up during the meal as napkins accumulated from all the goodies.

    We arrived about 7 & got some of the last available seats, but people didn't seem to linger. As mentioned, G Wiv & party sat down next to us & I introduced myself. Don't attend many events, but love the food community here!

    Duck dumplings came out first & started off perfect. Then the squash which we really appreciated seeing such a different prep: steamed as opposed to fried, a bit more sublte flavor. Both really gave us a good appreciation for what is going on here.

    The rice dish was tasty, I was wishing I had better command of chopsticks to get all those tasty bits out of the serving bowls. Things come out and you are given small bowls you can use for sharing dishes. We had the egg noodles & rice cake noodle dishes, and both were tasty & I actually liked the chicken dish even though some have said it wasn't their fave.

    Lastly, the Chinese Eggplant w/thai basil was GREAT! I don't like eggplant all that much, but it was served cold and flavored so well, a really great counterpoint to the other items we ordered.

    Things come out fairly quick, even with a full restaurant, and you eat as you receive them (i.e. not all at once). Communual tables are fun IMO. This was first experienced at Busaba Thai in London & while it might not work for everyone or every situation, if you know going in, it shouldn't be a problem.

    I will be back, but I'm sure it will get busier. One last note, this is located in a somewhat Bermuda Triangle, north of the highway on California, and south of the dreaded 6-way intersection of Cali/Elston/Belmont, so driving over we hit a bit of a snag on California due to the bad timing of lights at the intersection.

    Cheers,
    Miss Ellen
  • Post #37 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:37 am
    Post #37 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:37 am Post #37 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:37 am
    REB wrote:It seemed like nearly half of the diners tonight were either LTHers or folks with LTHers. And, they were there for a good reason - - really tasty food.


    I'm going to say something that a lot of you are going to find objectionable, so steel yourselves.

    I was there with 9 folks from...Yelp. And two other folks who have nothing to do with Yelp or LTH.

    It turns out that of the fifty five thousand, three hundred twenty one Yelp Chicago people who are mostly there for the hooking up and the free booze, about 12 to 15 are in it for the grub.*

    And they enjoyed it too.

    *I admit, I fabricated these numbers for emphasis. Completely false. I'm sure there are more than 12-15 on Yelp Chicago who are in it for the food. Maybe 22?
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com
  • Post #38 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:43 am
    Post #38 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:43 am Post #38 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:43 am
    G Wiv wrote:The what do you mean, no egg fu yung? crowd is a few weeks and a 190 North or Red Eye review away.


    Do we need to throw in snide remarks about folks that are not part of the LTH "in" crowd?
  • Post #39 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:54 am
    Post #39 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:54 am Post #39 - August 22nd, 2008, 10:54 am
    Queijo wrote:I'm going to say something that a lot of you are going to find objectionable, so steel yourselves.

    I was there with 9 folks from...Yelp. And two other folks who have nothing to do with Yelp or LTH.

    Queijo,

    Why would we, meaning LTHers, find that objectionable? I am sure there are any number of people on Yelp who are "in it for the grub." The Yelp people would comprise part of what I meant by "pretty much everyone in the place had the interested foodie/fellow traveler look" along with the 11-12 LTHers I knew who were at UrbanBelly.

    It's a big world with lots of good things to eat no matter if you are an LTHer, Yelper, Chowhound, all, both or none of the above.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #40 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:06 am
    Post #40 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:06 am Post #40 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:06 am
    schenked wrote:
    G Wiv wrote:The what do you mean, no egg fu yung? crowd is a few weeks and a 190 North or Red Eye review away.


    Do we need to throw in snide remarks about folks that are not part of the LTH "in" crowd?

    Schenked,

    I meant to differentiate between fellow food centric people, be they LTHForum, Yelp, Chowhound or simply those who appreciate Julia Child, Calvin Trillin and M.F.K. Fisher, and the inevitable masses of people flocking to UrbanBelly once the less food centric media outlets declare it the Little Black Dress of the culinary moment.

    No LTH "in" crowd meant to be implied. Sorry if my post read that way, it was not my intention.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #41 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:19 am
    Post #41 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:19 am Post #41 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:19 am
    Queijo wrote:It turns out that of the fifty five thousand, three hundred twenty one Yelp Chicago people who are mostly there for the hooking up and the free booze, about 12 to 15 are in it for the grub.*


    Your ideas are intriguing me and I wish to subscribe to your newlsetter...

    Seriously! ::wanders off to look up Yelp for the first time::
    I used to think the brain was the most important part of the body. Then I realized who was telling me that.
  • Post #42 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:20 am
    Post #42 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:20 am Post #42 - August 22nd, 2008, 11:20 am
    G Wiv wrote:Why would we, meaning LTHers, find that objectionable?


    G Wiv:

    Since I have inadvertently taken us off topic, I'll message you a reply.

    No ill will intended, my apologies.

    Q
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com
  • Post #43 - August 22nd, 2008, 12:34 pm
    Post #43 - August 22nd, 2008, 12:34 pm Post #43 - August 22nd, 2008, 12:34 pm
    since I got us off topic, I'll get us back on...

    Did you know that last night marked the debut of Chef Bill Kim's very own house-made fish cakes? I'm a huge fish cake fan, I love the chewiness and the texture, so this was great news. They were all over the menu, but here's a picture of them in the Udon with Shrimp. They are the little tan nuggets:

    Image
    CONNOISSEUR, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
    -Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

    www.cakeandcommerce.com
  • Post #44 - August 22nd, 2008, 1:00 pm
    Post #44 - August 22nd, 2008, 1:00 pm Post #44 - August 22nd, 2008, 1:00 pm
    The fish cakes also made an appearance in the Rice Cake (chicken) dish that I posted about upthread. Personally, I think if that dish had been served with just the rice cakes, the fish cakes and that delicious sauce leaving out the chicken, I'd have been a very happy camper. Actually, I was a very happy camper but I would have been even more campy.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #45 - August 22nd, 2008, 6:44 pm
    Post #45 - August 22nd, 2008, 6:44 pm Post #45 - August 22nd, 2008, 6:44 pm
    Scanning the posts so far, I don't think it's been mentioned that there's a blogpost on the Chicago Huffington Post about UrbanBelly by Steve Dolinsky. The blurb on the main page under the link reads, "In what must surely be the best first-day opening of any restaurant in Chicago, Urban Belly has swung for the fences, and has hit it out of the park."

    (If this has already been posted, sorry for the redundancy. I haven't read this thread carefully, but came across the item and thought it might be of interest.)
  • Post #46 - August 22nd, 2008, 6:52 pm
    Post #46 - August 22nd, 2008, 6:52 pm Post #46 - August 22nd, 2008, 6:52 pm
    stevez wrote:The fish cakes also made an appearance in the Rice Cake (chicken) dish that I posted about upthread. Personally, I think if that dish had been served with just the rice cakes, the fish cakes and that delicious sauce leaving out the chicken, I'd have been a very happy camper. Actually, I was a very happy camper but I would have been even more campy.


    I really liked the fish cakes in the chicken dish, mostly texture, and very delicate in flavor. I also liked the chicken but I'm not totally anti-white meat and I liked the fried, crispy texture and juicy interior (and it was moist even though it was white meat). You can't let it sit in the sauce long, though.

    I liked Urban Belly a lot. It is pan-Asian comfort food, urban-style. I won't elaborate too much more on the food, as others have done so well upthread. I found the hip-ish, casual environment to be comfortable and welcoming. With its very reasonable pricing, it's obvious that they are going for repeat and frequent diners, and for the price, the food coming out of the kitchen is seriously prepared, well-balanced and delicious. It's not perfect, by any stretch, but for what it is, it does well. I don't think the prices can go much higher, though, or they will leave that niche. I don't live that far from there, so I know I'll be back.

    As for the "system" and any wait issues -- I went there for an early dinner at 5:15 and left by 6:15, and during that time there were probably six other diners, so there wasn't a wait issue at all. However, the system is very efficient and the food comes out pretty quickly, so I don't think there will ever be much lingering by diners, and turnover for seating will always be high, even during more crowded dinner periods.

    My only mild disappointment with the food was the pork belly and pineapple rice dish because I thought that Jazzfood described it upthread as being on par with the version at Michael's in the Miami Design District. It wasn't, but I see now that Jazzfood was referring to the eggplant, not the pork belly. Although I enjoyed Urban Belly's just fine, my mistaken expectations going in colored me adversely. (I was expecting the pork belly to be more prominent.)
  • Post #47 - August 23rd, 2008, 10:26 am
    Post #47 - August 23rd, 2008, 10:26 am Post #47 - August 23rd, 2008, 10:26 am
    Like nearly everyone else on LTH, I just couldn't resist the temptation of Urban Belly. I rounded up an adventurous eating co-worker and we headed over for dinner after work on Friday. We had six dishes for sampling and enjoyed it quite a bit.

    The lamb with brandy dumplings were my dining companion's favorite though I found myself a bit underwhelmed by the steamed preparation. I was more wowed by the duck with pho spicedumplings and the pork and cilantro dumplings. Like others, I really loved the texture of the dumpling wrappers in the pork and cilantro dumplings. IMO, the lamb dumplings could be more successful prepared pan friend as opposed to steamed. What's not to like about deep fried duck dumplings with an aggressively spiced dipping sauce? These were absolutely the highlight of our dumpling experience.

    We also sampled chicken with rice cake. I've always been a big fan of the rice cake dating back to many visits in which it was highlighted at Ed's Potsticker House. I found the whole dish to be a really interesting convergence of textures and flavors that all went well together, from the crispiness of the chicken to the subtle mildness of the fishcakes, and the creamy toothsome nature of the rice cake, I was far more enamored of this dish than many others.

    We also tried two fried rice dishes- I found the pork belly rice outstanding. The kitchen was careful not to over-flavor this rice so that the fattiness of the pork belly would claim a predominant place on the palate. The rice with spare ribs was more aggressively spiced and delicious. But, honestly, it would have been just as enjoyable without the two little spareribs that come on top of it. Perhaps, that dish was the one case of overkill that we saw last night.

    I'll definitely be back to Urban Belly. Our six dishes ran just under $60 with a nice tip for the very helpful and hardworking staff. BYOB is nice.
  • Post #48 - August 23rd, 2008, 12:14 pm
    Post #48 - August 23rd, 2008, 12:14 pm Post #48 - August 23rd, 2008, 12:14 pm
    cookiemonster and i had an early lunch at urbanbelly today (11:15). the only disappointments were that the rice cakes weren't ready yet, and neither one of us could taste even a hint of cilantro in the pork dumplings, though they were still flavorful. the surprise was that i left full, which i hadn't expected. everyone has their favorites, so i really have nothing to add about the food, other than it was delicious, with the cold eggplant being my favorite. one warning, the a/c is on the fritz. even at opening it was extremely hot in there. cookiemonster offered yvonne kim the name of the company who handles the a/c at her bakery. so hopefully, it'll be fixed soon. we left a small tip, which i feel is appropriate for the amount of service offered. ( actually i had to stop the server from whisking away bowls when there was still sauce in the bottom which we wanted to finish up.) a great addition to the neighborhood and the city. justjoan
  • Post #49 - August 26th, 2008, 7:30 pm
    Post #49 - August 26th, 2008, 7:30 pm Post #49 - August 26th, 2008, 7:30 pm
    I have to say that after reading the thread here, I was rather looking forward to my Saturday afternoon visit to UrbanBelly. My dining companion and I had the Lamb Dumplings, the Squash Dumplings, the UrbanBelly Ramen, Phat Rice, and a side of Kimchi. The lamb dumplings which started things out were awesome and after devouring those, I definitely had my expectations up for the rest of the meal. Unfortunately the Phat Rice was extremely greasy (and as a Southerner, I can honestly say that I love me some greasy food but this was too much) and the UrbanBelly Ramen was so-so (my dining companion really didn't like this, I thought it was fine but nothing special). The kimchi was really good, and a nice vinegary/spicy foil for the oily rice, and the squash dumplings were interesting (and gorgeous) but in the end I wouldn't order them again.

    In the end, I really like the service, the space is gorgeous, I like the format of the restaurant, and I think that the food (based on the hits of the evening - the lamb dumplings and the kimchi) has potential, but I won't be rushing back - especially at ~$45 (not including tip) for lunch.

    -Dan
  • Post #50 - August 27th, 2008, 5:16 am
    Post #50 - August 27th, 2008, 5:16 am Post #50 - August 27th, 2008, 5:16 am
    I had a late lunch at UB yesterday. At 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon, I was the only diner, sandwiched between the lunch and dinner rushes. I had a bowl of their Udon, which featured a delicious multi-dimensional broth, perfectly chewy noodles, a generous number of shrimp and fish balls and a couple kinds of exotic mushrooms. Although the $15 price tag was a bit of a surprise, I still felt it was well worth it for such a well balanced and tasty dish.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #51 - August 27th, 2008, 7:06 pm
    Post #51 - August 27th, 2008, 7:06 pm Post #51 - August 27th, 2008, 7:06 pm
    So the two halves of my belly are having an argument about Urban Belly.

    The Right Belly looks at dishes like these...

    Image

    lamb with brandy dumplings...

    Image

    shortribs with rice...

    Image

    Chinese eggplant with Thai basil...

    Image

    Porkbelly ramen... and admires the subtlety and cleanness of the flavors, the quality of the ingredients, the non-stinky pork, the crunch of the eggplant...

    And then the Left Belly says "$41! For four little bowls? Are you freakin' nuts?" (This was for two of us, by the way. So lunch would be a mere $20 or so if I was by myself.)

    I'm not quite sure where I, as a whole person, come out on this. Part of me admires the miles-beyond-Penny's, Korean-version-of-Avec ambition of this place, part of me thinks that people who came straight from Trotter have no freakin' clue what things in a little strip mall (which used to house one of the earliest places I posted about here, btw) on California ought to cost. On the other hand, they're just down the street from another guy who'd serve a combination like lamb and brandy, and he's doing land office business selling hot dogs for a lot more than the usual buck fifty, so who knows. I suppose the ultimate proof of where I come out on this will be whether (since it's close to home) I get into the habit of popping in there once a month, price be damned and quality be praised, or if I find myself just unable to say "Swimming-pool sized bowl of soup at Tank, $5, little teeny bowl at Urban Belly, $13, I'll take the $13 bowl please."

    And whether a whole lot of other people do, too.

    Two small comments. What's with the whole edamame? How are you supposed to eat those? And the spritzing of one end of the table with Windex while the other end is still eating is a seriously bad idea. At least get some froufy natural cleanser that smells like Meyer lemon or something.
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  • Post #52 - August 27th, 2008, 11:35 pm
    Post #52 - August 27th, 2008, 11:35 pm Post #52 - August 27th, 2008, 11:35 pm
    I just got back from UrbanBelly. I feel like I'm a little late coming to the table (no pun intended), since it's already been open for more than a week now. I won't comment on individual dishes, since most everything I had (three dumplings, short ribs with rice, and soba noodles) has already been commented on, and I don't have much to add, other than all were surprisingly good - among all dishes, there was an amazing depth of flavors, well balanced, unlike anything in recent memory. At about $50 (which includes tip), it wasn't cheap for counter service, but I've had many meals at much more highfaltuin' joints that cost a lot more and didn't begin to approach UrbanBelly's creativity and flavor combinations. Yes, they Windexed the other end of the table while we were there, but I just chalked that up to a bit of charming quirkiness. I'm sure I'll be back relatively soon.
  • Post #53 - August 28th, 2008, 12:31 am
    Post #53 - August 28th, 2008, 12:31 am Post #53 - August 28th, 2008, 12:31 am
    Urban Belly hit Dish yesterday, complete with a link to LTH (among others).
    I don't know what you think about dinner, but there must be a relation between the breakfast and the happiness. --Cemal Süreyya
  • Post #54 - August 28th, 2008, 8:53 am
    Post #54 - August 28th, 2008, 8:53 am Post #54 - August 28th, 2008, 8:53 am
    Would someone who has been to the ramen shop at Mitsuwa, the place at Marshall Field's, Tampopo, or ramen shops in LA or Japan for that matter (i.e., someone with some barometer for ramen) weigh in on the the relative merits of the ramen at Belly?
  • Post #55 - August 28th, 2008, 9:00 am
    Post #55 - August 28th, 2008, 9:00 am Post #55 - August 28th, 2008, 9:00 am
    Mike G wrote:And then the Left Belly says "$41! For four little bowls? Are you freakin' nuts?" (This was for two of us, by the way. So lunch would be a mere $20 or so if I was by myself.)


    And that's why I said, upthread, that their prices really can't go up any more than where they are now. I spent a similar amount for myself ($20), but I ended up with way more food than I would ever reasonably eat in one sitting, and I took leftovers which I had to schlep from Urban Belly all the way to the Belmont Blue Line stop. But I think you could order about $10-12 worth of food, and be full. For heartier eaters, though, it might not be a value at all if your sense of a lunch budget is around $10 or lower.
  • Post #56 - August 28th, 2008, 9:12 pm
    Post #56 - August 28th, 2008, 9:12 pm Post #56 - August 28th, 2008, 9:12 pm
    It reminds me of the problem I have at Hot Doug's, which is that 1 dog, of any sort, is not enough, and 2 is too much. The best thing is when I can go with someone else who agrees with me that trying lots of things, and ending up with three halves of three dogs each, is the ideal lunch.

    If I thought there was one bowl of anything that would do me for lunch, I'd be happy with a $13 lunch. I guess the ramen, which is not in a little bowl contrary to how my left stomach characterized things, would be that. Otherwise I'm looking at two small things, which surely must push $20 (and possibly be too much anyway).

    In reality, of course, this is just way too rational and quantified a way of looking at it, and I'll wind up there when I think, mmm, star-anise-y tasting ramen with nice pork in it, and not care what it costs.
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  • Post #57 - August 28th, 2008, 10:32 pm
    Post #57 - August 28th, 2008, 10:32 pm Post #57 - August 28th, 2008, 10:32 pm
    aschie30 wrote:But I think you could order about $10-12 worth of food, and be full. For heartier eaters, though, it might not be a value at all if your sense of a lunch budget is around $10 or lower.

    Wendy,

    Prices are the same lunch and dinner. One can view Urban Belly as a moderately expensive lunch or reasonably priced dinner. Solution, go for dinner. ;)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #58 - August 29th, 2008, 7:09 am
    Post #58 - August 29th, 2008, 7:09 am Post #58 - August 29th, 2008, 7:09 am
    I too thought Urban Belly was a bit expensive and the portions were a little small. Not that there's anything wrong with that - I'm all for a little portion control, but $7 for 4 pork dumplings and another 4$ for a side of kimchee? Don't get me wrong, the quality of the food was outstanding for a little neighborhood restaurant. But I'm looking for an inexpensive night out with friends at a casual place, this is not going to be my first choice. I'm sure I'll return many times (the short ribs with rice were really, REALLY good), just not as often as I would if it were less expensive. Again - not really a bad thing, just an observation.
  • Post #59 - August 29th, 2008, 10:34 am
    Post #59 - August 29th, 2008, 10:34 am Post #59 - August 29th, 2008, 10:34 am
    Had dinner at Urban Belly last night. It was a very good experience. My dining companion and I arrived at 7:30 pm., we were greeted at the door, by Yvonne (sp?) (Owner?), and directed to the counter. The place was pretty full but there were a couple of open seats. We ordered, paid and took our number display. We could not have stood there for longer then 2 minutes before Yvonne whisked us away to be seated. I don’t mind the communal seating at all. In fact, had the pleasant experience of running into an old friend from high school and a friend from law school. (Thought to myself…everyone’s coming here – the word is out!) The room itself could be a little more gussied up. Its really on the fence between fast food joint and sit down restaurant. I think the cost would be a little more palatable if it seemed like more time money and effort went into the design, appearance and function of the room.

    The food was as good as I expected and previously described. The two of us shared the lamb and brandy and the duck and pho dumplings and short rib fried rice. For an entree I ordered the Udon with shrimp and my companion the Soba with scallops. I have to say that the portions were larger then I expected based on the comments up thread. We did not finish our food! Ok there were no dumplings left, but there were endamame left and we did not finish either soup or the rice. Not enough to take home as a left over, but more then enough to make you full, and completely satiated.

    Overall the food was very good, very fresh and came out very fast. It was all pretty attractive looking too. Good color on the dark soba with the bright red chilli threads. I won’t repeat whet everyone has already said. However, I do have to mention that the duck dumplings were sprinkled with copious amounts of caraway and I did not care for it. (I simply brushed it off). I really enjoyed the Udon, especially the thick chewy noodles themselves. I did think the sweet chili lime broth was a little lacking in both chili and lime, But I likes me the spice, so I just added some. I found the short ribs a little tough, but very flavorful. The fried rice itself was excellent. Bursting with scallion and pork and egg. It tasted like it was grilled. Is that possible?

    Service was very friendly and efficient, but not as good as described above. Based on the suggestion up thread I left the tip on my credit card when I ordered. (I left 20%- wish I had left more like 10-15%) The wrong food was brought to us at a certain point, we hadn’t retrieved our own utensils when the first dumplings came out (it came moments after we opened the complicated stopper in the 3 Motes Golden Ale ----has any one seen that cork contraption? Very confusing) and the food runner brought one fork and one spoon for the both of us. It was strange. No one filled our water glasses, as motioned up thread. We were checked on twice, which was far from invasive. As we sat and enjoyed our beers plates were cleared away, which I didn’t expect, but they took them one at a time. (very annoying). At the end of the meal we were gifted with ginger candy. (nice touch)

    We had parked in the strip mall parking next to a cute single family house that is practically in the parking lot. When we approached my car we were greeted by a 200 pound dog sitting on the porch. I am no dog aficionado, but it was the kind of rescue dog you see in cartoons in the alps or some snowy mountain top with a small barrel of spirits tied to it collar. It was a beautiful animal and it barked loudly at us. The home owner came out and apologized for his dog. He asked if we had just eaten at urban belly. He asked what we thought. He seemed so excited. He said he had eaten there four times already! I think that exchange embodied just the kinda thing this restaurant is trying to accomplish.
  • Post #60 - August 29th, 2008, 1:48 pm
    Post #60 - August 29th, 2008, 1:48 pm Post #60 - August 29th, 2008, 1:48 pm
    My sister and I were at Urban Belly last night for dinner, too. What a great experience! Between the two of us we ordered three different dumplings, the short rib & scallion rice, and the rice cake soup. All delcious! We were fighting over the lamb & brandy dumplings and rice.

    This venture seems to be a real labor of love for Bill Kim and his wife Yvonne, so I hope they are greeted with continued success!

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