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UrbanBelly - get your dumpling on!

UrbanBelly - get your dumpling on!
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  • Post #91 - May 14th, 2009, 11:00 am
    Post #91 - May 14th, 2009, 11:00 am Post #91 - May 14th, 2009, 11:00 am
    Being the type of man who has always struck while the iron is hot, I decided to venture over to one Urban Belly to indulge in all things potsticker and noodle. Being what is possibly the biggest dumpling afficiando in the greater Chicago-land area, I Do It Daily, can safely say Urban Belly passes with flying colors. I had the Lamb and Brandy dumplings along with the Pork Belly Ramen. The missus had the pork and cilantro dumplings with the noodle special, which due to a dough-induced coma, I can only remember included cocunut milk, bay scallops, green onion and some sort of little soy/wheat brain. One beef (pun intended) I had with the experience was the communal dining. Now I Do It Daily has never had a problem striking up conversation with random strangers, but.........the youngsters next to us seemed a little too self-involved for my liking. The lack of a back support on the seats also troubled my special lady, as her posture is less than stellar. All in all though, it was a memorable dining experience which I will remember fondly when I move on to the next purveyor of dough-encased delicacies.

    Bathrooms were acceptable.

    One additional note, the Intrepid was giving me some trouble on the way home. It sounds like popcorn is being prepared in my dashboard?!?!?!? Anyone know a reliable mechanic?
    Colombian women are skalleywags.
  • Post #92 - May 14th, 2009, 11:46 am
    Post #92 - May 14th, 2009, 11:46 am Post #92 - May 14th, 2009, 11:46 am
    Are you still "I Do It Daily" when you switch out of the 3rd person?
  • Post #93 - May 14th, 2009, 12:25 pm
    Post #93 - May 14th, 2009, 12:25 pm Post #93 - May 14th, 2009, 12:25 pm
    Are you still "I Do It Daily" when you switch out of the 3rd person?



    Who else would I be?
    Colombian women are skalleywags.
  • Post #94 - May 14th, 2009, 12:38 pm
    Post #94 - May 14th, 2009, 12:38 pm Post #94 - May 14th, 2009, 12:38 pm
    JeffB wrote:Are you still "I Do It Daily" when you switch out of the 3rd person?

    Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's just a pronoun/tense mix-up, but there is always the slight possibility that "I Do It Daily" is a third-party dining companion.

    I did get a chuckle out of this part:

    I Do It Daily wrote:Now I Do It Daily has never had a problem striking up conversation with random strangers, but.........the youngsters next to us seemed a little too self-involved for my liking.

    I'm picturing someone sitting down next to a couple who is deep in conversation, and tapping one of them on the shoulder & shouting "HOW 'BOUT THEM BLACKHAWKS? CAN YOU PASS THE SALT? WHATCHA TALKIN' 'BOUT OVER THERE? OHHHH RELATIONSHIP PROBLEMS, EH? WELL LEMME TELL YA SOMETHING 'BOUT RELATIONSHIPS...." Then upon getting little or no response from the couple, turning to his dining companion and quietly saying, "SHEESH, I TELL YA, KIDS THESE DAYS ARE SO SELF-INVOLVED."
  • Post #95 - May 14th, 2009, 1:46 pm
    Post #95 - May 14th, 2009, 1:46 pm Post #95 - May 14th, 2009, 1:46 pm
    JeffB wrote:Are you still "I Do It Daily" when you switch out of the 3rd person?

    I have to admit that as I read the review, I did find myself saying "Jimmy likes dumplings" in my head.

    -Dan
    --
    Effete and self-important snooty-pants dilettante.
    @dschleifer
  • Post #96 - May 14th, 2009, 5:00 pm
    Post #96 - May 14th, 2009, 5:00 pm Post #96 - May 14th, 2009, 5:00 pm
    I wonder what a conversation between I Do It Daily and NAV MAN would be like.

    (this is meant with all affection and welcome to both of you)
  • Post #97 - June 2nd, 2009, 2:01 pm
    Post #97 - June 2nd, 2009, 2:01 pm Post #97 - June 2nd, 2009, 2:01 pm
    My first trip to Urban Belly today for lunch with a co-worker. I had the pork-cilantro dumplings, scallop udon and a side of the kimchee. The last one came first, very fresh, not like the usual kimchee, some radish, green bean, zucchini along with the cabbage. Not very spicy but good flavor. Dumplings were terrific, flavorfull and tender. Udon was good, great scallop and mushroom flavor, I found the noodles OK but not great. I agree with the sentiment, it's fairly expensive, $27 for dumplings, udon and kimchee. Probably not be in heavy rotation. You could do a lunch of a couple of dumpling orders but even that would be circa $15. Nice space, I enjoyed it.
    trpt2345
  • Post #98 - August 28th, 2009, 12:31 pm
    Post #98 - August 28th, 2009, 12:31 pm Post #98 - August 28th, 2009, 12:31 pm
    I had a real nice dinner at Urban Belly the other night. I had begun to just order carryout from them to avoid both the wait for a seat and the communal seating more generally. But on Wednesday my dad and I popped in around 8:30pm and there were a few open seats.

    We ordered two of the daily specials, the duck and foie gras dumpings and the cold udon soup with yuzu and lemongrass chicken. We also had the pea shoots and thai basil rice. The udon was by far one of the best dishes I've had at Urban Belly. It has a perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness; the chicken was so flavorful and tender. The dumplings and rice were also good, but not as transcendental.
  • Post #99 - August 29th, 2009, 4:46 pm
    Post #99 - August 29th, 2009, 4:46 pm Post #99 - August 29th, 2009, 4:46 pm
    Darren72 wrote:...the cold udon soup with yuzu and lemongrass chicken. The udon was by far one of the best dishes I've had at Urban Belly. It has a perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness; the chicken was so flavorful and tender.


    I had the udon special a few weeks ago on my inaugural visit to Urban Belly, and it was fantastic! A perfect dish on a hot summer day (though those may be behind us...)
  • Post #100 - August 29th, 2009, 4:55 pm
    Post #100 - August 29th, 2009, 4:55 pm Post #100 - August 29th, 2009, 4:55 pm
    chgoeditor wrote:
    Darren72 wrote:...the cold udon soup with yuzu and lemongrass chicken. The udon was by far one of the best dishes I've had at Urban Belly. It has a perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness; the chicken was so flavorful and tender.


    I had the udon special a few weeks ago on my inaugural visit to Urban Belly, and it was fantastic! A perfect dish on a hot summer day (though those may be behind us...)


    Glad to hear they are still doing it right, Chgoeditor! Sadly, I haven't been into UB in awhile as the Picky Eater won't eat there and my UDC, Queijo, is back on the East coast. I'll have to make a trip in soon, thanks for the reminder!
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
  • Post #101 - October 4th, 2009, 7:58 pm
    Post #101 - October 4th, 2009, 7:58 pm Post #101 - October 4th, 2009, 7:58 pm
    As the weather cools down, UrbanBelly figures to take its more regular place in my dining rotation again. I returned tonight for the first time in several months, and enjoyed the Udon and Rice Noodle bowls very much. The broths at UrbanBelly all have such balanced and warming spice, with a tongue-coating mouthfeel that I find very satisfying. The Rice Noodle was new to me, and I enjoyed its homage to Mexican cooking, with a rich pork stock and generous hominy combining with spicy kimchi and pork belly chunks. A predictor, I imagine, of things to come with Bill Kim's Latin/ Asian fusion at 1912 N. Western. I'm looking forward to that opening.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #102 - October 7th, 2009, 10:28 am
    Post #102 - October 7th, 2009, 10:28 am Post #102 - October 7th, 2009, 10:28 am
    I thoroughly enjoyed Urbanbelly and its communal seating. I did not, however, like ordering and paying at the front because there's still some amount of service that you receive, but it's not much, therefore leading to an awkward tip situation.

    How much do you tip at Urbanbelly?
    "The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity."
  • Post #103 - October 7th, 2009, 10:39 am
    Post #103 - October 7th, 2009, 10:39 am Post #103 - October 7th, 2009, 10:39 am
    backorforth wrote:I thoroughly enjoyed Urbanbelly and its communal seating. I did not, however, like ordering and paying at the front because there's still some amount of service that you receive, but it's not much, therefore leading to an awkward tip situation.

    How much do you tip at Urbanbelly?


    After a dinner for 2, I put 3 bucks in the tip jar on my way out.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #104 - October 16th, 2009, 4:22 pm
    Post #104 - October 16th, 2009, 4:22 pm Post #104 - October 16th, 2009, 4:22 pm
    On a cold and rainy day, I could think of little better than a bowl of Urbanbelly's udon: shrimp (not the least bit chewy by the way), fish cakes and coriander in a sweet chili lime broth with boniato and nori which delivered the perfect balance of flavor and heat for this type of day. Absolutely no additional seasoning necessary. And the udon noodles could not have had a better texture. I continue to love this place, and although perhaps expensive for lunch (not so much for dinner), I find that the $13 bowl of their udon is an extremely filling and delicious lunch and well worth it to me.
  • Post #105 - December 3rd, 2009, 10:50 pm
    Post #105 - December 3rd, 2009, 10:50 pm Post #105 - December 3rd, 2009, 10:50 pm
    Ok, $31 for a small bowl of noodles, small bowl of rice, and 4 dumplings !?! Particularly, when it's order at the counter and self-service on the utensils and water? I don't get it. Okay, the presentation was colorful on the squash and bacon dumplings, soup base was pleasant on the pho broth, but the flavor on the phat rice was confusing. Come on, noodles are noodles. IMHO, there seems to be overenthusiasm for modern, fuse everything food. Some food/flavor combos just don't work and some price points just don't work.
  • Post #106 - December 4th, 2009, 12:57 pm
    Post #106 - December 4th, 2009, 12:57 pm Post #106 - December 4th, 2009, 12:57 pm
    Peety wrote:Ok, $31 for a small bowl of noodles, small bowl of rice, and 4 dumplings !?! Particularly, when it's order at the counter and self-service on the utensils and water? I don't get it. Okay, the presentation was colorful on the squash and bacon dumplings, soup base was pleasant on the pho broth, but the flavor on the phat rice was confusing. Come on, noodles are noodles. IMHO, there seems to be overenthusiasm for modern, fuse everything food. Some food/flavor combos just don't work and some price points just don't work.


    Ditto here. While I realize their food costs are probably higher than the average - and I imagine they're paying themselves better based on their pedigree - I can't justify spending this much money on noodles. Also, their half-and-half service arrangement is annoying, especially at the price.

    This place is on the way to my practice space and I usually drive right past in favor of the great value and flavor of Mr Pollo.
  • Post #107 - December 5th, 2009, 12:28 pm
    Post #107 - December 5th, 2009, 12:28 pm Post #107 - December 5th, 2009, 12:28 pm
    Ditto here. While I realize their food costs are probably higher than the average - and I imagine they're paying themselves better based on their pedigree - I can't justify spending this much money on noodles.


    Third.

    I've been there several times. Yeah, the food is tasty, but the hole in the wallet ain't worth it for what you get. I'd rather drive farther for the real thing.
  • Post #108 - December 5th, 2009, 2:12 pm
    Post #108 - December 5th, 2009, 2:12 pm Post #108 - December 5th, 2009, 2:12 pm
    Peety wrote:Ok, $31 for a small bowl of noodles, small bowl of rice, and 4 dumplings !?! Particularly, when it's order at the counter and self-service on the utensils and water? I don't get it. Okay, the presentation was colorful on the squash and bacon dumplings, soup base was pleasant on the pho broth, but the flavor on the phat rice was confusing. Come on, noodles are noodles. IMHO, there seems to be overenthusiasm for modern, fuse everything food. Some food/flavor combos just don't work and some price points just don't work.


    My initial reactions were that UrbanBelly DID sound over-priced, but how is this different from Italian? What justifies their pricepoint? How often have you seen a plate of "plain" pasta for more than $13? How 'bout gnocchi for $24 a plate?
  • Post #109 - December 7th, 2009, 2:51 pm
    Post #109 - December 7th, 2009, 2:51 pm Post #109 - December 7th, 2009, 2:51 pm
    Jay K wrote:My initial reactions were that UrbanBelly DID sound over-priced, but how is this different from Italian? What justifies their pricepoint? How often have you seen a plate of "plain" pasta for more than $13? How 'bout gnocchi for $24 a plate?


    You are correct on the price point relative to the food cost. However, the ambiance and service at a place where you spend $13 for relatively simple pasta - let's say Fiorno or Enoteca Roma - is much nicer.

    Urban Belly has some nice quality wood tables but it's not the sort of place I'd take even a casual date.
  • Post #110 - December 7th, 2009, 7:54 pm
    Post #110 - December 7th, 2009, 7:54 pm Post #110 - December 7th, 2009, 7:54 pm
    olivetti wrote:
    Ditto here. While I realize their food costs are probably higher than the average - and I imagine they're paying themselves better based on their pedigree - I can't justify spending this much money on noodles.


    Third.


    Fourth.

    The food was really good but as soon as I saw our host dig in and pay up I thanked god that I wasn't picking up the tab. I have eaten at Urban Belly once, on someone else's dime (absolutely loved it) but would never think for a second about even considering dropping that much money on noodles and dumplings...

    ...this is someone who spends like 90% of their expendable income on food, too.
  • Post #111 - December 9th, 2009, 2:07 am
    Post #111 - December 9th, 2009, 2:07 am Post #111 - December 9th, 2009, 2:07 am
    cilantro wrote:
    JeffB wrote: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?

    I'd like to know the answer to this too, please.


    Not to beat on this place - I've already called it overpriced - but having eaten my way across Japan, I find it nothing special.
  • Post #112 - December 9th, 2009, 8:30 am
    Post #112 - December 9th, 2009, 8:30 am Post #112 - December 9th, 2009, 8:30 am
    JohnnyConatus wrote:having eaten my way across Japan, I find it nothing special.


    Oh, surely. But is there anywhere locally that qualifies, to you, as "special?" I know there are many on this board, including myself, who would be thrilled to know of another quality ramen purveyor.
  • Post #113 - December 10th, 2009, 3:54 pm
    Post #113 - December 10th, 2009, 3:54 pm Post #113 - December 10th, 2009, 3:54 pm
    The girls and I are going here in a few weeks for a b-day dinner after work. I have a few questions. After we make and pay for our initial order, can we order more food through our server or do we have to go back in the line? We may be staying at our table for a while and want to order a few more dishes. Should we go for coffee and dessert elsewhere? Has anyone seen any difference in service if we add the 20% tip upfront on the credit card bill or leave it in cash in the tip box? Thanks for any input and suggestions.
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #114 - December 10th, 2009, 4:01 pm
    Post #114 - December 10th, 2009, 4:01 pm Post #114 - December 10th, 2009, 4:01 pm
    Elfin wrote:The girls and I are going here in a few weeks for a b-day dinner after work. I have a few questions. After we make and pay for our initial order, can we order more food through our server or do we have to go back in the line? We may be staying at our table for a while and want to order a few more dishes. Should we go for coffee and dessert elsewhere? Has anyone seen any difference in service if we add the 20% tip upfront on the credit card bill or leave it in cash in the tip box? Thanks for any input and suggestions.


    You'd go back in line to order more food. The place is very small, and when it's crowded, I don't think you'd be remotely comfortable lingering over birthday celebratory conversation. It's an eat-and-run kinda a joint. If you want coffee and dessert, you should indeed plan to go elsewhere. Based on your situation, I might also suggest that you plan to go elsewhere for the meal.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #115 - December 10th, 2009, 4:14 pm
    Post #115 - December 10th, 2009, 4:14 pm Post #115 - December 10th, 2009, 4:14 pm
    Kennyz wrote:
    backorforth wrote:I thoroughly enjoyed Urbanbelly and its communal seating. I did not, however, like ordering and paying at the front because there's still some amount of service that you receive, but it's not much, therefore leading to an awkward tip situation.

    How much do you tip at Urbanbelly?


    After a dinner for 2, I put 3 bucks in the tip jar on my way out.


    I think that's probably right. The tip jar at a counter service place strikes me as a tad odd, if only because you're expected to pay something upfront for some type of service to be received later. The way I handle it is to tip on the way out.

    Compare this with Birchwood Kitchen -- which has counter-service -- but does not accept tips. So that means, no tips on the table (I'll post later about my experience there), no "tip" line on the credit card slip, and no tip jar at the register. Classy move.
  • Post #116 - December 10th, 2009, 4:21 pm
    Post #116 - December 10th, 2009, 4:21 pm Post #116 - December 10th, 2009, 4:21 pm
    Elfin - Ditto what Kenny said. I enjoyed the food there, but I don't think this is a place for a leisurely celebration. You'll be at communal tables on chairs with no backs (IIRC from my one visit). You'll have to keep getting up to order more stuff. Not terribly conducive to celebrating and lingering, I'm thinking.

    Edited to delete the reference to a birthday celebration that wasn't mentioned in the question upthread. Oops.
  • Post #117 - December 10th, 2009, 10:05 pm
    Post #117 - December 10th, 2009, 10:05 pm Post #117 - December 10th, 2009, 10:05 pm
    My first visit to UrbanBelly got off to a very rocky start.

    The wife and I arrived at about 8:20 (having just left Kuma's where there was a 1 hour wait). We gave the woman taking names our name and went to stand near the counter. There were already several parties there so she asked us to wait in the "vestibule". Now, the "vestibule" is just the temporary shielding they put outside to real door to the restaurant to help block the cold when people come in. Given tonight's sub-zero wind chill, we parked ourselves next to the door (but not outside, and definitely not blocking the door). The waitress asked us again if we could stand in the vestibule, and this time I gave her a definitive no. Then she asked again, and I felt compelled to tell her that it was freezing out and we would not be waiting outside. There were several parties about to sit down, and I told her that as soon as they sat down we would move to the back of the restaurant and would be out of her way. She started to protest, but then finally thought better of it.

    Well, after a wait that was about 20-25 minutes longer than originally estimated we were finally able to order and sit down. I thought the food was fantastic. Lamb/brandy dumplings made for a wonderful starter. I had the UrbanBelly ramen, which had pork belly and radishes. The noodles and pork were excellent, but the broth was really the star of the show. Deeply complex flavors with the perfect amount of spice. Really just the perfect food on a night like tonight.

    Despite the rocky start, I very much enjoyed my first meal here and will certainly return.
    -Josh

    I've started blogging about the Stuff I Eat
  • Post #118 - December 10th, 2009, 11:32 pm
    Post #118 - December 10th, 2009, 11:32 pm Post #118 - December 10th, 2009, 11:32 pm
    Hi Guys!
    First post! I just wanted to give you all a helpful neighborhood tip. The next time you try to go to Urban Belly and they want you to wait outside in the freezing cold or spend $11 for teeny-tiny fussed-over dumplings, go around the corner to DragonLady (California, Elston, Belmont intersection). It's just a one-woman Korean food extravaganza. I know that she has one night a week when she cooks only vegan dishes and that is pretty popular, but I stopped in on a random night, there were no other customers but my friend and I and she fed us until we were stuffed. I ordered one dish and she brought out my dish plus several varieties of kimchi, fried goodies, etc, etc, etc. No pretense. Nothing over priced. Just really good food.
  • Post #119 - December 11th, 2009, 4:41 am
    Post #119 - December 11th, 2009, 4:41 am Post #119 - December 11th, 2009, 4:41 am
    interesting first post
  • Post #120 - December 11th, 2009, 5:23 am
    Post #120 - December 11th, 2009, 5:23 am Post #120 - December 11th, 2009, 5:23 am
    djenks wrote:interesting first post

    I believe Redhanded is talking about Dragonlady Lounge, which Jazzfood posted about --> here

    Though I have not been to Urban Belly for a while, the neighborhood bar directly across the street made a pleasant gathering point/pre dinner drink.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow

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