Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Belly Q

Location: 1400 W Randolph
Cost: About $30 per person

My friend Young and I go way back. I think our friendship really took off when I pulled her chair out from under her on valentines day in grade school. Since then, I've been much more tolerable. Well Young went out East for undergrad, and we fell out of touch for a little while. Luckily though, she got into NU for law school, and we've gotten to hang out a bunch more recently. So I was sitting in class last week when I got a text from her asking what I was up to for dinner. They had an extra spot for their reservation at Belly Q that I wasn't going to turn down. Most importantly though, we were joined by Young's mom Rose who has always liked me despite my tarnished past. This way though, we had some input on the authenticity of the Korean dishes.

Just like lots of the places on Randolph, Belly Q has a pretty huge space to work with. There's a bar area right up front followed by a variety of seating areas. Some of the tables have the Korean BBQ built in too. I was kind of confused by the whole setup though. Also, they have a parking lot, but the whole thing is reserved for valet. It's a busy enough place that you'll need a reservation during a peak time, but I bet if you go to an early meal you can sneak in.

They clearly have a team mentality at Belly Q. While we had the same waiter giving us advice and taking our orders, we pretty much met every other staff member as they brought out our food. Everyone was friendly in a rushed kind of way. The cost is pretty fair overall. It's hard to quantify by dish because we ended up sharing tons of stuff. Either way, I think it was around $30 per person when the bill came.

The Food
We got the ball rolling with some of the belly bites including the Soba Noodles with Shrimp and Eggplant, the Thai Fried Chicken, and the Crispy Tofu. The noodles are served cold and are a refreshing way to start. The fried chicken was clearly the star of this set with a good crisp and medium heat. The tofu came out in these large fried balls. The texture was great and went well with the pickled onions and tomatoes on the plate.

The Soba Noodles with Shrimp and Eggplant

 The Thai Fried Chicken

 The Crispy Tofu

After that we got a Goat Milk Feta and Rice Noodle Pancake and a bowl of the Double Smoked Bacon and Kimchi Hot Pot. When I got a bite of the feta, the pancake was great, but otherwise it was a tad bit bland. The hot pot was the tables favorite dish of the night. Mrs. Moon went on for a bit about how authentic the whole thing tasted. The bacon chunks gave this great smokey bite to most of the soup while the rice cakes were chewy and wonderful. The broth had this richness that made each spoonful blend so nicely.

 The Goat Milk Feta and Rice Noodle Pancake

 The Smoked Bacon and Kimchi Hot Pot

Then we dove into some main dishes with the Tea Smoked Duck and Lamb Rib. They were served with buns and a slaw much like at Sun Wah (but not as good). The duck was super rare how I like it. The lamb had a zingy hoisin glaze that made for quite the mess but a worthwhile flavor. We also ordered a side of kimchi to go with this round. We didn't care much for it, and it was the only item left unfinished.

The Lamb Rib

 The Tea Smoked Duck

 The Kimchi

For dessert we got the Huckleberry and the Citrus Soft Serve. They both came over a bed of flavored ice. The soft serve it self has as great texture, and the flavor profiles of the toppings are creative. It's just like the kind at Belly Shack. So... great.

The Soft Serve

There were very clear highlights to our meal at Belly Q. The hot pot, the fried chicken, and the duck were my favorites. Some of the other dishes didn't hit me the same way though. It's a pretty cool place to check out, and I like Bill Kim's creativity. I'm giving them 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.

BellyQ on Urbanspoon