BellyQ | West Loop/Fulton Market | Asian, Small Plates, Bar, Karaoke Bar | Restaurant
This location has been flagged as "Closed".
"Modern Asian" from Bill Kim (Urban Belly, Belly Shack).

Our Review

"Tradition. Amplified." That's the slogan coined for this nominal Korean barbecue restaurant from chef Bill Kim (Urban Belly, Belly Shack). But anyone with a minimum of experience with basic, traditional Korean cooking will find these flavors muted. The most glaring example comes in the house-made cabbage kimchi. Glistening with oil and spiked with wedges of fresh radish and a touch of fennel, it bears none of the heat or funk of properly bracing, fermented kimchi. And yet it is startlingly fresh. There's the paradox of Kim's food: despite quality ingredients and quasi-refined presentations, it's all finesse and no muscle. Take the three "tea-smoked meats," prepared in a much-hyped "Chinese water smoker" and served with sweet steamed buns and a trio of house-made sauces. The duck breast is crispy, but bears not a whiff of tea leaves. Same for the fall-off-the-bone lamb ribs. There's also a small offering of grilled meats and the option to sear them yourself at a handful of booths equipped with electric burners. But their inclusion (like the karaoke room) is almost cosmetic. Elsewhere on the menu are a few salads and little bites; brighter than these are Kim’s sauces, particularly the soy-and-vinegar-based "Seoul Sauce" and the powerful "Belly Smoke," both of which are available in bottles at BQ2Go, the quick-service lunch counter in back. The beverage program, designed by the talented Peter Vestinos, includes wines on tap, sakes, shochus, and a short cocktail list that yields some dramatically good drinks. All this goes down in a loud, cafeteria-like atmosphere with an open kitchen and an unvarnished industrial interior that echoes Belly Shack's desperate grasp at street cred. Read the full review >>

Mike Sula

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Price: $$$
Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, AmEx, Discover

Bar Details

The beverage program at chef Bill Kim's nominal Korean barbecue was designed by the talented Peter Vestinos, who rarely fails to meet the challenges set before him. Here wines on tap, sakes, a few shochus, and other straight spirits compete against a short cocktail list that looks cloying and oversweet on paper, but in execution yields some dramatically good drinks like the Serpentine, a shochu-based cocktail spiked with coconut vinegar and salty Japanese plum. The atmosphere is loud and cafeteria-like, with a karaoke room lined with portraits of Kim and other local celebrichefs posing as their rocker alter egos. —Mike Sula


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