3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6061841.937409 -87.697743
Urban Belly specializes in beautifully conceived, brightly flavored, rib-sticking food loosely based on Asian orginals. Personally, I like them better, especially the monumental pork belly ramen, which might be the single greatest one-dish meal in the city.
no substitutions! – I love this place for what it is- fast good food. But I went there recently and ordered what I always order- a #15 with no mango, and the counterperson would not let me get it without the mango!!! Wtf?!? Why make someone eat something if they don't want to? I would understand if I wanted to switch proteins or add a different sauce, etc but to simply leave out the mango chunks is stupid.
Not as overpriced as you may think – At first glance Urban Belly appears like the Corner Bakery of rice and noodles: underserved and overpriced but that's mostly because they make you pay the bill before first bite. It was well worth the $50/2.
For those whose dining world is contained in a 1mi^2 radius from the loop, a journey to 3000s north and west had better mean cheap. Especially for rice and noodles. Overcharge the roundeyes on our own turf but if we travel we expect savings. So when we forked over nearly 50 bucks before taking a single bite and got a deli-style number to stand up at the table, we were naturally concerned. We certainly weren’t at Arun’s. Thank the sun god that the concern wasn’t warranted.
The fried rice must be fried in cream because every gooey mouthful dissolves in the acidic moisture of your tongue and leaves a buttery residue as it slithers down your throat. The best $7 cup of rice I’ve had since Hakkasan. Is it me or is rice a lot more expensive since they mapped its genome and found it more complex than the human? The fowl and fungus dumplings taste almost as good outside as they do inside which rarely happens outside a bakery and the vegetarian Asian Egg noodles are pan-fried before they are immersed giving them that crispy texture on every 4th noodle. The Udon, however, is more like pho with big fat noodles since all the floating fat is still doing backstrokes in my fourth stomach chamber. Chef Kim: you’re supposed to throw away the first batch of broth after you cook your scrapple in it. Besides, where does coriander/sweet chili/lime broth get fat from anyway? I thought Udon broth was clear. Anyway, despite the fact that there was enough cumulative garlic in our dishes to smell back home the food was really pretty good. Even 3 hours later if you catch my draft.
Finally, even though all you social creatures love it, I HATE communal seating. This is why we went at 11AM when no one else was there. If others were, I’m not sure where we would have parked given that 99% of the strip-mall parking seems to be reserved for the laundromat next door. Maybe they have valet. The tables are made of some pretty impressive wood though. The little stools are made of the same and are so heavy that had I done shrugs yesterday, I would have needed help sliding in.
Finally, finally: Dear Chef, unlike aircrafts, mooses, deers and fishes, I’m pretty sure “rices” is not a proper plural. Let’s check that before reprinting the next batch of menus.
Good place with Hot Doug's line is too long – Good place to eat.
Chef Bill Kim (Le Lan) brings rich, carefully made Asian dishes to restaurant-starved Avondale. – In Short
The neighborhood doesn't exactly buzz with places to eat, and certainly nothing this stylish. That style--a combination of comfort and austerity--starts with roughly hewn unfinished wooden tables, all six of which are communal, and soothing gray walls. Sturdy starches--rice, dumpling and rice--are the three main menu categories, each trimmed with smart ingredient combos. Braised lamb and brandy make the richest dumpling stuffing, but it doesn't even approach the signature Urbanbelly Ramen--a luxurious confluence of melting pork belly, shitakes and pho broth.
Photo by Jasmin Shah
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