Belly Shack (1912 N. Western Ave.) is chef Bill Kim’s second establishment soon to be joined by Belly Q where 160 Blue (R.I.P.) used to stand. The Shack is nestled under the Blue line off Western and Armitage.
Featuring a limited but well thought menu centered around Asian influenced sandwich-like items. On this day I went with their Asian pork meatball sandwich stuffed with crunch Somen noodles, Korean chili paste and fresh mint. A lighter refreshing sandwich with nice textures, this is a nice spin on well…a number of things. It all comes in a pita pocket, you have excellent ground-in-house meatballs with savory, sweet flavors while the crunch Somen noodles provide a crunchy element. Just the right amount of heat and chili pepper flavor comes from the sauce as the mint lightens up the sandwich providing that herbaceous, refreshing element that separates this creation from others around the city.
Our second sandwich was an easy choice. We had to try the Korean BBQ Beef. Served as a sandwich – which always makes me a happy boy – they allow you to assemble your own little bites of Belly. The beef is rich with flavor and you’re given an ample amount. The kimchi which comes marinated in Ssam paste, a nice touch that I’m sure is commonplace in Korea but NOT in Chi-town. Ssamjang, it’s full name, is a thick, spicy paste used with food wrapped in a leaf in Korean cuisine – or in this case, flat bread. An excellent alternative to the normal sandwich you find even in Asian cuisine, chef Kim managed to mix excellent earthy spicy sweet BBQ flavors with the acidic pickled notes from the kimchi finished with robust chili heat.
We finished our visit with home made vanilla soft serve ice cream topped with a delicious crumbled chocolate chip cookie and fresh, smoky bacon bits. While we thought the ice cream itself was going to be bacon flavored, the crunchy bits added nice texture and the vanilla was strong in flavor and the cookie was saturated with chocolate chunks. If you haven’t been to either Urban Belly or Belly Shack you’re missing out on some serious street food done right. Good luck with the Q chef Kim! Keep up the great work.