Hours: Lunch, dinner: Sunday, Tuesday-Saturday
Bill Kim's quick-service Asian spot has been incorporated into Belly Q (see separate listing).
Often with domestic attempts to popularize or synthesize Asian cuisines, one taste predominates: sweetness. To his credit, Bill Kim doesnt try to lure babies with candy at his upscale neighborhood noodle joint Urban Belly. Instead he offers an array of pan-Asian-inspired dumplings and rice and noodle bowls in a quick-serve, sometimes frenzied communal setting. The dumplings alone could carry it; offered in five distinctive varieties, theyre tasty across the board. I particularly liked the ones stuffed with lamb and brandy, fragrant pork and cilantro, and duck with pho spices. But my excitement was quickly dampened by the other menu categories, particularly the greasy rice bowlslong-grain rice topped with a few small slabs of short rib, or tossed with pork belly and pineapple, pea shoots and basil, or a combination of all of the above. The noodles have a tendency to taste strikingly delicious in the first few slurps, but gradually exhaust the palate the closer you get to the bottom of the bowl. This is especially true of the saltier varieties—the rice cakes in Korean chile broth with katsu-style chicken breast, for instance, or the stir-fried egg noodles, which while nicely knotted and crispy were bathed in a broth not all that different. I did feel favorably toward the ramen, a chewy tangle with shiitake and thick slabs of pork belly. And in general, theres a lot to like in these bowls: bonito flakes, Kims springy house-made fish cakes, the bitter Chinese broccoli that offsets the sweet chile-lime broth in the udon, the one entry that could be considered cloying.
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