Thursday, July 23, 2009

Urban Belly

My parents were in town and they offered to watch Lucy for us so we could go out. One place came to mind and that was Urban Belly. I had already read so many things about this place that I knew this is the place I wanted to dine. You know, when you only have one chance every so often to get out, it's always scary knowing that it may not end up being that great. This was not the case with Urban Belly. This place was amazing. I have not stopped thinking about it since that night.

Chef Bill Kim is the former chef of Le Lan and the legendary Charlie Trotters. He was born in Korea and graduated from Kendall College here in Chicago. I have to say, this man has got it right. I have read some say that this is his response to David Chang's Momofuku in New York City, which we have also dined at several times. I have to say, this is what made me worried about eating somewhere like this. David Chang is the man. He makes the most incredible food. I must say though, this was just as good, if not better. I hate to say it but it's the truth. Sorry David. Although, you do have it going for you with the pork buns.

We ordered the pork and cilantro dumplings which were out of this world. You know that moment when you taste the first bite of something and you know, well, I knew. I knew that what was about to happen under this roof was going to be memorable and beautiful and tasty. The food was hot, which was nice and the dumplings were packed full of tender pork and cilantro with a very nice dipping sauce that was reminiscent of hoisin sauce. A little sweet and salty with deep Asian flavors. It was perfect.

Because it was communal seating, we ended up sitting next to a younger couple and got talking with them. The guy was cousins with one of the cooks. Jackpot. We ended up talking quite a bit and as the waitress brought out an order of duck and pho spiced dumplings, they kindly offered us a taste. I did the usual, refusal, but after them insisting we try one, I couldn't resist. How could you pass that up? They too, were amazing. I knew that nothing could go wrong here.

Jason really wanted to try the pork and pineapple rice, so we decided to share that and a order of the Urbanbelly Ramen which was full of pork belly, shitake mushrooms and pho broth. I must admit, I am now obsessed with pho broth. It was so robust with the perfect amount of spice. There was a surprising amount of pork belly. I felt like just as I thought it was gone, another piece was discovered lingering at the bottom. The noodles were excellent and there was plenty of them for the both of us.

The rice: heaven. This was the most delicious rice that I can remember ever having. It was loaded with bits of pork belly and sweet tender bits of pineapple in addition to fried egg and cilantro. This rice was phenomenal. I am so happy that we ordered one of each and shared because it was the perfect amount.

I must say that there isn't anything on the menu I wouldn't try. There were some bacon and squash dumplings that I wanted to try. Later seeing other people's food, I would like to try the lamb and brandy dumplings. They were served over a bed of edamame and drizzled with some Asian sauce. Looked really yummy. A rice I would love to try was organic pea shoots with Thai basil. Yummy. I don't know if I could ever get enough of this place. It makes me sad that it's all the way in the city, but you know what, I would drive there anytime, any day to have a taste of that deliciousness.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I feel like I have been missing in action on here. Sorry about that. I have had a wild summer so far and been really busy. It doesn't mean I have stopped cooking and baking. I just need to get my butt in gear and post some stuff.

This weekend I am making a lot of new things. My little sister is having a baby so we are having a party today for her. I had made a couple new things actually and am really excited about it. I think it made them a little nervous but I think they are going to love what I have done.

I chose to make a bean dip from Rachael Ray. It turned out really yummy after trying several devices at my mom's house to try and puree it without a food processor. That was interesting. Leaving the comfort of your own kitchen can sometimes be challenging. All in all though, it turned out great. Here is the link to that recipe. I am just serving it with a veggie tray and pita chips.

The other recipe just happens to be from Rachael Ray as well. What can I say, I like the girl. She has some amazing things, and of course some not so amazing things, but why would I make those. This one is a potato salad with roasted corn and jalapenos. No mayo folks. I try to avoid that stuff at all costs but when I do use mayo I always use Smart Balance Mayonnaise . Here is the link to the recipe.

The the other two recipes are dessert. Well and the chicken salad which I stole from my favorite bakery in Oak Park. The chicken salad is as follows:

1 rotisserie chicken pulled apart and cooled
5 T of Smart Balance Mayonnaise (or whatever you like)
1 T dijon
half of one red onion minced
three apricots diced
3 stalks of celery minced
2-3 dill pickles minced
salt and pepper to taste
Fridge and enjoy. Yummy. I must say this was a tuna salad I had and I turned it into a chicken salad for the party. It's amazing. My sister wants me to make another batch for leftovers.

So for dessert I am making two fruit tarts and smores cupcakes. The smores cupcakes come from Martha Stewart and the fruit tart from another cooking site.