Eat Right Around Chicago

Chicago Restaurant-Feed my Urban Belly

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Housed next to a laundromat, in what the burbs would call a "strip mall", Urban Belly's minimalist, but elegant dining room serves up flavorful noodles and dumplings in this Chicago restaurant.  

This gem has been on my "must eat" list since I pulled the U-Haul up to my apartment.  And Chef Bill Kim created an experience that was worth the priority rating.  Given my propensity for noodles and anything Asian-inspired, I was wondering if I could eat right or would this be an urban belly (over) fill? 

To start, don't let the outside appearance of Urban Belly deter you...it's communal dining area is fresh out of Dwell Magazine and despite being seated next to folks you may not know, it could provide quite the romantic dining experience.  I'm pretty sure I was seated next to a first date and enjoyed their Q&A while they enjoyed their noodles. 

Dishes are ordered at the counter and delivered by extremely pleasant and helpful staff.  They are as "zen" as the decor. 

Urban belly dish
We over-ordered to make sure we were tasting as much of the Chef-proclaimed belly bites as we could.  We started with the Asian Squash & Bacon Dumplings.  Sure, they had bacon, but it was not overpowering and just barely there. They dumplings delicately lined a rectangle plate and dressed with a bright and cheery citrus flavoring that melted in my mouth.  They were filled with squash that may have been butternut--which I love for it's creamy texture and generous dose of vitamin A and potassium (good for your eyes, good for your blood pressure). 

We had the Kimchi Ramen with BBQ Kogi (beef) and Bean Sprout Noodles in a perfectly spiced broth.  Each bite left a sting on the lips without setting them on fire.  We also had the Rice Noodle with Hominy, Kimchi and Spicy Pork Broth.  This dish had delightful rice cakes-doughy disks of love complementing the hominy- adding beneficial fiber to the diet.  On the side, we had Wrinkle Beans.  While green beans are a low calorie and add color (and therefore good nutrition) to your plate, these were dressed a bit heavily in sodium.  Tasty, but to eat right, not a necessity. 

Can you fill your urban belly and eat right...yes.  I was able to find dishes with unique vegetable offerings and nothing was oily or too rich.  Could I eat all the I ordered...no way (take home containers were easy to come by).  I'd recommend sharing a dumpling and sharing one noodle with your dinner mate to keep the calories in check.  Speaking of check...the prices are modest and if you share, you could enjoy these belly bites for less than the cost of a parking ticket.    

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