Tucked under the rumble of the Western Blue Line station, Belly Shack serves fast-food style Asian-Latin American fusion with a Korean bent. It’s a small space, where customers order menu items by number at the counter, and then either take food to go or eat at one of the few dimly lit tables.
The atmosphere is urban and simple, designed (ironically?) to resemble the hole-in-the wall, under the rails kind of shack that is its namesake. The menu is also simple, with only 16 food items and a request for no modifications. For an inexpensive, causal night out, the lack of choice is refreshing.
To start, I ordered the #7, Quinoa Samm Salad, a vegetarian make-it-yourself lettuce wrap with well-cooked quinoa, a “superfood” grain with tons of protein, and delicious, savory mushrooms; unfortunately, the lettuce bordered on wilted. The Asian pear-fennel kimchi served on the side had a spicy kick and also, somehow, reminded me of Japanese seaweed salad. I don’t know. Maybe it was the vinegar.
For my main course, I had the #2, Organic Brown Rice with Marinated Tofu. The tofu missed the mark for me in flavor (there was none) and ultimately the dish, which also came with mushrooms and kimchi, ended up tasting a lot like the Samm Salad filling. I liked that filling, so it wasn’t a huge deal, but perhaps a little surprising given the menu’s expansive fusion concept.
The best thing about Belly Shack is that, with its brown rice, quinoa, and kimchi options, it is super easy to eat healthy there, even with the prohibition on modifications. The next best thing about Belly Shack is that it’s BYOB. And, as I learned while living in Philadelphia (the BYOB capital), it’s a major faux pas to leave before finishing your booze. Which is a great excuse to sit down and enjoy your fast food for a while.
Try Belly Shack at 1912 N. Western Ave.
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