Saturday, October 31, 2015

Belly Q

I have met Chef Bill Kim on many occasions and have had and liked his food at many venues and many occasions.  I have been to his Asian Latin Street Food Fusion Restaurant, Belly Shack, his Pan-Asian Noodle Shop, Urban Belly, and have seen him at several benefits and special dinners, but I had not been to his premiere restaurant, bellyQ, a higher end spin on Korean Barbecue, until recently.  Admittedly, when it opened, I was a little upset because it took the place of a favorite restaurant of mine, one sixtyblue.  I like Bill Kim's food and the former Chef, Michael McDonald, moved on, so I got over it.  When I went to belly Q, though, I definitely still saw one sixtyblue.  If the same building is going to be used for two different venues, you will definitely see similarities.  With bellyQ, the color scheme was different, using tans and browns, the ceiling is unfinished, and the furniture is different, but the location of the kitchen, dining room and lounge are in the same place.  There are also grills located at the front of the restaurant so diners can grill their meats the way they might want them.  I came during happy hour and they had appetizer specials if you dined in the lounge, so that's where I ate.  I sat in a very comfortable high backed leather arm chair and used a side table as my dining table.  I started things off with a cocktail called a Kill Bill, Vol. 1 which used Sudachi Shochu (a Japanese distilled liquor using sudachi, a tart citrus fruit from Japan, and molasses), Passionfruit Drinking Vinegar, Mezcal, and Aloe.  It was tart and smoky with a little sweetness at the end and was very good.
For my appetizer, I went with a dish called Lamb Buns.  What I expected was a Bao, but that was not what I got at all.  What I got were essentially build your own sandwiches.  The buns were fluffy on the inside, but they were crispy and browned on the outside.  The Lamb was ground and grilled and served with Spiced Yogurt, Cucumber, Onion, Mint, and  Peppers.  It was spicy, very good, and kind of reminded me of something you might find in Greece or the Eastern Mediterranean.
For my entree, as this is a barbecue, I decided to go with my usual for barbecues and ordered Baby Back Ribs with Housemade Hoisin Barbecue Sauce, Green Onions, and Bacon Crumble.  The ribs were super tender and the hoisin barbecue sauce was sweet and spicy with a tang at the end.  While I am sure the ribs spent some time next to some flame, I have to think it spent most of its time in an oven.  Most meat that has spent significant time in a smoker, while it is tender, it has some texture to it, and the meat has some pull on the bones.  These ribs were fall off the bone tender and there really wasn't a pink ring on the meat.  It was pretty good, but it really wasn't something that you could compare to smoked ribs.
The side I ordered with the ribs was a combination of a barbecue standard and a Korean standard, Warm Kimchi Potato Salad. In addition to the Fermented Cabbage and the Potatoes, the salad included Horseradish, Onion, and Cilantro.  The potatoes were mild, but that was more than made up by the pungentness of the cabbage and the spiciness of the horseradish.  The combination referenced both barbecue and Asian food well without reducing influence of either group.
At this point, I was finished with my savory dishes and I would have normally expected my waitress to bring me a dessert menu.  I had looked at the dessert menu online and I noticed a lot of dishes included ice cream.  Several looked interesting, but I wasn't going to make a decision until I actually saw the menu.  My waitress/bartender did not bring me a dessert menu though.  What she did do though, was to come to my table, tell me I looked like I needed a dessert, and brought me a dessert that was not listed on on the dessert menu that I saw online.  She brought me what she told me was her favorite dessert which was a Bread Pudding topped with White Chocolate Mousse Ice Cream, Oatmeal, and Soy Salted Caramel.  If that wasn't good enough, she said that it was on her.  It would have been really good as it was, but free it was even better.

I really enjoyed my meal here.  Even without the discounts, the service was very good as was the food.  I really enjoyed myself and will be sure to bring friends.

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