Date of Last Visit: Sunday, January 9, 2011
The Victim: Me
The Damage: $10
The Background: I do not have a car. Yet. So I’ve been renting Zipcars every so often to get all my errands done. This was fine and fun until that day in November when I had my first car accident ever in my entire life and managed to take the side view mirror off my Zipcar–as well as scrape up the entire driver’s side–as I tried to pull into the garage under my building. Whoops.
So $250 later (thank God for insurance) and I’ve been a little nervous about renting a Zipcar again. But my cupboards were bare so there really was no avoiding this. I reserved a car for three hours so I could fit in a trip to Costco (I’ve missed bulk shopping in America) and Jewel. (Seriously, there is no food in this store. Only cans and boxes.) Shopping complete and not wanting to return the car 45 minutes early, I contemplated my lunch options.
Fellow Chicago restaurant blogger Chicago Food Snob had suggested Urban Belly, the noodle and dumpling emporium, via Twitter, but it was really too far for me to go. But I remembered that Chef Bill Kim had an outpost very unglamorously located under the Blue Line tracks at Western, and I figured I’d have just enough time to grab something to go. (Time shortened, however, by me trying to figure out where to park. Parking around Belly Shack did not seem particularly easy. However, the staff were awesome and told me if I parked out front with my blinkers on and stayed in the car, they’d run my order out to me when it was ready.)
While not beautiful to look at, the barbecued beef was pretty deliciously vinergar-y, and combined with the kimchi, this all had a very nice kick to it. The kimchi was an excellent version thereof. The only disappointment to me was the pita-like bread which had me momentarily confused regarding what country this was all about. The bread was slightly sweet, which I was guessing was intentional. But sadly not my style.
The Verdict: I liked Belly Shack. But it’s again hammering home that $10 seems to be the magic number when it comes to a good basic takeaway lunch in Chicago these days. Hannah’s Bretzel and Grahamwich both came in at $10 ($15 for Grahamwich if you count the disappointing popcorn) and now Belly Shack too. I’d go back here again if I was walking or biking or taking the El. Or if someone lets me in on a parking secret.