Back in October, Bill Kim announced he was moving Urbanbelly, his tiny BYO Avondale noodle restaurant, to Restaurant Row, where it would share space with BellyQ (1400 W Randolph St), his Asian barbecue spot. The move was the result of the restaurant outgrowing its space and Cornerstone Restaurant Group, which already had a hand in BellyQ, taking an ownership stake in all of Kim's restaurants. When Urbanbelly reopened in early November, there were other changes, too: a small wine, beer and sake list, a kid's menu and a few new menu items, cooked in a new wok.
The new space is adjacent to BellyQ and twice as large as the old one. As before, you order at the counter, then grab a seat. The dining room has communal tables and one of the brick walls is covered with plants—it's a pretty comfortable space to spread out and work through the menu.
Start with dumplings, which are available in three- and five-piece orders, so you can easily try two kinds. There are classics, like the pork- and cilantro-stuffed potstickers, but we also loved the buffalo chicken dumplings, which are fried, tossed with Belly Fire hot sauce and served with dollops of blue cheese and thinly sliced celery. They're a fun and surprising dish, a theme that continues throughout the meal. The pork and pineapple fried rice consists of fried jasmine rice that's laden with knobs of pork belly and pineapple, and is only enhanced with a shake of the housemade hot sauces that sit on the table. The cabbage and cucumber kimchi isn't too spicy, which made it a nice complement for some of the spicier dishes we ordered. But we saved the best item for last—even though the peanut butter and jelly sundae is on the kid's menu, it's a must-order. Vanilla soft serve is topped with huckleberry jelly and peanut butter crunchies, and it's a delicious and whimsical dessert.
The restaurant is BYO on Sundays, which is a nod to the policy at the former location. Although it's kind of sad to see a great restaurant leave a neighborhood for Randolph Street, the changes make Urbanbelly better than ever.