Bill Kim of Urban Belly goes for an even cooler vibe.
If Bill Kim wanted to change his image as a fine-dining chef—and that’s definitely the vibe we got from him last year when he left Le Lan and opened Urban Belly—he’s doing that and then some at his new restaurant, Belly Shack. And that’s not the only image he’s shedding here. Whereas Urban Belly has a simple, modern, streamlined look, Belly Shack’s look is bolder and more industrial. That’s the influence of Kim’s wife, Yvonne Cadiz-Kim, whose East Coast, Puerto Rican roots influenced Belly Shack’s aesthetic and Asian-Latino menu. The look is “reclaimed industrial,” Cadiz-Kim says. “Bringing the outside in, but in an urban way.” To execute that vision, the Kims had large tables made from reclaimed wood, turned skateboard parts into decorative metal work and even commissioned beats specifically to play in the bathrooms. The result is a place that people who don’t know any better might think was opened by some skater kid. Or a graffiti artist. Or a hip-hop musician. Yet when it comes to the food—Asian meatball sandwiches with mint; tostones tossed in pho spices; jibarito sandwiches with Asian touches; and soft serve with toppings like bacon-chocolate-chip cookies from HotChocolate’s Mindy Segal—thoughts of skaters and hip-hoppers will probably go away. This is the kind of stuff only a chef could come up with. 1912 N Western Ave, 773-252-1414.