(WLS-TV ABC-7) — Bill Kim’s latest project, bellyQ, has completely transformed the former onesixty blue on West Randolph. Yes, Michael Jordan is still an owner here, but the food has moved from classy to ‘cue. That’s because Kim is tapping into his Korean roots.
“It’s my take on all the goodness of Asian food that has a little bit of spice, a little tanginess, but it’s our take on it, which means it’s always gonna have a little twist,” said Kim.
Take his savory pancakes from the wood-fired oven. A vegetarian version with zucchini, garlic and onions arrives topped with a mound of goat and feta cheese-flecked baby spinach and crispy rice noodles; on the side: black vinegar-sesame-soy sauce for dipping. Another twist comes in the form of his barbecue. In America, that term usually means “low and slow,” but at bellyQ, the technique is quicker.
“We actually take Szechuan peppercorn and kosher salt and we really smoke it until it turns black,” he said. “Then we do equal parts mixture of flour, sugar, tea and rice and put it into this gigantic Chinese water smoker and we let it go to a super, super hot smoke, and we smoke it for 10 minutes.”
For his duck and pork blade steak entrees, both proteins get that intense smoking, then are cooked through on the grill. In the case of the pork steak, a garnish of Chinese black beans and sun-dried tomatoes are matched by crispy shallots and Thai basil. As for the duck, it’s sliced thin, draped over a mound of cooked Chinese broccoli, then served with puffy, homemade steamed buns, which become defacto Asian sandwiches.