BellyQ

Photo: Tasmina Cadiz/Courtesy of BellyQ

If Avec represents one bookend on the overstuffed dining shelf of West Randolph Street, then BellyQ has quickly established itself as the other. Perched at the strip’s western edge, Bill Kim’s slick 200-seat ode to sizzling Korean barbecue, savory pancakes, and rich hot pots throbs day and night.

The food brings the same artful simplicity as Kim’s previous efforts, Urbanbelly and Belly Shack, and the larger stage—with distractions such as an unnecessary karaoke room—hasn’t led to watered-down flavors. A giant chilled soba noodle salad with Thai basil, olive-oil-poached shrimp, and Chinese eggplant is some kind of masterpiece—and just another item on a menu packed with treasures.

Price symbols indicate the typical cost of a meal (without tax, tip, or alcohol) per person. ¢ … under $20 | $ … $20 to $29 | $$ … $30 to $39 | $$$ … $40 to $49 | $$$$ … $50-plus

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