bellyQ launched brunch a few weeks ago, and right out of the gate it's one of the most inventive brunch menus in town. If you're like me, you loved the occasional brunch events held at Belly Shack, usually in conjunction with holidays. Consider the bellyQ brunch your saving grace. It's essentially a more glorified and steady version of Belly Shack's brunch, focusing on crafty Asian-inspired renditions of American brunch favorites and awesome drinks.
Leave it to Bill Kim, a veritable wizard of Asian cookery, to turn familiar brunch dishes completely on their heads. Many of the menu items at bellyQ sound familiar at first (fried chicken and biscuits, waffle, eggs Benedict), but buckle up and be prepared to be blown away by some serious Bill Kimisms.
(Fried chicken and "biscuits")
Fried chicken and biscuits is a gravy-slathered plate studded with golden morsels of boneless fried chicken, which look like jumbo chicken nuggets but taste eons better. The biscuits are actually Chinese steam buns (side note: I would eat ANYTHING with a steam bun. Anything.) that are smeared with spiced butter and grilled to impart a bit of char flavor. Pillowy and smoky, they're the perfect foil for the crunchy fried chicken and pork sausage gravy.
bellyQ is doing wild things with their waffle. It's a Belgian waffle by way of Asia, flecked with flakes of nori, adjoined by a saucer of sake-infused maple syrup. The nori adds a toasty, earthy quality to the waffle, which pairs wonderfully with the pockets of melting butter and the sake maple syrup. The sake imbues the syrup with creamy richness, and it marries together nicely. It's as if Aunt Jemima spent a semester abroad in Asia. Of course, a waffle isn't any good unless it's cooked well, and bellyQ cooks it perfectly, developing a golden brown, crisp exterior, while retaining a fluffy interior. Lemongrass pork sausage patties are served on top, which is nice because sausage is always nice.
(Nori waffle with sake maple syrup and lemongrass pork sausage)
Whodathunk a Reuben sandwich could be great without meat? Bill Kim apparently. The sleeper hit of the brunch menu is the vegetarian Reuben, which doesn't go by that name on the menu, but the flavors will take you directly to Reuben Town, even without a hint of corned beef. Crispy chickpea patties take the place of the meat, heaped on rye bread with lemongrass and cheddar. All in all, not your typical deli-style sandwich, but I wouldn't expect anything else from Kim.
Other notable dishes on the concise menu (you could probably try everything on the menu with a few visits if you're ravenous) include maple-glazed togarashi bacon, doughnuts coated in Vietnamese cinnamon, tea-smoked duck Benedict, and another surpising standout, fingerling potatoes interspersed with crunchy slivers of Chinese sausage.
Just as much attention is poured into the drinks, making recognizable brunch favorites stand out in exotic new ways. Take the bellyMary, made with Belly Fire Sauce, Seoul Sauce, ginger, tomato juice, and your choice of vodka, gin, tequila, sake, shochu, or Scotch (the Scotch is great). For those who like their morning coffee dripping with booze, there's an intriguing cocktail made with Vietnamese coffee and rum whipped cream.
As is the case with everything Bill Kim and co. do, brunch at bellyQ is an invigorating, highly atypical affair. Brunch is served every Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.