By R. H. Lannen
Even after many visits to Hungry Belly, I still have yet to scratch the surface of the menu. Four pages long and containing more than 100 different things to order, the list can seem a little daunting to wade through. The restaurant has selections from ramen to burgers and everything in between. However, at its core, Hungry Belly is genuinely a superb Korean restaurant serving delicious and authentic plates at a reasonable price.
The first thing I look for in any good Korean restaurant is a quality Bulgogi, and Hungry Belly does not disappoint. The beef bulgogi is melt-in-your-mouth tender and very flavorful, clearly having marinated for a reasonable amount of time. The bulgogi is available to order in several different dishes, including in a bento box or even in a taco. Yet I found it shone best in the Dolsot Bibimbop, a hot stone bowl filled with steamed rice and a mixture of stir-fried vegetables topped with the delicious beef.
With the nights growing ever colder, more and more, I am drawn to a hot and filling stew to end my evening, and I found a favorite in the Kalbi Tang. Kalbi, or marinated boneless short ribs, are served in a light broth on top of a helping of glass potato noodles, making for the perfect counter to a cold November evening. The short ribs are so rich in flavor it feels almost decadent to enjoy, but is well balanced by the delicate broth and buoyant noodles. The combination makes the dish very filling yet still refreshing. Since Hungry Belly’s available soups rotate nightly, I found myself enjoying several other options, including another favorite, the very spicy Kimchi Jigae, a kimchi-based soup with tender bites of pork belly and an energetic punch of pickled flavor.
In addition to a robust Korean palate, Hungry Belly finds firm footing in its vast array of sushi options. The fish served is consistently fresh, and the rolls are made well, giving another choice for those looking beyond Korean comfort foods. The always classic Dragon roll is a favorite of mine, as I am one to never turn down a well-cooked piece of eel atop a sushi roll. The restaurant also serves up a small selection of quality sashimi at a reasonable price for those who may not be looking for something deep-fried and filled with cream cheese.
Where Hungry Belly falls short is by spreading itself too thin in an attempt to please everyone, rather than focusing on a few staples. With so many choices on the menu, there are inevitably outliers that do not stand up against the high quality of Korean food and tasty sushi options available. Dishes like the hot sauce doused Pad Thai or the Belly Fries, which are drenched in cheese and topped with a myriad of sauces, feel uninspired and give more of a sensation of fast food than a quality Asian restaurant.
Beyond the endless selection of food, however, Hungry Belly has many things working in their favor. I have grown fonder of the restaurant with each visit, due in part to having an incredibly friendly and attentive staff as well as quick service, something Hungry Belly excels at. With the combination of delicious food and a comfortable and casual atmosphere, Hungry Belly is a perfect addition to the East Dallas neighborhood.
2818 N. Fitzhugh Ave.
Mon. – Fri. 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
and 4:30-10:30 p.m.
Sat. and Sun. noon-10:30 p.m.