Belly full: New York's bacon restaurant – and its nine-course tasting menu
A new Korean-influenced restaurant in Williamsburg offers nine pork courses on an omakase basis, as well as a spot of karaoke
Bacon has made its way into burgers, cupcakes and even cocktails. Now there’s an all-bacon tasting menu. At Korean-influence eatery Belly, opened last month in Brooklyn, diners can feast on nine porky dishes ($45) from bacon sushi to bacon steak.
Despite the focus on bacon, it’s not the relentless grease-fest you might expect
As with the omakase tradition in sushi bars, the nine-course menu is dictated by the chef and changes monthly according to what ingredients are in season.
The atmosphere is relaxed. Owners Phillip Cho and Anna Lee got the idea to open a restaurant after hosting popular “laid-back, bacon-centric” dinner parties, and that informality is at work here, with communal tables and karaoke downstairs.
Experiencing the omakase takes about an hour and a half and booking is essential. Despite the focus on bacon, it’s not the relentless grease-fest you might expect. Many of the dishes reflect the owners’ Korean heritage, and chef Brian Crawford also draws on a range of culinary influences from Japan (bacon sushi) to Italy (bacon carpaccio drizzled with truffle oil). Bacon steak sounds like a gimmick, but it turns out to be one of the more straightforward Korean dishes, an expertly grilled slab of pork belly marinated in gochujang (fermented chili paste), which helps balance out the cut’s fatty edges.
The earthy decor of salvaged wood and lamps hanging from scraps of rope makes clear that this isn’t your typical American bacon-and-eggs joint. When eggs do show up on the menu, they’re sous-vide (vacuum sealed) eggs from a local farm, and they’re perfectly cooked, spilling over a rich bowl of rice braised with pork shoulder and eggplant and spiced up with chili oil. Crawford describes the dish as “a flavour bomb,” but it’s also creamy and soothing, like a Korean-inflected risotto.The doughnut that concludes the meal doesn’t actually contain bacon, but its seductively smoky flavour is infused into the cloud of whipped cream that accompanies the dessert. Even if you’re full, you might find yourself scraping the plate. “People say that nine courses sounds like a lot of food, but there’s rarely any left over,” Crawford says.