Sunday, November 13, 2011


Friday night was Kettner Nights in San Diego and before hand we stopped into Underbelly located in Little Italy on Fir & Kettner for a bite to eat. It just opened up and they have a few kinks to work out but I was pretty stoked on the place. Underbelly is the newest project by Arsalun Tafazoli and Nathan Stanton who are the creators of Craft & Commerce, Neighborhood, Noble Experiment and El Dorado.
I love what they did with the space which used to be the upscale Red Velvet she-she wine bar. It is now a casual sit-down-and-eat-but-don't-stay-all-night kind of place with a three sided wrap around bar. Expect nothing less then spectacular as the decor was super innovative with subway tile on the wall behind the bar all the way up to covering the ceiling, an amazing 15 foot tall version of Andy Warhol's portrait of the Chinese Communist Leader, Mao Zendong, made out of 3200 succulent plants, surrounding walls made out of windows that open into shared counter space, and the most beautiful gold taps at the bar serving up 26 craft beers and a handful of wines from the California Coast. They even have this really cool device at the bar that washes out the sentiments and chills the glass before your brew is pored into it. You have to order all drinks and food at the bar so if you grab a seat on the outskirts of the bar don't wait for someone to come to you to take your order. Get your butt up and order at the bar. We got there just in time and grabbed a couple seats at the bar and the line started forming outside the door with anxious patrons waiting to enjoy a damn good bowl of Ramen. Top Notch Ramen that is, don't expect the get down and dirty type of Ramen that is served on Convoy Street.
(I forgot my camera this evening so photos were taken from my phone...not the best pics but I will try to paint a nice picture for you)
We enjoyed the Ginger Beef Brisket Mushu ($4.00) served with a ginger hoisin glaze and pickled cucumber. It was served in a crepe like pancake with micro greens. It was super good. The meat was tender and juicy, the cucumber was acidic and the hoisin sauce was sweet. What a combo! I wish they served a tad more of the hoisin sauce with it though.
We then had the Shrimp Gyoza ($5.00) which was stuffed with shrimp, shitake, asparagus and scallion.For our main course we shared a bowl of Ramen that was called the Belly Of The Beast ($13.00). What a beast of a bowl it was and was filled with oxtail dumplings, smoked brisket and hoisin glazed short rib, soft boiled egg, bean sprouts, ginger, scallions, seaweed, and sesame seeds. Served with chopsticks only as spoons are not an option at Underbelly. If you want to drink the broth you simply lift the bowl up to your mouth and drink it. I guarantee you will be doing so.
Other good looking options on the menu include. Ahi Tataki, Togarashi Spiced Boiled Peanuts, Shucked Oysters, Underbelly Ramen with Char-Su Belly, Applewood smoked Bacon, Korobuta Sausage and 2 vegan ramen options, a Vegetable Ramen and a Charred Spicy Kimchi Ramen. Also many other additions that you can add to your ramen if you like which allows you to mix things up a bit.

Underbelly will not be under the radar for long so hurry down to Little Italy for a different kind of pasta. Your belly will not be disappointed.
720 W. Fir Street Suite 101
San Diego, CA.

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