In the heart of Koreatown, you’ll find, well…. Korean food. Ethnic neighborhoods are given their obvious namesakes based off of the people occupying the space, and K-town is no different. The selection of Korean barbecue spots and boba shops are endless if you’re into that sort of thing, so the assumption is what you see is what you get.
But you have no idea just how wrong you are. Nestled in a tucked away parking lot on Western Avenue and West Sixth Street is a cozy restaurant that’ll leave your waistband feeling equally cozy, if not more so, when you leave.
Beer Belly | Photo by Eat Your Heart Out LA
The name should speak for itself, but Jimmy and Yume Han’s Beer Belly restaurant came to fruition from Jimmy’s passion for craft beer with an appreciation for equally crafty and innovative food. Head chef Wes Lieberher came into the picture due to Jimmy’s fandom for the chef’s old stomping grounds, the Grindhaus food truck, where they paired together exotic sausages and sauces.
In an overall sweep of the menu, Wes’s menu is everything savory and succulent, meant to be the perfect complimentary food to any of their rotating craft beers, both bottle and on tap. What seem to be staples throughout Wes’s menu is pork and duck – fatty, yes, but undeniably flavorful, especially coming from the head chef. From fried duck livers to homemade duck sausage, the bird’s the word on this menu.
Pair the duck French dip with some duck fat fries and there could be no better match. The sandwich is served on a roll with sage-roasted duck breast, provolone cheese, horseradish aioli with duck au jus on the side. For $14, the duck sandwich is sizeable and packs in the flavor.
Duck French Dip | Photo cred: Beer Belly
The duck breast felt more like pulled pork in taste and tenderness, complimented by the cheese and horseradish, which makes the sandwich by itself pretty good. The game changer at this point is once the sandwich is dipped into the au jus that just adds juiciness to the duck breast and reasserts the savory duck flavor.
The duck fat fries are $6 and come out golden and crispy and dusted with sweet onion sugar and duck skin cracklins. Not to be ignored however, is the raspberry mustard served on the side, which nicely counterbalances the richness of the fries.
Duck fat fries | Photo cred: Bun Boy Eats LA
Not to be outdone by the duck, Beer Belly’s pork items are equally present in fries, pork belly chips and bacon. The Beer Belly grilled cheese is a monster in flavor, but in price at $11. What they call a “quad-deck 4×4,” the sandwich is essentially two sandwiches made into one, with four different cheese, bacon and then drizzled with maple syrup.
Beer Belly Grilled Cheese | Photo cred: Bun Boy Eats LA
A meal at Beer Belly wouldn’t be complete without sampling a craft beer, and the selection offered made it hard to pick one. Luckily for us, the gastropub offers a beer sampler hand-selected by beer manager Ric Syberg.
Beer Belly Flight | Photo Cred: Guzzle & Nosh
Our personal favorite among the five was a local brew, the Ohana Blonde Ale that was a nice compliment to our meal. The LA brew carried a very hoppy flavor, yet remained light and crispy to help wash down the hearty duck (or pork) filled dinner.
The rotating craft beers come from all over the country, from locally to as far north as Portland, to all the way east from Delaware. Pints average about $7, while cans and bottles can range from $6-30, depending on the brew and size. Beer Belly also offers a variety of wines, sodas, cider and tea.
Hopefully a visit to Beer Belly won’t leave you comatose over such a meal, but we’re sure that while your pants might hate you afterward, your soul will certainly be singing.