Miss Kim

Miss Kim Is Open: Here’s a First Look!


Illustration by Ryan Stiner

We are so excited! Miss Kim, our new Korean restaurant from chef Ji Hye Kim and Zingerman’s, soft opens tonight in Kerrytown. We can’t wait to share great food and drink with you. This is a soft open, so the menu will be limited at first. Walk-ins are welcome, and our hours to start are Tuesday through Sunday, 5pm-10pm. However this Sunday (12/11) we will be closed for maintenance. Read on to find out more about Miss Kim.

“Korean food rooted in tradition, but adapted to where we are.” That’s how Ji Hye Kim describes the menu at Miss Kim, her new restaurant in partnership with Zingerman’s that debuts just a short walk from the Deli tonight. The result of years of hard work, development, and inspiration, the spot offers seasonal dishes and a soulful take on Korean cuisine.

For her first brick-and-mortar venture, Ji Hye wanted to do a deep exploration of the flavors of her heritage. “I felt a great desire to really reach down into Korean food,” she explains. “That’s what I grew up with, and that’s what I know, and it gives me the most comfort and pleasure.” Her family’s immigration to the U.S. when she was 13—and the inevitable straddling of cultures—play an influence on her cooking.

Pan-seared Shrimp Skewers

Pan-seared shrimp skewers

“All the dishes have tradition behind them,” says Ji Hye. “We know where it came from, but it’s adapted. I’m Korean-American, so it’s not just straight up Korean.”

Creating a Korean menu that uses seasonal produce from Michigan whenever possible is part of that adaptation. Her bibimbap is a good example. Served in a traditional stone bowl, the dish uses local ingredients (look for root vegetables and brassica this fall), which Ji Hye says are “often close cousins” to what may be found in Korea. Keeping with tradition, each component is prepared to make the most of its natural flavors and textures. “Carrots can handle a little heavier seasoning and a little sweeter seasoning, whereas sprouts are really gentle, so that might just get a little sesame oil, salt and pepper,” says Ji Hye.

Daily Jook, a rice or grain porridge each day

Daily jook, a rice or grain porridge each day

She also plays homage to cultural convergence with her famous buns, which she became known for in Ann Arbor while running the San Street food cart for four years (locals will be happy to have them again after a long hiatus). Though Chinese in origin, buns are a popular street food in Korea and have developed to reflect local flavors. “Food doesn’t know man-made boundaries of a country. Food actually is pretty fluid—a little fluidity is okay,” she says.

Though her family’s recipes won’t play a huge role on her menu, her mother’s influence can be seen in the Napa cabbage kimchi. The chef has memories of watching her mother burying the staple to ferment in Korea; in New Jersey, she still managed to make it from scratch, even in the midst of an 80-hour work week. Inspired by renditions from Seoul and North Korea, the kimchi at Miss Kim takes on subtle flavors with lower sodium, fewer chili flakes, and lighter use of fish sauce than you’ll find in most restaurants and store-bought brands.

Seasonal Banchan, i.e. small side dishes

Seasonal banchan, i.e. small side dishes

Soy Butter Rice

Soy butter rice

Ji Hye’s menu and thoughtful approach have evolved over time. She started her culinary career at the Deli, after leaving a lucrative position in the hospital insurance industry. At the time, she wanted, as she puts it, to do “something more straightforward, more transparent,” and slicing cheese for a living seemed like the answer. When she eventually moved to the prep kitchen and sandwich line, she did so in hopes that it would set a good foundation for her dream of opening her own place. She also trained with chef Alex Young at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, who gave her the opportunity to work a full-service restaurant kitchen.

San Street was her first experience in running a food business, and she says it taught her crucial lessons. It also allowed her to slowly expand, moving from cart to pop-ups and, now, a restaurant. After partnering with Zingerman’s to open Miss Kim, Ji Hye embarked on another phase of her food education, visiting South Korea and interning at Alice Waters’ Rome Sustainable Food Project and with the famous Tuscan butcher, Dario Cecchini. She also staged at chef Tory Miller’s Sujeo in Wisconsin and Hooni Kim’s Hanjan in New York.

Freshly shucked oysters with Korean pear, citrus, soy, and perilla

Freshly shucked oysters with Korean pear, citrus, soy, and perilla

Now in her own space, which functions as a kitchen and bar (with beer, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks designed to enhance Korean flavors), Ji Hye plans to bring the same high level of flavor and quality to her guests that she’s been so inspired by. To ensure the kind of service customers enjoy at Zingerman’s businesses, Miss Kim will be a no-tip restaurant. All front- and back-of-the-house employees will earn hourly pay and benefits.

Ji Hye believes the no-tip model provides clarity for employees with guaranteed compensation. For guests, it offers a whole-dining experience instead of arbitrarily breaking it down to food and service. She points out that in her experience as both a server and frequent diner, level of service doesn’t seem to directly correlate with whether a server gets paid in tips or not.

Some of the crew in training!

Some of the crew in training!

“We are building an equitable, calm and happy work place with lots of training and clear systems,” says Ji Hye. “I believe that will definitely contribute to providing great service to our guests. And, you know, our food will be delicious!”

Keep up with exciting Miss Kim updates—visit the MissKim website to subscribe to the newsletter.

Miss Kim 415 N. 5th Ave., Ann Arbor, 48104