Ari's Picks

A Trio of Compelling Reasons to Come to Miss Kim

Chef Ji Hye Kim in a white apron in front of a painting in her restaurant

A very tasty treasure in Ann Arbor’s culinary ecosystem

One thing I’ve learned from traveling a lot over the years is that often, myself included, we can take local treasures for granted while we’re simultaneously letting ourselves be wowed by what we “discover” when we leave town. When I consider the context of the national culinary scene though, I’m reminded regularly of just how special the story of what Ji Hye and everyone at Miss Kim are doing really is. Here are three BIG reasons to make time to head over to the restaurant soon!

  1. Gain a greater understanding of Korean cooking! While Korean barbecue, kimchi, and a mainstream version of bibimbob have gotten attention in the US in recent years, there is so, so much more to the amazing culinary traditions of the Korean peninsula. Ji Hye has done inspiring deep dives into the cooking of each of South Korea’s nine regions, as well as that of the impossible-for-any-of-us-to-visit-right-now North. She’s also gone back in history to study and cook food from the various Korean royal dynasties and to honor the influences of Japan and China. Each meal at Miss Kim then exemplifies our forty-year-long commitment to traditional food in a wonderfully memorable, exceptionally tasty way. Every visit is a chance to learn about the intricacies of what the thousands of years of rich Korean culture and history are all about.

  2. The quality of Ji Hye’s cooking! Cooking well is not about headlines; to the contrary, it’s mostly about hard work, attention to detail, self-confidence, and an ability to learn from others while staying true to your own sensibilities. At Zingerman’s, we long ago committed to full-flavored food, which we define further to mean complexity, balance, and finish. Ji Hye’s work in the kitchen makes these come alive beautifully on every plate. Which is why food lovers from out of town consistently reach out to tell me how wonderful their meals at Miss Kim were. Kudos and respect to Ji Hye for working so hard and so successfully to master her craft!

  3. Help support one of the many wonderfully positive immigrant stories in the U.S. I’m not here to argue formal immigration policy but it seems clear from any number of studies that the newest generations of immigrants—of which Ji Hye is one—are doing wonderful work to enrich the culture, economy, and educational work of the country. These are the positive stories of immigration, like the one in Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, that are often not told, but certainly ought to be. Koreans have been coming to the U.S. and contributing positively to every part of the country, since the 1880s. The first significant wave of Korean immigration took place in the first years of the 20th century, about the same time my grandmother came to Chicago from Lithuania. Coming to a new place is not easy. We are all, in our own ways, moving into new “places” in our lives on a regular basis: not just new countries, but new jobs, new relationships, new communities, new stages of our lives. Ji Hye’s work to stay true to herself and yet adapt to local influences and ingredients is a model for the rest of us to learn from.

Whether you come to Miss Kim for lunch or dinner, whether you opt to dine or do carryout, you have the chance to benefit from all this and more with every visit. I feel fortunate to have someone as special as Ji Hye as a long-standing part of the ZCoB and here in Ann Arbor. In recent years, Miss Kim has gotten well-deserved recognition from Food and Wine, the James Beard Foundation, Bon AppétitThe New York Times, and more! Our town has been getting more and more recognition as one of the best places to live in the U.S. in great part for the richness of its cultural, and culinary, resources. Miss Kim, quietly, is a big part of what makes that happen. Kudos to Ji Hye and everyone in the restaurant for making the Miss Kim story so tasty and inspiring!

Book your next visit to Miss Kim!

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