“Food & Wine” named this Ann Arbor Korean restaurant on their Best New Chefs List

She was inspired by her mom’s home cooking

Dine in the D: Miss Kim on Live in the D

Dishes like Korean fried chicken or spicy Korean rice cakes (called Tteokbokki) are the kinds of food Ji Hye Kim grew up with.

“I was born and raised in Korea, and I have a mother who is like the best cook in the family,” says Kim.

Even when her family moved to New Jersey, her mom would insist on making her kimchi from scratch. It gave her pride to serve her family food she made herself.

While for most chefs this is generally followed with “and I grew up cooking next to my mom, with her teaching me everything she knew,” that wasn’t the case for Kim. Instead, she says her mom kept her out of the kitchen but did teach her an appreciation for good food.

Kim ended up going to U of M to pursue a career in health insurance, but she always maintained her love of food. In her late 20s she realized that the field she was in, wasn’t for her, and she wanted to pursue food instead.

She quit her job and started working for Zingerman’s and said it was a “great education.” Craving her mom’s cooking, she wanted to start making Asian cuisine. She joined Zingerman’s path to partnership and opened a food cart serving up Asian street food. Over time, the food cart grew in popularity, eventually becoming the restaurant, Miss Kim.

“The most succinct way to explain it is a Korean Michigan restaurant,” says Kim.

After lots of research into Korean cuisine, she found that one of its hallmarks is seasonality. In fact, in Korean cuisine, they have 24 seasons. She decided to base her menu around that seasonality, using fresh Michigan produce and visiting with the farmers at the Ann Arbor farmers market.

Food is served family-style and is meant to be shared. Popular dishes include their Korean fried chicken, which happens to be gluten-free and can be dressed with a variety of sauces, and their kimchi fried rice which can be made with or without pork. Another favorite is Tteokbokki, sautéed Korean rice cakes tossed in a spicy and slightly sweet gochujang chili sauce with pork belly and a poached egg on top. They have a variety of side dishes to round out your meal including banchan, traditional Korean accouterments including things like pickled cucumbers in a chili sauce, bean sprouts, or kimchi radish. Her menu is filled with little anecdotes about the different dishes and her memories of them, or cool facts she found while researching.

Her approach to Korean cuisine recently won her a spot on Food & Wine’s “Best New Chef” list of 2021, an honor she says feels “surreal.”

For more information, watch the full story above. If you want to try Miss Kim it is located at 415 North 5th Avenue in Ann Arbor.

About the Author:

Michelle Oliver is a multimedia Journalist for the 10 a.m. lifestyle show, "Live in the D." She is known as "the food girl" because of her two popular food franchises, Dine in the D and Find Your Fix. Michelle also covers stories on homegrown businesses, style, and other fun things happening in the D.