With some dishes inspired by Japanese flavors, like their miso sake marinated Sablefish, and others like the Korean-marinated ribeye which is like an elevated bibimbap, Pacific Rim in Ann Arbor gives you a taste of its namesake.
“The menu is just a spectrum of the whole Pacific Rim of cuisines,” explains Owner and Executive Chef, Duc Tang. “It’s authentic Asain, but it’s just my own take, and often it’s a contemporary version.”
The restaurant originally opened in 1980 as a Korean restaurant called Kana. At the time, it was one of the only Korean restaurants in the area. In 2000, the original owner’s son took it over and wanted to expand the menu to include other Asian cuisines. This is where Duc Tang comes in. The original owner’s son and Tang were friends in college and he knew Tang loved to cook. At the time, though, Tang was in pursuit of a different white coat, having graduated from Yale with a pre-med degree.
“I had never stepped foot in a restaurant kitchen before,” explains Tang. “I just love to cook at home, and the menu is kind of a reflection of my background. I was born in Vietnam, my family fled the country after the war and we lived in refugee camps in Hong Kong and the Philippines, and finally immigrated to California.”
He says his mom was an excellent chef, and he learned a lot about what flavors worked well together from her. From his mother-in-law and grandma-in-law, he learned to cook Korean cuisine as well.
When Tang changed up the menu, he also helped change up the restaurant’s design. As a hobby, he took up woodworking and ended up making the bamboo tables and booths in the restaurant. The whole place has a very clean, minimalist, contemporary Asian feel.
“I love having a hand in all those details,” says Tang.
For a look at the menu, check out the video above.
Pacific Rim is located at 114 W Liberty Street in Ann Arbor. Currently, the road in front of their building is blocked off on the weekends to expand their patio space.