White-painted brick walls, soft lighting, crisp linen tablecloths covering deep brown wood tables: The Miss Kim design scheme seems purposely designed to prevent distraction from the kaleidoscope of color and flavor on your plate. This sit-down expansion of a food cart, the newest Zingerman’s restaurant, had a soft opening in Kerrytown last December. Now thriving on a recent Saturday night, a mixed crowd filled the tightly packed tables while others waited for the next open spot.
The menu, devised by managing partner Ji Hye (pronounced “gee-hey”) Kim, draws on memories of the foods her grandmother and mother made in Korea. We skipped the appetizers (oysters, crudités, and edamame) in favor of a small plate of handmade steamed buns filled with savory mushrooms. Our teeth sank through pillowy exteriors into shiitakes sliced wafer thin, seared to golden perfection. A kale and spicy green salad, garnished with peanuts and pickled watermelon radish, sparkled in a dressing that nicely balanced sweet and tart.
For the main, we split the recommended stone bowl bibimbob. The heat of the bowl sizzles the rice to a golden crust, which arrives topped with more of those lovely mushrooms and strips of tender beef, tender-crisp marinated cucumbers, sweet crunchy bean sprouts, and some blanched spinach that tasted as if it had been harvested that afternoon. A barely warmed egg yolk sat centered, ready to break and swirl with the stainless steel chopsticks provided to every diner (forks available on request). The only misstep was a pile of tough, woody burdock strips (similar to a parsnip), which could have benefitted from a sliver cut—or, perhaps, could simply be left out of the bowl.
Miss Kim has a no-tip policy, and the staff is relaxed—they’re not worried about upselling you—and clearly collaborative. If it’s a Zingerman’s trend to pay wait staff a living wage and abolish tipping, we applaud it and hope it spreads citywide. Wines, beers, and cocktails are available, though we loved the ginger tea. Since desserts aren’t intrinsic to Korean cuisine but are loved by Michiganders, there’s a selection of incongruous choices from the Zing’s bakery a block away. But—Pavlova? I found myself wondering what the kitchen could do with simple fresh fruit, as artfully arranged as the rest of the offerings on the menu.
You will dine elbow to elbow; be prepared to eavesdrop on the next table’s conversation, whether you want to or not. Plan on $30 per person without drinks, and $40 and up with. For food prepared this thoughtfully, in an atmosphere both laid-back and energetic, it’s an excellent value.
415 N 5th Ave, Ann Arbor
(entrance through Kerrytown or from East Kingsley)
734-275-0099 | misskimannarbor.com
Tues-Sat 5pm-10pm, Sun 5pm-9pm
Reservations only for 6 or more