The restaurant business has long been a family affair for JP Kim.
With the help of his wife, brother, and sister-in-law, he’s hoping to foster a welcoming environment for all in what he calls a, “really intimate space,” at Yume in Magnolia.
And unlike the cocktail lounge it replaces at 3217 W. McGraw St. — formerly Oliver’s Twist — the new sushi restaurant is kid-friendly and open to all ages.
“We want people around here to come, and all be pretty much like family,” Kim said.
Kim had long been interested in the space once it came on the market, despite some drawbacks. The kitchen is small, for one, and because it doesn’t have a hood its cooking uses are limited.
“But I saw the space — and if it’s sushi, I thought — we could make it work here,” he said.
He got the keys in January, and is set to open the doors this week after finishing a full refresh of the interior. The restaurant seats 36, and will serve up Americanized fusion-style rolls, sashimi, and other fish fare.
“We’ll just keep it simple and fresh,” Kim said.
He’s guided by the principle that customers should expect the same level of quality that he does.
“We try to make it how we want to be served, how we want to eat,” he said. “If it’s not fresh, if it’s not good, I don’t want to eat it, so we wouldn’t serve it.”
That maxim has come with plenty of experience, tracing back to his time in his aunt’s restaurant in Tokyo. Kim and his brother had moved after college to work there, and he steadily went from dishwashing to frying and grilling, while developing an appreciation for cooking.
The duo eventually moved back to the states — “Tokyo was just way too big for us, I guess,” Kim says — and he’s spent nearly the past decade in Seattle. Currently, he’s a head chef at Shiku in Ballard, and he’ll pull double duty with his new venture. But, he has plenty of faith in his brother — himself a longtime restaurant veteran — to be a steadying hand.
“We’ve been in the food business a really long time, “Kim said. “We combine all of our experiences, and then we just make it into our own.”
In fact, it was his brother’s decision to leave his other job that helped make the restaurant a reality. Of course, it took more than personal enthusiasm to take the leap, and he’s hoping to make the space a destination for locals.
“When you open up a restaurant, it’s not just about you wanting to open up a restaurant,” he said. “It’s about satisfying the people in the neighborhood, or if they want it or not.”
That’s what Kim is ready to find out.
Yume is open 4 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, call 206-402-6397.
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