Good-bye Pfizer, hello Sushi
The Kims' new venture
by Sally Mitani
The restaurant business attracts plenty of passionate, food-obsessed dreamers who quickly discover they're in over their heads. Maybe the industry needs more computer scientists.
Here's how Umi Sushi, a Japanese-Korean restaurant scheduled to open shortly before Christmas, came about. Mike Kim, who is from Korea, worked at Pfizer as a computer scientist for eleven years. When Pfizer closed, he says, "my family wanted to stay in Ann Arbor." But as he looked at his options, he decided the city could more easily absorb another restaurant than another computer scientist.
To learn the trade, he went to work for a year at Biwako, a Korean-Japanese restaurant in Saline. Then he leased some space in a familiar part of town-Plymouth Green Crossings, practically across the street from Pfizer.
Umi, he says, is a Japanese word that means "blue ocean." When it came time to design the restaurant, his wife, Jeong-ok, "chose the paint colors and designed the bathrooms. We wanted it to be warm and welcoming"-hence the light gold walls, clean-lined wooden sushi bar, and yellow and brown upholstered booths.
When we stopped by in early December, Kim was hiring waiters and putting the finishing touches on the menu, which will include Korean dishes, sushi, and cooked Japanese specialties such as teriyaki. The price range will be $7-$10 for lunch and $8-$16 for dinner.
Kim himself will be working in the kitchen. "But we have a main chef," he adds, "Seonghee Ryu. He's more experienced than me. He worked at Sushi.come the last six years."
Umi Sushi, 3393B Plymouth Road (Plymouth Green Crossings), 222-0826. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Closed Sun.
[Originally published in January, 2009.]