We had the good fortune of connecting with Jimin Kim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jimin, how did you come up with the idea for your business?
It has always been my life long dream to own my restaurant. Ramen started to get popular in Los Angeles back in 2015 and I’ve been obsessed years before. After two years of research and development, I finally opened my first ramen-ya.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been in the F&B industry since I was 19 years old. My first job position was as a dishwasher. I worked my way up to sushi chef within that year. I have no culinary background but the opportunity to move up and learn a skill motivated me and pushed me to improve and hone my skills. I learned the basics and standards of Japanese cuisine. I realized I really enjoyed creating new flavors and dishes, improvising and balancing flavors. Throughout my career, I’ve worked all all front of house and back of house positions. I learned how to manage employees, create menu and dishes, order inventory, scheduling staff, payroll… you name it, I did it all. With 22 years of experience in my pocket, it was time for me to open my own. After opening my first ramen-ya in Westchester in 2016 with success, I decided to move on and create an even better concept: Saikai Ramen Bar in Koreatown, Los Angeles. I’m able to create dishes and flavors based on my heritage, Korean, and blend it with traditional Japanese techniques and ingredients. Los Angeles has a vast, multi-cultural community that inspires my menu, along with seasonal produce.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I really enjoy and appreciate anything with nature – hiking, surfing, visiting national forests and deserts. Definitely hit up Griffith Park or Malibu trails, surf County Line, visit Big Bear Lake and Palm Springs.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife, Sandy Han, has been my motivator, supporter, confidant and backbone to all our ventures.
Jakob Layman, Ben Hon