When James Beard Award winning chef Ann Kim first announced her plans to open an Uptown restaurant inside a storied address on 31st Street near Hennepin Avenue the biggest headline was that the chef known for her prowess with crust would not be serving pizza. Much has changed in the three years since, and in that time, between running her three successful pizza restaurants and dealing with the challenges of a global pandemic, Kim has been studying the art of the tortilla. Now, Sooki & Mimi, her fourth restaurant, is open serving only a vegetable and masa-based tasting menu.
The first spark of inspiration for the eatery came by way of a heritage corn tortilla she sampled in Valle de Guadalupe that was so incredible, it caused Kim to tear up. In an effort to get that texture and pliability just right, she has been working to learn how to hand-grind nixtamalized corn.
The rounded bar where Adam Gorski’s cocktails are served
As the slow transformation of the room has come together, Kim has hosted taco pop-ups at her Northeast Minneapolis restaurant, Young Joni, garnering rave reviews for her tortillas and the various fillings she’s made.
Understanding the art of making a great tortilla became a quest for chef Ann Kim. She studied and traveled to Mexico several times, honing the texture, nixtamalization, and flavor.
When it first opened with limited take out, Sooki & Mimi served family-serving comfort dishes of roast meats, pickled vegetables, a cavalcade of sauces, and a myriad of ways to assemble them all together at home.
The front room faces 31st Street in Minneapolis with huge floor to ceiling windows.
Now, the restaurant is officially open it is currently serving a ten-course vegetarian tasting menu for $120 pre-paid, per person with optional beverage add ons. The dishes are artful explorations Mexican flavors and ingredients put through Kim’s Korean American filter.
Where the former restaurant had been a collection of intimate rooms, Sooki & Mimi have pushed out all the walls and raised the ceiling
Behind the bar is beverage director Adam Gorski, whose drinks always contain a bit of whimsy mixed with sophistication. Reservations for cocktail-only experience are available with two drinks and no food service at the bar for $25.
The wide, light room with soft wooden seats, tables, and sparse green accents is both reminiscent of Kim’s award-winning Young Joni restaurant and of dining in Mexico
But this remains only the opening entry to a new chapter. Kim has said that the restaurant will continue to evolve and grown into what it was meant to be. Reservations are available through Tock Wednesday through Sunday.
Small jars of condiments line the shelves. Sauces and salsas serve both as supplies and decor. On opening weekend, the front bar was dotted with floral arrangements Right now, a cocktail tasting menu serving drinks only, no food, is available at the bar. Kim has said that Sooki & Mimi will continue to evolve as long as its open. For now, it’s a tasting menu, but it’s certain to change. Small tropical plants dot the shelves separating the booths that overlook the street.