Experience authentic Korean cuisine at Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant, a modest and undiscovered culinary haven that will be celebrating its first anniversary next month.
Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant is tucked in a quiet neighborhood of Oleai near the village’s public elementary school and has been serving popular Korean dishes based on homemade recipes of owner and manager Mee Yeon Lee.
The establishment started out as a factory for tofu, bean sprouts, and rice cakes and was very popular in the olden days when garment factories were prospering. It became popular as Kim’s Tofu and Beansprout-named after the former owner Song Lim Kim.
No matter how well-received the place was for producing fresh and quality tofu, Kim’s Tofu and Beansprout yielded to the demise of the garment factory era, prompting its owner to sell the business.
It was Mrs. Lee and husband Sung Chun Lee who took over the company and carried on the factory venture, adding a snack bar-restaurant-catering business that gave birth to Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant.
What the place lacks in ambience makes up for in food, with Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant riding on the Korean food wave by serving up a gamut of nutritious Korean fares.
“I wanted to introduce natural and healthy Korean food to the people on Saipan because everywhere you go here, the food they serve are all meat and cooked in so much oil and a lot of MSG,” said Lee, who has been on Saipan since 1996.
A teacher by profession, Lee said this is the second restaurant she has owned and managed from the time of her arrival. She used to run Sashimi House in Chalan Kanoa, which is now operated by her sister-in-law.
“I really love to cook, that’s why I got into the restaurant and catering business,” Lee told Saipan Tribune.
Lee’s penchant for cooking and her resolve to promote healthy food prompted her to come up with wholesome Korean dishes.
Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant’s menu features impeccably prepared cuisines-from appetizers to main entrees-that feature the tofu and bean sprouts they themselves manufacture.
Lee recommends the Combination Tofu Soup, a shrimp-based soup with generous servings of tofu dumpling, tofu meatballs, and tofu sandwich. Soup selection also includes Seafood Soft Tofu Soup, Vegetable Bean Curd Soup, and the delightful Soft Tofu Soup with Egg.
To make the dishes affordable, Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant also offers lunch sets of Bibimbap, Beef Bulgogi, Spicy Pork, and Spicy Beef Soup at $5 each. Lee noted that they also serve special lunch set at $8 per person, which includes not just a main course that varies everyday but also heaps of appetizing side dishes.
At dinnertime, diners can order succulent Korean-barbecued meat: pork, chicken, and short ribs for only $10 or $15 per person.
Other a la carte items such as Chapchae or Korean pancit, Sweet and Sour Fish, and Sushi are also available. Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant also sells reasonably priced tofu, mongo sprouts, bean sprouts, kimchi, marinated pork, or chicken by the pound.
In celebration of their first anniversary, Lee said that they will be serving Korean rice cake and ginger tea for free to dine-in customers for the whole month of July.
“We have customers of diverse nationalities and we want to encourage more community members, especially those who don’t know about Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant, to try us out and taste authentic and healthy Korean cooking,” said Lee.
Lee said they also accept catering orders and parties at Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant, which seats about 30 to 40 individuals. She recommends that dine-in customers call in advance so they can prepare the orders and serve them when they get to the restaurant.
Visit Kim’s Tofu and Restaurant next to Kim’s Mini-Mart and Coin-op Laundry along Oleai St. or call 234-7191 or 483-3532 for orders, reservations or more information.
By Clarissa V. David