"In Korean, mott means 'taste' and I think that's one of the things I grew up hearing was sonmot, which means 'taste of the hand,'" said Chef and co-owner Edward Kim.
And Kim's hand guides everything. From a square, lasagna-like wedge of rice and pork shoulder, bound together by napa cabbage kimchi and immersed in a pool of kimchi juice, to a perfectly moist chicken breast done sous vide style.
"What that means is it's cooked in a bag at a very careful temperature for about 90 minutes; it's cooked within its own juices," he said.
To add texture, Kim tosses a salad of thinly-sliced celery, grapes, fried bits of quinoa and crispy chicken skin dressed in a ginger vinaigrette, mounds it over the top and offers a salty-fishy dipping sauce for extra oomph.
Crispy Imperial rolls rotate their fillings, but are always served with red leaf lettuce that you doctor-up with fresh herbs and sprouts, then dip into a fresh lime-and-fish sauce.
Even Japanese udon noodles get the Kim treatment.
"We take kimchi that we've chopped up to a puree form; we sauté it, caramelize it, we add the cod roe to it," said Kim.
Then the noodles and a bit of kimchi juice and butter to fortify it. Just before serving, he tops it with bits of wasabi tobiko, a few shards of nori, or dried seaweed, a few scallions and a handful of dried bonito flakes, which come from tuna. It's an umami bomb with a chewy, barely spicy undertone.
"Basically the starches come out from the udon which causes this reaction that's almost cheesy, and so it has a flavor that is almost similar to carbonara," he said.
1401 N. Ashland Ave.