Food & Drink

Chef Jonah Kim Gets Set to Open Noodle Bar in VA

Former Pabu chef partners with Top Chef’s Mike Isabella.

By Jane Marion | November 18, 2014, 2:25 pm

-Pabu Facebook
Food & Drink

Chef Jonah Kim Gets Set to Open Noodle Bar in VA

Former Pabu chef partners with Top Chef’s Mike Isabella.

By Jane Marion | November 18, 2014, 2:25 pm

-Pabu Facebook

For those who were hoping that former Pabu chef Jonah Kim would set his next venture in Baltimore, you might have to program your GPS.

The former Pabu chef announced today that he and celebrity chef Mike Isabella (a former Top Chef contestant and owner of Graffiato and several other D.C.-VA hotspots) are partnering to open Yona, a Japanese noodle bar and small-plates place in Ballston, VA.

The opening is tentatively set for spring 2015.

Though Kim, a Butchers Hill resident, said he and Isabella initially looked in Baltimore, those plans didn’t pan out.

That being said, the new plans for a ramen restaurant sound promising, and we are happy to follow  this talented chef wherever he lands.

Yona (both the Korean and Japanese pronunciation of Kim’s name) will feature lunch and dinner service.

“Lunch will focus on great takeout options,” says Kim, who just returned from a family vacation and an inspiration trip to Korea. “In the evening, we will create more of a dining experience with small plates that a lot of people in Baltimore are familiar with from when I was at Pabu—I love that style of dining where it’s all in front of you and you can share.”

While Kim’s fried chicken recipe perfected at Pabu will appear on Yona’s menu, other specialties will include donburi bowls, tonkotsu ramen, and small plates such as steamed duck buns and kimchi.

“The food will be ramen, but also with Asian-influenced small plates from Korean to Japanese,” says the native of Korea. “Noodles are the Asian pasta. They are comfortable and very approachable. When you think of ramen or pho or any other kind of noodle dish, the warmth of the broth steaming in your face, the noodles that you are slurping, it’s something that’s really fun. And from a consumer standpoint, the price point works.”

A noodle bar also offers the chef a chance to get back to his roots. “It’s just something that a lot of Asian chefs go back to,” Kim explains. “It’s what we like, and what we grew up eating, and this pays an homage to our culture.”

Kim and Isabella first became friends several years back while doing charity events in Washington, D.C. “We knew each other on a professional level,” says Kim, “and I had done a couple of events at Graffiato. The professional relationship grew into a personal relationship.”

Kim is thrilled with his new business partner. “Mike has been amazing to work with,” says Kim. “He’s been nothing but supportive and he has no ego. He told me, ‘This place is going to be 98-percent you and two-percent me, and that two percent is going to be me supporting you.'” Kim is hoping that he and Isabella will partner on other projects, as well, and says a restaurant in the Baltimore area is “TBD.”

We’ll slurp to that. 

Meet The Author
Jane Marion is the food and dining editor for Baltimore, where she covers food, wellness, beauty, and home and garden.

You May Also Like

In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Bmore Licks; Catonsville Gourmet; Gordon Biersch

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

In Good Taste

Why Eating Out Is More Than a Meal

What’s on the plate is paramount, but it’s only part of the bigger picture.

In Good Taste

Baltimore Restaurants Cope With Indefinite Closures

Chefs introduce curbside takeout and delivery while weighing options for staff.

Food & Drink

All Greek to Us

Without caving to time or trends, Baltimore’s Greektown lives on.

On The Town

Where to Take Advantage of Leap Day in Baltimore

Drink deals and parties planned for the extra day of the year.

Food & Drink

Local Flavor Live Podcast: Supporting The Dining Scene While Staying Healthy

We discuss how to invest in your favorite local restaurants amid coronavirus closures.

Connect With Us

Most Read

John Waters Flexes Acting Muscles on 'Law & Order: SVU': The Baltimore icon will guest star on an episode of the NBC show later this month.

How to Support Small Businesses Amid Pandemic Panic: As foot traffic slows due to coronavirus, owners worry about lasting impacts.

What Will Druid Hill Park Look Like in Two Years?: As Druid Lake Reservoir overhaul continues, city leaders consider activation options.

With Emptying Venues, Local Music Community Faces Uncertainty: There are still ways to support local artists during the coronavirus outbreak.

Maryland Hoops, and Everyone Else, Stomachs A Sudden End to Their Seasons: Plus, an update on Trey Mancini’s health and Joe Flacco shows for Marshal Yanda’s retirement party