CHEF LOUIS HAN ABOUT HIS WORK AT SINGAPORES “KIMME” AND HIS CULINARY JOURNEY THROUGH ASIA
In this post chef Louis Han talks about his exciting culinary journey through Asia, and his work at the very successful “Kimme” restaurant in Singapore, opened by Chef Sun Kim. Let yourself be abducted and immerse yourself.
Where did your chef journey start/ what drove you to become a chef?
I started my culinary journey over 11 years ago, as I always had a keen interest in working in the kitchen. I spent most of my years working in the kitchens of many notable hotels and other restaurants, which include InterContinental Grand Parnas in Seoul from 2011 to 2013, the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul from 2013 to 2014, and Circo restaurant at The InterContinental Abu Dhabi from 2014 to 2016.
Which cooking school did you go to in Korea?
- Korea Culinary Art Science High School (2005 – 2007) in Kyung gi do, Korea.
- Korea Tourism College, Majoring in Hotel Cuisine (2008 – 2012) Gyeonggi-do, Icheon-si, Sindun-myeo in South Korea.
You worked at JW Marriott in Korea. What is there to report about this time?
At the JW Marriot in Korea, I was part of the opening of BLT Steakhouse– a classic American Grill. I joined the team as an opening member and helped with setting up the kitchen. However, I was always interested in exploring my roots and the Korean heritage food culture, which is where it has led me today.
With Intercontinental you gained some working experiences in Abu Dhabi. What was your greatest learning out of this time, as chef?
I was 24 years old when I started working at Intercontinental Abu Dhabi for a classic Italian fine dining restaurant. Prior to working there I had already gained some experience working with other restaurant groups. My role at Intercontinental Abu Dhabi was more leader-oriented and I was second-in-charge and was largely responsible for menu conceptualisation and ensuring the operations within the kitchen ran smoothly.
In Singapore you worked at the Michelin stared Meta restaurant. What was your experience out of this time?
I spent two years working at Michelin-starred Meta under the tutelage of Chef Sun Kim, who is the Group Executive Chef. It was an eye-opening experience as when I first joined Meta, the restaurant was only a few months old and the team was smaller. The structure was more fluid as compared to the bigger restaurants I had worked at, as we were always encouraged to experiment with a myriad of different ingredients and cooking techniques. It was here I truly learned how to conceptualise, develop and present dishes that made it to the menus.
Chef Sun Kim opened with Kimme a very successful restaurant in Singapore. What is the concept to distinguish from others?
Kimme is the casual sister restaurant of Meta. It was conceptualised by Chef Sun Kim that launched the end of 2017 and is a part of the Meta Group. Chef Sun Kim always wanted to open a more casual restaurant offering simple yet intelligent fare with an Asian twist. Kimme is a more accessible, intimate after-work dining destination for discerning food-lovers. A place that they can come back to time and again, no matter the occasion—whether it’s with friends, colleagues or their family. We had envisioned Kimme as a place that serves reliable and comforting dishes that still surprise in little ways.
Where does the name come from?
Kimme is an affectionate name Chef Sun Kim’s friends used to call him.
Some items from your menu:
- Irish Oyster, lemon ginger, trout roe
- Korean style wagyu tartare, papadum
- Kampachi Sashimi, ginger, gochujang
- King prawn, X.O sauce, Jerusalem artichoke and mussels
- Iberico Pluma, homemade achar
- French Pigeon, leek romaine and mushroom ragu
- Korean-style beef short rib, sauerkraut, coriander
- Irish oyster with lemon ginger and trout roe
- Kampachi sashimi with ginger and gochujang
How can you describe the culinary set up of the Kimme best; Asian-inspired flavors with Western techniques?
Kimme pairs innovative and elevated modern Japanese-and Korean-influenced dishes using European techniques.
Can you share one or two of your latest dishes/ creations with us?
- Overnight braised beef short rib with layers of sauerkraut and topped with coriander.($52 ++)
- Omija (Five-flavour berry found in Jeju Island, Korea) parfait, slow-cooked lychee, omija jelly, sprinkled with granola and topped with yuzu sorbet. ($18 ++)
Your menus are split into small plates, big plates and desserts. What’s the idea behind small and big plates?
At Kimme we encourage communal dining, our menus are broken down into Small and Big because we wanted to create a menu that is easily navigated to cater to different types of diners and their needs. Small plates are perfect as an after-work snack with a drink, or to start of a full-fledged meal. While big plates are great for quick lunches, as well as for sharing between friends.
High quality ingredients are the key where do you get your ingredients from?
We often source most of our produce locally or and from suppliers we have close relationships with, who are able to source the best seasonal produce from around the world for us.
How often do you change the menus?
Since we opened we have introduced a chef’s selection omakase menu of seven to eight courses ($138++). We also change the menu on a monthly-basis, whenever we discover new seasonal produce that we want to incorporate into new dishes. However, we always try to retain certain dishes in the menu, with the same distinct flavours, but presented in new and interesting ways.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
We focus on modern Korean dishes with strong regional influences that take inspiration from Chef Sun Kim’s and my travels and heritage. I often cook Korean dishes I miss eating and present it to the diner in a different way.
Assuming you have as well a day off and where do you eat in Singapore, if not at Kimme?
I would recommend Plain Vanilla at Tiong Bahru, it is a very quaint café nestled along Yong Siak Road. They serve great coffee and pastries.
Thank you for your time chef Louis Han.