It didn’t take long for fans of Korean food to find their way into New Seoul Plaza. Despite being tucked down a service drive amongst parking lots and car dealerships, the brand new triad of Korean restaurants and cafes had once been home to a local dining institution New Seoul Garden and regulars were eagerly awaiting its replacement. So when the doors finally opened in late August, patrons naturally flowed in to scope out the updates and sample the sweet and savory delights inside.
Owner Sarah Yi and her family purchased former New Seoul Garden business back in 2016. Yi’s parents, who immigrated to Michigan from Korea more than 30 years ago, had some previous restaurant experience. The Yi’s father started out working in restaurants around the area when he first moved to the U.S. and he and his wife owned Seoul Garden in the late-90s and early-2000s. The Yi family kept New Seoul Garden open for close to a year while they came up with a new vision for the business.
“The most important thing for me and my family was just finding true authentic Korean cuisine,” Sarah Yi tells Eater, noting that many restaurants in the area blended Japanese sushi with Korean food on the same menu. “People tended to get confused on what was real Korean food and what was Japanese food and Chinese food.” The reinvented New Seoul Plaza, she decided, would be a place just for Korean food — both modern and classic.
When New Seoul Garden officially closed for renovations in 2017, Yi says that the property had fallen into disrepair with roof leaks. What was supposed to be a brief three-to-six month renovation turned into a full year of reinvention. “It probably would’ve been easier for us to just demolished building and start from scratch,” she says. Through the renovation, the Yi family divided up the large restaurant into three distinctive establishments: a Korean celebration and comfort food spot called Jinji, a modern Korean barbecue restaurant called Daebak, and a coffee shop and dessert bar called Myomee. The restaurants are tied together by a short hallway that zigzags through the center of the building.
Photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard visited the restaurants on a recent afternoon to scope out the space and particularly the food. Take a tour of New Seoul Plaza and explore the restaurants in the gallery below.
Located closest to the main entrance is Jinji, New Seoul Plaza’s ode to classic Korean comfort foods with items like japchae (rice noodle stir fry with onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, and a choice of protein), bibimbap, and haemul pajeon (seafood scallion pancakes). Yi made sure to also include modern Korean favorites on the menu such as Korean fried wings with a choice of sweet and spicy or soy garlic sauce. Jinji also has a bar where customers can order Korean wines, makgeolli (rice wine), beer, and soju in flavors like green grape and peach. This 90-seat restaurant is located near the main entrance to New Seoul Plaza and features its own patio seating area and several private dining spaces.
Daebak, which is a slang term for “the best” in Korean, is where customers can indulge in Korean barbecue. The restaurant imported sleekly designed telescoping vent hoods from Korea to accompany the grills that make up the center of each circular table in the restaurant. Here, patrons can choose from an assortment of meats all butchered in-house. The selection ranges from marinated beef and pork to thin-sliced beef to ribeye. Diners cook the meat themselves at the table and customize their dishes with sides like kimchi, pickled garlic sprouts, and pasta salad.
New Seoul Plaza features a cafe and dessert bar combo called Myomee. The shop serves a variety of coffee and espresso drinks using Great Lakes Coffee beans as well as tea. However, the real stars of the show are the pastries and desserts. Myomee features Korean-style sweet breads from a bakery out of Ann Arbor and also makes heaping piles of bingsu (Korean shave ice). Each bingsu is served in a large bowl and customized with sweetened milk, matcha powder, fruit, red bean paste and mochi. One colorful “unicorn” variety features fruity pebbles.
New Seoul Plaza is located at 27566 Northwestern Hwy in Southfield; hours vary by restaurant; website.