Raleigh, N.C. — Former AN Asian Cuisine sushi chef Hyun-Woo Kim has been named the new executive chef at popular sushi restaurant SONO in downtown Raleigh.
In addition to his time at AN, Kim was also executive chef at Hayashi-Ya and worked at Mura and Asuka. Kim is looking to revamp SONO's menu to reflect his birthplace of Seoul, South Korea and his extensive training in Japanese, Korean and Thai cuisines over the past few decades.
Kim has been working on SONO's new menu for the past three months, focusing on a head-to-tail approach. Only sushi grade fish is being sourced from notable international purveyors, and there will be specialty items - like live scallops, geoduck and Japanese Uni - weekly.
The focus is on getting the best quality fish available. Those wishing to get a full range of SONO's sushi menu can take advantage of the Omakase tasting menu - an eight course feast offered at lunch and dinner alongside sake, wine and beer pairings.
SONO's menu also includes a comprehensive selection of Asian dishes, including lunch favorites like the Bento Box, house-made pan fried dumplings and spicy Poke.
Dinner items include Kim's Korean fried chicken, which is double fried and seasoned with 15 spices, a rib eye steak (sourced locally from Mills Family Farm in Mooresville) and a selection of ramen dishes.
“After working alongside him at AN, we knew Chef Hyun-Woo Kim was THE chef to breathe new life into SONO,” said General Manager James Yang, who joined SONO in 2016 after seven years as General Manager at AN.
"Sono has been here about 10 years and our goal is not to change it, but to reboot it...put it back on the map," Yang said. "Our goal is to educate our customers on what sushi truly is."
Yang was recently named SONO's general manager and will be helping to craft the restaurant's beverage program. Yang, one of a few sake certified sommeliers in the area, has created one of the region's largest sake programs with 30 available by bottle.
The new SONO wine list has also expanded from six to 90 options, with 15 available by the glass. The beer list also features some local craft options including Brewery Bhavana, Ponysaurus, Crank Arm and Bond Brothers on draft. Asian beers are also available.
"We wanted to eliminate the common misconception that Asian restaurants don't have a full beverage program," Yang said.
The restaurant is also building out an Asian-inspired cocktail menu. Two of the menu's summer drinks use sake to liven up the traditional cocktail recipe: the Saketini (which combines two types of sake) and the Sake Sour (a sake take on the whiskey sour featuring plum wine and sake).
SONO, located at 319 Fayetteville St., opened in 2008 and is now owned by Clean Plate Restaurants. In addition to its chef and menu change, the restaurant's interior is also undergoing a remodel. Sono is open for lunch weekdays 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Dinner service is 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.