You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, May 18, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Updated Miki Japanese Restaurant on First Street in Ann Arbor opens under new ownership

By Janet Miller

Miki Japanese Restaurant, one of Ann Arbor’s oldest Japanese eateries, is in new hands.

Yoon and Felisha Kim bought the 130-seat South First Street restaurant, 106 S. First St., at the western edge of downtown Ann Arbor in early May. They closed for two weeks for renovations and a menu update and reopened Monday. Miki first opened about 25 years ago.


Yoon and Felisha Kim recently remodeled and reopened Ann Arbor's Miki Japanese Restaurant.

Janet Miller | For

Yoon, who co-owned a Japanese take-out restaurant when he was a student at Michigan State University, will work the back of the house while his wife, Felisha, will work the front. She studied hospitality management at MSU.

It’s the couple’s second restaurant venture. They opened Sushi Zen in downtown Brighton more than four years ago, and the new Miki menu will be a blend of the two restaurants, Felisha said. They purchased Miki from James Bee.

While the couple is originally from South Korea, it makes sense for them to operate Japanese restaurants, Felisha said. Yoon was trained in Japanese cuisine when he broke into the business, although they do offer a handful of Korean dishes on the menu.

“He was trained to cook fish, broths and sauces,” Felisha said.

The new menu will keep Miki favorites such as tempura udon and noodle dishes but add more sushi and sashimi.

While they were considering Plymouth for the past two years as a home for their second restaurant, Miki came on the market. It was too good to pass up, Felisha said.

“It’s different from Plymouth because it’s a college town. But, except for the parking, we like the vibe here. There’s a lot of foot traffic, a lot of excitement,” she said.


Miki is now offering an expanded sushi and sashimi menu.

Janet Miller | For

They also liked that Miki already had a strong reputation in Ann Arbor. While Miki’s daily receipts softened in recent years with the weak economy, Felisha said they have plans they hope will drive growth.

They'll target the University of Michigan student market by offering discounts, will host a weekly karaoke night that will see Miki stay open late and they will offer outdoor seating on their sidewalk, which will be a first for the restaurant and will add 25 seats. Felisha said she hopes to see sales improve 15 to 20 percent a year from now.

Eventually, the couple will switch the name to Sushi Zen, to match their Brighton location.

“We want a meditative, calm atmosphere and felt the Zen in the name helped create that,” Felisha said.

The couple's relatively modest remodel included changing the dark green wall color to a warm yellow and installing wall art that evokes a Zen feel, glassless wood-framed canvases of flowers and bamboo.

While Miki was one of the first Japanese restaurants to enter the Ann Arbor market, many others followed, especially a swell of sushi restaurants that sprang up a decade ago. Today, the Web site Yelp lists more than 25 Japanese and sushi eateries for just Ann Arbor.

Miki can handle the competition, Felisha said.

“I tried a few Japanese and sushi restaurants and they weren’t as good as I expected,” she said. “I have no doubt our food will be better.”

Janet Miller is a freelance reporter for



Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

We ate at Miki under new management. It is really hard to believe that these people have had a restaurant before. The prices are high even for a japanese restaurant. They don't seem to know what a bento box is, since if you order the sashimi and sushi bento box. It is a plate (that takes up half the table) with a HUGE mound of cabbage and sashimi and sushi - that's it. The specialty rolls we had tasted pretty much the same. The deluxe sushi was really disappointing (at over $25) also came on a HUGE plate so that my wife was relegated to a tiny corner of the table just to fit the plates. The sushi was just the stuff you get at the supermarket - tuna, salmon, what they called snapper (but if you follow the news almost never is) and albacore tuna seared. The seared albacore was a little interesting but not my taste since it had a charcoal taste from the charring. With a tuna role the dinner was really uninspired and for the price- very disappointing. Huge piles of cabbage are really not what you are looking for in a presentation. In reference to another reviewer, yes there were plastic leaves. The problem with the plates should be obvious to anyone with common sense and made the entire dining experience uncomfortable. The only good note was that the person with us who had the beef teriyaki bento box said that the teriyaki itself was the best she has had - however she didn't seem to like the rest of bento box (which at least was bento box).

gerald brennan

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 10:35 a.m.

Miki took a long time to go downhill, and it was not just the service. The food in such a place, at such prices, ought to be visually appealing, and rarely was. I wish the Kims great good luck, but the first time I get sashimi on a plate with green plastic leaves will be my last.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

I have loved Sushi Zen in Brighton for years and was always willing to make the hike out there for their amazing sushi and rolls. I'm so excited to try out their new take on Miki, as the original owner had definitely taken some short cuts on quality and staff in the past couple of years. Congratulations to the Kim's and kudos on the outdoor seating idea!


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

FYI that the last owner was NOT the original owner. That restaurant has changed hands at least 2 or 3 times in the last decade. The original owner sold it and reopened Yotsuba, located off of Hogback Road. Good luck to the Kims! I look forward to the changes!


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 2:09 p.m.

Thank goodness! The sushi rolls at the old Miki were really, really lame. Boring, generic stuff that still cost $9+ a roll. Can't wait to sit outside and eat sushi.

David Paris

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

Is that the place where that building says " L I V E " on it? That's a creepy corner. I think that adding the outdoor seating will make a world of difference, it will give the corner a sense of welcoming. Now if they could only do something about that beige apartment building with the bank sign on it. Also, I'd reconsider changing the name to "Sushi Zen". I get why they want to, but with that big L I V E sign overshadowing it... I don't know, there must be some Feng Shui law against it! Either way, I wish the Kim's the best of luck!


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Good news. I actually was boycotting the old Miki because the service was so uniformly bad.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

Im all for discounts please

rusty shackelford

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

This is the second best sushi in Ann Arbor. 1st is significantly more expensive. So just don't screw this place up and you'll do fine.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 11:48 a.m.

I was just noticing that they had an "under new management" sign up yesterday, good luck to Kim's in this venture