Meet Scott Kim, founder of Accent
, a restaurant in University Circle with 40 employees that connects old and new world cuisine by fusing innovative dishes and flavors with traditional quality and modern style. Kim also owns SASA
, a Japanese restaurant in Shaker Square.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
I was working in a restaurant while in college at Ashland University. When I graduated, I was offered a management position with that restaurant and I was also offered a job using my biology degree. I had to make a choice. I chose the management position.
Did you always know you wanted to open your own restaurant?
No. I initially wanted to be either a scientist or a physician.
How did your management job after college lead to him opening your own restaurants?
The management position lead to other opportunities. To be a great restaurateur, you must know every position. I can really say that I enjoy going to work everyday. Being a young restaurant manager and chef gave me a great foundation for understanding the front and back of the house relationship. Years later, I realize how important that is to creating a strong team.
How do Sasa and Accent differ in terms of food and atmosphere?
SASA is a Japanese Izakaya/ tapas restaurant, while Accent is a multi-cultural contemporary restaurant.
Why did you pick University Circle for Accent?
University Circle is the cultural center of Cleveland. We’re proud to be located in Uptown, where we are a part of the flourishing arts and entertainment district in the heart of Cleveland’s University Circle.
What are the challenges to running two restaurants?
One of the many challenges of running two restaurants is balancing family and work schedules.
What do you like most about the food scene in Cleveland?
I love that Clevelanders welcome new concepts and support local, independently owned restaurants. Because there are so many talented chefs in Cleveland, we need everyone to eat out every day!
What would you recommend to a customer who is not familiar with your cuisine?
At Accent, I would recommend that Korean short ribs; at SASA the Kobe beef gyoza, a Japanese dumpling, are popular. The Korean short ribs are oven braised short ribs, bursting with flavor. The rib meat is very tender, and it's the perfect comfort food that is delicious year round. The Gyoza is similar to potstickers, but made with kobe beef and vegetables. It represents what we do at SASA. Each bite is as delicious as the next. Both of these dishes remind me of my childhood favorite dishes.
What is your favorite item on the Accent menu?
The Szechwan Robata Squid is the perfect combination because, to me, there isn't a more delicious way of preparing squid than on our Robata grill.
There seems to be special attention to vegetarian and vegan needs on the menu. Why is this important?
Our cooking techniques, the Robata grill and Josper oven, really maximizes the natural flavor of vegetables.Robata means “around the fireplace.” Robata grilling can be traced back hundreds of years from an area around the city of Sendai in Northeast Japan. Robata grills are often thought of as Japan’s best kept cooking secret. The Josper oven combines the features of an oven with the traditional characteristics of charbroiling. This cooking style originated from Spain over 40 years ago. There are very few Josper ovens in the United States.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
When my wife went into labor at the start of a busy Saturday night, I told her that our baby would have to wait until the end of the shift. As fate would have it, our beautiful daughter waited until after we closed!
Who is your role model and why?
My father was and still is my role model. He was a hard working, kind, smart man who gave everything to his family.