Kimbap owner Kim Hunter always knew she wanted to do something with food for a living. We were very excited when she asked us to help her realize her lifelong dream of opening her own restaurant in downtown Raleigh. It was a privilege to work on a project for a homegrown business so strongly connected to the local community.

All the food is sustainably grown in North Carolina, a critical part of Kim’s dream. Kim had developed relationships with local farmers while working and selling at the Western Wake Farmer’s Market and says, “Working with farmers, you learn how much work they put into something and you can taste the difference. I feel really appreciative of these local ingredients because I know where they came from, who grew them, and how they were grown.”

Like the food, simple, local materials come together to create an intimate and lively space: wood slats on the walls, paper lanterns overhead, polished terrazzo floor, and ordinary 2x12 yellow pine for the bar. At a cozy 1000s.f., diners get an upclose view of the dish creation process, especially at the bar. A lower ceiling and eyelevel view directly connect diner and cook. 

With the unusual move of bringing the entire kitchen out into the dining area for view, the cooks are performers here. The art of cooking is celebrated, providing entertainment for the lone diner, or background action for the warm, social scene that so often surrounds meals at Kimbap.