Saturday, February 4, 2017

Nordeast pizza with a Korean accent

Phyllis Louise Harris
February 2017

When Korean native Ann Kim opened her third restaurant she chose a spot in Northeast Minneapolis, home of pubs and meat and potato menus that was originally settled by northern European immigrants. Nordeast, as it is sometimes called, is more bratwurst than sushi, more frame houses than high-rises, more beer than cosmopolitans.  Yet somehow Young Joni seems to fit in well with its own touch of international flavors.

It has been six years since Ann and her partner Conrad Keifur opened their first restaurant in south Minneapolis and brought a new look to Twin Cities pizza with Pizzeria Lola. A certified pizzaiola, Ann created a thin crust pizza, topped it with a variety of old and new flavors including kimchi and baked it in a wood-burning oven. In Young Joni she continues this menu of more than a dozen pizzas including some with an Asian flare including Korean BBQ and soy chili and Umami Mama with a variety of mushrooms and nori. The menu also includes Korean Beef Short Ribs and Kimchi. One dish I especially enjoyed was Grilled Treviso and Beets with leafy Treviso, smoky blue cheese, hazelnuts, and beets in charred shallot vinaigrette. The variety of flavors and textures makes it exceptional. Another was Grilled Confit Mushrooms in chestnut miso butter. The sauce was so good we kept the plate with the remains to use as a dipping sauce for pizza pieces.

Ann took more than a year creating the atmosphere for Young Joni resulting in the feeling of a chalet that would be at home in the Alps or Aspen. The vaulted ceiling and large glass-surround entrance make it inviting and the large bar at one side of the room with plenty of seating space offers a change from individual tables. Sit with a group? Sit alone? Your choice!  There is also a separate bar with a separate entrance for those folks who are looking for a quiet drink in a quiet, homey atmosphere.

By the way, the restaurant is named after Ann’s mother Young Kim and Conrad’s mother Joni, the partners’ first cooking teachers. Cocktails are special, too, with the creative touch of Adam Gorski, formerly of La Belle Vie.

Young Joni is closed on Monday. Hours are Tuesday – Thursday 4 -11 pm, Friday 4 pm -12 am, Saturday 12 pm  – 12 am, Sunday 12 pm – 10 pm. It is at 165 13th Avenue NE, Minneapolis. Phone is 612-345-5719.


Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, in bookstores and on

Buy online: Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875

Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: