Entrepreneur chef does it all

Next time you dine at Goo-Yi 9.2 Korean barbecue restaurant in Northpark Plaza, you may recognize the man serving you dinner.

The prized prime rib-eye cap, shown here with banchan sides, is limited to five orders per day.

Servers at Goo-Yi 9.2 set up elegant grills and cook all items at your table, which partly accounts for the restaurant’s unusual name.

Grill in Korean is goo-yi; the number 9.2 is also pronounced goo-yi. So, in Korean, the name is goo-yi goo-yi, which translates to “grill grill” or “barbecue barbecue.”

Since its opening at Northpark Plaza in 2020, Goo-Yi 9.2 has quietly taken its place among the county’s elevated Korean barbecue experiences.

The prime boneless short rib is a top-seller, and the prized prime rib-eye cap is limited to five orders per day. The beef tartare can easily feed four, and the shareable steamed-egg starter is a must.

Lunch combos include a spicy pork-belly bowl with kimchi stew and banchan sides. Adventurous eaters might enjoy cheese tripe fried rice or the three-cut beef-intestine combo; four of those cuts are available a la carte.

Owner Andrew Kim’s restaurant portfolio also includes highly regarded Korean pancake destination Gob Chang in Buena Park and three Irvine locations of the fast-growing Korean chain bb.q Chicken – at Quail Hill and Cypress Village shopping centers and the same center as Goo-Yi 9.2.

Marble, a Korean steakhouse that Kim describes as “very high-end,” is scheduled to open at Woodbury Town Center later this year.

Amazingly, Kim also heads up a tax-consulting firm, SongHyun, which has 40 locations in the U.S. and Korea. He lives in Irvine with his wife and two young sons.

There’s plenty of patio seating to enjoy Goo-Yi 9.2’s elevated Korean barbecue in Northpark Plaza.

“My company is a big one,” Kim acknowledges. “I work there from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. After that, I am in the restaurant.”

When he’s in the restaurant, he cooks. In fact, all of the recipes at Goo-Yi 9.2 are Kim’s.

When he’s not cooking, Kim says, “I serve.”

The local Korean community is very familiar with Kim; in fact, he is director of the Korean American Federation of Orange County and vice chairman of the county’s multicultural Arirang Festival.

“They know about me, what I’m doing. They know when I’m opening my next restaurant,” he says. “When I serve the table, they feel special. It makes me feel good, too.”