Rookie of the Year: Yoli | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Rookie of the Year: Yoli

Joe Kim’s latest venture filled a hole in the Bend dining scene: Korean flavors, both traditional and inventive

When a three-time James Beard award nominee opens up a new restaurant, foodies tend to take notice. When that restaurant also happens to fill a hole in the dining scene, all the better. Yoli, which means simply “cuisine” in Korean, is the latest venture for Chef Joe Kim and his wife Laura. The restaurant is tucked along the north end of Bend’s downtown, featuring a fun, unassuming and unexpected atmosphere and a host of ideas about what Korean cuisine can look like.

“We’d had some success at my former restaurant, 5 Fusion, with some Korean dishes, and so we just wanted to do a restaurant that was pretty much exclusively Korean food, but modernize it, but still make it approachable,” Chef Kim said. “So it seems like a big goal – teach people about Korean food and somewhat traditional Korean food but modernize it as well.”

With no other Korean restaurant in Bend, Yoli has filled a hole for those looking for Korean classics. For those looking for the elevated cuisine Kim has been known for, Yoli also offers a chance for Bendites to push their boundaries.

“The duck dish on our dinner menu – you see duck more in modern Korean dishes; it wasn’t traditionally that often consumed, but it’s a seared duck breast with an orange and citrus quince sauce and then parsnips with that and a kimchi puree,” Kim told the Source Weekly.

Other examples of that creativity: the Gagi main dish, featuring eggplant, spicy rice gnocchi, bell peppers, mushroom, onions, scallions and cilantro, or the corn cheese starter, made with corn, kimchi and melted cheese. Also on the starter menu at dinner are a series of raw dishes, including wagyu and tuna tartare, and the Caviar Juk, featuring osetra caviar, black truffle porridge, chive and pine nuts.

Several tasting-menu options also make it possible for guests to explore.

“We just started doing a five-course menu, which will allow someone to come in and navigate through the menu, pick five courses off of the menu that they want to eat,” Kim said.

For the truly adventurous, guests can also opt for chef’s choice.

“We also offer a chef’s tasting menu, which is not on the menu – we just make that menu specifically for those guests that are coming in,” Kim said. “That’s kind of our choice in the kitchen.”

Riding the line between creative offerings and the classics is no easy task, but the Kims have thus far found that balance, bringing a fresh experience to the Bend food scene, and earning them the Rookie of the Year in the 2023 Restaurant Guide.

1133 NW Wall St. #100, Bend
Open Sun-Fri 11:30am-2pm; 4:30-9pm

About The Author

Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. You can mostly find her raising chickens, walking dogs, riding all the bikes and attempting to turn a high desert scrap of land into a permaculture oasis.
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