Palo Alto Korean restaurant Maum snags first Michelin star | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Mountain View Online |

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By Elena Kadvany

Palo Alto Korean restaurant Maum snags first Michelin star

Uploaded: Jun 3, 2019

Maum, which brought modern, high-end Korean dining the Peninsula last summer, has won its first Michelin star, joining a small but growing group of South Bay restaurants with the sought-after culinary distinction.

Michelin announced the stars on Monday night in Huntington Beach for the company's inaugural California guide, which now covers the entire state, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and other cities.

In a tweet, Michelin described Maum as "heartfelt, precise, and focused." Husband-and-wife team Michael and Meichih Kim, who both previously cooked at Michelin-starred restaurants, lead the kitchen. Maum is located at 322 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto.

Michael and Meichih Kim, co-chefs at Maum in Palo Alto, stand amid rows of vegetables grown in a Los Altos Hills backyard for the Korean restaurant. Photo by Veronica Weber.

In an email, Michael Kim said the Michelin star has been a "lifelong professional goal" for him and Meichih.

"The Michelin guide has been the gold standard when it comes to restaurant reviews and to be validated with a star in less than a year is a huge achievement for the restaurant and its team," he said. "At the end of the day I am proud of Meichih and the whole team at Maum for their tireless efforts and sacrifice for us to achieve this."

In an Instagram post with photos from the awards ceremony, Meichih wrote: "Incredibly proud of what we've achieved one month shy of our one year anniversary! Many thanks to all the people who have helped us along the way and our entire team (past & present)."

Maum was first a private dining space, then opened to the public last July. Anonymous Michelin inspectors said that Maum, which means "from the heart" in Korean, creates an "incredibly exciting dining experience."

The kitchen is fueled by a private farm in Los Altos Hills where the chefs work with a farmer to grow hard-to-find Korean produce for dishes such as kkakdugi brisket rice and abalone porridge. At Maum, which is open just for dinner four nights a week, diners eat at a long, wooden communal table that accommodates 16 people.

With the 2019 guide, Palo Alto is now home to three Michelin stars: Maum, Protégé (which won its first star in November) and Baumé, which has held onto its two stars for several years.

Michelin defines one star as "high quality cooking, worth a stop;" two stars as "excellent cooking, worth a detour;" and three stars as "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey." Anonymous inspectors determine the stars based on five criteria, according to Michelin: quality of ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in the cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits.

The statewide guide now has 90 Michelin-starred restaurants: 69 with one star, 14 with two stars and seven with three stars.

Below are the other Peninsula winners, all who held onto their stars from last year. Read the full list of winners here.

- Manresa, Los Gatos: three stars
- Baumé, Palo Alto: two stars
- Chez TJ, Mountain View: one star
- Madera, Menlo Park: one star
- The Village Pub, Woodside: one star
- Protégé, Palo Alto: one star
- Wakuriya, San Mateo: one star
- Sushi Yoshizumi, San Mateo: one star
- Rasa, Burlingame: one star
- Plumed Horse, Saratoga: one star

Michelin also announced last week its 2019 Bib Gourmand awardees for the California guide, including local restaurants Vesta in Redwood City, Pausa in San Mateo and Royal Feast and wonderful in Millbrae.