ima is a new restaurant in Corktown that features a menu that is always evolving with noodle soups, rice bowls, curries, small plates and more.
The space soft opened at 2015 Michigan Ave. in the last week of December, offering many options, including those for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free guests. Mike Ransom, the creator and chef behind ima, is a Michigan native who came back to his roots after years cooking his way through kitchens across the United States.
“I knew I was always going to come back, I was just waiting for an opportunity,” Ransom said.
The name ima comes from the Japanese concept of “now”, which emphasizes Ransom’s hope of a simple, no-frills relaxing dining experience at ima.
Before he closed on the location, Ransom spent the better part of two years developing his concept for Japanese comfort food with a local flare. Ransom was raised a vegetarian by his parents who often cooked up Japanese dishes and he’s always thought of the cuisine fondly. He started working in restaurants as a teen and got curious about different meat dishes and he went on to study, cook and create, which all led him to opening ima.
“I started working on this concept and it became more and more clear that it was tangible,” he said.
The current menu includes their Forest Udon, made with porcini broth, sesame tofu, smoked trumpets, rosemary and garlic oil, their ima Tacos, made with jicama shell, wakame slaw, green chili hot sauce and micro shiso, and their Golden Curry, made with silky curry sauce, root veggies and ginger pickle (with your choice of roasted tofu, chicken, chili shrimp, smoked pork loin or ginger beef).
The interior of the restaurant is minimal in its decor and arrangement, which is exactly what Ransom wanted. He wanted people to really focus on their food and the people they’re eating with while enjoying an open and comfortable atmosphere.
When it came time for construction and prepping the restaurant for opening, Ransom got to pull his dad out of retirement since his dad has a background in construction, carpentry and building, and he wanted his expertise and talent for ima.
“We didn’t really have a plan until we came in here,” Ransom said. “It was fun to do and he did a great job on it,” he said.
The kitchen and the dining area both listen to the same music, connecting the open kitchen and a feeling of togetherness to the space. This is a nod to Ransom’s love for DJing and music in addition to fulfilling an idea he’s always had for his own restaurant.
“Music and food always went together for me,” Ransom said.
Visit ima at 2015 Michigan Ave. and visit them on social here.
Photo credit: Facebook
Erica N Rakowicz/After 5