Top Chef alum BJ Smith continues to consolidate his restaurant empire: After closing his Vancouver barbecue shop and Coney Island hot dog restaurant, the chef has now called it quits in Northwest Portland, shuttering one location of Kim Jong Smokehouse.
Started as a collaboration between Kim Jong Grillin’s Han Ly Hwang, restaurateur Earl Ninsom, and Smith, the restaurant specialized in bibimbap with American-Korean barbecue, from gochujang-rubbed pulled pork to galbi beef brisket. Originally, the restaurant was Smokehouse 21, BJ Smith’s original barbecue restaurant — he decided to bring the concept he’d developed with Hwang and Ninsom to the NW 21st space.
Now, that restaurant space will be home to some newbies on the local restaurant scene: Top Burmese, the “virtual restaurant” specializing in the cuisines of Myanmar, will finally have a true restaurant space for its tea leaf salads. Earlier this year, Poe Myint and Kalvin Myint started a Burmese delivery service with an optional takeout window, with no dine-in service. After a few months, the restaurant would open on certain days for dine-in service, still primarily focused on delivery and takeout. Top Burmese gained some significant attention for the fermented tea leaf salad and its beef curry ametha ohn htamin, and now, they’re adopting Smith’s space for a bright and colorful restaurant.
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“THE SIGNAGE WENT UP TODAY” ❤️ - announcing Top Burmese on NW 21st. We began our journey sharing our passion for home style Burmese food as a virtual restaurant, and now we are super excited to offer our first fully dedicated brick and mortar restaurant in Portland. Stay tuned for the opening date. Cheers ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. > > TopBurmese.com “Purveyor of Fine Burmese Food” > > #topburmese #burmesefood #portlandburmese #portlandfoodies
Meanwhile, Smith is focusing on his restaurant Delores, as well as some exciting projects he has lined up: He has two dinners at the famous James Beard House in New York, plus an upcoming dinner series with visiting chefs from around the country. “The really cool part of all this is that now I have all my best people under one roof,” Smith says. Stay tuned for updates on both restaurants.