Nearly a year later than expected, chef Ann Kim's much anticipated Sooki & Mimi finally opened last week with a 10-course tasting meal billed as a "celebration of vegetables and nixtamal."

And it was a celebration: not just of food, but of normalcy. After months of cooking and takeout, an evening spent in the looky Uptown restaurant felt like a special treat. Here's a snapshot on this newcomer by the James Beard award-winning chef.

The vibe: A definite East-meets-West tone, appropriate given Kim's Korean heritage and the mission of Sooki & Mimi. There are hints of Kim's Young Joni (they were both designed by Studio MAI), but none of the space's former tenant — Lucia's.

The food: The 10-course vegetarian tasting meal ($120) is a masa lover's delight, and each course had a happy marriage of Korean and Mexican influences. A cup of corn tea and a petite corn madeleine set the mood. The third course was my favorite, a sope made of smoked beets, labneh and pistachio — and I'm not a big beet fan. But the seventh course — mole, with a charred jicama ribbon as the centerpiece — was a close second. A subtle heat runs through each photogenic course, but nothing Minnesota palates can't handle. Ending with Korean sweet potato mochi doughnuts and a drinking chocolate made me glad I was parked a little farther away.

Drinks: Wine or mixed beverage pairings (which included wine, cider and cocktails) are a $50 add-on and are the handiwork of bar steward Adam Gorski. We split the mixed beverage pairing — a taste was plenty — and were brought two smaller-size portions. A spirit-free option is also available ($30).

Just drinks? Sneak in to see the space with bar-only reservations; $25 includes an hour at the bar and two signature drinks, but there's no food service available at the bar. Yet to come is a basement cocktail lounge, which will open later this year.

Safety first: The fully masked staff set expectations right away (masks not necessary when seated at your table), hand sanitizer was available on each table and seating was socially distant.

About that name: It's an homage to Kim's grandmothers, Sook-Young (or "Sooki"), her maternal Korean grandmother who influenced her love of food and cooking, and American grandmother Thelma (or "Mimi"), who introduced her to the arts and Western culture.

Where: 1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., (612-540-2554, Open Wed.-Sun., reservations only.