Growing up in Busan, South Korea, Youn said she was not interested in working in the restaurant industry. Instead, she earned a degree in education and taught at an all-boys high school for six years.
Soon after marrying her husband, Sung Kim, who was a civil engineer, the couple immigrated to the Kingwood area in 1981. Over the years, the Kims owned multiple restaurants, including an American-style burger shop, a doughnut shop, an ice-cream store and sushi kiosks in both Kroger Marketplace and H-E-B stores in Conroe.
When the couple retired in 2016, they made plans to open a Korean restaurant that offered dishes Youn and Sung grew up eating. In May 2016, though, Sung died after a fire ravaged the couple’s Conroe home four months before they were set to open Dosirak Korean Cafe.
Although Youn said she considered selling the restaurant, she ultimately made the choice to open Dosirak Korean Cafe in September 2016 as a tribute to her late husband.
“We came here for [the] American dream; I got this [restaurant], so I got the American dream now,” Youn said. “This is Korean food, and that’s my way. I’m so happy, and I’m working hard.”
Youn and her oldest son, Joseph Kim, have prepared traditional Korean cuisine from scratch daily since the cafe opened in September 2016.
The cafe offers authentic Korean dishes such as bulgogi, spicy pork, tofu kimchi soup and dosirak, which refers to a lunch-box-style Korean dish prepared with at least four side dishes. The restaurant also offers traditional Asian market items, including seaweed chips, ramen and chocolate treats.
Despite concerns the restaurant would not succeed in Conroe, Youn decided to fully invest herself in not only her dream but her late husband’s dream of owning a Korean restaurant.
“My mom has put everything she’s got into this place,” Joseph said. “We call it a war path. I remember her saying, ‘No, son, we’re on a war path. We’re not stopping.’”