The Five at Five: Michelle MiJung Kim

23 Jun 2022

From hidden-gems to places to people-watch, from bookshops to beauty spots – here is some inspiration, celebrating the independents in our local neighbourhoods around the world.

This week’s selection has been curated by Michelle MiJung Kim, “a queer, immigrant, Korean American woman navigating this world as a writer, activist, and entrepreneur”. Michelle believes all of us are worthy — of safety, dignity, freedom, and joy — for simply being. And it is her life’s work to honour this truth and to challenge forces that say otherwise.

Michelle MiJung Kim

Michelle is also the award winning author of The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change, and the CEO and co-founder of Awaken, where she has consulted hundreds of organisations and leaders from Fortune 500 companies, tech giants, nonprofits, universities and beyond on their equity education journey.

Michelle MiJung Kim


Tay Ho in Oakland Chinatown is one of my all-time favourite Vietnamese restaurants, owned and operated by a badass queer Vietnamese woman Denise Huynh. Their food is always fresh and comforting, and you can really taste the care and love that go into every dish. Some of my favourite dishes include bánh khọt, bún bò huế, and buncha Hanoi. Beyond serving delicious food that soothes our souls, Denise is a community leader who frequently gives back to the community in various ways, whether it's feeding frontline workers during the pandemic or hosting charitable events all year round.”

Michelle MiJung Kim


“Lake Merritt in Oakland is always full of life. The diversity of people is always incredible here, as are the ways folks gather. Whether it's cooking, dancing, or creating art, you'll catch people leaning into joy and building community in different ways that's so fun to watch.”

Michelle MiJung Kim


Eastwind Books (Asian-owned) and Marcus Books (Black-owned) are my go-to indie bookstores in the east bay. I love the rich history of both bookstores and the fact that they curate some of the best books written by people of colour. As a woman of colour author who was recently published, both of these bookstores' support has meant the world to me and I hope to see more folks buying books from local BIPOC-owned bookstores.”

Michelle MiJung Kim


“I've struggled with acne most of my life and I've been going to Studio Abasi, a Latina owned skincare clinic in Berkeley, for over ten years to help manage it. I love how knowledgeable the staff is around all things skincare, especially for people of colour whose skincare needs differ from those of white people (did you know much of mainstream skincare products out there aren't formulated to support this difference?). I always feel well taken care of at Studio Abasi and am a huge fan of their products.

“It's been a while since the last time I went, but I absolutely love having a relaxing k-spa day at Pearl in San Francisco. I grew up going to bath houses with my mom and grandma in Korea, and it's still such a relaxing and rejuvenating experience every time I go. I highly recommend everyone try the Korean full-body scrub and oil massage for the ultimate k-spa experience.”

Michelle MiJung Kim


“Depends on what I'm shopping for… I love thrifting in Tokyo, fruit shopping in Bangkok, and this is perhaps common knowledge in the Korean immigrant community but odd to others – my mom and I love underwear/socks shopping in Seoul (high-quality essentials at affordable prices!).”