[FOOD COURT] The quintessential picnic snack gets an upgrade at these gimbap spots
For many in Korea, there’s no better snack for a school trip or picnic than gimbap. Since all the ingredients are rolled in rice and seaweed, it is convenient to pack up and carry outside. It is also a good way to combine lots of banchan with rice. Many use seasonal ingredients, ranging from vegetables and meat to seafood, to make gimbap the perfect on-the-go solution.
To make gimbap, people usually use rice lightly seasoned with sesame oil and salt. The rice is rolled in a squares sheet of gim (laver) with five or six different ingredients inside, normally including eggs, seasoned burdock root slices, pickled radish, carrots and a choice of meat or fish. The roll is cut diagonally and placed in either foil or a small lunch box.
Gimbap really is available on practically every street corner in Korea, but here are some of the more adventurous places to try in Seoul.
Although this little gem in restaurant-heavy Apgujeong in southern Seoul’s Gangnam District has tteokbokki in its name, its gimbap menu is as popular as its spicy rice cakes. The most popular gimbap here is the sausage gimbap. Inside the rolled rice everything is kept simple: One sausage, egg, cucumber, salted radish and fried tofu. The mustardy spicy sauce makes all the ingredients come together, encouraging diners continue to reach out for another piece of gimbap.
21 Seolleung-ro 153-gil, Gangnam District, southern Seoul
If you are looking for a more refreshing option, try gochunaengi, or wasabi, gimbap at Otto Gimbap. The roll, filled with crunchy greens like cucumber and lettuce, is light enough that you don’t need to feel guilty about eating a carbohydrate-heavy meal.
In case the refreshing feel makes you want to pair it with something more hearty, this gimbap place also offers marinated fried chicken. Called dakgangjeong, the restaurant offers crispy fried chicken seasoned with sweet and spicy sauce.
One of the most frequently visited spots among the many branches in Seoul is the one by Seoul Forest in Seongsu, eastern Seoul. Picnickers here either pick up from the store directly or have it delivered straight to the park.
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If you want to taste some kimchi in your gimbap, head to Hannib Soban for its mukeunji chamchi gimbap. Mukeunji is kimchi aged for years so it has a far punchier flavor than the normal kimchi. To ease the taste, Hannib Soban partners the washed mukeunji with tuna, or chamchi in Korean.
Although mukeunji chamchi gimbap is the most well-known option at Hannib Soban, another specialty is siraegi gimbap. Siraegi is dried radish or cabbage that is lightly marinated with soy sauce. It comes with other vegetables like carrots and spinach.
3 Cheongpar- 45-gil, Yongsan District
Offering only takeout, this gimbap shop usually has at least a few people waiting in line at any time of the day. Beloved by the locals in Seocho District, the restaurant is surrounded by the residential apartment complexes and a small traditional outdoor market. It is known for having lots of braised fried tofu inside its gimbap, giving each bite a delicate chewy texture, and most of the customers order multiple rolls.
If the line is too long, try Haenam Wonjo Gimbap for a similar menu featuring fried tofu.
59-16 Dongjakdae-ro 27-gil, Dongjak District
BY LEE SUN-MIN [email@example.com]