The trend for premium kimbap is still full on and high quality kimbap shops continue to pop up around Seoul. I’ve tried several premium kimbap stores but sometimes I just grab something from the kimbap counter at my local Emart supermarket and take it home. Everything is already made and there’s a choice of not only kimbap and Japanese style sushi but also ready to eat Korean Chinese dishes like yangjangpi.
I sometimes pick up a sushi set (around 10,00 won) for lunch which isn’t bad value. If you don’t like what’s in the set, there are also individually wrapped sushi so you can make your own lunch. Each one costs 650 won.
But how does supermarket kimbap compare to a speciality store? Well, I’ve tried a couple of different kimbaps now from Emart. This shitake mushroom (pyogo posot) and egg kimbap with perilla leaf (3,480 won) looked attractive to me. I love mushrooms and I liked the look of the simple combination of ingredients. But the flavour was a bit monotonous. The egg was too big and bland and the seaweed wrap too fishy for my taste. It needed a dip or something on the side. Not a great start.
Then I tried the tempura prawn kimbap (5,980 won) which included sliced carrot, radish, prawn tempura, crab sticks, processed fish (어묵 eomuk), cucumber, burdock, danmuji radish and perilla leaf.
The kimbap was wider than regular kimbap although still thinly sliced. So it fell apart when I tried to pick a slice up. I’d say it’s almost impossible to eat without it falling apart.
But I liked the fact that this is a fish based kimbap without the obligatory spam / ham or other meat. The tempura was covered in some honey mustard dressing which made it moist and added flavour. And the radish was quite yellow but not enough to make me reach for my sunglasses. (I dread to think what makes bright yellow radish so yellow 😮
The rice was a bit on the soft side. Maybe because the kimbap is made in advance. So I have to say that although not bad for an easy and fairly cheap lunch, my favourite kimbap shop is STILL Kim seon saeng
The best lunch option from the Emart ready food counter for me is not the kimbap. It’s the 양장피 yangjangpi – mixed seafood and vegetables dish in mustard sauce. It’s a Korean Chinese dish which is also popular in Korean Chinese restaurants.
The ingredients include finely sliced raw cabbage, cucumber, and green peppers. Then there are slices of egg omelette and a mix of stir fried vegetables with thinly sliced beef and seafood. Everything is mixed up together with a mustard sauce that comes separately.
The mixture of oily cooked veg and savoury seafood with the crisp fresh raw veg and sauce made a delicious and light lunch. I will definitely be having this again. I much preferred it to the kimbap. But of course it’s also more expensive (8,980 won) Just a word of caution though … I was too greedy and added ALL the mustard dressing that comes on the side. Error – It’s very strong and it does go up your nose! Next time I’ll just add half. 😕