Cheap Korean Food at the Kimbap Shop

One of the best things about living in Korea is Korean food.  Easy access to grilled meat and kimchi makes life just a little bit better.  One of the best parts is that it's cheap and it's everywhere.  Today's post is about one of the many many chains of restaurants that you'll find all over Korea.  The Kimbap Shop.  I think our local one is called King Kimbap, but there are dozens of others in every neighborhood.  They offer cheap and quick versions of Korean staples like Kimchi soup and mixed rice with vegetables.  And katsu, which is a fried pork cutlet smothered in sauce and served with a side of rice.  And mandu which is like the Korean brother to dim sum.  And of course, Kimbap, which is a rice roll, wrapped in dried seaweed, similar to a California roll, that can be had for about a buck.  If you like tuna, you can get it with tuna (Chamchi kimbap) or meat (Gogi Kimbap) or just regular old Kimbap.  If you're a vegetarian it comes with ham, so you'll have to communicate that you don't want that in there.  However you like it, it's a cheap and tasty snack.  Kimbap restaurants are not my favorite Korean food, they're the fast food of Korean food, but they do make a quick, cheap lunch on a Saturday afternoon.  You won't see any Kimbap pictured here because I don't like it.  When I moved to Korea I ate it every day for lunch for four months and I haven't been able to eat it since.  But it's good stuff.  I will make a disclaimer here, as I know very little about Korean food.  Any additions in the comments would be greatly appreciated.  Any restaurants in Pohang I should try?  Any types of food I'm missing out on?  As always, here's 10 pictures and some foolish comments.
Here's the front of the shop.  The woman in the window is rolling kimbap, she'll make hundreds of these every single day. I think some of these places deliver, but I don't know.

The menu.  Notice how cheap it all is, nothing for more than five bucks. My general Korean is horrible, but I can read this menu and I know what I like.  Kimchi Jigae, Kimchi bokumbap, Chamchi Kimbap, gogi mandu, and don (pronounced like don't without the T sound) katsu.  Kuk and Jigae are both soups, Mandu is like dim sum, katsu is fried pork cutlet, kimbap is the rolled rice in seaweed, bokumbap is mixed rice, chamchi is tuna, gogi is meat, and everything on the menu is pretty tame, so if you're not sure what something is, you're unlikely to get fish heads or pig anuses here, so dive in.

Sara loves the Kimbap shop and we end up here a couple of times a month. It cannot be beat when you want something fast and tasty and cheap.  Outback, which is my favorite restaurant in Pohang, usually runs us 60,000 won, while the Kimbap never goes higher than about 15,000.

Korea's all about the side dishes.  These are pretty standard.  On the left you've got some soaked beans, some pancake like things, and a type of kimchi.  On the right you've got the two most common sides, traditional Kimchi and daikon radish.  I am a huge fan of the Kimchi, it's one of the most unique flavors in the world and you can only get it from Kimchi.

The mandu and the dipping sauce.  So good.

Here's Sara enjoying her don katsu.  They'll give you a knife and fork for that plate, which is great because it's a nightmare to cut that thing with the thin metal chopsticks that are the preferred chopsticks in Korea.
This is Kimchi Jigae.  It is awesome.  When they prepare it, they set it on the stove and the flames go up around the bowl, like feet into the air.  Once the soup comes to a feverish boil, they serve it.  I've seen people just stick their spoons in and go to town on soup that looks like it would melt your flesh if you spilled it on yourself.  I usually have to wait like 20 minutes for it to cool down.

I get Kimchi bokumbap, which is the mixed rice with an egg on top, on the left, (the black stuff on top is dried seaweed, which is a delicious, crunchy, slightly salty addition to a lot of Korean dishes) and a bowl of Kimchi Jigae, which is in the black pot.  It's kimchi overload and it's great.


When you sit down, they hand you this piece of paper and you mark it up.  If you can't read, you can just look dopey at them and say "Kimchi jigae" or "Kimchi Mandu" or whatever it is you want and they'll mark it for you.  When I was teaching myself how to read, which only takes like a day if you put your mind to it, I took a menu from the Kimbap shop and worked my way through it.  It's a great feeling when you sound out a word and you realize it's "Kim-Chi Ji-Gae" for the first time and you go, "Holy shit, I know what that is and it is delicious!  Also I can read!"

Contemplating desert, which the Kimbap shop does not have. It's cool though, if you live in Korea there are probably eight hundred coffee shops in your neighborhood that serve something resembling cake.  You'll be alright.


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