“It took me over five years to write,” Martha Stewart said of her new book Martha Stewart’s Home Keeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home, which I DESPRATELY WANT FOR CHRISTMAS, KEVIN, MOM, DAD, AND JAMIE ($27 on Amazon!). At the time, I couldn’t help but think, “really? Five years? Come on. Seriously?”
But after working tirelessly on this post for over a month, I get it.
In wanting to get everything perfect for you, my dear readers, this has been my longest working post known to date. I’ve gone through countless edits, making sure both English and Korean spellings are correct (we all know I have problems with that), and descriptions are clear and concise. It didn’t take me five years, but yowza! I feel ya Martha!
Korea’s Kimbap restaurants, much like North American diners, provide customers with simple pleasures. You won’t find truck drivers fiddling with a word search over a slice of cherry pie, or tired waitresses refilling bottomless cups of coffee. What you fill find, however is a constant menu, full of cheap Korean comfort food, deliciously satisfying on the rainiest of afternoons, latest of nights or most horrid of hangovers- damn you soju.
Menus are always in Korean. At the orange facade joints (Kimbap Nara or KimBap Chungguk) check off your order on a paper menu like the one pictured below. White facade restaurants ( Kim Ga Nae) are “well being”-ish kimbap diners, and simply have the menu on the wall. The ajuma or ajushi will verbally take your order.
Here I have roughly translated a kimbap Nara Menu. Many of these restaurants offer the exact same menus save for a couple of dishes, so study up or copy, paste, and keep it in your wallet. Items are numbered on the menu, you’ll find the corresponding number below with the Hangul, then English, the price (1,000 won = 1 USD), and a quick description. I’ve starred my favorites incase you’re in the market to order something new.
Do not confuse kimbap with sushi. The two are not the same. Sure, they share similar ingredients, seaweed and rice, and yes, like the maki roll, kimbap is rolled. But do not expect the sweet vinegary essence of sushi rice or the harmonious fillings found in favorites like the California or Avocado roll. Kimbap, is more proletarian than sushi and more affordable.
Like a taco, kimbap has its standard fillings. Most of the orange or red signed Kimbap joints will use damuji (a yellow pickled sweet radish), processed ham, carrots, some greens, maybe spinach, and cooked egg. Kimbap restaurants with a white sign are known for being “well-being” and will include a host of other ingredients, from sliced pear or apple to fake crab and odang, processed fish.
김밥류, Kimbap Ryu, Kimbap selections
1. 원조 김밥, Wonjo Kimbap, Dollar Kimbap, 1,000 won: The most basic of Kimbap, fillings include damuji (a yellow pickled sweet radish), processed ham, carrots, some green, maybe spinach, and cooked egg.
2. 야채 김밥, Yachae Kimbap, Vegetable Kimbap, 2,000 won: Filled with various veggies including carrots and spinach. Little variation from Won-jo Kimbap.
3. 김치 김밥, Kimchi Kimbap, 2,000 won: Standard kimbap fillings (ham, eggs, carrots, radish) with a healthy dose of kimchi.
4. 계란말이 김밥, Kaeranmal Kimbap, Egg wrapped Kimbap 2,500 won: Standard fillings. The kimbap is rolled in a thin omelet, then sliced.
5. 치즈 김밥, Cheese Kimbap, 2,500 won: Standard kimbap fillings including a slice of processed cheese.
Tuna Kimbap 참치 김밥
8. 참치 김밥, Chamchi Kimbap, Tuna filled kimbap, 2,500won: Standard kimbap fillings including tuna, gagnib (sesame leaf), and mayonnaise.*
9. 소고기 김밥, Sogogi Kimbap, Beef filled kimbap, 2,500won: Standard kimbap fillings including beef.
10. 누드 김밥, Nude Kimbap, 2,500won: Standard kimbap fillings, like an inside out roll, with the seaweed on the inside and rice on the outside
12. 유부초밥, Youbu chobap, 3,000won: Like inari sushi. Some places heavily season the rice with vinegar.*
식사류, Shik Sa Ryu, Meal selections
13. 김치 덮밥, Kimchi dapbap, 3,500 won: Kimchi mixed rice.
14. 오징어 덮밥, Ojinga dapbap, 3,500 won: Spicy squid, carrot onion mélange served either atop, or next to a healthy serving of sticky rice.
15. 제육덮밥, Jaeyuk dapbap, 4,000 won: Stir fried pork, carrots, squash, and onions in spicy sauce served aside a plentiful helping of rice.*
16. 카레덮밥, Karae dapbap, 3,500 won: Rice topped with curry sauce, diced potatoes, carrots, and mystery meat.
17. 순두부 찌개, Sundubu Jjigae, 3,500 won: Sometimes fiery bubbling cauldron of soft tofu, freshly cracked egg (don’t stir if you’d like it hard boiled), chili peppers, inoki mushrooms, a couple clams, onions and deunjang (Korean miso) paste. Served with the ubiquitous fire retardant sticky rice.*
18. 김치 찌개, Kimchi Jjigae, 3,500 won: Always fiery bubbling cauldron of kimchi, plenty of chili powder and raw chilies, onions and the odd mushroom in a pork broth. Served with the ubiquitous fire retardant sticky rice.*
19. 참치 김치 찌개, Kimchi Chamchi Jjigae, 4,000 won: See above with tinned tuna.
20. 된장 찌개Dwen-jang Jjigae, 3,500 won: Sometimes slightly spicy bubbling cauldron of dwen-jeong paste, inoki mushrooms, onions, clams and the odd cube of tofu. Korea’s answer chicken noodle soup. Served with the ubiquitous fire retardant sticky rice.
21. 갈비 탕, Galbi tang, 4,000 won: Short rib soup with garlic and green onion.
22. 소내장 탕, Sonaejang tang, 4,000 won: Soup made with Cow’s intestines.
23. 육개장, Yuk Jae Jang, 4,000 won: Beef and green onion soup in a fiery chili pepper broth.
24. 다슬기 해장국, Dasolgi haejangguk, 4,000 won: Hangover soup, usually made with ox bones and soybean paste. Featuring fresh water snails. Sometimes made with ox blood.
25. 우거지 해장국, Woogeogi haejangguk, 4,000 won: Hangover soup, usually made with ox bones and soybean paste. Featuring, as I understand it, shredded dried cabbage leaves. Sometimes made with ox blood.
26. 비빔밥, Bibimbap, 3,500 won: A staple. Rice in a silver bowl covered with various veg and gochujang (red chili paste). Carrots, mountain weeds, cucumbers, sprouts, etc.
27. 돌솥 비빔밥, Dolsot bibimbap, 4,000 won: See above served in a hot stone bowl and topped with a (usually) fried egg.*
28. 양푼 비빔밥, Yangpoon bibimbap, 4,000 won: Bibimbap served in a large metal bowl, usually serves two people.
29. 돈까스, Donkkasu, 4,000 won: A pork cutlet coated in egg and dredged in crunchy panko breadcrumbs and deep-fried. Usually served with a nest of shredded cabbage and rice.
30. 치즈 돈까스, Cheese donkkasu, 4,500 won: A pork cutlet graced with a slice of processed cheese, battered and coated in crunchy panko bread crumbs and fried.
31. 생선 까스, Sang sun kkasu, 4,000 won: Breaded and fried fish.
32. 오므라이스, Omu-ra-ee-su 3,500 won: Fried rice usually containing ham, carrots, Asian melon (zucchini-like) and a few peas for color wrapped in a thin omelet and smothered in ketchup. Good morning Korea!
33. 뚝배기 불고기, Ddokbaegi bulgogi 4,000 won: The king of protein at the diner. Stewing bulgogi meat amidst sweet potato (glass) noodles in a peppery savory broth. Served with sticky rice.*
34. 김치 고등어 뚝배기, Kimchi godeunga ddokbaegi, 4,000 won:
35. 짜장 덮밥, Jjajang dapbap, 3,000 won: Rice topped off with the sweet black bean sauce, jjajang.
36. 철판 치즈 덮밥, Chulpan chiju dupbap, 4,000 won: Fried rice topped with cheese, or chee ju, on a hot plate.
37. 철판 불고기 덮밥, Chulpan bulgogi dupbap, 4,000 won: Marinated beef atop rice on a hot plate.
38. 철판 김치 볶음밥, Chulpan kimchi bokkum bap, 4,000 won: Kimchi fried rice with peas, carrots and ham served on a hot fajita like plate.
39. 철판 새우 볶음밥, Chulpan saewoo bokkum bap, 4,000 won: Shrimp fried rice with diced carrots and peas served on a hot fajita like plate
40. 공기밥, Gong gi bap, 1,000 won: Plain white sticky rice
41. 호박 죽, Hobak Juk, 3,500 won: Thick pumpkin like porridge.
42. 단팥 죽, Danpat Juk, 3,500 won: A thick red bean porridge.
43. 소고기 야채 죽, Sogogi yache Juk, 4,000 won: Thick rice porridge with meat and various veggies.
44. 전복 죽, Junbok Juk, 5,000 won: Abalone and rice porridge.
분식류, Boon Shik Ryu, Foods made from flour ie noodles, dumplings, etc.
45. 떡볶이, Ddokboggie, 2,000 won: The street snack with chairs. Simmered rice cake (log form) swim in a sea of spicy pepper sauce augmented with odang (processed fish), cabbage, carrots, onions and leeks.
46. 라볶이, Raboggie, 2,500 won: See above and add Ramyeon noodles. Bonus!
47. 치즈떡볶이, Cheese ddokboggie, 2,500 won: See Ddokboggie, add cheese. Bonus!
48. 치즈 라볶이, Cheese raboggie, 3,000 won: See Raboggie and add cheese. Double Bonus!*
49. 김치 만두, Kimchi Mandu, 2,000 won: Steamed kimchi, pork, noodle, leek, onion and chili-filled dumplings. Comes with a small side of soy sauce.*
50. 고기 만두, Gogimandu, 2,000 won: Meat, noodle, leek, onion and chili-filled dumplings. Comes with a small side of soy sauce.
52. 떡만두 국, Ddok mandu guk, 3,500 won: Sliced rice cakes, meat dumplings, egg, sliced green onion, melon (zucchini-like), and other veggies in a broth.*
53. 떡국, Ddokguk, 3,000 won: A dish traditionally served on the lunar New Year; sliced rice cakes, meat, and egg in a beef broth.
54. 만두국, Mandu guk, 3,500 won: Dumplings and veggies in broth.
55. 항아리 수제비, Hangari sujaebi, 7,000 won: Sujaebe, a vegetable and dumpling. soup served in a pot. Not sure what the exact difference between this and plain old sujaebe is except this is for two people.
56. 라면, Ramyeon, 2,000 won: Green onions and chili powder take cup of noodles to a new level.
57. 떡라면, Ddok ramyeon, 2,500 won: noodles and green onions with sliced rice cakes.*
58. 치즈 라면, Cheese ramyeon, 2,500 won: noodles and green onions topped with a slice of processed cheese. Sounds ill, but the melted cheese helps tone down the heat of the broth.
59. 만두 라면, Mandu ramyeon, 2,500 won: noodles and green onions with meat dumplings.
60. 짬뽕 라면, Jjam bbong ramyeon, 2,500 won: Ramyeon served in a pot boasting clams, squid, and a few baby shrimp.
61. 바지락 칼국수, Bagirak kalguksu, 3,500 won: Hand cut thick noodles in an anchovy stock with short neck clams.*
62. 쫄면, jjol myeon, 3,000 won: Thick noodles with mixed with spicy sauce and various veggies like bean sprouts, cucumber, carrots and the like.
63. 스파게티, Supagaeti, 4,000 won: Spaghetti
64. 짜장면, Jjajangmyeon, 2,500 won: Wheat noodles topped with a sweet black bean sauce concealing some veggies, carrots, and meat-ham.
65. 나라우동, Nara Udong, 2,500 won: Thick and slippery wheat noodles in a binto (fish) broth with green onion and tofu skins.
66. 김치우동, Kimchi Udong, 3,000 won: Thick and slippery wheat noodles in a binto broth with a heap of kimchi.*
67. 해물 우동, Haemul Udong, 3,000 won: Thick and slippery wheat noodles in a binto broth with various seafood including clams and prawns, maybe a mussel or two.
68. 물냉면, Mul naengmyeon, 3,500 won: A sipcy soup of chewy buckwheat noodles in a cold broth generally topped with sliced cucumbers and a hard-boiled egg.*
69. 비빔 냉면, Bibim naengmyeon, 3,500 won: Thin white noodles and thinly sliced carrots, cabbage and cucumber in a fiery red sauce.
70. 잔치 국수, Janchi guksu, 3,500 won: Known as banquet noodles, or wheat noodles in an anchovy broth topped with sliced egg, meat, mushrooms and other vegetables. Traditionally served at large banquets.
71. 비빔국수, Bibim guksu, 3,500 won: Wheat noodles mixed with various sliced veggies and meat in a spicy sauce.*
72. 콩국수, Kong guksu, 3,500 won: Thick wheat noodles in a cold soy milk broth usually topped with sliced cucumbers. Usually eaten in summer.