The Secret Korean Foodie Life > Samcheongdong

[Samcheongdong] The Secret Korean Foodie Life #88 - Cho-sun Kim-bap (조선김밥)

If you think of “fast-foods” you probably can only think of Hamburgers and Fries, but in Korea the most popular “fast-food-like-food” is “Kim-bap,” which can be eaten as a meal or a snack, by hand or by using a chopstick, at a restaurant or at a picnic – a key “quality” for a good proper “fast-food.”

Although it is very fast and easy to eat already made “Kim-bap” without thinking too much, actually it isn’t fast at all to make a “Kim-bap.” So my mother only used to make me “Kim-bap” when I was going on a picnic at the school or some special occasion that she felt like she wanted to do some proper cooking… or when I have cried for roughly 3 hours asking for “Kimbap…”

In a proper “original” “Kim-bap” white steamed rice is to be evenly spread on a thin piece of Korean seaweed – laver, that is the base for covering the many ingredients such as, fried eggs, boiled and seasoned spinach, pan-fried sliced carrots, pickled radish and pan-fried marinated ground beef with optional cheese, crab-meat sticks, ham, kimchi… anything else than “Nutella” to be added and then rolled to be eaten in pieces sliced, which looks beautiful, or as a whole roll, which is for the lazy ones… all depending on your preference. Now you might be thinking that then “Kim-bap” is just like a Japanese “Sushi roll,” yes, it does look similar but actually normal Korean “Kim-bap” usually doesn’t include any fish or raw ingredients and more veggies and meat fillings are included.

Like any popular “fast-food” there existed numerous “Kim-bap” franchises stores everywhere in Korea, even during the days of my childhood, which was quite some time ago… But these franchises usually don’t do a very good job in cooking the so called “fast-food” in a tasty way… (just imagine McDonalds… a Big Mac isn’t something that tastes anywhere close to a properly grilled and constructed hand-crafted Burger…) So the “Kim-bap” wasn’t very tasty at these Korean style “fast-food” Kim-bap franchises and never as good as the ones my mother made me… and the main reason was similar to the problem of the Big Mac – there was too much rice (bun) and less filling (veggies and meat) for cost effectiveness… (and this is why the actual product never looks like the photo… which looks absolutely delicious). But nowadays as people have become more sophisticated, many of these low-cost Kim-bap franchises have disappeared and more “upscale” franchises, like “Kim Sun-seng” have taken their places that fill the “Kim-baps” properly full of veggies and meat (just like the upscale burger franchise that all say they hand-craft their burgers from scratch…).

Now “Cho-sun Kim-bap” isn’t any franchise “Kim-bap” place that sells normal “Kim-bap” it is a very small shop hidden in the backstreets of “Samcheong-dong,” only for those who know. And it only sells one type of Kim-bap the “Cho-sun Kim-bap,” now this must sound properly interesting for those foodies…

“Cho-sun Kim-bap’s” Kim-bap is one that definitely tastes more like “home-made” – a roll full of ingredients almost too big enough to fit a slice inside one bite. Also there is a secret ingredient behind “Cho-sun Kim-bap’s” “Cho-sun Kim-bap” which is an edible flower – “Sam-ip Guk-hwa (in English the “Golden Glow).” This very special ingredient adds scent and freshness to the “Kim-bap” already full of various ingredients that all dance in your mouth each ingredient showing their taste and scent one after one and altogether, which ends with the savory scent of sesame oil that is brushed on generously on the roll. “Cho-sun Kim-bap” is a really small shop without many seating, so as any fast-food, take it to-go and then head to the bench right across in the “National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art” and take your own relaxing picnic alongside the beauty of Korean architecture. 


I can easily say this is one of the best “Kim-baps” I have ever had… (sorry mommy…), and probably the most refreshing and sweet one with leaves a flowery aftertaste that you just possibly can’t forget. This little place is a place even the local Koreans hide to themselves because it is just so super tasty… definitely try it, it is a taste that you will come back for.


​78, Yulgok-ro 1-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 율곡로1길 78

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