At ‘cheon Won’ a go (equivalent to a Dollar), you simply can’t go wrong with a roll of the nations favourite, gimbap. Found on just about any street corner in Korea, gimbap is a convenient and filling light meal that can either be enjoyed with some kimchi and other popular side dishes, or wrapped up and eaten on the move.
Consisting of steamed white rice (bap), various vegetables and egg, which is rolled in dried seaweed (gim) and served in warm bite-size slices, gimbap is Korea’s fast food answer to the sandwich, albeit a slightly different and decidedly more Eastern version.
My personal favourite gimbap outlet, and arriving at this decision among the throng of gimbap eateries that line every nook and cranny of the entire country was no easy feat, is a modest little establishment in Banchon-dong, north-east Daegu, called Gimbap Heaven. A name, I can testify, that is as sincere as their welcome.
Run by a typically hurried looking Korean man in his 50s along with the customary army of loyal and apron clad ajumas (middle aged women), Gimbap Heaven gives you the choice of a grab and run style window service where you can place your order from an outside kiosk, as well as an indoor café/restaurant area.
I have been assured that there is a marked difference between good gimbap and the not so good, though to my western palate it’s taken about seven months to establish any discernible difference. However, a recent bout of the stomach nasties was enough to convince me of the legitimacy behind this distinction!
Gimbap Heaven’s winning formula is that they make to order, preparing it right there in front of you. And not only does their gimbap taste all the more better for it, it’s quite the spectacle watching this delicate operation. With the aid of a small bamboo rolling mat, all the ingredients are placed onto dried seaweed, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds before rolled up and handed over with a set of chopsticks.
Crafted by the hands of an ajuma, served with all the good grace and hospitable tendencies so accustom with Korean culture and costing no more than a buck, gimbap at Gimbap Heaven will fill a hole in your belly without leaving a hole in your wallet.