Wikipedia defines my favorite Korean food Gimbap as “Gimbap (김밥) is a Korean dish made from cooked rice and other ingredients that are rolled in gim (김)—dried sheets of nori seaweed—and served in bite-sized slices. The dish is often part of a packed meal(도시락) to be eaten at picnics and outdoor events and can serve as a light lunch along with yellow pickled radish and kimchi. It is a popular take-out food in South Korea and abroad, and is known as a convenient food because of its portability. It is usually well wrapped (traditionally with aluminum foil, but now sometimes in paper) and does not have any liquid ingredients.”
As Wikipedia well explains, gimbap is for sure an inseparable food in the Korean people’s childhoods. It is no exaggeration to say that when we went on field trips in elementary school or middle school, at least 7 out of 10 kids brought Gimbap for their take-out meal. One fact that is a bit regrettable as a Korean is that in many countries around the world, Gimbap is not that popular unlike you can find Japanese sushi rolls almost everywhere in the world. Gimbap is made with steamed white rice and dried seaweed, which is similar to the Japanese version. But there are two big differences: the rice and the filling. While sushi rice is seasoned with vinegar, kimbap is instead cut with sesame oil and sweeter. As for the fillings, while the Japanese incorporate mostly raw fish (tuna, salmon, chopped scallops), in Korea the inside layer consists of cooked or preserved items like cooked vegetables, canned tuna, kimchi, grilled bulgogi and ham, and cheese. When I lived in the U.S., I made Gimbap for my roommates, and they seriously loved it! I am sure that Korean gimbap would be competitive in foreign countries, as well, and its popularity has been growing in Asian countries.
There are more kinds of Gimbap than you can imagine. In fact, depending on the ingredients inside the Gimbap, you can make even a brand-new kind of Gimbap. Personally I like gimbap with lots of tuna and mayonnaise in it, but as the premium gimbap houses have become popular in recent years, various kinds of gimbap have become popular. There are many different gimbap, including spicy gimbap, gimbap with lots of sliced sunny side up, a whole piece of sausage, and even Samgyeopsal. There are also mini-sized gimbap with side-dishes like seasoned radish or Kimchi. There are so many gimbap restaurants, as you may feel if you look around Seoul. From the traditional gimbap restaurants located in the neighborhood to the modern and fancy premium gimbap restaurants, you can choose wherever you want to try. To help you narrow down your options, I would like to introduce some famous gimbap restaurants among Koreans.
141-1 Bangbaejungang-ro, Bangbaebon-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Han-ip Soban(1000won Gimbap)
15-5 Cheongpadong 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul