Acceptable alternate to mom’s own rolls

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Acceptable alternate to mom’s own rolls


Picnics in Korea without gimbap, or seaweed rice roll, are like New York without the Chrysler Building. From now and throughout the summer months, parks in Korea are crowded with families and couples laying down mats and different assortments of gimbap.
Just as American mothers boast of their homemade chocolate chip cookies, there is an unspoken competition between Korean mothers during outings and picnics on who makes the best gimbap.
Although homemade gimbap is still the most popular, there are alternatives for those who do not want to get up early in the morning. One such is Koturi, a take-out chain that specializes in gimbap and Chinese-style dumplings. Koturi means tail, and in this case, refers to the end pieces of gimbap. Because a surprising number of people prefer the ends to the neat middle pieces, the restaurant’s Koturi gimbap set consists only of the ends, which, as they have the main ingredients sticking out, have more filling and less rice.
Out of the assorted vegetable or meat Koturi gimbap sets (3,300 won or $3.50), I chose the meat. It included 12 pieces, with four different main fillings; four bulgogi (seasoned beef), four tuna, two cheese and two flying fish roe gimbap. With these main fillings, there were the usual “side” fillings of egg, pickled cucumber, ham, carrot and burdock weed.

Two things stood out. Unlike other gimbap chains such as “Gimganae,” “Gimbapnara” and “Gimbapcheonguk,” the beef inside the bulgogi gimbap was not from ground beef but bite-size pieces. The next was the rice. Some gimbap vendors add extra sesame or perilla oil to hide the taste of inferior rice but Koturi’s rice had just a little vinegar and maintained its chewy, moist texture.
The dumplings (meat, vegetable or shrimp) were satisfactory for 2,500 won. Although the shrimp dumplings did not include fresh, chunky pieces of shrimp, they were still juicy and tender.

by Cho Jae-eun

Koturi has 21 stores in total, with eight in Seoul. For more information, call (02) 3424-2300 or visit
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