Food Stuffs: Kimbob, sometimes called “Korean sushi,” is the feature dish at Kimbob, a new Korean health food cafe located at 1927 86th Street. But make no mistake, kimbob is not sushi.
Much like Japanese sushi, kimbob is rolled in white rice and seaweed and sliced into bite-size pieces, but that’s where the similarities end. While sushi rice is typically seasoned with vinegar and soy sauce, the sweeter kimbob is cut with sesame oil. Rather than using raw fish, like sushi makers do, the Korean street food comes stuffed to the brim with cooked and preserved ingredients like spicy sausage, fried egg, fishcake, kimchi, tiny blocks of ham, spinach, and cheese. The rolls are typically garnished with a pickled radish.
Kimbob exclusively peddles the distinctive rice rolls, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and smoothies. Well-located next to 24 Hour Fitness, Kimbob’s nutritious and rejuvenating menu options make it a perfect post-workout pit stop. (Warning: The health food bar shares a storefront with CoCo Chicken, which occupies the rear of the eatery and showcases a much greasier side of Korean street food. Steer near the front, if you are watching your waistline.)
When I visited today, I ordered the spicy beef kimbob (beef grilled in spicy sauce, egg, carrot, fishcake, and spinach) and the kimchi kimbob (egg, fishcake, radish, squash, kimchi, and ham). The women behind the juice and kimbob stand were warm and accommodating as usual, and the modern, cafeteria-style dining room was clean and comfortable.
The spicy beef — which was ready in minutes — wasn’t quite as spicy as I had anticipated, but it was tender and sweet and paired well with the sautéed spinach and egg. The kimchi kimbob had a few extra carrots, giving it a noisier and more satisfying crunch than the beef version. Little bits of pink ham added lively color and texture contrast.
Overall, Kimbob offers a healthy fast food, with more flavor and fewer calories. At $6 a roll and $5.50 for a medium-sized smoothie, this finger food joint is also easy on the wallet. Gym goers looking for an easy post-workout snack and foodies alike will find it to be worth the jog to 86th Street.
Kimbob,1927 86th Street, 718-333-0005. Open 6am until 10pm daily.
Food Stuffs is a column exploring the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything remotely related to food. Because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.
Correction [August 10]: A previous version of this article stated that Kimbob opened one month ago. It has been open several months (thanks, Emme!).