E-Mo Kimbap by Your Surrogate Korean Auntie
With standing room only and walls the color of your bright yellow pickled daikon, E-Mo (W.32nd St. btw. 5th Ave and B’way), which means “aunt” in Korean, serves up homestyle, made-to-order kimbap from a tiny storefront in Koreatown. E-Mo is by far the most popular place to get “Korean sushi” in Ktown. A cheap, hole-in-the-wall, you’d think it would be a Midtown Lunch classic, but surprisingly hasn’t had its own coverage… ’til now. And come on Zach, it’s secretly a caloric brick.
Stuffed with everything from squid to shitake mushrooms, kimbap are often called “Korean sushi”. And though kimbap rolls are made with white rice and nori, the similarities end there. With pickled vegetables and a drizzle of nutty sesame oil (a key to bap of greatness), kimbap is a comforting carb beast all of its own. Freshly made with rice still warm out of the cooker, I find kimbap to be seriously satisfying in a way that reminds me of that sticky starchy smell of Asian home kitchens. And if you like onigiri, definitely give these a try (both make excellent cures for the grumbly boozegut, too).
Though it comes with a small soup (passable), it might not be a lunch for the ravenous. But don’t let its seemingly healthy appearance fool you into thinking your doing yourself a favor by passing on the Korean fried chicken line- kimbap are packed with more rice than you’d think, making it a snackbomb that dieting Koreans avoid at most costs. (Zach, I’m looking at you.)
Day in and out, it’s the same older Korean couple and perhaps one other cook making these rolls to order with a touch that only your Korean auntie would have. E-Mo’s rolls are a buck or two pricier than the pre packaged versions at the neighboring Woorijip and H-mart (the cheapest of them all), but the quality of ingredients and the freshness clearly put them a step above.
E-Mo, 2 W 32nd St (btw. B’way+5th)