Hello and welcome to another installment of Mastication Monologues! Today is a pretty laid back day, but last night was a special dinner for one of my friends who is having surgery on Friday. So we went out to wish her good luck and have a safe procedure. We ended up going to a kimbap chungu called Tomato Kimbab.
Now you might be wondering to yourself, “Hey Mark, what in the name of kimchi is a kimbap chungu?” Well for all of those uninitated to Korean cuisine, a kimbap chungu is a sitdown restaurant that serves Korean cuisine stalwarts that range from different varieties of bibimbap, kimbap (hence the name), jjigaes (soups), and even one of my personal favorites, tonkatsu. These restaurants also serve a good amount of food for a decent price. However, instead of getting bibimbap like everyone else in the party, I went for a Japanese dish that was adopted by the Koreans and once again slightly modified: omaraisu (오므라이스). Like other foods in the Korean diet, this meal was born out of the Japanese occupation of the country which spanned from 1910 to right after World War II. The name itself is a contraction of the words, “omelet” and “rice” pronounced in a Korean fashion. It’s a relatively simple but delicious idea for a dish. First, there is the omelet shell that should be thin yet strong enough to withstand the stresses of holding in all of the delicious rice inside. As I just mentioned, there is the second element of the rice which lurks within its large, yellow coccoon. Most of the time it’s chicken fried rice with vegetables like peas and carrots which is flavored with beef stock, but sometimes it can even have pieces of spam or hot dogs in it (a culinary trace of Amurica from after the Korean War).
After everyone in my party received their bowls of regular bibimbap and dolsot bibimbap, I got my food last, but it looked absolutely perfect. It was about the size of a football or perhaps a small baby, but I was ready to get it in my belly. There was also a generous drizzling of ketchup on the top that looked like an audacious thunderbolt alerting me to the amazing flavors contained within the meal in front of me. I also utilized some of the sweet, semi-glaze on the side to balance out the ketchup. Once I opened up the yellow blob, a ton of fresh chicken fried rice spilled out and was piping hot. Once the raging inferno inside the omelet subsided, I tried a forkful of the rice, and it was delicious. The rice wasn’t over or undercooked, and the chicken pieces were juicy and just the right size to not need a knife. As for the egg, it was light and fluffy and went well with the tangy ketchup and the sweet brown gravy. Overall, it was a good meal, and Tomato Kimbap does make a mean omaraisu. If it’s your first time having it, I guarantee you won’t have egg on your face due to a bad meal.