“Good luck,” say the chopstick wrappers at Baro Baro Kimbap, a recent opening in Carrollton’s Koreatown. There are indeed luck rituals and superstitions around chopsticks, especially the disposable wooden kind. One of my friends recalls trying to split them apart perfectly in the school cafeteria, because getting a splintered or uneven set of chopsticks meant you would do worse on your next test.
But the “good luck” message at Baro Baro seems to have a second meaning. Kimbap is a lot more filling than it looks.
Kimbap is a Korean snack of rice rolled in seaweed and filled with finely chopped vegetables, egg, and other proteins. It has a superficial resemblance to sushi rolls, though it has a centuries-long history of its own (and many English-language spellings, including gimbap and kimbob; I’m using Baro Baro’s preferred spelling). To keep the roll together, everything in a kimbap is tightly packed. When you pick one up, it’s likely to feel a lot heavier than it appears (and heavier than sushi, as well). Take a bite, and you’ll feel that dense concentration of flavor and textures.
At Baro Baro, employees stack finished kimbap in boxes on a long front counter. Browse through the available options and grab the box that appeals to you, or, if your preferred filling isn’t available yet, you can place an order and the kitchen will make a fresh roll. Each roll ranges from $4.50 to $6. This is where I made my mistake: I assumed it was going to be hard to get full eating a $5 lunch. I assumed I would need a side snack, maybe even a second roll. Not so!
If there is a more filling lunch for less money anywhere, let me know about it. I spent $6 on a kimbap with spicy marinated pork, egg, finely chopped carrots, cooked spinach, and pickled radish, and I felt full before finishing it. In fact, I took home half the box, along with a roll that, instead of pork, held thin slices of spicy fish cakes. Baro Baro is not joking around with the spiciness, which is direct and piercing, with little flavor of its own beyond pure heat.
Kimbap is prized in Korea for its portability; it’s an ideal food for picnics and meals on the go. The variety at Baro Baro includes meat, seafood, and vegetarian options, plus a roll that’s all egg. Spam musubi is available, too. In other words, if you’re ordering for a group, there’s something for everyone.
Here’s a suggestion: you can make a great takeout family dinner by grabbing some kimbap from Baro Baro and then crossing the parking lot to Bap Doduk for prepackaged salads and veggies. Around the corner from Baro Baro, Ecclesia Bakery makes some very good macarons and other desserts. Yes, this is in the same enormous shopping complex as Carrollton’s H Mart, but with prepared foods like these, who needs groceries?