Sunday, October 25, 2009

HanArum Roll House - Irvine

I do not advocate the eating of those sushi-like products wrapped in cellophane and kept in refrigerated sections of supermarkets. There's just too much at stake, the least of which is flavor. If you're going to have sushi, have sushi. Go to your local itamae, sit in front of him and eat it as it's meant to be eaten.

But when it comes to the Korean version called kimbap, the cellophane is almost an inevitability; because other than a few exceptions, kimbap is mostly sold in supermarkets wrapped under plastic to function as a light lunch, a snack, or an accompaniment to a bigger meal. Every major Korean store in town has a kimbap station, where middle-aged ladies roll nori sheets around rice and savory fillings.

H-Mart's kimbap station is called HanArum, which sells what is possibly the cheapest and most filling lunch you can get anywhere in the Diamond Jamboree complex.

Their tuna roll ($3.50), is tightly wound, crammed with so much stuff to a critical mass that it immediately unfurls in your mouth like a coiled spring of moistness and crunch. A Subway tuna sandwich could only dream of beating it in nutrition, value, and flavor.

The secret is in the ingredients. It contains no less than a dozen components, including tamago-style egg, imitation crab, spinach, carrot, pickled radish, burdock root, sesame leaf, cucumber, tuna salad, celery, onion, and cucumber, with a hint of sesame oil, salt and vinegar for seasoning.

All the layers amount to rings of textures and tastes beyond that in a typical sushi roll. No soy sauce or wasabi needed. Above all, it's refreshingly simple -- a no fuss, grab-and-go lunch.

And if you want even more variety, HanArum also does a combo selection of kimbap for $5.00: colorful medallions filled with just as many yummy things as the tuna roll, but with different proteins at the nucleus. There's cooked beef as well as ham and cheese. That's right, I said ham and cheese.

And yes, they'll be wrapped with cellophane...but here's a tip, come early and you'll catch 'em as they're being made. The ladies will still package it up in plastic as they serve it to you, but it will be so fresh it might as well be made to order by an itamae. Well, the Korean equivalent anyway.

HanArum Roll House
(949) 553-8808
2600 Alton Pkwy
Irvine, CA 92606

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14 Comments:

At 11:15 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

I am amazed at how good of a deal these are! Did not notice the pricing last time I passed by it. They were on break when I was there- eating lunch :). Your photos look better than what I saw that day when I was at HMart! But maybe that is because you took the cellophane away...

Oh...and you repeated sesame leaf twice when you talked about the ingredients...

 
At 6:33 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Yeah, these are a steal! And these prices already include tax!

And thanks for catching the repeated ingredients! Who needs a copy editor when I've got readers who pay attention!

 
At 10:49 AM, Blogger Juliet said...

I adore kimbap! The Korean market here runs out early when they make it on Saturday (the only day they make it) so we always call ahead to reserve some earlier in the week. You are right, Simple, delicious and nutritious. I could live on kimbap!

 
At 12:24 PM, Blogger polar said...

Ahhh kimbap.. I practically grew up on them as a kid. My mother would make then if there is a class picnic. Every kid had their version and we all laughed at the kid who didn't have meat in it. They actually sell weiner style sausages sep made for kimbap.

Kimbap were popular for picnics and outings simply because its all the banchan, rice, and meat all in one little package. Instead of setting out 8-12 small dishes for the banchan (no room!), or carrying all of it for that matter, its pre-packaged~!

Ahaha.. I am craving some right now.. thanks MM.

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Bill said...

Wish I knew about this place when I was working around the corner from it. What a deal.

 
At 8:53 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Juliet,

So could I! I can see myself making them myself, but there are so many components, and the finished product of these roll shops are so darned cheap!

polar,

HAHA! The part about kids teasing those who had no meat in the kimbap -- classic! And wiener kimbap? Wild! But why not? They already have ham-n-cheese!

Bill,

If there's anything bad about the $3.50 kimbap deal, it's that there was actually too much food (at least for me). I had to force myself to finish it...soooo fullll afterward.

 
At 8:20 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

I could totally eat that tuna one for lunch. I'm in that area about once a month on my lunch hour and keep thinking I need to stop at Diamond Jamboree to eat. I live close by, sure, but I still haven't been there once!

 
At 8:34 AM, Blogger Val said...

I love grocery store/ethnic market finds like this! It's been a while since I've made it down to H-Mart -- you just prompted me to go this week. Woohoo!

 
At 2:02 PM, Blogger Factory.JUnkie said...

i love these! its filling, good and cheap.

 
At 11:38 PM, Blogger Sawyer said...

i love kimbap. we have it for lunch almost every friday at work, and i'm still not sick of it. i personally like the fish cake for the meat filling, but beef is always good too. i've never tried tuna. $3.50 is def. the cheapest i've seen...places around here around 3.99+ very nice post!

 
At 12:33 AM, Anonymous mimi said...

Just tried. I prefer Zion's tuna version. Same price. 3.5

 
At 5:12 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Melissa,

So many, and I do mean "many", things to eat at DJ. This is just one! Some vittles aren't so great. Others like 85 Degrees' tuna danish is simply wonderful. HanArum's kimbap is on the side of the good and very cost-effective column!

Val,

I'm actually going there more and more for their produce! Except for a bum nectarine I bought once, their stocks are cheap and usually, pretty fresh!

Factory Junkie,

AMEN! I wish they stocked Sriracha. I'd cover it with that stuff.

Sawyer,

I've never seen this cheap either...but then again, mimi seems to have found a similar deal at Zion!

mimi,

In that case, I'm going to try Zion next!

 
At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I read the original post today and decided to stop by and try some, as I visit Diamond Jamboree frequently. Unfortunately there was a sign posted stating that as of today (11/5) they were closed for business!

 
At 4:39 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Anon,

Thanks for the tip! I went and saw it too! DAMN!

 

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