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Where to find kimbap, Korean ‘sushi’ rolls, in Koreatown

A kimbap roll from the Kimbap in Koreatown with kimchi. (Steph Cha)

Name of restaurant: The restaurant is called Kimbap, and it is named after its signature dish, kimbap, the seaweed rice rolls that are a staple of on-the-go Korean dining. In its previous life,the restaurant was known as Gaju Hanshik Bunshik, but that shop closed due to construction, and owner Kuysik Kyong opened Kimbap in September.

Where you are: A cheerful, casual restaurant in a Koreatown plaza that shares a valet parking lot with Ombu Grill and the second location of Feng Mao. The décor is cute and lightly eclectic. A display of Coke bottles hovers over the counter; the light fixtures are shaded with Korean metal dishware; Korean writing on one wall reminds diners that the diet always starts tomorrow.

What you should eat: The menu is built, as you might guess, around kimbap, and the rolls here are excellent. The rice and seaweed are cooked perfectly, and the ratio of rice to other fixings is on point. There are about a dozen varieties of kimbap, ranging from $3 to $5 a roll, and each is enough for a light lunch. Many of these start with a base combination of egg, carrot, pickled radish and rape flowers, with fish cake, kimchi or sesame leaf on top. You can also order kimbap with mayonnaise, deep-fried shrimp, spicy stir-fried pork, squid or mushroom. Or for Spam fans, the kimbap comes with the meat, egg and American cheese.

What you should eat besides kimbap: The kimchi bokkeum bap hits the spot, with fried rice made with bacon, kimchi and scallions, and a fried egg on top. And while the ddukbokki rice cakes here don’t quite compete with those at the numerous ddukbokki specialty joints in Koreatown, it’s perfectly serviceable, especially when you add some instant ramen noodles. You can also get ddukbokki with cream sauce or pumpkin cream, should you choose to go that route.

The service: There’s a register where you can grab your food to go, but if you choose to dine in, there’s full service at the tables. This is a fast, unfussy kind of place, but the staff is notably friendly and attentive.

What you’re drinking: There is no alcohol, but plenty of soft drinks, and the cold barley tea is on the house.

Info: 400 S. Western Ave. Suite 102, Koreatown, (213) 380-2174.

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