Despite never having travelled to Korea, I’ve watched enough Korean dramas to want to try kimbap. That’s why I made the trip down to Rolling Rice, an authentic Korean restaurant located in Marina Square, to try it out.
Rolling Rice, just like its name suggests, specialises in kimbap (or gimbap in Korean) and offers a whopping total of 10 variations of this well-loved Korean rice roll! They also sell other authentic Korean food, such as tteokbokki and the usual variety of main dishes.
For those of you who often get lost in Marina Square, I’ve got your back.
Rolling Rice is hidden in The Dining Edition section of the mall— a little corner near the Esplanade MRT exit that’s filled with eateries such as Burger King, Suki-Ya and 4Fingers. If you’re walking from the main atrium, head towards McDonald’s and you should spot the restaurant on your right.
I reached slightly before Rolling Rice’s official opening time of 11.30am and was surprised to see several groups of customers patiently waiting for the store to open. My impression of the store got even better when I noticed that quite a number of its servers were Korean, and I couldn’t wait to start eating.
What I tried at Rolling Rice
At Rolling Rice, orders are made and paid for by scanning the QR code on the table. After placing my order through the contactless experience, my dining companion and I noticed that customers could help themselves to free-flow servings of Chicken Seaweed Soup at a nearby counter.
The minute I opened the lid of the pot, I was transported back to my grandma’s kitchen. I could smell the comforting aroma of home-made chicken broth: fragrant and robust, with naturally savoury notes that made my stomach grumble.
While waiting for my order to arrive, I helped myself to a serving of Rolling Rice’s Chicken Seaweed Soup.
This was extremely comforting. While the flavours were quite light, there was a natural sweetness from the chicken and my lips were coated with the chicken oil (just like homemade chicken essence). The umami-ness from the seaweed came through as a pleasant aftertaste.
I could see myself pairing this simple soup with rice or noodles on a rainy day or when I’m feeling under the weather. It was so soothing that I was even tempted to go up to the staff to get the recipe!
I reminded myself that this was just free soup— albeit a free-flow one at that— and I patiently waited for my mains to arrive.
I started the ball rolling (get it?) with Rolling Rice’s Traditional Gimbap (S$9.90 for 10 pieces), which came with fried red carrots, fried cucumber, yellow pickled radish, egg and burdock.
For this kimbap, you can choose between five different types of meat. I decided to go with Beef, but you can pick Spam, Tuna, Fried Chicken or Fried Pork Cutlet as well.
This was a real delight. You have all the tastes and textures in a single roll, which makes biting into each kimbap a true journey in terms of flavour.
You’ve got the mildly nutty seaweed, followed by the crunchy pickles, sweet egg, fresh and appetising cucumber and last but not least, the soft and savoury beef.
Out of all the ingredients in the roll, I loved the beef the most. It had been stir-fried with onions and a sweet dark sauce, resembling what you might get on a hotplate.
I ordered two additional kimbaps: Bacon & Kimchi Roll ($5.90 for eight pieces) and Salmon & Cheese Roll (S$5.90 for eight pieces). Both kimbaps were served together on a single plate.
The sourness of the kimchi hit me immediately, and I thoroughly enjoyed the crunchy bursts of tanginess. While the smoky sweetness of the bacon came through slowly, I would’ve enjoyed it much more if it had been a little saltier.
The Salmon & Cheese Roll reminded me of sushi because of the raw salmon, which had been paired with cheddar cheese and tartar sauce.
This was a simple but addictive roll which melded together in a sticky way that it clung to my teeth. While the cheese was quite overpowering in its sweet yet smoky way, I enjoyed the little pops of creaminess.
I wish that the tartar sauce was more pronounced so as to offset the strong flavours from the cheese.
To round off the meal and all the carbs, I decided to get Rolling Rice’s Kimchi Stew (S$11.90).
If you’re getting this as a main dish, you can choose to add Pork (S$2), Chicken (S$2) or Tuna (S$2), and pair the stew with Steamed Rice (S$1 during weekday lunch or S$1.50 during regular hours).
As we had plenty of ingredients from the kimbap, we decided to get the Kimchi Stew as it was.
I must say, Rolling Rice’s Kimchi Stew certainly packed a punch. The kimchi’s iconic sourness came through in a bright way, whetting my appetite. I appreciated that the soup wasn’t too salty or strong, such that I could keep drinking it without needing white rice to offset the savoury flavours.
Frankly, it’s quite an average bowl of Kimchi Stew— it has all those familiar sour, salty and sweet notes and didn’t exactly blow my mind— but it still hit the spot. Definitely a no-fuss and satisfying soup that I’d have for my next meal.
Out of all the kimbaps, the Traditional Gimbap surprised me the most with its all-rounded flavours, presenting a mix of sweetness, savouriness, crunchiness and softness in each bite.
Though the Bacon & Kimchi Roll and Salmon & Cheese Roll were quite average, I enjoyed them nonetheless and look forward to trying Rolling Rice’s other kimbap flavours such as Crispy Chicken Roll and Homemade Pork Cutlet Roll the next time I’m there.
Perhaps, I might pair them with Rolling Rice’s other authentic Korean offerings, such as Jjajang Myeon or even Korean Spicy Chicken. Daebak!
Expected damage: S$5.90 – S$15 per pax
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