Located on B1 floor of Ewha-POSCO Building, the Ewha Sarang sells various kinds of kimbaps, the power source that inundates the Ewha Sarang with Ewha students who wait in a gruelingly long line to get a bite of it. Next to the Ewha Sarang cashier, a student squeezing an unconstrained amount of white mayonnaise onto her tuna kimbaps, the most idolized kimbap at Ewha Sarang, is a scene commonly encountered.
“One of the best qualities of Ewha Sarang’s tuna kimbap is that it has a lot of tuna inside and is priced at a cheaper price,” Kim Jin-kyung (Media Studies, 1) said.
Due to the students’ love for the tuna kimbap’s fine taste and affordable price, Ewha Sarang enjoys high popularity.
“I cannot disclose the number of kimbaps sold per day due to business reasons, but I can admit that over 500 rolls are sold,” said Lee Seung-jae, the Head Cook of Ewha Sarang.
The history of the Ewha Sarang kimbap retains a whiff back to 1992. Its first kimbap menu launched was the kimchobap – a sushi roll fused with Korean and Japanese styles with sweet chili sauce carefully embedded within.
With blooming popularity, Ewha Sarang began selling the tuna kimbap in the beginning of the second semester of that year. Starting out with only two to three menus, Ewha Sarang now sells approximately 15 different types of kimbaps, including the plain kimbap, tuna kimbap, yooboo chobap, chili chicken kimbap, and so on. They are priced around 2,000 won.
While the Ewha Sarang kimbap has gained love in Ewha, itshadows the arduous work and efforts made by its creators, the kimbap cooks.
Working in the kitchen from six to nine hours as a daily routine, the kimbap cooks work together by assigning each cook with different roles in order to efficiently make the kimbaps.
“One cook is in charge of frying the eggs, while another prepares the necessary ingredients,” Lee said. “My role is the finale, slicing the kimbap roll into small pieces.”
Though the Ewha Sarang kimbap appears no different to that of an ordinary kimbap sold elsewhere, Lee reveals there is actually more to it.
“The secret is that we use only domestic ingredients,” Lee said. “Despite the expensive costs, I urge using only domestic goods to enhance both taste and hygiene.”
To ensure that their customers eat fresh and clean kimbaps, the cooks must be sanitized whenever they go outside the kitchen. “On average, a cook would be sanitized five to six times a day,” Lee said.
Lee also says having diverse types of kimbaps, such as plain kimbap, cheese kimbap, and yooboo chobap is also a technique that sustains the high popularity of Ewha Sarang kimbap.
“The cooks devise the new menus. Using similar ingredients to those used in the other kimbaps, we try to make the safest and cleanest yet very tasty kimbaps. The preliminary round is judged by us, and the final round by the Ewha Sarang CEO,” Lee said.
However, another secret behind the kimbap’s success left amiss is the cooks’ teamwork.
“Because the cooks know how tiring the work is, we pat each other on the backs or throw silly jokes to ease the fatigue,” Lee said. “We also take turns with our breaks, making sure every cook takes a rest and works equally.”
Late in the evening, the cooks give out free egg rolls to its kimbap customers.
“We give egg rolls for service when we have leftover ingredients,” Lee said. “For those who were not as lucky, we give out free nurungji, a thin crust of scorched rice left in the bottom of the cooking pot. The customers who luckily receive them seem to be happy for the service.”
The love Ewha Sarang kimbap receives is close-knit to the inner teamwork formed inside the kitchen.
“Through teamwork, and the trust and care the cooks have for each other is what makes the cooking operation to function,” Lee said. “Through this, I hope to continue providing clean, tasty, and nutritious kimbaps for Ewha students.”