Kimchee Burrito from John’s Snack and Deli

by foodhoe on April 23, 2009

40 Battery St (between Bush St & Pine St) SF, CA 94111 | 415.434.4634 | website

I have been following the Kogi Taco Truck frenzy going down in SoCal with great interest, the media is buzzing and people are waiting in line for hours for a kalbi taco crafted by Chef Roy Choi.  The Kogi truck hasn’t made its way up here yet, but I noticed this sign in the window of a tiny convenience store on my way to work and the word kimchee caught my eye.   Mmmm, bulgogi beef and kimchee burrito…. that’ll do.

Yup, it looks like a burrito, but it doesn’t smell much like a burrito.  It smells like korean bbq and kimchee!

I know, the very concept brings to mind the dreaded wrap… but this is not one of those half-assed fusion fluffy things… No, this is a Korean burrito, and most definitely not a wrap.  The kalbi is sweet but tempered by the soy sauce and the sharp pungency of the garlicy kimchee and surrounded by sticky glutinous rice that is mixed with chili paste and sesame oil, reminding me of a bibimbap roll.  There’s a little bit of melted gooey cheese for richness along with a smattering of fresh tomato, green onion and cilantro and pickled daikon.  I munched away wishing that I had picked up the little baggie of crunchy rice crackers on the counter as a side.

The burrito was quite delicious, very competently cooked and assembled, my only complaint is that the tortilla was a little dry and tough, as it lacked either the steam treatment or grilling that I’m used to on a burrito.

I love Korean food.  It’s like Japanese food amped up on steroids, there’s nothing restrained about it with the fiery chilies, liberal use of garlic and pungent kimchee.  The owner John’s mother cooks a variety of daily specials including  Pajeon Seafood pancake, Mandu dumpling Soup, Chapchae noodles, Soondubu tofu soup, Bibimbap for slightly under $10.  Besides the Korean food, they also have a variety of japanese foods from Suruki’s in Oakland: inari sushi, california roll, nigiri, potato croquette, musubi, even oyako donburi and edamame.

I have just recently been introduced to Kimbap sushi which is a Korean fast food derived from Japanese futomaki, but with a distinctly Korean perspective.  It is flavored with sesame oil and filled with carrots, pickled daikon, cucumber, tofu and maybe a bit of kimchee (vegetarian, possibly even vegan).   This is John’s mom’s specialty and they make 3 other variations bulgogi beef kimbap, kimchi kimbap, or spam kimbap for $3.75

Here’s the owner John, proudly displaying the variety of Korean specialties that can be made to order, cooked by his mom (in the background).  It’s not ironchef prepared or organic, but it tastes pretty good.  They also sell home made kimchee!

Aside from the chain Sorabol in the Rincon Center south of Market, I don’t think there’s any other place selling Korean food in the entire financial district.  If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

John's Snacks & Smokes on Urbanspoon

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

The Single Guy April 23, 2009 at 10:26 am

I love the idea of a korean burrito because like you I love the spicy flavors of Korean food and the combination of everything in a burrito is great. A place in Oakland used to do Korean burritos, but closed down. I never heard of kimpap sushi but I will definitely hunt them down. Luckily, Oakland is filled with Korean places, especially along Telegraph. I’m with you on Korean food, it is amped up Japanese food! (I’ll be posting a few Korean-inspired recipes on my blog soon!)

The Single Guys last blog post..Dish on Dining: Pizzeria Delfina

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Rosa April 23, 2009 at 10:45 am

What yummy looking rolls! I bet they were filling!

Cheers,

Rosa

Rosas last blog post..PLEASE BARE WITH ME – PARDONNEZ-MOI

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Kim April 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

Does John’s mom make a veggie option of the kimchi burrito? Sounds delish.

Kims last blog post..Tiburon Grill

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Gastronomer April 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Talk about Kogi mania! Did you ask John if he was inspired by Chef Roy? I’m a bit weirded out by the cheese.

Gastronomers last blog post..Ad Hoc – Yountville

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foodhoe April 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm

single guy, let me know if you find a good spot selling kimbap in the east bay!
rosa, I could only eat half (well, but then I also picked up kimbap…)
Kim, I bet she does, she has the tofu for the kimbap rolls – that sounds pretty good to me!
gastronomer, I didn’t, but I’m going back to check out the taco soon… The cheese was good, it was low key and just added a nice gooey rich texture. Maybe tofu would be better

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Cookie April 23, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I have to agree that the cheese part is a lil off for me but everything else looks great! The idea of Kimchee Burrito is pretty genius! I’m sure my man would LOVE this!

Cookies last blog post..First Wedding of 2009!

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we are never full April 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm

dry tortilla or not, kimchee burritos have to be the wave of the future. looks awesome and a great way to give it a kick.

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grace April 24, 2009 at 6:30 am

i do love it when two amazing cuisines collide. :)

graces last blog post..languish no more!

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Marsha April 24, 2009 at 11:06 am

had korean tacos at Kitchenette yesterday. Pretty good.

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Rommel Aganon April 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I see you’ve complimented on EaterSF. Well done!!

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Michael April 24, 2009 at 1:26 pm

77 Chinese Cuisine & Hawaiian BBQ, right across the street (at, not surprisingly, 77 Battery), offers Hawaiian mixed plate lunches, which are neo-Korean.

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foodhoe April 24, 2009 at 3:41 pm

cookie, the cheese is good, it helps bind everything together as there is not much sauce. I agree that cheese sounds like it wouldn’t go well, but dang people seem to love cream cheese in their sushi…
we are never full… I really like the nom de plume!
grace, I couldn’t agree more!
Marsha, is that the spot out in dogpatch? dang, too far for me to get to for lunch :(
rommel, that’s so cool – golly wouldja look at that!
michael, I do love hawaiian bbq, that’s good to know!

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jen April 26, 2009 at 2:01 pm

theres a Korean place on the corner or Natoma and New Montgomery that sells authentic korean dishes.

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Kelly April 27, 2009 at 8:54 am

What a unique burrito! It looks really tasty, dry tortilla aside. Pretty picutres!

Kellys last blog post..Apple Streusel Muffins

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Faine G April 27, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Hot damn, I hope these become more popular. Sounds sort of like eating a delicious gooey bi-bim-bap in a tortilla. I think the cheese may be a stand-in for the raw egg…but I could also be very wrong. Wish we had some good little Korean take-out joints like that closer to me…wouldn’t need to eat anything else!

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foodhoe April 27, 2009 at 5:09 pm

jen, thanks, I’ll check it out next time I’m in the area!
kelly, yes we like the adventurous stuff.
Faine G, yes, me too! That’s a good point about the raw egg, jeez just imagine that in a burrito… yum

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gaga April 28, 2009 at 10:57 am

Oh my! What a genius idea!

gagas last blog post..Shrimp Bisque

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Melissa April 28, 2009 at 10:42 pm

A Korean burrito sounds genius

Melissas last blog post..El Rancho Spring Classic

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Passionate Eater April 30, 2009 at 11:23 pm

I am definitely digging the new Korean-Mexican fusion ideas floating around the restaurant world. I had no idea that we had an eatery though in SF with the combo. The burrito looks assembled in the classic Mexican way, but sounds that it was packed with Korean flavor!

Passionate Eaters last blog post..Desperately Seeking (An Excellent) Sandwich

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foodhoe May 1, 2009 at 9:19 am

gaga and melissa, totally genius!
PE, yep that’s definitely a very good fusion of spicy flavors

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TheMoviesWeWatch May 1, 2009 at 10:40 am

Hmmm, I’m not too sure about the burrito. I do like Kimchi and I love burritos so I know if I was in the area I would try it at least once. In fact, since I live near Koreatown (out in L.A.) I wonder if there is soemthing out this way for me to fill the gut with. Might do a weekend search

TheMoviesWeWatchs last blog post..What We Watched – April 25, 2009

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Su-Lin May 3, 2009 at 5:27 pm

Your gorgeous photos have got me totally drooling over that burrito…I’m currently loving this whole Korean-Mexican fusion thing going on but I’ve not had a chance to actually try it yet.

Su-Lins last blog post..Spaghettini with Wild Garlic

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Jessica May 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm

There’s also a little liquor store on New Montgomery and Minna (?) that has a counter in back with Korean food. It’s just ok, so I’m glad to hear about this one! Tomorrow’s lunch for sure!

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foodhoe May 5, 2009 at 5:39 pm

movies, well you should go to the mothership and hit the kogi taco truck!
su-lin, thanks! I have to go back for more…
Jessica, hope you like it.

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Jacqueline May 12, 2010 at 12:53 pm

It’s pretty amazing!
.-= Jacqueline´s last blog ..Day 175: Undo Button =-.

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