Lots of big happenings in 2017.
Kimbap Lab launched February of this year, and its been a lot of everything to say the least. I was almost 8 months pregnant when we opened (yikes!), and with a full belly + hopeful goals, Kimbap Lab was born...in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For this post, I want to share the story of how it all began. A story that I have shared with friends, family, and any customer who had a few minutes of curiosity.
I moved to New York early 2013 from Seoul. It wasn't too long after I moved here, when I had a small (perhaps larger than I thought) dream to create gluten-free Korean recipes. No one was doing it here...and many Koreans didn't really know the significance of it either. When I shared this concept of introducing an 'all gluten-free Korean menu', friends were confused why it had to be done. I was like 'why the heck not?!?'
It took me a year to convince my current business partner Chef Wonil Lee why we had to do this...now. Part of the convincing took place when we held the first all gluten-free Korean pop-up in Williamsburg-The Back Kitchen in 2014. The BacKitchen was one day pop-up with three seatings that sold out in a week! No one knew who we were, and this was before Wonil became a celebrity. The guests who attended were amazed. They were amazed that even with everything being gluten-free, the six-course Korean tasting was one of the best they have had. This response was what sparked Wonil and I to continue this dream.
We never compromise on the flavors...
Since the pop-up, we were working on other projects together over the years. It wasn't until the summer of 2015, when I was in Seoul finalizing a sauce line-up with Wonil, did we think of a crazy idea. We were so busy with work, that most of our meals consisted of eating Korean Kimbap in the car. This was our favorite. It was our number one choice of a 'grab-and-go' meal. One day, we had our sauces in the car, and mainly to test out our sauces we ate it with the kimbap we purchased. AND THAT was the moment. We looked at each other with our mouths full of kimbap, and couldn't stop laughing. This was the beginning of how our Kimbap Lab journey began.
Fun times since that summer in Seoul.
What we are doing differently...
Kimbap is not traditionally served with sauces and pickles. This was a new concept that Wonil and I created. Why? Because we just like eating sauces and pickles with everything! I think a lot of you can relate having a condiment crush. Especially when you're grabbing whatever good sauce that pairs with everything your eating from the fridge. Lets be honest, doing this just makes things taste better!
Why Whole Foods?
When we think of shopping and eating healthy, Whole Foods is what comes to mind. I have been shopping at Whole Foods for close to 15 years, and always wondered why they had many Asian food offerings, but not many Korean items (aside from the Kimchi and bbq sauces). We really couldn't think of a better place than Whole Foods to introduce Kimbap Lab.
It's been a crazy 8 months so far, but we couldn't be happier with our first location at the Williamsburg Whole Foods! What keeps up our spirit are our customers who have been so encouraging with all of their positive responses to our Kimbap! Wonil and I are just thrilled to share our childhood favorites with everyone :)
Exciting things to come so stay tuned! We would love you to drop a visit at the Williamsburg, Brooklyn Whole Foods!
Kimbap Lab-238 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn NY 11249 @ the Whole Foods Williamsburg