Chung Moo Rollrice & Dongas is a great spot for Korean comfort food in Flushing. This small restaurant serves up homey fare like stir-fried rice dishes and noodle soups, but I always go for their fresh kimbap. For those who don’t know what that is, think “sushi’s Korean counterpart.” Their namesake choong moo kimbap originated from a South Korean harbor town by the same name (now known as Tongyeong), and consists of plain rice rolls served with spicy squid and spicy pickled radish.
The story behind these rolls started when a fisherman’s wife wanted to feed her husband a good lunch, but the kimbap she made would often spoil during his day out at sea. She decided to make rolls using just rice, individually wrapped each one, then separately included spicy sides. This kimbap stayed fresh longer, even during hotter weather. Other wives picked up this technique, and now choong moo rolls have become very popular throughout Korea.
This kimbap is simple in execution, but sneakily addictive. The squid and radish add a crunch and strong spicy flavor that pair well with the rice rolls. While I love my spicy food, this kimbap tests my tolerance. Whenever I start eating and the spiciness settles in, I begin to question my life decisions. Then I finish and have to control myself from getting another order. It’s a very masochistic cycle. Dine in and you’ll also get a steaming hot bowl of fish cake broth (sans fish cake), which usually helps to soothe my burning mouth.
The beef kimbap is another good, milder option. It’s filled with beef, carrot, spinach and pickled radish, and is also freshly made and satisfying. The beef’s a little sweet, like bulgogi (Korean grilled marinated beef), but not overly so. It works in a pinch whenever I’m craving kimbap without setting my mouth ablaze.
Chung Moo Rollrice & Dongas
39-4 Union St (map)
Queens, NY 11354