Sushi Vs. Kimbap: What’s The Difference?

Sushi Vs. Kimbap: What's The Difference

If you are a sushi lover, you’ve probably mistaken kimbap for sushi once in your life. In this article, let us help you differentiate what the differences between sushi vs. kimbap are. Get to know these two authentic Japanese and Korean dishes that have been popular in most Asian countries and other parts of the world.

It may look the same, but kimbap and sushi have their own sets of differences. These dishes differ from one another in terms of the rice and fillings used. Japanese sushi uses rice seasoned in vinegar while kimbap mixes sesame oil to add some sweetness. For the fillings, most sushi use raw fish while kimbap’s use cooked or preserved items like canned tuna like the famous kimchi, grilled bulgogi, ham, and cheese.

Put it this way, sushi in Japan is the counterpart of kimbap in Korea. There is a friendly and tasty competition of sorts over Asian cuisine. Kimbap and sushi are comparable dishes with regional variations, just like the Eastern US compare its local barbeque types. Let’s take the contrast side-by-side and see which one has more to say.

Sushi Vs. Kimbap: What’s The Difference In Their Origins

The root of sushi comes from an ancient dialect that means ‘sour tasting.’ It describes the fermentation process that preserved the Southeast Asian people’s fish as an essential source of protein. Vinegar was added to the rice mixture to enhance the flavor and marinate the fish so that fermentation was no longer a requirement as food preparation methods changed. The sushi today is made new and has a substantially improved shelf-life over the original edition.

Often referred to as Gimbap, there are two stories about kimbap’s roots. The first one calls it a local sushi variant. Maybe the second is more authentic. Gimbap is derived from Gim (seaweed) and bap (rice) and refers to the long Korean rice-eating tradition rolled into a local form of seaweed. The added ingredients come from the word ‘banchan’ meaning ‘side dishes, not based exclusively on raw fish as sushi is. In Korean culture, the word-Gimbap-was not used until recently.

Sushi Vs. Kimbap: What’s The Difference In Their Ingredients

A specially made rice starts with all variations of sushi. It is flavored with vinegar, sugar, and salt, using short-grain Japanese rice (also referred to as white rice). Other regionally preferred ingredients, such as raw fish, tuna, shrimp, tofu, and even cooked eggs, are added once the rice has achieved the sticky consistency. The mixture is wrapped in a ‘nori’ known as black seaweed and eaten raw and chilled.

The preparation of kimbap begins with plain cooked rice. It may also be short-grain brown rice, black rice, or other grains used as a filling, although it is mostly short-grain white rice. Other foods, such as cheese, meat, and fish, vegetables, and eggs, are just as varied. Gim is also toasted, rubbed with sesame oil, and sprinkled with sesame seeds in some cases. The fillings are stir-fried and stacked (other than the rice) on top of the gim and rice layers, then rolled and cut. 

Sushi Vs. Kimbap: What’s The Difference In Their Taste

The type of sushi will play into the overall flavor, as with any food, but it may be shockingly simple for those trying sushi for the first time. The greatest challenge may be getting over the fear of smelling something foul or fishy, but the key ingredients are not known for intense flavors if you think about it. You can flavor the rice with vinegar and, when first tried, may have a faint tang to it. 

The vinegar type used changes the mix’s taste, and some recipes require more sugar or salt than others. When you grill it, the raw fish may have a light flavor, but it does not taste fishy or spoiled if prepared correctly. Sushi gets much of its flavor from the condiments or sauces that you use as dips. Soy sauce, wasabi, and a type of mayonnaise from Japan are typical.

Describing the taste of kimbap is a little more complicated. Sure, it starts with rice, and it has seaweed, but the similarities between sushi and kimbap stop there. Kimbap uses even more fillings to make use of fresh seafood. It also uses sesame oil as a flavoring rather than rice vinegar’s sharp taste. 

Based on what is inside, you can add different flavors to your kimbap. There are variations of beef, pork, salmon, crabmeat, and ham if fish is not wanted. A vegetarian has a few great options, including a choice of just rice and seaweed and a mixture of cucumber, radish, perilla leaves, etc. 

Sushi Vs. Kimbap: What’s The Difference In Their Texture

It would be useful at this point to note that sushi is like no other food. Sushi, also in Japanese cuisine, is a unique dish. As such, it’s not the taste that you would love sushi for, but the texture. The rice, eaten cold, is sticky, of course, so it preserves its shape, and you can eat it with chopsticks. Usually, bits are bite-sized and not designed to be sliced or bitten. 

The raw fish may look chewy, and the seaweed may mimic the feeling of unintentionally biting into an edible paper wrapper. Together, the texture is something that, in many ways, is not found. Generally, one loves it or hates it, but it may become an acquired pleasure for every bite.

It is also more difficult to clarify what texture the dish can have, as varied as kimbap. It is possible that the dish would be at room temperature because the fillings are stir-fried. The seaweed is also dried or toasted to change the texture, and the fillings will go from chopped and pickled vegetables to large pieces of meat or vegetable slices. In short, kimbap’s texture can vary depending on how you do it. 

Sushi Vs. Kimbap: What’s The Difference In Their Shape

Both sushi and kimbap are often eaten as slices of a broader, prepared roll. Both sushi and kimbap were eaten as balls or triangular-shaped pockets of seaweed before chopsticks came into common use. These seaweed packed versions were easier to serve and more easily transported by large groups.

The Japanese dish is Onigiri, which uses boiled rice, dried fish, fried meats, pickled vegetables, and seasonings. The seaweed became damp and sticky by wrapping such fillings in nori. The preparation of this dish was mechanized in the 1980s. It has a plastic barrier that prevents the mixture of nori and rice from coming together.

Frequently Asked Questions

Boh sushi and kimbap are two different Asian dishes that offer exceptional flavors. When it comes to identifying “what is the best-wrapped dish,” it all boils down to preference. The best thing to do is to try both of these dishes and see the difference by yourself. One thing is for sure, none of them will disappoint you when it comes to rich flavor and taste.

Which came first sushi or kimbap?

While there’s no clear evidence of which one came first, some historians believe that sushi was the first one that happened. When the Japanese invaded Korea, Koreans got to taste sushi and developed their own. 

Do you eat kimbap with chopsticks?

No rules are prohibiting or allowing people to eat kimbap to eat chopsticks. It just so happened that Koreans eat with chopsticks; hence, it gives people the idea that they “should” also eat it the same way. Even if you are in a Korean restaurant, you can eat kimbap with chopsticks, a fork, and even enjoy it with your hands. Kimbap is a typical lunch meal brought from home by students and office workers alike, most likely handmade by their mothers and wives.

What is the difference between kimbap and bibimbap?

A Korean rice dish with gochujang and mixed vegetables, bibimbap is a trendy dish worldwide. On the other hand, kimbap is also a Korean dish, wrapped in gim (sheets of dried laver seaweed) and served in bite-sized slices, made from steamed white rice (bap) and various other ingredients.


Put it this way, sushi in Japan is Korea’s equivalent to kimbap. There is a friendly and delicious rivalry of sorts over Asian food. Like the Eastern US contrasts, its regional barbeque regional styles, Kimbap and Sushi are comparable dishes with local variations. One thing is for sure, when it comes to rich flavor and taste, none of them will disappoint you.

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