We are in the thick of it. School will be out soon, and the campus buzzes with activity. Every Saturday brims with various events, from thesis performances and dance shows to sports games and track meets, all of which keep us moving from morning to night and leave little time for leisurely meals. As the sun evaporates those crisp morning gusts and brings in warm and reassuring breezes that remind us of summer, I simply do not want to spend a meal sitting inside. I want to be out in the fresh air, taking advantage of some of the first days of heat after a brutal winter. The air is full of opportunity, adventure is around every corner, and we have to make the most of these last few weeks at Amherst.
Of course, this past Saturday was not one of those ideal spring days that began with a hint of winter and blossomed into a beautiful afternoon of Amherst students running about in tank tops and flip flops. In fact, it was one of those cloudy, drizzly days that reminds us why “April showers bring May flowers.” Nevertheless, I marched into town on a quest to find the new Korean food truck and try out an exciting and new food venue.
When I say “new,” I do not simply mean that this food truck has been wandering about for the last few months and that we’ve been too focused on trundling from dorms to class in the midst of nippy gusts and biting wind to notice a large, orange truck parked near the village green. I mean that Sun Kim Bop only opened on April 1st. And when I say “exciting,” I mean that food trucks present a bit of a challenge and the thrill of the chase. These moving purveyors of food have no obligation to stay anywhere. They can move about in a way that no restaurant may, and their hours depend upon their location. In order to even find this source of sustenance, I needed to do my research, so I turned to Google and Facebook. Luckily, a simple search for “Amherst Korean food truck” immediately presented Sun Kim Bop’s Facebook page, complete with daily postings of when and where the food truck stations would be stationed, as well as a their phone number and their spring menu. In short, Facebook made my quest a whole lot easier, but the ease of finding this information did not necessarily ensure success.
Just before noon, I headed into town. My excitement grew as I neared the common green and scanned the grass and bordering parking lots, searching for anything that might remotely resemble a food truck. Finally, on the edge of the common nearest Hitchcock and Seeley, I spotted a shiny, orange mid-sized truck with a serving window and bright yellow smiley face on the side advertising surrounded by “Sun Kim Bop” and “Seoul Street Food & More.”
My pace picked up as my stomach grumbled in anticipation of a tasty meal. After careful deliberation while searching the Facebook menu, I had already decided upon the Bibim Bop Burger, a Korean take on the American burger with vegetables, and Korean-style BBQ beef sandwiched between seasoned rice buns ($6). As I approached the truck, I encountered a mother and her son already waiting for their orders, and I waited, thinking about that hot, spicy beef I would soon be savoring while fighting my hunger’s desire to devour it too quickly. And then I waited some more as the two women inside the truck worked to prepare the mother and son’s vegetarian meals (vegetarians are welcome)! Soon, one of the women was ready to take my order and as I asked for the Bibim Bop Burger, she quickly motioned to the chalkboard standing in front of the truck and listing only the dumplings (five for $4 and 10 for $7) and Kimp Bop ($5). Quickly I revised my order, realizing she meant that the daily features were only these two options. Of course, I had to try both.
While I may have desired that Bibim Bop Burger more than you know and didn’t really want to compromise, I found that the dumplings and Korean-style sushi could not have presented better alternatives. As my teammate Sydney commented on the pot-sticker dumplings, which were served on a bed of spicy coleslaw, the flavor lingered in a pleasant manner for a few moments before dissipating, rather than sticking around to remind us of what we had eaten for hours on end. What’s more, the Kim Bop, or Korean sushi, held a delicately balanced combination of warm brown rice, pickled vegetables, egg and beef that left me feeling refreshed and ready to run about on my various Saturday activities. All in all, I would highly recommend Sun Kim Bop as a novel institution within Amherst that you should definitely try. No item exceeds $8 and all of them appear relatively healthy and sustaining, a great way to keep yourself feeling nourished and energetic and not overstuffed while running about Amherst all day.
Finally, I would like to note that any waits or limited menus are sure to come with the territory of starting a new business, particularly as the owners have not had the time to work out the kinks. I am sure that within the next few weeks, Sun Kim Bop will have (mostly) everything figured out and be able to serve their wonderful food without a hitch. And, I can assure you that I will be visiting them any chance I get.