Bite-Sized Bliss: Unwrapping Trader Joe’s Jumeokbap Vegan Rice Balls

Trader Joe's Jumeokbap Rice Balls
Trader Joe’s Jumeokbap Rice Balls

Welcome to another delightful dive into Trader Joe’s freezer aisle, where the new Jumeokbap Vegan Fake Beef Bulgogi Rice Balls promise a flavor fusion in every bite. Today, we’re unwrapping these bite-sized flavor bombs to see if they live up to the hype. Whether you’re a vegan foodie, a Korean food enthusiast, or just in need of a quick, tasty snack, join me on this gastronomic adventure. Let’s find out if these rice balls roll their way into our hearts or if they’re better left on the icy shelf!

Trader Joe's Jumeokbap back of bag
Trader Joe’s Jumeokbap back of the bag

What is Jumeokbap?

Jumeokbap, the Korean term for “rice ball,” translates to “rice held in the fist”—a fitting name for this compact and convenient meal or snack. For centuries, these handheld foods have provided a portable and straightforward eating option, ideal for those needing a quick bite on the move. As life gets busier, they’ve gained popularity as a go-to snack for on-the-go diners.

Rice balls are remarkably versatile, typically starting with a base of sticky rice seasoned with salt, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. From there, you can mix in various fillings—anything from vegetables to meat—to boost their nutrition and flavor profile.

In Korea, Jumeokbap is often paired with spicy dishes, like fiery Korean baby back ribs, serving as a soothing side dish to balance the heat. Some Korean eateries offer a fun twist by providing all the ingredients for DIY rice balls—think a bowl of rice garnished with shredded dried seaweed, sesame oil, and green onions, ready to be shaped while your main dish sizzles nearby.

This staple is equally beloved in Japan, known as Onigiri, and also made with sticky rice, which naturally clumps together beautifully.

This is very similar to Kimbap which is just seems to be a rolled version of Jumeokbap. Trader Joe’s has been really hitting the Korean suppliers hard recently.

Trader Joe's Jumeokbap in bags
Trader Joe’s Jumeokbap in bags

What do you get in the bag?

The Trader Joe’s Jumeokbap clocks in at $4.99 per bag. In the bag you get 3 individually wrapped rice balls (Triangles?), which are 190 calories each. Not sure why Trader Joe’s had to put out this big bag and inside that three smaller bags, but whatever, it’s too much plastic waste.

Just like the Kimbap that was a viral sensation last year, the Juneokbap is vegan. In this case, they are using pieces of the beefless Bulgogi they sell as a standalone item in the freezer section in case you ever wanted to make your own rice balls.

How To Make the Jumeokbap?

It’s actually pretty easy to make but comes with a caveat, be careful you don’t burn yourself handling these bags.

To make the Jumeokbap, just take one of the bags (or all of them) and snip off a little corner of each bag and stick them in the microwave. There is a handy chart on the back but for one bag it’s 1 minute and 20 seconds. I followed the instructions to the letter and for the last 30 seconds or so you could hear a lot of popping and sizzling but I figured that was all part of the cooking process. Trader Joe’s does not offer an alternate way to cook them.

Trader Joe's Jumeokbap cooked
Trader Joe’s Jumeokbap cooked

How Did They Taste?

I could smell the flavors coming out of the microwave as I pulled the bag from a cloud of steam generated by cooking them.

As you can see from the picture above, they have flecks of carrot and other chopped vegetables and then brown pieces that look like raisins. These are the beefless vegan bulgogi. I reviewed the Beefless Bulgogi months ago and I thought it was one of the best fake meat vegan dishes I had ever tasted. Read my review here

As Trader Joe’s mentions, these are not in the traditional ball shape but in a more triangular shape like Onigiri. I think we can all agree that the shape doesn’t matter much, it’s the flavor and texture.

My first couple of bites, I just picked up the “ball” with my chopsticks and ate it straight up with no seasonings or anything. I have to say they hit the seasonings dead on. This is just like rice balls I might get at my local Korean restaurant. The fake beef has got a very meat like texture and the rest of the flavors scream Korean. But as with most Korean dishes, this is also begging for something else like soy sauce or gochujang. I might even sprinkle some seafood flakes and sesame seeds on it before I ate it. Eating it with Trader Joe’s Kimchi is a great addition. Eating three of these with some additions would make a decent meal for one person but considering how cheap and easy it is to make a lot of rice balls at home, $4.99 is a lot of money to spend on three of them.

Final Verdict

I really liked these and the flavors and textures are spot on. What I didn’t like is the price for only three of these. Then also the packaging is a little over the top. I would give Trader Joe’s 9 stars for taste, but like 4 stars on price and packaging. So, at the end of the day, I am going to award this whole package 7 out of 10 stars! Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Vegan Jumeokbap

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