Trader Joe's Fan-Favorite Kimbap Is Struggling To Stay In Stock

Trader Joe's Korean tofu and vegetable seaweed rice rolls (aka kimbap) were first spotted in the freezer aisle sometime last week, and were an instant hit. So much so that they're already gone. Making matters worse, it seems like fans (or those eager to try the new product) will have to wait a little longer for a kimbap comeback ... make that a lot longer. A new post on Reddit displays a picture of what appears to be a desktop computer belonging to the staff at Trader Joe's with a notice on the screen saying kimbap is not currently available for order. The notice reads, "Estimated Arrival at Warehouse 10/25/2023." (Gasp!)

If you haven't tried it before, kimbap (not to be confused with futomaki) is a popular Korean dish similar to a sushi hand roll. The TJ's version contains no actual fish; it's made from a veggie-forward combination of sautéed greens, braised tofu, pickles, and root vegetables, sliced into bite-sized pieces and portioned into 8.11-ounce packages as a quick and healthy snack for foodies on the go. The package comes with nine pieces and retails for around $4, which if you ask a sushi fan, is a wicked low price for a kimbap roll. "Kimbap at Korean grocery stores is usually between $7-12 bucks now," writes one reviewer on Reddit. "You get more, sometimes twice as much, but it's really a similar value if not better." That said, value might not be the only reason why TJ's kimbap is flying off shelves faster than it can be replenished.

Gone as quickly as it came

Per the Trader Joe's website, the grocer's supplier is "a kimbap expert in the Republic of Korea." If the store is exclusively sourcing from one place overseas, that might further exacerbate the unavailability issue, especially considering the significant global shipping delays that are still affecting retailers and consumers. But the answer remains unclear as to exactly what is standing between TJ's fanatics and the new product that has captured their cravings.

Some shoppers are nonplussed, growing tired of new releases flying off shelves without being replenished. "It's wild how often they bring new items in for a week then they're just out of stock for months," lamented one Reddit commenter. Several others blame the over-publicity of the kimbap on social media for its immediate absence. Or, it could be that some customers have been adopting a stockpiling mentality in light of the kimbap fever. For now, eager foodies will have to wait until October for a taste of the good stuff. 

In the meantime, major bragging points if you try out this kimbap recipe and make it yourself. Until Trader Joe's restocks its popular item, home cooks can customize their own kimbap with whatever veggies they prefer. Daikon radish, carrots, and cucumber are a great place to start. It's also a fun way to get the whole family in the kitchen together rolling bamboo mats.