Korean food is delicious, and vegetarian Korean food is even better! We spent our time in Korea searching out the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Seoul. (And we totally managed to avoid vegan fast-food monolith Loving Hut, as a bonus.) Here’s what we discovered!
Vegetarian restaurants in Insadong
We had two top-favorite vegetarian restaurants in Insadong. The first, Maru JaYeonSik Kimbap, is tiny, informal, and shockingly cheap. Dishes ranged from 2,000 to 4,000 won (all less than $4 USD for a large plate). This restaurant serves only vegan versions of traditional Korean food, and it’s sooo good. Expect to sit outside, under an awning (no AC, but fine in the rain). You order off an English vegetarian menu, and your food is presented to you over the counter. There are only about four tables, but we never saw them all fill up, as many people prefer to get take-out instead.
We definitely went back more than once, and we tried essentially everything on the menu. Don’t miss their tteokbokki (spicy Korean rice cakes), their fried dumplings (vegetarian mandu, yumm), or their gimbap (also spelled kimbap – this is essentially Korean sushi.) We ordered several noodle dishes that we also loved, but sadly never had a chance to try the vegetarian ramen – next time! Order a few dishes to share. You won’t regret it, and your wallet will be barely the lighter!
Also in Insadong was Osegye Hyang, another vegan food restaurant specializing in Korean temple food. Don’t be surprised to see a lot of Westerners there; this is definitely on the tourist circuit. The food was excellent, though! You sit on the floor while eating, traditional Korean-style. Dishes are a little more expensive, around $5-$10 USD each. The tofu soup was fantastic; definitely the best thing we ordered!
Vegetarian restaurants in Hongdae
Our top favorite Korean food was (obviously) bibimbap, and nowhere better to get vegetarian bibimbap in Seoul than Bibili in Hongdae! This is an all-you-can-eat bibimbap buffet. Upon entering, you buy a ticket from a machine for 7,000 won (less than $7 USD). You hand your ticket to a lady when you enter, take a giant bowl, and fill it to the brim with just as much rice, veggies, and spicy sauce as you want! There are even all-you-can-eat side dishes; kimchi, anyone? Just be careful not to over-fill your bowl. There is a 2,000 won fee for any food left uneaten. Did we end up having to pay this fee? Yes, we did.
Our other favorite vegetarian restaurant in Hongdae wasn’t actually Korean at all. Mexican food is surprisingly popular in Korea, and the vegetarian options available at Gusto Taco were tasty as can be. This is definitely more pricey than the Korean options, but it’s worth it! We ordered the vegetarian dinner combo for two, which costs a little over $30 USD. It included a vegetarian quesadilla, two vegetarian tacos, a vegetarian taco salad, and two beers. (At dinner, you can only order set combos, but at lunch you can order a la carte). The owner was a super friendly American from New York who gave us tips on other veggie-focused restaurants in the area and on things to see and do in Seoul.
What are your top-favorite vegetarian foods in Seoul or in Korea? Let us know in the comments!
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