For a lot of people, Korea might not seem like the most vegetarian or even vegan-friendly destination. But with more and more people demanding plant-based options, countless vegan restaurants are sprouting throughout the country. With 371 entries for South Korea on HappyCow, a website that lists vegetarian and vegan restaurants, 217 of them can be found in Seoul. The yearly Vegan Festival has seen an increase in visitors as well, with ten thousand visitors in 2019. That's an increase of 15% ever since its first opening in 2013!
Whether you are vegan or not, these restaurants are worth a visit for when you are in Seoul! All of them will have something for everyone, whether you are craving a hearty dish or just want to drop by for some coffee and dessert. Here are some picks that you should visit when in Seoul!
- Dalyang Café
Dalyang Café is located in Seongbuk-Gu, close to Korea University. It’s a small and cozy café that, according to HappyCow, serves “a mix of Western and Asian fusion food and drinks.” The menu ranges from burgers to salads to cakes, and soft-serve ice cream, the latter being a customer favorite. Dalyang is very vocal about supporting local artists and promoting environmentally friendly alternatives (they’re a plastic straw-free restaurant!). In addition to that, they participate in the yearly Seoul Vegan Festival so you can find them there as well!
- Plant Café and Kitchen
Plant Café and Kitchen originally started out with only one location. Having opened in 2013 in Itaewon, their goal was to offer vegan pastries and desserts to a steadily growing vegan community. In 2017, another place was opened, which is now the main location. The former space is now the Plant bakery. Plant’s goal is to “minimize food waste by finding creative uses for all parts of vegetables” while supporting local businesses. Their menu can be found online, with many gluten-free and nut-free options. It changes weekly and offers dishes such as salads, wraps, pasta, or burgers.
If you want to read more about this restaurant, check out ourSpotlight on Plant!
Soiroum is a vegan café in Insadong, close to Gyeongbokgung Palace. They serve not only an enormous variety of meals, such as vegan sushi, risotto, curry or tacos, but also desserts. A specialty of theirs is Korean-style vegetable plates with tofu, tempeh or vegan meatballs. The menu also offers gluten-free options! Although it is a small café, it has a cozy atmosphere, and is a perfect place to visit after some sightseeing or to add to a food tour through Seoul.
Situated near Itaewon in Haebangchon, this place is popular, especially amongst tourists. Their staff speaks both Korean and English and the menu is available in English as well. Vegetus offers pasta, salads, and burgers as well as many side dishes. Their selection of drinks is vast, ranging from smoothies to teas to beer and cider. The meals have both gluten-free and nut-free options as well. What makes this restaurant so special is that they have a terrace, making it the perfect spot to enjoy the outside atmosphere while having dinner.
- Nammi Plant Lab
Nammi Plant Lab is a vegan restaurant and bakery in Seocho, Gangnam. Their menu offers Western and Asian food, so everything that you might be in the mood for is provided! One of their most popular dishes are the vegan pizzas, but if you crave something new and exciting, they have other unique dishes such as curry crepes. In addition to that, Nammi Plant Lab is a popular spot for tourists as well, as their staff speaks English and Korean.
- SNU Vegan Buffet
The vegan buffet at Seoul University was called into life after the student club Kong-Pat fought for a vegetarian menu to be introduced to university caféterias. Now it’s very popular amongst students and even outsiders as it is also open to the public. With mostly Korean style food, the buffet offers everything a vegan heart could desire. The menu changes daily to provide a variety of meals—anything that your heart desires! However, the buffet is only open on weekdays for lunch, so you need to keep that in mind.
Like many of the other restaurants, Sanchon is located in Insadong. The restaurant was founded by a former Buddhist monk who was inspired by the temple food. Their focus lies on Korean side dishes that are called Banchan. While these are typically small dishes, the whole dining experience includes twenty courses, so be prepared for a long evening of delicious food! The restaurant has a set menu, so you won’t have the option to choose but going with friends and family, you can easily share all the dishes. What makes Sanchon so unique is the Korean dance performance every night; the perfect combination of food and entertainment!
Has Sanchon piqued your interest? Click here to read more about it!
Have you visited any of these restaurants? If so, what dish did you enjoy the most, and what would you recommend? If not, let us know which restaurants you’d love to visit!
Don’t have the chance to visit the restaurants in Seoul but would love to try some dishes? Fret not! Check out Korean Food, But Make it Vegan!
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Written by Tran Trieu