The Best Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Seoul
The options are many when it comes to vegan and vegetarian spots in Seoul | Courtesy of Food Does Matter
Known for barbecue and fried chicken, South Korea isn’t typically associated with vegan food outside of Buddhist diets. But in Seoul, vegetarianism and veganism is gaining in popularity, as vegan bakeries, bistros and brasseries are cropping up to cater to growing crowds of herbivores eager for a taste of plant-based cuisine. Here are some of the city’s best.
Restaurant, Korean, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
If you thought that chowing down on vegan bulgogi wouldn’t be possible in Seoul, think again! Haebangchon-based Vegetus cooks up their own panini version of the classic Korean dish using textured vegetable protein (TVP) and baked tofu and a sauce that’s worth writing home about. In addition to paninis, the casual café boasts a vast menu of other comfort food favourites including a vegan mac and cheese and a lentil burrito bowl that’s as delicious as it is healthy. Prefer to pop in for a drink instead? Enjoy a cosy cup of hot chocolate topped with vegan marshmallows on the patio – the perfect spot for people-watching.
Situated among cosy European restaurants, this vegan bistro is a must-visit when exploring Seoul’s Seorae Maeul, or French Village. Delicious pastas and burgers make up the bulk of the menu here, but the inviting space is most popular for its British-style afternoon tea sets: dainty spreads of vegan scones, tea sandwiches and picture-perfect pastries.
Looking for a spot to impress your vegan date? Look no further than Sixième Jour, an upscale brasserie specialising in French-inspired vegan cuisine. A bright, modern dining room bedecked with Renoir paintings creates an air of sophistication – an atmosphere that pairs well with beautifully plated plant-based pastas and risottos.
Cosmopolitan and cool, the tiny nook of a restaurant that is Morococo Café is beloved by locals for its experimental twists on Moroccan classics. Although some dishes on offer are meat-based, there are vegan options including the “Vegan Over Rice”, a mouthwatering combination of marinated veggies, tempeh and fluffy rice. Need another reason to visit? Owner Wajid Saleem serves up a mean pot of tea with extra flair, right at your tableside.
This arm of Loving Hut, an international chain of vegan restaurants, offers an all-you-can-eat buffet in a casual, comfortable atmosphere. Expect an impressive variety of hot and cold Korean dishes such as kimbap and jeon as well as several Western-style options including pasta and pizza made from organic ingredients.
Don’t expect basic veggie bowls and standard wraps at this plant-based café. Rather, the draw of Nammi PlantLab is its fun and creative “junk vegan” delights that range from the unexpected calzone burger to the rich and creamy rosé pasta. Local craft beer, wine, juice and coffee are also available, as are a tempting array of desserts. If you’ve no room left for dessert after lunch, opt to take home a slice of the raspberry pistachio cake; you won’t regret it.
Market, Restaurant, Mexican, Korean, Vegan, Vegetarian, Fast Food, $$$
Often touted as one of Seoul’s best Mexican restaurants, Gusto Taco is a great spot to kick off a night out in Hongdae or enjoy a mid-week margarita. While not exclusively vegan, this consistently buzzing taco and burrito hot spot offers tofu as a filling, and you can order your meal without cheese.
Outfitted with only four tables – and boasting a wall of sex toys for purchase – Drunken Vegan is intimate, to say the least. Nevertheless, the Korean-style pub makes for a great stop on a night out. The menu changes regularly but features a varied mix of fusion cuisine ranging from salads and soups to heartier dishes like garlic prawns and fried cauliflower. Wash it down with your choice of soju, beer, wine or a specialty cocktail.
Vintage decor and vegan dishes come together at Around Green, a cosy café in charming Mangwon-dong. Cravings for home-style cooking are quickly satisfied with dishes like teriyaki tofu and eggplant stir-fry, while plant-based doughnuts, scones and ice cream made in-house make for a sweet finish. Hospitable staff and friendly vibes complete the dining experience.
Comfort food is in ample supply at Yummyyomil, an all-vegan restaurant and bakery known for its mouthwatering handmade burgers that use top-notch ingredients. Carbivores will also appreciate the show-stopping selection of filled buns (try the coconut custard bun or soy cream bread), ciabatta and muffins. Stop by on a weekday to take advantage of the burger lunch special.
Specialising in local and seasonal small-batch ice cream, Fell + Cole has been a mainstay in the Seoul food scene for quite some time. Ice cream and sorbet flavours rotate regularly, and at least four on offer at any given time are made with plant-based milks – there’s even one for your pup to enjoy. Expect unique flavour combinations such as cognac, mango chia and coconut milk-espresso.
Looking for a crispier alternative to the beloved New York bagel? Then head to SF Bagel, where the San Francisco take on the bagel can be enjoyed. Made without yeast or sugar, these bagels are slightly smaller and have a semi-crunchy exterior and soft inside. Try one of the vegan-friendly sourdough bagels or indulge in a freshly baked vegan cinnamon roll, both of which pair nicely with the oat milks on offer.
Completely vegan and gluten-free, the brown rice burgers served at Rice Burger Haimiso represent fast food at its finest – not to mention its friendliest. Go all out and top yours with vegan cheese and a side of fries. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, round off your meal with a smoothie or churro.
If you’re a fan of raw, healthy eats with no added sugar, make sure to put the Twins at the top of your itinerary. The all-vegan, take-out-only café is famous for its savoury snacks and sweet treats that include raw doughnuts (try the Black Sesame Cherry Jam), cakes, tarts and bliss balls. Check out their Instagram page for their latest culinary creation – just be careful not to drool on your screen!
Managed by a Buddhist nun from Jogyesa Temple across the street, Michelin-star Balwoo Gonyang offers a taste of exquisitely prepared Korean temple cuisine in a clean and modern space. Set multi-course menus consist of innovative small bites and mains that are just as pleasing on the palate as they are on the eyes.
As one of the first plant-based eateries in Seoul, PLANT is a favourite among herbivores in Korea. Nestled in the heart of Itaewon, the airy café-restaurant remains a go-to for vegan toasts, veggie bowls, pastas, sandwiches and soups, as well as grab-and-go vegan desserts, like its ever-popular signature layer cake. Stop by for brunch and enjoy your meal with local craft beer or a cold glass of kombucha.
Dining at Sanchon is an exceptional experience combining traditional Korean culture and Buddhist temple food. Settle into your seat in the restaurant’s garden, which is strewn with draped foliage and potted shrubs, or opt to dine in the classically decorated interior. Either space provides the perfect setting for a delectable meal: 20 small plates of banchan, or Korean side dishes made up of fermented vegetables and sauces.