Other than fame, what do Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, and Zendaya all have in common? They have all chosen to live a vegetarian lifestyle! Vegetarianism is a popular dietary option among the younger generation who have a big heart for animal welfare and the world climate. It’s no surprise that vegetarianism has also spread throughout Korea, with many restaurants catering to these diners. Among these, there are two restaurants that are well known for their outstanding taste, even earning the Michelin Green Star.
Michelin Green Star, environmental friendly recognition
The Michelin Guide, the international guide to fine dining, released the Michelin Green Star rating system in 2021. This new addition gives stars to restaurants that use environmentally friendly ingredients to make their tasty dishes. There are two restaurants in Seoul that have earned this prestigious award for three years in a row! For a high-quality vegan experience, visit A Flower Blossom on The Rice or Hwanggeum Kongbat.
A Flower Blossom on The Rice, vegetarian dining as beautiful as a flower
(Left) Diner taking picture of bojagi bibimbap, (Right) Food plating
Location: Within Insa-dong, a top attraction in Seoul. Three-minute walk from Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3)
Introduction: A Flower Blossom on The Rice showcases just how beautiful a Korean vegetarian restaurant can be. Ninety-five percent of the restaurant’s ingredients are organic, pesticide-free, and animal welfare certified ingredients. The eggs come from chickens with a large area to roam, and the rice is cultivated by farmers who do not use pesticides.
Signature menus: A Flower Blossom on The Rice’s signature menus are the bojagi bibimbap (limited lunch special) and the vegan course. The bojagi bibimbap is made by wrapping the rice in a sheet of fried egg yolk layers and decorated with a strip of seaweed and an edible flower. The rice filling is made with organic rice and six types of green vegetables for a hearty meal. The vegan course can be ordered as a full course or a half course, with each option including only 100% vegan foods. The course begins with a soup and salad before leading into savory vegetable pancakes and kimchi before the main course of rice and a stew, rounded out by dessert. Must-try dishes include the goatsbeard rice enjoyed by Michael Jackson during his trips to Korea, and the spicy Korean chili pepper japchae that comes with the full vegan course.
Tip: For non-vegetarians ordering the vegan course, you can also order side menus made with fish or meat, such as the tteok bulgogi (rice cake bulgogi) made with organic hanu (Korean beef).
Address: 3-6 Insadong 16-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 인사동16길 3-6)
Operating hours: 11:30-21:00 (Break time 15:00-17:30) / Closed the day of Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day)
Hwanggeum Kongbat, a new world of bean curd cooking
(Left) Fresh bean curd, (Right) Making bean curd with Korean soy beans
Location: A five-minute walk from Aeogae Station on Seoul Subway Line 5. It’s also a short 20-minute ride on the subway from Seoul Station.
Introduction: Bean curd is one of the main ingredients used in vegetarian meals, thanks to the high level of protein found in soy beans, making it a good substitute for meat. At Hwanggeum Kongbat, the bean curd is made fresh every morning using 100% Korea-grown soy beans. Their bean curd became famous for its nutty flavor and smooth texture like that of pudding. The restaurant sends the soy bean pulp leftover from making the bean curd to farms to be used as animal fodder, earning high points from the Michelin Guide, which gives points for lower amounts of food waste!
Signature menus: Hwanggeum Kongbat’s main menus are bean curd stew, salted bean curd soup, and bean curd course meal. If you enjoy spicy Korean food, try the bean curd stew, a dish served piping hot and spiced with Korean chili peppers. The salty bean curd soup is made with a vegetable broth salted with shrimp brine, making this dish only acceptable for pescatarians and pollotarians. If you order the bean curd course meal, you can try all of the restaurant’s signature dishes. From fresh bean curd made with just soy beans, water, and salt, to vegetable and tofu balls for vegetarians and bossam made with undyed pork for non-vegetarians, this course has something for everyone to enjoy.
Tip: Be sure to try the fresh bean curd without seasoning first. This way you’ll be able to taste the nutty flavor of the fresh bean curd!
Address: 9 Mapo-daero 16-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 마포구 마포대로16길 9)
Operating hours: Weekdays 11:30-21:30, Weekends 11:30-21:00 (Break time 15:30-17:00) / Closed Seollal (Lunar New Year) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays
If you are a vegetarian planning a trip to Korea, be sure to also check the “Tips for Vegetarians” page on the VISITKOREA website for more information, including recommended menus.
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* This column was last updated in September 2023, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check for updates before visiting.
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