Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Vegan in Seoul: Five of My Fave' Eateries.

Seoul was an interesting place for me, it was so different to how I expected it would be. Anywhere I landed immediately after Tokyo was going to struggle to win an immediate place in my heart and it was warmer and more humid than I'd expected which is never my favourite combo. It was more reminiscent of some of the Taiwanese cities I visited, or maybe even Bangkok, than Tokyo, which wasn't where my preconceptions put it. These aren't bad things at all but it took me a little while to readjust my expectations. As well as some fun parks, art districts with interesting street art, traditional villages, and interesting shopping streets (more on those in a later blog post) Seoul has a tonne of amazing 100% vegan eateries and if anythings going to get me pumped about a new city it's discovering fun food. 

The Bread Blue is a cool spot because they sell a great mix of Western baked goods like croissants and baguettes as well as bean paste filled buns and sweet potato bread - things I've never seen in a bakery outside of Asia. 


I'm a total breakfast person, I can't comprehend how someone can cruise through the first few hours of their day on coffee and air alone, so Nick and I hit the baked goods hard every time we visited in the AM. 


My regular orders were the chocolate croissants (OMG!) and the ham and vegetable danish (once I'd picked off the bell peppers). Nick was into the garlic bread but I wasn't a huge fan as the bread itself tasted slightly sweet to me. Those croissants though? Wow! They were seriously good, they had layers and everything. Let's take another look.



I got really into rose tea whilst I was in Seoul, I can't believe I spent years thinking that I hated tea when really I just dislike the way we Brit's do tea - sorry fellow Brit's but the whole milk thing just ruins it. It turns out that I'm all about floral and green teas. The Bread Blue is located just a short walk from the Hongik university area where you'll find other vegan spots like Jack's Bean which I never made it to but have heard good things about. Alongside the croissants I'd say that the olive rolls and the onion baguette are must try items. The staff at The Bread Blue are super sweet and are always handing out freebies whilst you eat or popping a little something extra into your bag of take out. They also have really good wifi and plenty of space if you're planning to get your digital nomad thing on.

Plant Cafe was top of my must eat list before I'd even planned to come to Korea because it's owned and operated by Mipa from Alien's Day Out. Mipa stopped blogging a couple of years ago (sad face) but I remember reading about her life in Korea, drooling over pictures of her delicious baked goods, and squeeing at pictures of her bunny back in 2011, maybe even 2010! Plant was actually one of the more challenging places for me to grab a meal free of peppers straight off of the menu. Something I found super interesting about most of the vegan joints in Seoul is that they have really small menus, only four or five items, this is the case at all of the places mentioned in this post aside from The Bread Blue. Every dish at Plant, from the sweet potato and hummus salad to the lentil veggie burrito bowl, is made up of loads of fun parts which meant that the staff there were always able to make me something both suitable and delicious.


I was able to eat a burger made from chickpea mash and some of the toppings from the BBQ tofu mushroom burger on an artisan vegan bun with a massaged kale, carrot and mushroom side salad and some black pepper kettle chips. I also tried the Tempeh rainbow wrap minus the cheese and Sriracha which I would highly recommend ordering as is when you visit. 


Plant's desserts are ridiculously good, as soon as I saw the dessert case I knew that my tastebuds were in for a good time and after taking my first bite of the vanilla berry berry cake I was in love. Aside from grabbing the occasional Oreo Walnut Brownie to go the vanilla berry berry cake became my go-to dessert order. I love white cakes and Plant's is perfect, bursting with berries, and probably the lightest and fluffiest vegan cake I've ever eaten. The chocolate mousse frosting is an excellent accompaniment as a buttercream would have overpowered the delicate berry flavours. Nick went with the PB Choc Cake and said that it was the best cake he's eaten in Asia. We've eaten some pretty great desserts so that's high praise.


I'm quite emphatic about what makes a good brownie, it needs to be fudgey and bordering on dense, not too crumbly, not cakey, and it needs to have the perfect crackle top. I got super overexcited when I saw these because I just knew that they were going to be amazing. This brownie is up there with the ones from Austin's Capital City Bakery which I've raved about in the past.


If you're in Itaewon after 8pm when Plant's closed or fancy something smaller or cheaper than Plant's tasty bowls, wraps, and salads then Huggers is another great spot located within a short walk of Itaewon station. They're a burger and dessert cafe run by the people behind Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) - a prominent Korean animal rights organisation. One rainy evening Nick and I climbed multiple hills and rounded multiple bends to get to this new spot on the Seoul dining scene. We weren't hungry enough for desserts so I just tried the pea burger and Nick went for the cheeseburger. The patty for all of the Huggers burgers is the same and there are four or five topping options to choose from. My pea burger was topped with a creamy pea puree, a slice of melty vegan cheese, and a reasonable amount of salad toppings including onion, lettuce, gherkin, and a slice of tomato. I loved the brown rice veggie burger they've created because it was flavourful, leaning towards the healthy side of things as burgers go, and, most importantly, it held together whilst I was eating it which is always a bonus. I'd definitely go back there again but we realised a couple of hours after leaving that we were a little hungry, the burgers are a good size but the only options for sides are salad based and I realise that I would have loved the option to order some fries or tots. Basically any kind of potato! Maybe potato salad would be a good option if installing a deep fryer or an air fryer isn't an option in their small kitchen?

Another great place Nick and I discovered on a rainy afternoon was Cook and Book. Nick and I shared some food there one afternoon and I decided that I wanted to go back there to celebrate my birthday. This is a shining endorsement of how delicious I found their food - I don't eat anything other than the best food on my b-day! 


This burger with creamy lentil sauce is served on top of brown rice with a beautifully dressed salad and some pickled cucumbers as well as some sides of pickles and a second little salad that I had to skip because of the bell peppers. This was nourishing, filling, and, above all, tasty which is the a perfect combo when you dine out every single day. Cook and Book also have soft serve (totally the reason I wanted to go in the first place) and it's ridiculously good especially if you go big and get both the berry sauce and the slivered almonds as a topping. Nick got his plain which is ridiculous if you ask me.


It was a great spot to celebrate turning 33 and I'd highly recommend adding it to your must-eat list, you all have those right?! 

Cook and Book isn't the only place you can find vegan soft serve in Seoul, nope, the city has two vegan soft serve joints! DalYang Sweet Kitten is located in the north of the city close to Korea University and it's a super cute cafe with a vast drink menu and a small but delicious food menu that changes pretty regularly.


I ordered the pasta with pesto, mushrooms, tomatoes, and vegan cheese which comes with a side of pickles and it was oh so delicious. If you're not a spice fan or if you have allergies you'll need to ask for this without the chilli flakes. I had no idea there would be chilli in pasta pesto so I actually had to order this twice getting the first attempt to go so that Nick could have it for dinner because, as it turns out, it's completely impossible to pick red pepper flakes out of spaghetti. 


Where the soft serve at Cook and Book wins plus points for toppings Sweet Kitten have the option of cones so it would be impossible for me to pick a favourite. Both times we visited Nick got his in a cup. Sometimes I worry about him!


Despite being super into the soft serve I branched out and ordered the chocolate pudding on our second visit. This comes with two toppings, cream and berry sauce, and I ordered a chocolate macaron on the side because why would you not?


This was so good y'all! I'm not usually a huge pudding fan and for some reason was expecting this to be more of a parfait kinda deal but holy yum. It was dessert perfection. I think I like pudding now. As I mentioned DalYang Sweet Kitten is a little far north and not really located near any tourist sights but you still have to go. The women running it are wonderful, they sell cool feminist stuff and VioLife cheese, the food is excellent, and it's just a nice place to sit and chill with a book or some friends.

I'd recommend a trip to Seoul if you're into hiking or biking, traditional or modern architecture, exploring markets, eating spicy food, or chowing down on some epic vegan desserts but I'd definitely suggest visiting later in the year than I did. September - November is meant to be best unless you want to be dealing with the humidity as the country moves into rainy season?! 

You might be noticing that there isn't a lot of traditional Korean food in this post but that's because I'm saving it all for next time. See ya then!

15 comments:

  1. Oh Nick.... no topping... a cup instead of a cone... I don't know. Sounds concerning. ;)
    Oh my gosh, that soft serve berry sauce sundae looks amazing! I need it and want it and have to have it!
    I always think of Mipa what I think of Seoul, and then feel sad that she doesn't blog anymore. I didn't know that she had a restaurant now - that is fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know right? I am very concerned! Her restaurant is so cute - there are pic's of her bunny on the walls and everything.

      Delete
  2. Looks like you ate really well! :) I had the pleasure of meeting Mipa when I was in Seoul in 2010 (I was having a meltdown induced by not being able to find pastries - there weren't so many options back then - and she hooked me up with some). So happy to hear Plant's doing well and those cakes look amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can totally understand having a pastry induced meltdown! As you can see, I need cake in my life. Plant definitely seems to be doing well, it was super busy every time we visited.

      Delete
  3. The desserts look so incredible!! Cakes, soft serve, oh my!

    I would totally go to the bakery every day to try everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is pretty much what we did! I'll be going back in a couple of days and I can't wait to get my hands on another chocolate croissant.

      Delete
  4. Omg, so much soft serve! I've still never had vegan soft serve, and it makes me sad. Years ago, right after I went vegan, a local health food shop/cafe started selling vegan soft serve, but every time I went in, the machine was broken. And then they closed down for good. Must get vegan soft serve! And you're right about toppings and cones — Nick is crazy! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've never had vegan soft serve? That's super sad Bianca! I wish I could send you some, especially as you're on team toppings.

      Delete
  5. I've always wanted to go to Seoul, and I'm glad to find out it's packed to the ginnels with vegan loveliness. Especially cake. I'll go anywhere for good vegan dessert!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yay! Hopefully you can add all of these places to your list of reasons to visit.

      Delete
  6. i'm very impress after looking your vegan blog.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yum! I've never been but I would love to.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh wow! I wish I read this Dec/Jan when I had a vegan friend come visit me in Seoul! I'm not vegan but I wanted my friend to have a good time and we did OK, ate a lot of temple foods and cooked a lot at home too!

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments, they make my day!