Info on Vegetarian Foods and Resurants

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Info on Vegetarian Foods and Resurants

Post  bjeb318 on Sun Mar 07, 2010 2:54 am

Basically, Koreans do not understand the term vegetarian(ism). I inquired about a small sign talking about bibimbap (that lovely "mixed rice" concoction that may be served four-alarm fire hot, if you like). It said "Vegetarian". I asked if it still had the requisite beef in the mixture. But of course! Huh?!

I asked around, and it seems that vegetarian in Korea means just a little meat...or <50% meat. Given their penchant for slabs of beef (kalbi, bulggogi), pork (sam-gyup-sal) and chicken (dduk-kalbi) and even living octopus (san-nak-ji) I guess it makes sense. Even the seemingly veggie "kimchi chigae" (mostly tofu with hot sauce and brought to a rolling boil) has pork 'juice' in it (watch out if you're Muslim!).

I had another incident where buds of mine (Hindus) were at a Korean joint to have some veggie food. I know the owner and specifically said it has to be vegetarian. What did we get? Pork with lots of onions and green peppers and some kind of sauce. One of them went a little ape at this. I can understand why. What did they do? Brought back the same thing with most of the pork taken out. Um, no, not quite right. Finally they brought out kimchi chigae (sans shellfish) which I didn't know was laced with pork juice...oh well, everyone lived, but it made for a little cultural misunderstanding (and, admittedly, was fun to watch on some level).

So, when you go to Korea, or a Korean restaurant or household stick to lettuce unless you can dig hard enough in your cross-examination of exactly what it is you're eating.

most kimchi is made with anchovy sauce, and usually some fish broth and oysters. There are recipes for truly vegetarian kimchi, which uses extra onion for flavor, but it will be nearly impossible to find that when shopping or eating out.

I found that it is VERY hard being a vegetarian here. If it weren't for the commissary I would never eat. It's a little disappointing because I would like to try some local food. I saw on some website that there are some vegetarian restaurants in Seoul. Maybe one day I will get to go check those out.

I do know of a bunch of resturants here in Seoul, a good portion are in Itaewon area. There are some great middle eastern resturants and some really good Indian in the area as well.

White Kimchi doesn't have the fish oil it is vinegar based. (this is the kimchi that doesn't have a red paste to it. It is usally radish, cucumber, or bean sprout)

I will have to write down the name of the vegetarian gimbap I eat at Gimbap heaven. I have gone there so many times they just serve it up. Most Gimbap has imitation crab meat in it.

Look for Dokboki, rice cakes with red pepper sauce. It is a great street food.

Chapchae is stir fry sweet potato noodles.
Pa Jun is a scallion pancake. It is yummy.
Dongchimi Gooksu is White Kimchi Cold Noodle Soup.
Cheese Ramyeon is ramen noodles with cheese on it
Yachae Mandoo is the veggie version of the yaki mandoo can be steamed or fried
Omurice - omlet served over rice

I am not a strict Vegetarian, I do eat fish, eggs and milk products. So please know that some of the above mentioned food may have egg or milk products in it.

Bimibap usually has beef in it. If you get into a resturant that someone speaks english you can usually tell them no beef.

I have had no problem in Seoul getting someone to understand me.

Hope this helps!

Ddeokbokee (several spellings for the same thing) often has fish cake with it, so be sure to say "odang aniyo". Odang is fish cake and aniyo is the polite way to say no.

Chapchae is often served with a small amount of bulgogi in it.

Pajeon often comes with chopped seafood, so be careful.

The flavor packets in most ramyeons contain animal by-products, so if you are strict about being vegetarian, this may not work for you.

Yachae Mandu is usually fine, as far as I know.

I'm not vegetarian, but LOVE Korean food and LOVE to cook. I also have several vegetarian friends. You can get kimbap without meat, no problem. Just say gogi (meat) aniyo or ham aniyo. If you don't mind egg, you can get bibimbap as Beth said without meat. (gogi aniyo) Egg is "gyeron" and is in kimbap as well. Oh, and add "chuseyo" (please) to the end of your request. (Gogi aniyo chuseyo.)

My suggestion is to check out some recipe books from the library and learn about Korean food. Often the meat is in the base for flavoring, but sometimes it is just a topping as in chapchae and bibimbap. In these cases, it is not too hard to simply have it withheld. I would also suggest that you make friends with one of the Korean wives and eat out with them. Once a particular restaurant understands what you want for your diet, then they will often be glad to adjust things for you. Don't give up. Korean food is awesome!

Animal by products can mean a variety of things. Here, a lot of broths are made by slow cooking the bones. Sometimes animal fat is used to fry things also. By products aren't generally obvious.

The fish cakes will look sort of like a thin piece of omelet. It will be clearly different from the rice cakes/logs. They are sometimes served together. If you just see the logs, you are probably fine. Be aware that some people put anchovy sauce in the red pepper sauce though.

The beef in the chapchae is usually added at the end, so if you don't notice it, you are probably just fine. It is pretty common though.

I don't remember if gochuchang (red pepper paste) has fish oil in it. I always buy it pre-made. Google it, I guess.

Actually there are alot of vegetarian foods in Korea. Tofu is one of their most popular meals. I eat lots of yummy tofu here. They fry it, broil it, serve it in soup. I work at a korean school and have the school lunch and at least 1 or two days a week, we have veggetarian meals. Also not all bibimbab has meat. I have eaten it several places where there is absolutley no meat in it- Seasme oil, rice, and veggies. Most of the red pepper sauces do contain fish oil though! Good luck finding veggie meals. There is a vegetarian resteraunt in Insadong (I'll have to double check the location, if its wrong, I will let ya''ll know!) in Seoul that is really yummy.

The commissary has better prices on several things, but off post grocery stores have awesome fruits and veggies and tofu. The king oyster mushrooms are firm and are a great meat substitute. The tofu here is really yummy, and they have several types. I think you two just made me want to go out and get some Korean food.
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bjeb318
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Re: Info on Vegetarian Foods and Resurants

Post  bjeb318 on Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:02 am

review on some vegetarian restaurants in seoul:

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/include/print.asp?newsIdx=29231

and another review;

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/2009/09/146_8477.html

first indian temple opens in seoul.. 100% vegetarian meals served.. (nice place to visit for the veg tourist...)

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/special/2009/10/177_30805.html

Being Vegetarian here has been very rough for me and my 2 kids who have never had meat. (not even when they were in my womb). I cook at home mostly. The first time we went to Seoul with Cho, a Katusa he took us to an ALL Vegetarian traditional Korean restaurant. I don't know the name, but I have pix in my Korea album. There are a few places around here (Dongducheon) that my Korean friends have taken me. One is a popular buffet restaurant. I'll have to get names and the locations. Everyone thought it would be easy for me here in Korea to be vegetarian, but it has been difficult. It was like when I first became a vegetarian 10+ years ago. There wasn't much to choose from.
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I found this on Seoul Eats!

Post  Megeshorty on Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:59 am

Seoul eats it's a great website to look at and I follow them on facebook.
Here are two restaurant in Dongdaemun...Himalaya and Everest have Vegetarian Food. It's Nepalese.
I can't wait to go eat at these. You can check out there website for address's and reviews. They even do food tours and such. http://www.seouleats.com/ Laughing Laughing
Here is the main page of the vegetarian reviews on there http://www.seouleats.com/2008/12/vegetarians-in-seoul.html

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Re: Info on Vegetarian Foods and Resurants

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