Q: You’re a vegetarian? What do you eat when you go out then???
Being a vegetarian in Korea comes with its challenges. There are days when I just go hungry or snack on simple foods because I am tired of eating the same things and have no idea how to spice up my meals. Another person probably would’ve taken up cooking as one of their hobbies by this point, but my lazy self still hasn’t found the desire to do such a thing.
I mention in a previous post that since I am a vegetarian that I don’t eat out a lot. However, whenever friends come to visit me or if I make new friends, I can’t avoid going to restaurants. So, I thought it would be a fun project for me to find some vegetarian restaurants around me or list a few foods that I have found that are vegetarian friendly or phrases one could learn if they ever come to Korea. But alas, I didn’t have time this week to scout and film more restaurants near me so if you would like to see more videos on vegetarian restaurants and the specific foods they have inside, leave a comment below and I’ll try to do more in the future. Or if you want to see more videos in general about life in Korea, let me know.
In the video, I venture off to a restaurant was named “사찰음식 전문점 수자타” which I believe means “Temple food speciality store”. This restaurant is buffet styled and at the entrance of the store, they have packaged foods that you can buy. Everything in the store that I saw is vegetarian friendly and very delicious. 😌 By the way, I apologize for the poor filming method. I wasn’t actually sure if I was allowed to film there and people kept staring so I felt shy 😅. Apparently, the restaurant is a popular place to eat but because of corona, there weren’t a lot of people there when we went. Even though this particular restaurant is specific to where I live, temple specialized restaurants can be found in different cities in Korea.
Temple foods originated in the buddhist temples in Korea so their beliefs had a strong influence in how the food was made. In the past, anyone interested in eating the temple food had to go to the temple to eat them, but today, as the demand for this cuisine increases, various restaurants serve their own style based off of the temple recipes. Even though most traditional dishes in Korea is a heavily meat based, including seafood as a base, temple foods take the popular traditional foods and substitute it with fermented soybean sauce, vegetable sauce, soybean curd and wheat gluten to make it vegetarian friendly.
When it comes to other vegetarian restaurants, the only reason I knew of the two in my neighborhood is because a dear friend took me to them when I first came here, but if you don’t have access to a native, looking up restaurants on NAVERmaps app could help greatly. I noticed that restaurants with “채식” (chaeshik) written somewhere in the name typically were vegetarian restaurants. “채식” (chaeshik) literally means vegetable in Korean. However, in Seoul, I’ve heard there are more options and some are even under English names, but I don’t live in Seoul so I can’t say much about those. 😩
I would highly recommend you to download the NAVERmaps app and look up food that are vegetarian friendly around you. But if you happen to be walking down the street and see a restaurant with the words “채식” in it, there is a good chance it’s vegetarian friendly.
If you live in Gwangju, like me, I’d recommend you to visit 살림채식뷔페 (Sallim Vegetarian Buffet). The food there is tasty. I will do more research to find more vegetarian friendly restaurants and share them with you in another post. ^^
If you’re learning Korean, living in Korea, or just in Korea for a short visit, learning some basic phrases can prove helpful during your time here, especially if you have a lifestyle that needs a little catering too.
My go-to phrase for letting my friends know right away that my dietary style is a bit different from theirs is:
저는 채식주의자에요 (jo-neun chae-sik-ju-ui-ja-e-yo): I’m a vegetarian.
When I go into restaurants and wish to order a dish that I know has meat in it, my go-to phrase is:
_____ 빼고 주세요 (bbae-go ju-se-yo.) [Ex. 고기 뻬고 주세요 (go-gi bbae-go ju-se-yo)]: Please take out the ______. (Ex: Please take out the meat.)
______ 못 먹어요. (mot mok-go-yo) (Ex. 해산물 못 먹어요 (hae-san-mul mot mok-go-yo): I can’t eat _______. (Ex: I can’t eat seafood.)
If you aren’t sure whether or not the food has meat inside you can say:
혹시, 여기에 고기가 들어있어요? (hogk-si, yo-gi-e go-gi-ga duel-o-issoyo?): Is there any meat inside here, by chance?
I must say, my korean pronunciation isn’t perfect, but I just wanted to help you hear the words that I wrote. I don’t read romanization Korean much anymore so I’m pretty sure my romanization Korean is wayyy off. 😅🙈
Anyhoo, I hope you found this post intriguing and helpful. I plan to go on an expedition later and force myself out of the house to find more vegetarian friendly foods and make a post about it later. But for right now, you can refer back to my post on vegetarianism to get some basic idea of vegetarian friendly foods. Well, that’s all for now!
Until next time,
See ya around, friend~~