Vegetarian delights in the city

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 15, 2013 - 21:32
  • Updated : Feb 17, 2013 - 09:21
Vegan dishes at GAROBEE in Gangnam. (GAROBEE)
Once thought to be found only in secluded temples in the mountains, healthy and tasty temple cuisine is now available in the heart of Seoul.

Baru, a temple cuisine restaurant run by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, opened in 2009 to promote Buddhist culture and its palates.

At the Templestay Information Center, located between Jonggak and Anguk stations, there are Baru restaurants on the building’s second and fifth floors: the lower floor serves casual meals and mini-buffets with side dishes such as bean croquettes and radish kimchi while the upper floor serves a variety of full-course meals.

The chef of both Baru restaurants is Buddhist monk Ven. Daeahn, chief monk at Geumsuam Temple in Sancheong, South Gyeongsang Province. Ven. Daeahn lectures on temple food at Dongguk University.

Baru is located in Gyeonji-dong, Jongno district. Prices for course meals range from 25,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, visit or call (02) 2031-2081.

For more modern vegan tastes, Garobee is situated amid high-end shops on the trendy Gangnam Boulevard. A portmanteau of “garden” and “bee,” Garobee offers a vegan buffet that brings strictly eco-friendly dishes to the table.

Located on the back street near CGV Gangnam, a green signboard welcomes vegetable lovers to the “Well Being Buffet Garobee.” The interior of the restaurant feels like a cozy cafe. Soft music plays, creating a warm atmosphere as people savor their meals.

Lunch and dinner offer 30 different items from appetizers to desserts, including bean meatballs, Vietnamese noodles, soya ham sandwiches and plum tea. None of the foods contain animal fat, additives or preservatives.

“Garobee is one of the few restaurants in Seoul that provide vegan dishes,” said owner Park Hae-soo. Park said one of the reasons she runs a vegan restaurant is to popularize the vegan diet.

“Our foods have a stronger taste than typical vegetarian dishes to attract non-vegetarian customers. I hope many people will fall in love with vegan cuisine,” she told The Korea Herald.

Lunch and dinner are available for 13,000 won and 15,000 won, respectively. Garobee is located in Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam district. For information, call (02) 566-7545.

With many stylish shops and restaurants clustered in Seoul’s Hongdae area, Cook and Book, a vegan cafe located on a narrow street, may not be one of those in vogue. But it does have its own uniquely simple yet warm atmosphere.

Cook and Book is a vegan bakery cafe that serves more than 20 kinds of mouth-watering desserts. The cafe uses canola oil as a replacement for butter and substitutes soy milk for milk in baking. It uses organic agave syrup instead of sugar to draw sweetness.

The owner of Cook and Book, Jeon Su-mi, is a vegan cuisine expert in Korea and a publisher of vegan baking cookbooks. When she visited the U.S., she was introduced to vegan baking which lured her so strongly she quit her job.

The cafe holds a baking class every week to share vegan baking tips. In a medium-sized cooking studio inside the cafe, four preregistered students can bake vegan cookies, cakes, breads and more. Prices for the baking class range from 50,000 won to 70,000 won.

Cook and Book is located in Seogyo-dong, Mapo district, near Hongdae. The bakery cafe is open from noon until 11 p.m. For more information, visit or call (02) 325-1028.

Other places to visit:

■ New Start Restaurant

(02) 565-4324

2F, Namgok-building 897-13, Daechi 4-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

■ Loving Hut, Sinchon

(02) 333-8087~8

33-10, Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

■ Smile Jo’s Restaurant

(031) 502-0512

2F, 105-54, Juam-dong, Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province

■ Hanguachae

(02) 720-2802

30-9, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

■ Chaegundaam

(02) 555-91734

983, Daechi 2-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul

■ Oh Se Gae Hyang

(02) 735-7171

59, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

By Park Sui, Intern reporter (