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Jun 13, 2008 12:38 AM

Korean vegetarian?

On a trip to Seoul a while back I had one of the most outstanding meals of my life at a Korean Buddhist restaurant. Needless to say, the meal was all vegetarian and the variety was astounding; it didn't take long before our table was covered with plates, bowls, and platters of a huge assortment of delicious, fresh, and simply prepared Korean vegetarian dishes. I've been struggling to find something similar here in New York: I'm not interested in Bibimbap without the beef or fancy tofu places, that's readily available. Hangawi in the city comes close but not really the same. Does anybody have any suggestions as to a restaurant (or even a temple?) offering Korean vegetarian or Buddhist cuisine? The place doesn't have to be restricted to just that but at least part of the menu should reflect a veg positive approach.

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  1. About 15 years ago in San Francisco there was a place like this - I crave this food. I haven't found anything like it in NY. Hangawi is great in its own way, but not the same.

    I love Soon Dubu, and like Seoul Garden in K-Town, though what I get may be one of two or three vegetarian options (out of about 100) on their menu.

    1. Its best to go to the temple during a Korean holiday. I'm not a vegetarian but was invited once to go to join in the festivities at a temple and the food was good and filling. It was a very nice experience.

      1. i havent eaten there, but hangawi in the city is vegetarian and supposed to be good

        havent heard of anything in flushing / northern etc

        1 Reply
        1. re: Lau

          Hangawi is voted one of the best vegetarian's and maybe it's something you're interested. However, being a Korean, I found the food very bland.

          Not sure if you're a true vegetarian or vegan, but keep in mind that kimchee (the traditional fermented cabbage) is made with shrimp and mussels. The fact that I'm a carnivore, not having that in most of the spices offered at Hangawi, made it bland for me. But you'll have your fill of root vegetables and taro.

          One of the issues is that most Korean food here is 'city food' rather than 'country cooking' which some of the vegetarian dishes you mention hail from.

        2. Franchia on Park Ave. is owned by the Hangawi people and is also completely vegetarian - but they are more tea-centered (that's not a phrase, is it? their main focus is tea and they serve food as well) and seem to have a very spiritual philosophy. It's very quiet and the decor is very spare. Sort of feels like you're in a temple.

          That said, they do have a lot of things I'm sure are not served in any temples, like sweet and sour fried mushrooms (not good at all). The pancakes and dumplings and vegetables over rice are usually very tasty.

          Maybe the atmosphere at least is what you're looking for?

          1. ugh, avoid franchia and hangawi; such disappointments completely. wish I could suggest an alternative but both of those places were way bad.