Street food in Seoul
I am taking my first trip to Seoul with a friend who is vegetarian. Is the street food safe to eat? What are the best types of street food to eat and any particular neighborhood to visit for street food? Are there any vegetarian options? We love all things sweet and savory.
Everything is safe to eat. Standards are sky high. A TRUE vegetarian will have a problem with Korean food because of fish sauce which finds its way into so many foods. Best bet for street food is the bindatteok (mung bean pancake) vendors at Gwangjang Market, which us a must visit. Go to the ladies making them fresh right in front of you. Gwangjang, the oldest market, is a rabbit's warren of covered, twisting alleyways. In the summer, maybe kongguksu (noodles in cold soy milk) would work. Kimbap is a good choice.
Many 'actual' pushcarts, like you might find on a sidewalk, are pretty dreary. Go to the established markets: Gwangjang, Dongdaemun, Namdaemun.
There is very popular Korean cuisine category of monastic/buddhist temple food that is entirely seasonal vegetarian, quite delicious and unique, and by definition without any animal products, aromatics (onion, garlic,scallion, chives, etc), and strive to create balance of flavor free of salty, sour, bitter, hot or sweet (how's that possible!?! :) They are run by monks that represent the temple he/she belongs. Here's sample picture for your view though I think these were specially made for the display at a show: http://blog.daum.net/cognos57/15972380
In this category, here are two I would recommend:
1. Barugongyang (발우공양):http://www.baru.or.kr/bbs/board.php?b...
Run by a monk named Dae-Ahn, this is a well-known (has 10-15 course meals) that represents his temple and food. Their upstairs is a buffet-style sister resto and less expensive. Here's the link for some pictures.
2. Gosang (고상):http://www.baru-gosang.com/index.html (no english version). Address: Joong-gu Suhadong 67 Mirae-asset-center-won B2F
Upper-end temple food in modern setting. Has several set tasting menu to choose from.
Unfortunately Sanchon, a 1st generation of this category restaurant with chef-owner (former monk) who used to shopped/grew his own vegetables, now and for a while it transformed into rather touristic "dinner-and-a-show" with mediocre ingredients, and I doubt he is actively engaged with the kitchen. When this began though, it was sublime.