With cute aesthetics, delectable treats, and creative themes, South Korea’s dining scene is a feast for the senses. From grandiose restaurants to cramped cafes, places with twenty-plus dish spreads to spots where dogs outnumber the customers, deciding where to eat in Seoul can be a challenge. Coming to Seoul, I worried I’d miss out due to my mostly plant-based diet, a concern shared by many vegans and other plant-based eaters.
However, after living in Seoul for seven months, I can confirm that there’s no need to worry! There’s a plethora of fun, hip, and unique places in Seoul offering delicious meals suitable for all diets and lifestyles. Having tried almost every vegan eatery in Seoul, here’s a roundup of the top five best vegan spots worth seeking out.
Best Restaurant: Plant
Plant is by far the most well-known vegan spot within Seoul – and for good reason, they offer an entirely vegan menu with gluten-free options, along with seasonal menus including Thanksgiving dinners, pumpkin spiced lattes, and Valentines themed cakes so you’ll never feel like you’re missing out on the festivities.
I’ve visited a few times now and each time the food has blown me away. One of my personal favorites is their Hummus and Roasted Squash Salad, a refreshing and surprisingly filling dish with hints of sweetness coming from the pumpkin squash and agave mustard dressing.
For dessert, head to their rotating bakery case and check out their cakes, stacked high with layers of crème, freshly baked cookies, and gooey chocolate brownies. Plant’s desserts are usually divided equally between light and fruity flavors, such as their Lemon Raspberry cake and Early Gray cake, and richer flavors such as their Snickers Bar and Cookies & Crème Oreo cake.
The prices at Plant are a bit steep when compared to regular Korean restaurants, however, it’s worth visiting occasionally to treat yourself!
Hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm (Kitchen closes by 9pm)
Address: 2nd Floor, Itaewon-dong 130-43, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Best Café: Honesta
Café Honesta is hands-down the “bougiest” vegan café available in Seoul. Featuring a cool and metallic color scheme with minimal décor and small size, this café is situated along the Gyeonggi Forest Line near Hongik University, a popular spot in Seoul for hipsters and trend-seekers alike. Café Honesta boasts a small variety of organic vegan and gluten-free desserts such as pound cakes, tarts, and scones, along with vegan coffees, teas, and smoothies. If you’re lucky, grab the window seat and let time slip away as you blissfully munch on a healthy treat.
I recommend both the Avocado Smoothie Coffee and Matcha Chocolate Scone. The smoothie was creamy with a perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness. It was so addictive I kept getting brain freeze from forgetting to pace myself! The matcha chocolate scone is subtly sweet with a prominent, not too bitter, matcha flavor. Also, despite being gluten-free, the scone doesn’t easily crumble.
Hours: Tue-Sat: 12:00pm-10:00pm Sun: 12:00pm-8:00pm
Address: 240-34, Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul 2F
Best Bakery: The Bread Blue
If I had to recommend only one vegan bakery, it’d be The Bread Blue- a modern bakery and cafe nestled on a quaint street right off the Gyyeongi Forest Line, north of Hongik Station. Here one can find elaborate breads, pastries, drinks, and desserts being sold at a reasonable price.
They sell more unique items, such as their Whole Wheat Apple Bread and giant Whole Wheat Bread rounds, along with various flavored bread loaves and Korean classics such as red bean buns, soboro buns (a peanut streusel bread), and mammoth bread (bread layered with red bean and sweet green pea filling).
The Whole Wheat Apple Bread is a comforting treat that’s like an apple strudel- filled with soft cinnamon-spiced apples that melt in the mouth with each bite. Equally delectable is the Soboro Bread with its air-like interior, packing a strong peanut flavor with a sugary and nutty crackle topping.
The Bread Blue puts obvious care into the presentation of their bakes, making them appealing to the eye, putting n end to the cliché, “it’s good looking…for vegan food.”
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:30am – 10:00pm Sat-Sun 9:30am-9:00pm
Tel: +82 70-4405-0723
Address: 3 Sinchon-ro 12da-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Best Take-Out: The RAW by Twins
The Raw by Twins is a small take-out shop that is well known for its all-organic, raw, gluten-free, vegan donuts. While I personally can’t really call them donuts, as they’re more like crumbly jam-filled granola bars, they are delectable. The sweetness from the coconut-base and inside fruity jam filling makes The Raw by Twins a perfect place to stop for a dessert that’s guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.
If you do not like coconut, you will not like these donuts. The base is made almost entirely out of raw coconut, so it really comes through as the dominate flavor. If you are a fan of coconut, however, prepare yourself for sweet coconut-y goodness!
Having sampled all the donuts, excluding the seasonal black sesame, I’ve concluded that my favorites are the injulmi raspberry, green tea strawberry, and snickers. The raspberry and strawberry jams that fill the first two are especially sweet and contrast well with the nutty injulmi and bittersweet green tea. The Snickers donuts holds a rich and thick caramel sauce that’s contained by sweet coconut and chocolate and topped with roasted nuts. Even now I’m craving one!
Hours: Wed – Sun 11:30am-7:00pm
Tel: +82 70-8866-0986
Address: 436-8 Hapjeong-dong Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea, 04021
Best Bit of Everything: Yammi Yoli
Yammy Yoli is a bit tricky to classify as it exemplifies characters of a bakery, cafe, and restaurant all in one. Within their small building they sell a variety of unique breads and pastries with drinks such as coffee, teas, and smoothies, along with a selection of burgers.
Yammy Yoli’s ciabatta bread is notable for its fluffy inside and lightly crisp exterior. It also comes with their homemade vegan cream cheese, an herby and creamy spread worth buying on its own (and you can). I also recommend their Fig Sweet Potato Bread, a soft dessert bread swirled with honey-like sweet potato flavor and finished with a brown sugar crumble. Another bonus of Yammy Yoli is you can sample everything!
Hours: Sun-Sat 9:00am-9:00pm (Lunch 12:00-1:00) Burger order starts at 10:00am.
Address: 6-5, Yanghwa-ro, Seoul, South Korea
Contrary to first impressions, Seoul has a large variety of vegan-friendly shops. While it may take more effort to track these places down, the hunt is part of fun. Feel free to share with us your favorite vegan finds below! Safe travels and happy dining.