Eating is one of the best parts about travelling. Not only do you get to try new foods, but just going out for dinner most nights is such a relaxing thing to do. I love eating and finding new dishes that I enjoy, but being a vegetarian does make it a little difficult. When travelling with my fiancé I never have many issues as we order meat dishes and either pick around the unwanted parts or stick to side dishes. However when travelling with myself and other vegetarians, this is much more difficult. After many trips to Seoul I feel like I have managed to find some fantastic dinners which are vegetarian and delicious.
One of the most popular meals for vegetarians in Korea is bibimbap. This translates to mixed rice and is simply rice with fresh veggies, egg and spicy sauce on top. You mix everything together and have the perfect bowl of healthy foods and comforting carbs.
The region of Jeonju is known as providing the best bibimbap in the country for hundreds of years. The flavors can be experience in Gogung restaurant which is in the center of Myeongdong in Seoul. Easy enough to get to this is a great way to have a traditional Korean meal without worrying about the meat.
Gogung serve both dolsot (hot stone) and basic bibimbap – the difference being that the hot stone one comes out in a scalding bowl with a raw egg on top. I think it is much better as you can cook the egg through the dish and make the rice nice and crispy. Both f these come with meat but it is easy enough to say gogi baeygo juseyo (no meat please) and the staff are happy to accommodate. Of course it is Soeul so speaking English is fine too. The restaurant also serves japchae noodles which are delicious but you will need to specify for no meat again, whereas their seafood pancakes wont be eatable for vegetarians. But it’s the bibimbap which steals the show. The price is 11,000won which is a little expensive compared to a basic kimbap nara, but it is so much better and totally worth it.
The meal comes with a side of traditional pancakes, salad and two types of kimchi. The waitress told me that none of the dishes had meat in them but chances are the kimchi was made with the usual anchovy paste. For a really traditional meal you can order rice wine or soju (but be careful with that one).
Not only is the food good here but Gogung also has traditional Korean music played while you eat. This adds to the experience and is a nice break from the craziness of Myeongdong.
To get to Gogung simply take the blue line (4) to Myeongdong station and leave exit 4. Walk down the main street and turn at the first right, the Uniqlo building is on the corner. Keep walking for a couple of minutes until you see the restaurant on your left. It stands out for the big statue of bibimbap out front.