Sanchon – Seoul’s Most Famous Vegan Temple Food Restaurant
Insadong is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Seoul. Its traditional charm and may hidden cafes, teahouses and restaurants are unique in Seoul. One eatery that completely blew my mind away when I visited in October was Sanchon, Seoul’s most famous vegan temple food restaurant. Fresh vegetables and wild plants from the mountains and fields of Korea are prepared into flavorful and exciting dishes right in the heart of Insadong. Even if you’re a proud meat-eater, you will absolutely appreciate the long tradition and love for preparing food at Sanchon in Insadong.
This vegan temple food restaurant was founded by a former Buddhist monk who uses his knowledge and inspiration by simple, clean and healthy ingredients in his kitchen. All dishes at Sanchon are prepared with natural ingredients and are cooked without any artificial additives.
The items on the 16-course lunch and dinner menu vary from season to season. Contrary to Buddhist dietary beliefs, however, the chef includes garlic, shallots and mountain leeks in his creations to make the taste more adaptable for the general public. You can request your dishes without these ingredients, though. Buddhist artworks, music, and lanterns add to the unique ambiance of the restaurant.
16-Course Lunch/Dinner Menu
The same course menu is served for lunch and dinner but guests visiting in the evening can enjoy a unique Korean dance performance at 8 PM every night. I visited Sanchon with two friends who came to Korea for my wedding from Germany, one of them a vegetarian, one a vegan. They had actually discovered this place on HappyCow, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant finder. Since the vegan temple food restaurant has great reviews on the platform, we decided to give it a go.
Even though we hadn’t made a reservation, we got a wonderful table with views of the beautifully decorated dining area. The waitress explained that there is only one course menu available that’s 45,000 KRW per person, a heavy price compared to other places around Seoul. However, for the quality and types of foods, it is completely reasonable. I was completely blown away by the different flavors of the dishes presented to us during our dinner course.
Appetizers included a delicious miso soup, fermented alcohol, black sesame porridge and various greens nicely presented on a large square plate. Each and every dish united completely different flavors that all complemented each other just perfectly.
Next up was a mouthwatering salad from fresh mountain herbs and lettuce as well as mushrooms on a stick and dried seaweed in sweet seasoning. We couldn’t believe our eyes how much food the waitress was bringing out onto our table. My friends, too, were completely in awe of all the delicious vegan meals. Every single dish was so full of texture and flavor. My vegan friend soon declared Sanchon her favorite food experience in Seoul so far. I couldn’t agree more.
Finally, we were presented with the main course. Seven kinds of greens in different seasonings were beautifully surrounded by a more familiar set of Korean banchan, or side dishes. This included vegan kimchi, tofu, mushrooms, japchae glass noodles, beans, sweet potatoes and a delicious vegan doenjang jjiggae, fermented soybean stew.
Korean Tea and Dance
Just when we thought we couldn’t fit anything more into our bellies, the waitress delivered delicious tea, dried sweet potato chips, and Korean rice snacks to our table. A perfect last course of our dinner, we were able to enjoy the atmosphere and take in the nightly Korean dance performance to the fullest.
The lights were dimmed and Korean dancers appeared one after the other in different costumes. They performed anything from traditional Korean dance to Buddhist rituals in front of the guests. The show is 45 minutes long and adds another element of surprise to the already extraordinary dinner experience at Seoul’s most famous vegan temple food restaurant.
Come and visit Sanchon – Vegan or not!
This vegan temple food restaurant in Seoul’s Insadong district truly blew me away. Everything, from the interior and food to the dance performance and friendly staff, was perfect. So, whether you are a vegan, vegetarian or meat-eater, like myself, Sanchon will provide you with a unique culinary and cultural experience in Seoul.
Adresse: Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 30-13 road (Gwanhun) Gwanhun 14, Jongno-gu, Seoul | Anguk Station, Subway Line 3
Opening hours: Daily, 11:30 to 22:00
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