Korean cuisine - it’s interesting, it’s flavorful, and it’s sometimes animals. But it doesn’t have to be. Many cities, including Seoul and Jeju, are quite vegan-friendly, and offer lots of plant-based traditional Korean dishes, often made with mock meats like chicken, ham, beef, and shrimp. This is my curated collection of common Korean eats that are mostly vegan or can be made vegan. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami - It’s all here.
mixed vegetable rice
Bibimbap is one of the most famous iconic Korean dishes. Its a huge, colorful assortment of side dishes of fresh, sautéed, and pickled vegetables. You mix it all together in a huge bowl with rice and top it with spicy gochujang red chili sauce.
The first of the savory pancakes, buchujeon is a vegetable pancake made with Korean garlic chives. It’s delicious anytime, as a side dish, snack, or the perfect bar food.
Maybe the most famous dish of all, Korean BBQ, is a staple of a Korean culture. Bulgogi means fire meat, and is literally beef cooked with fire at the table. Find bulgogi at a vegan restaurant for plant-based beef.
Bulgogi jeongol is bulgogi meat in a spicy hot pot stew with tons of mushrooms, various fresh veggies and dangmyeon glass noodles. It’s fiery hot and delicious. Must get bulgogi jeongol at a vegan restaurant for vegetable stock and mock beef.
Fish-shaped red bean Pastry
Bungeoppang, a common street food, is a fish-shaped pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, and grilled like a waffle. It’s warm, crispy, with sweet and savory goodness inside.
Dan Pat Bbang
red bean bUn
This pastry is stuffed with a sweet red bean paste and topped with sesame seeds.
tofu and kimchi
Dubu Kimchi is a classic Korean dish. It’s boiled or fried tofu slices served with stir-fried tangy kimchi, which you eat together. Usually served with pork, so ask for no meat.
red bean porridge
Patjuk is a thick porridge made from nutrient-rich adzuki beans. It has a taste similar to Mexican refried beans, with a hint of sweetness and chewy glutinous rice balls mixed in. Traditionally called dongji-patjuk and eaten on winter solstice, when red beans were thought to chase away evil spirits. This will only chase away your appetite.
Dotirimuk muchim is a big salad of fresh vegetables, seaweed, and seeds, dressed in sesame oil, served with chunks of gelatinous seasoned acorn jelly.
Gamjajeon is a huge tasty potato pancake made from onions and potatoes, seasoned and pan-fried in oil. Pull it apart with chopsticks and go to town.
Gimbap is the Korean version of sushi, but the rice is seasoned with sesame oil instead of vinegar. The rice is rolled in nori seaweed with veggies and meats like steak or spam. Widely available made with veggies only and also made with vegan ham.
Fried seaweed noodle rolls
Often served along with tteokbokki, gimmari is a crispy and chewy snack made from glass noodles wrapped in seaweed and then deep fried. (On the right in the photo.)
고구마 찹쌀 도너츠
goguma chapssal donuts
sweet potato rice donuts
Find these tasty sweet treats in street stalls in cold weather. Made of sweet potato and rice flour rolled into balls and then deep fried, it’s the perfect doughy, chewy snack.
Hobak juk is a porridge made from pumpkin, with glutinous rice balls and red beans mixed in. The taste is sweet, creamy, velvety perfection.
sweet stuffed pancakes
Hoddok (or hotteok) is a classic pastry that can be found freshly cooked in street stalls or sold in any store. It’s a simple pancake stuffed with a sweet syrup filling.
Jangguk-juk, soy sauce porridge, is made with rice and mushrooms. Usually made with beef and beef stock too, so head for a vegan version from a restaurant or store.
Japchae is a dish of glass noodles made of sweet potato starch, served stir-fried with veggies. Delicious, slippery, and chewy, these veggie noods are a healthy snack.
black bean noodles
Jjajangmyeon is a Chinese style noodle dish topped with a dark savory sauce made of black beans, and chunjang, a black soybean paste, with various vegetables. It’s usually served with pork, so omit the meat or get it at a vegan restaurant for mock pork.
chili pickled cabbage
Kimchi is everywhere in Korea. It’s usually made with Napa cabbage, but can be made with many vegetables like radish, perilla leaves, and other greens. Seasoned with chili, garlic, ginger and onion, and fermented so it’s full of flavor and gut-healthy probiotics. Fish sauce is often used for salt, so get it vegan at a store or veg restaurant.
Kimchijeon is a savory pancake made with kimchi. Crispy, crunchy, and spicy. Often made with meat or seafood so ask for it without.
Mandu are stuffed dumplings that are steamed or fried. Some are filled with veggies and some meat. Find mandu at a vegan restaurant for a savory mock meat filling.
mung bean pancake
Nokdujeon (or Bindatteok) is a savory golden brown pancake made with mung beans and different veggies. Meat or seafood is sometimes added so ask for it without.
mung bean porridge
Nokdu juk is a simple yet hearty super nutritious porridge made with mung beans, rice, and sesame oil. It tastes way better than it looks.
green onion pancake
Pajeon is a popular savory pancake made with green onions, or sometimes younger scallions. These are a great crispy, chewy snack. Watch out for eggs in the batter.
Ppopgi is a traditional sugar candy. Made on the street with only sugar and baking soda, it’s fun to watch them be made into different shapes and choose which ones you want.
ramen noodle soup
Ramyeon is a Korean staple. Find it in restaurants served with veggies on top, or grab one of the hundreds of varieties from any store for the perfect instant snack.
Peanut streusEl bread
Soboro bread, also called Korean streusel bread, is found in every Korean bakery. It’s a light yeasty bread bun topped with a sweet peanut butter crumble on top.
Sundubu jjigae is a spicy hot pot stew made with soft tofu and vegetables. Commonly served with egg, meat and seafood, so ask for without, or get at a veg restaurant.
spicy rice cakes
Tteokbokki is a traditional Korean dish of stir-fried chewy rice cakes served in a super fiery gochujang red chili sauce. Often accompanied by gimmari, fried seaweed rolls.
Sliced rice cake soup
This delicious soup is full of slices of chewy rice cakes, mushrooms, onions, and seaweed. Usually made with beef broth, so find it at a vegan Korean restaurant for a creamy soymilk soup instead. Traditionally eaten on New Years Day for good luck.
SPicy fried chicken
The most popular social dining experience in Korea is chicken and beer, otherwise known as chimac. Join the fun and go get yangnyeom chicken at a veg restaurant for spicy fried chicken deliciousness. And don’t forget the beer.