Thinking about studying abroad here at Chung-Ang University, but feel like maybe you won’t be able to enjoy Korean food because they love their Samgyeopsal too much and maybe many of their dishes are with meat? Or maybe due to religious purposes or maybe because of your own personal choices you don’t eat a certain meat or any meat. Well think again! Today’s blog will be able to help those that are vegan, vegetarian, Muslim or those that have dietary issues, to navigate to the most popular meals (suggested by students), as well as places to eat and places to visit! All in all, this will give you some tips on how to survive in Korea!
So first of all, you may be surprised to find out that here in South Korea, provides a good number of halal and vegetarian restaurants around Seoul and also quite a few popular destinations that provide prayer rooms.As we talk about some HOT SPOTS, I will be including links for you to check out too. I’ve researched quite a good amount and found many blogs out on the web for vegan, vegetarian and Muslim lifestyles that explain some of their hardships and some of the best places to hit while living in Korea. These blogs will be of great help to both students who are studying here in CAU at the moment, and to those who are considering options that are available to them . Let’s get started:
First, I would like to introduce to you, Loving Hut. If you haven’t already known, this is a restaurant that is vegan and vegetarian friendly. Many dishes in Korea may look vegetarian but have been cooked with animal products. With this restaurant, you will not need to deal with that issue. Loving Hut is a chain store, and is available throughout Korea. There are two branches in Seoul. Check out the restaurant’s website here which is also in English. The website shows you where these chain stores are located and also provides the online menu.
Speaking of Vegan and Vegetarian, below are some useful links for you to check out: The first link contains a list of restaurants in South Korea and the next one is blogger who specifically wrote a guide to being a vegetarian here in Korea :
Now I want to talk about some spots that are quite popular among the Muslim students here at Chung-Ang. Some spots to sight-see are:
Itaewon: This place has the first Islamic mosque in Korea. It also has the highest concentration of halal restaurants in Seoul. Checking out this place is a must! The website here gives you more information on the mosque, address, and transportation on how to get there. Also if you are lost or just need more details, this blog here gives detailed directions with pictures.
Nami Island: This place is a great tourist attraction. I listed this as a hot spot because it not only contains a halal restaurant but also a prayer room in the area. So, coming here for the day, you will not need to worry about where to pray or whether they have halal meals or not. It is located on the second floor and has separate rooms for male and female. Check here for more information.
Everland: If you have not heard of Everland, it is a very popular amusement park in Yongin. After all the crazy rides, you might be too tired to search for a place to pray – but no worries, they provide prayer rooms too!
To find out more locations around South Korea that have mosques or halal restaurants, please look in to this guidebook here.It is very resourceful and you might be using it more often than you think.
I thought maybe you’d like to hear it from the students themselves so I decided to ask some questions to CAU Exchange students who are either vegetarian, Muslim or both. See below to hear what they say and some of their favorite food picks!
QUESTION: Can you explain what kind of struggle you’ve had here in South Korea in regards to your dietary needs? What are some dish you’d recommend, and if any, what are some of your favorites? Also, does this matter outweigh your experience here in Korea?
Alessa Blasweiler: Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria (Vegetarian)
“At the beginning it was pretty hard because I did not know which meals didn’t have meat. Especially at the beginning, I ordered food with meat so it was pretty hard to find something without it. Now, it’s not that hard anymore, and I would recommend ramen, bibimbap, rice cake, cold noodles and seafood. Moreover, I often order kimbap and say gogi (which means meat in Korean) and cross my arms to an X, which always works.
At the beginning, it influenced my life and view on Korea but that was only just the first 2 weeks, so I would say the advantages of Korea outweigh the disadvantages of the food but I need to take supplements in order to stay healthy here in Korea.”
COLD NOODLE also called (Naengmyeon):
DUBBOKI (rice cake dish):
Esra Gayretli: Faith University, Istanbul, Turkey (Vegetarian and Muslim)
“Some restaurants you can go to get Halal food are: Pomato, EID-이드 Halal Korean Food, Makan Halal Korean Restaurant, and BoA Guesthouse – Halal Korean Dosirak. Most of these place are a little expensive because they are halal.
There are halal or vegetarian restaurants but it’s hard to go there everyday to eat. They are more expensive than regular restaurants and not found everywhere.
And also, in halal restaurants the owners are more focused on meals with meat or chicken so I can’t eat in most of the halal restaurants either. In regular restaurants I usually can eat bibimbap, kimbap, or pasta but even for those meals I need to ask many question to make sure it’s halal and vegetarian. Sometimes some products sold in stores are not halal or use meat flavorings in the products so be cautious if you deeply take concern in it.”
Amani Essa: English Literature and linguistic major, Somalia (Muslim)
“There were a lot of struggles at the beginning not being able to eat meat or chicken and my first year I was in a different university and lived far away from Seoul so I couldn’t find any halal food. Back at home I wasn’t a big fan of seafood but in Korea I strangely now love sea food. My favorite dish is nakji bokkeum~ which is noodles with octopus
The first six months I struggled searching for food which affected my living in Korea but now I think food is not a problem for me. I believe coming to Korea is worth the experience, and that if I had a chance to go back and redo it, I would still choose to come to Korea.”
Ruweyda Mohamed: Moorhead State University, USA (Muslim)
“Since I can’t eat pork because of my religion, it is hard to find food that doesn’t contain it. Also, when I say I can’t eat pork, I don’t think that people fully know sausage is pork.
Even though pork is the main protein that they eat in Korea, there are other types like seafood and chicken. Korea has the best chicken with so many flavors. Also, the seafood dishes here are the best I have ever had in my life. If you don’t know a place that will give you more options, you should go to a seafood restaurant because they will.
I have so many favorites dishes here which are 떡이, 치킨마요, and 닭갈비.
Even though it is sometimes difficult for me to find food to eat, I would still come back to Korea because I met some amazing people and it is a very beautiful country to visit.”
CHICKEN MAYO (치킨마요):
All of the dishes in the pictures above may or may not contain pork or other meat. These pictures are to help you see what the dishes look like. You must always ask to make sure if it contains meat, or a specific meat (like pork). Here are some phrases to help you out:
1) Does this have pork in it?
요리 안에 돼지고기가 들어있나요? (yo-ri a-ne dwae-ji-go-gi-ga deu-reo-in-na-yo?)
2) Can I have this without the pork?
돼지고기 없이 받을 수 있을까요? (dwae-ji-go-gi eop-si ba-deul su i-sseul-kka-yo?)
3) Which one doesn’t have pork in it?
어떤 요리가 돼지고기 들어있지 않은 요리 인가요? (eo-tteon nyo-ri-ga dwae-ji-go-gi deu-reo-it-ji a-neun nyo-ri in-ga-yo?)
4) Sausage, Bacon, and Spam are pork
소시지, 베이컨, 스팸도 돼지고기예요. (so-si-ji, be-i-keon, seu-paem-do dwae-ji-go-gi-ye-yo.)
5) I am a vegetarian.
저는 채식주의자예요. (jeo-neun chae-sik-ju-ui-ja-ye-yo)
6) Does this have meat in it?
요리 안에 고기가 들어 있나요? (yo-ri a-ne go-gi-ga deu-reo in-na-yo?)
7) Can I have this without meat?
고기 없이 받을 수 있을까요? (go-gi eop-si ba-deul su i-sseul-kka-yo?)
8) Do you have any vegetarian dishes?
채식주의자용 음식이 있나요? (chae-sik-ju-ui-ja-yong eum-si-gi in-na-yo?)