I showed up a bit late to the temple cuisine bistro. Too late. The plates were covered, and they were packing up the food. So, that didn’t pan out.

I needed some lunch, but I didn’t want to break the Korean vegetarian streak I’ve been on. I suddenly got a craving for cheonggukjang.

Boritgogae Chu-ok, next to the Ssamziegil complex, has a good lunch menu. The catch is that they only advertise that on their Korean menu. I walked in, and they sat me down, handing me the English/Japanese menu. I reached over to the next table and took the Korean menu. They  had cheonggukjang for W6,000.

It didn’t take long to come out. I love this stinky soybean paste soup. It’s more proof that acquired tastes become addictive tastes. There were some freshly sliced leeks in the soup–and I could have sworn I tasted cilantro, but there was absolutely no cilantro in there. The banchan were some seaweed, spinach, bean sprouts, and the sweetest kimchi I’d ever tasted. It was like cabbage candy.

This meal was not temple cuisine, and it wasn’t completely vegan. Some seafood products had to have been used in the soup and kimchi. But it was mostly vegetarian. So I didn’t stray too far.

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Joe McPherson founded ZenKimchi in 2004. He has been featured and sourced in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, CNN, KBS, MBC, SBS, Le Figaro, Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Harper’s Bazaar Korea, The Chosun Weekly, and other Korean and international media. He has consulted for "Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain," The Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern,” Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, the PBS documentary series “Kimchi Chronicles,” and other projects in the UK, Canada, and Australia featuring celebrity chefs such as Gizzi Erskine and Gary Mehigan.Mr. McPherson has written for multiple Korean and international publications, including SEOUL Magazine, JoongAng Daily, The Korea Herald, Newsweek Korea and wrote the feature article for U.S. National publication Plate magazine’s all-Korean food issue. He has acted as dining editor for 10 Magazine and was on the judging panel for Korea for the Miele Guide.He spoke at TEDx Seoul on Korean food globalization, at TED Worldwide Talent Search on the rise of Korean cuisine, and in New York City on Korean Buddhist temple cuisine. The company ZenKimchi International organizes food tours for tourists and corporations and acts as a media liaison for foreign and Korean media and local restaurants and producers.
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