- New Start Vegetarian Restaurant 뉴스타트 채식 레스토랑
- Published on: March 2, 2010
- Last modified: March 21, 2018
- AmbienceEditor: 60%
- FoodEditor: 75%
- ServiceEditor: 50%
- ValueEditor: 80%
With the abundance of samgyeopsal, fast food and fried chicken outlets engaged in a nightly war for patronage with dazzling neon signs, one could be forgiven for thinking Korea is a land so preoccupied with the consumption of animals, that it would be best for vegans to look elsewhere. You may be surprised to know that Korean cuisine for the ordinary plebs throughout most of history was primarily vegetarian in nature. Stocks of rice and kimchi with various other vegetarian banchan were the staple diet for the commonfolk, while a lot of the meat-heavy dishes were mostly enjoyed by the aristocracy.
While not actually a vegan myself, I appreciate many of the reasons that more resolute individuals would choose to bestow this respectable burden upon themselves. In many countries other than Korea, veganism as an idea enjoys more widespread popularity and therefore better accommodation at your average restaurant. For those of you who are, or know a vegan, you'll be well enlightened to the fact that not only are vegetarian options absent from most restaurant menus, vegans themselves are looked upon with a range of reactions ranging from curiousity to contempt.
Having dined at most reasonably priced restaurants in the Seolleung area, I was surprised to find that a new restaurant has recently entered the fray - and all of the dishes are vegan. Entering the restaurant on the second floor, I admit that I was half expecting to receive some not-so-subtle vibes of Hare Krishna or New Earth spirituality, which I was prepared to meet with a well-calculated air of nonchalance. Whether or not there are any spiritual undertones, I didn't find them overtly explicit, although the open and overstaffed kitchen area did grab my attention a little.
From what I could deduce, the only menu item is a buffet selection for W12,000. The variety on offer is fairly good, with vegan spaghetti, tofu, soups and salads all well-presented. There's a cacophony of colours to choose from (I was looking forward to using that word), with deep purple cabbages, intensely orange pumpkins and dark green broccoli. I'm pretty sure that they don't buy their produce from the local Homeplus.
The buffet selection is small compared to some of the mega-buffets around the place that can feed an army of wedding guests, but the dishes are well made and creative. The cabbage rolls are full of healthy goodness with well-balanced flavours, and the pumpkin soup is warm and rich. There are home-made sour dough and rye breads on offer, with fig jam as well as more preserved vegetable options than you could poke a metal chopstick at. You can give the imitation-meat bulgogi a miss, because it's a little flat and rubbery, while the Neapolitana spaghetti is nice, but cold. There are also a couple of obscure things on offer like home-made peanut butter and 'Mulberry Leaves and Solomon Seals Tea'. It was also nice to eat celery again, which doesn't seem to have a permanent place on the supermarket shelves here.
Overall, I quite enjoyed the experience and will eat there again. It's no fine dining destination, but vegans from afar are likely appreciate what it offers; a small oasis of inventive vegan cuisine without any New Age drawbacks.
Reservations: No Reservations
Suggested Items: W12,000 Buffet
Other Amenities: The front counter is also a small shop, selling a range of vegan produce.
Within walking distance of Seolleung subway station on line 2
Take subway line 2 (green) to Seolleung station and go out of exit 2. Walk straight out and up the small ‘hill’ and take the first conspicuous left (there are lots of restaurants on this street). It’s on the second floor opposite Holly’s coffee.
The restaurant is within 200m of the subway station, so don’t walk too far.