By: Randall Roijas
PLANT, co-run by Alien’s Day Out blogger, Mipa Lee, has quickly become one of the the most popular vegan spots in all of Seoul, since it’s opening in 2013. No list of vegan eateries in Seoul is complete without it. Known for its bakeshop, it’s also a great a place to get a warm, home-cooked vegan meal.
How to get there:
PLANT’s Facebook page kindly provides simplified walking directions from Itaewon Station, so it’s actually pretty easy to find. Start from Exit 4 and walk straight, keeping an eye out for Sneak Soul on your left, then immediately turn left and descend the stairs. Advance through the small alleyway and when you emerge onto another roadway, walk straight across and into the alley right beside Greek on the Grill. Continue past Mama Miya and you’ll see a helpful sign. PLANT is on your right.
Service and atmosphere:
It’s a very small, cramped place, but cozy and welcoming at the same time. And maybe a good place to strike up a conversation with a stranger sitting nearby. There’s a shelf with some vegan-related books, self-serve water, and an iPod providing background ambience with a nice mix of indie tunes.
Food and Drink: Today I ordered the Aztec Hot Chocolate, the Jambalaya Rice Bowl, the Tempeh Meatball Pasta, Vegan Oreo Walnut Brownie, Vegan+Gluten Free Choco Chip Nut Muffin, Coconut Chews, and Lemon Poundcake. I’m full..
Aztec Hot Chocolate (6,000 KRW): Coming in from -9 C, this was the only logical drink choice for me. Thick and frothy with a strong cinnamon bite (similar to how the Aztecs prepared the drink), it was a comforting way to start the meal. Average price for a cup of good hot chocolate.
Jambalaya Rice Bowl (12,000 KRW): Served piping hot, with chunks of mushrooms, celery, bell peppers, and some kidney beans, the rice was good but ultimately lacking in wow factor. I did, however, savor the few pieces of the handmade vegan chorizo, which was easily the best part of the dish. It didn’t taste over-processed and salty like Tofurky, nor was the texture crumbly like Field Roast. It had its own flavor and texture, no doubt. I just wish there were more in the jambalaya.
Tempeh Meatball Pasta (12,000 KRW): Again, I enjoyed the handmade meat analogue, in this case, tempeh meatballs. The texture was perfect. With fusilli (an under-utilized pasta, I would say), thick marinara sauce, and a side of garlic bread, I preferred this dish over the jambalaya. It’s a simple, hard to screw-up meal, that really hit the spot. More meatballs, please.
Vegan Oreo Walnut Brownie (3,500 KRW): At first, it looks as if they just smashed a Chocolate Oreo on top of a brownie, as the cookie is mostly on the outside, with small chunks of walnut on the inside. It’s an interesting concept, but I’m not sure it works out that well. It has a decent chocolate flavor throughout, but for a brownie to be a winner, it must be moist and somewhat stable. This one was exceptionally dry and, within a few bites, devolved into a mound of cookie crumbs lying inside the baking liner.
Vegan+Gluten Free Banana Choco Chip Nut Muffin (3,000 KRW): Excellent. Perfectly moist, yet firm, as a muffin should be, and had plenty of chocolate chips inside. Not so many nuts, but tasty nonetheless. It held itself together well compared to some other vegan muffins I’ve tried in the past. This was my instant favorite.
Coconut Chews (2,500 KRW): A great little snack for the price. The coconut does not overwhelm as many coconut foods do. Instead, it blends well with its companion ingredients, including the chocolate chips.
Lemon Poundcake (4,500 KRW): This poundcake had a subtle lemon flavor and was drizzled with glaze; as good as any lemon poundcake I’ve tried.
Value: The menu is reasonably priced, considering the location and the fresh ingredients. You can get a meal and dessert for around 15–16,000 KRW. Their main dishes are great, but their dessert snacks and generous cake slices alone make PLANT worth coming to. From a vegan perspective, its always good to have another option. For some, PLANT is the option.
Who SHOULD visit: Anyone and everyone. If you’re in Itaewon and looking for an alternative to your usual dessert and baked goods, as well as a new dish to try, PLANT certainly deserves a visit. Vegans and omnis alike will undoubtedly find something to enjoy here.
Who SHOULD not visit: This place is not meant to accommodate more than a dozen or so people, so larger groups should look elsewhere for a gathering.
Menu: Their all-vegan menu, which changes weekly, features two main dishes to choose from, along with coffee, tea, lemonade, and a smoothie. Off the menu, they have a selection of cakes, muffins, brownies, and other assorted goodies. They also carry a few tubs of Nuttelex, a vegan butter, which is awesome considering how difficult the stuff is to find in Korea. Be sure to check their twitter @plantcafekorea for a look at what they’re serving and their hours.