Gwanhun-dong, Seoul, South Korea
Sanchon Seoul Reviews
Wonderful Buddhist temple cuisine and traditional Korean entertainment. Apr 12, 2008
I found a listing for Sanchon in our Seoul pocket guide, and some online research turned up several positive reviews, so Steve and I thought we'd give it a shot. Are we glad we did! This was a very special evening.
The first challenge was to find the place. Armed with two maps (neither of which showed quite where Sanchon is actually located), we roamed various alleys off Insadongno street, asking for directions but never really getting a straight (or accurate) answer. Finally a lady selling stationery was able to show us exactly where to go (turn at the cracker shop: key information!) and we arrived late for our reservation and a little flustered.
No one was there to greet us so we stood waiting, until another couple showed up and gave a yell. Then a lady came out, and other patrons started showing up in a big mass, and they all went ahead of us because they knew where to put their shoes and what to do.
Finally we got it together, stashed our shoes on a shelf, and were led through several rooms outfitted in all wood, and very traditional looking. We were seated on a heated floor with pillows, and right away ladies started bringing us bowls of mysterious food. There is no need to fret over a menu at Sanchon because everyone gets the same thing.
Sanchon is owned by a former Buddhist monk, and the style of food is "temple vegetarian," patterned after the traditional monk's meals. Everything is vegetarian and prepared with very fresh ingredients.
All said and done, I counted 33 bowls on the table! There was a traditional rice porridge, delicious tempura-fried vegetables including a deep fried stuffed pepper (yum!), little fried vegetable pancakes, greens with a peanuty sauce, potatoes glazed in soy sauce, a mushroom and tofu soup (my favorite), steamed tofu... and the list goes on. To accompany our meal we had kwail ju, or home brewed fruit wine. It's not very stong, and perhaps that is why I liked it so much! The food was fresh, delicious, and very interesting. We couldn't finish it all, and when we left we were fully satisfied. Stuffed, actually.
Mid-way through the meal, we were treated to dancing and drumming in traditional Korean style, which really made the evening extra special. (I have posted some videos on my blog, but the quality is poor). I recommend you try to get a seat nearer the "stage," which is really just an open area on the floor.
The price for the meal was 35,200 Korean won per person, plus 15,000 won for the jug of wine. For the food, entertainment, and the experience, this was well worth the price. Highly recommended!
Part of the 'Round the world with wheelie bags. travel blog
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