Vegan-friendly
Honey
Korean, Buddhist

Buddhist temple cuisine in a clean and modern space, at 서울시종로구견지동715F. Managed by a Buddhist nun from the Choe Gae Sa Temple across the street. Reservations suggested. Set menu, though some dishes can also be ordered for an additional price. Has been awarded one Michelin Star. At the junction of Insadong-gil 5 and Ujeongguk-ro. Reported to use honey in some drinks May 2019.
조계종 불교문화사업단에 의해 운영되고 있는 깨끗하고 현대적인 공간의 사찰음식점입니다. 조계사 맞은편 템플스테이 통합정보센터 5층에 위치해 있습니다. 미쉐린 가이드 1스타에 선정 된 맛집으로 미리 예약하시기를 권장합니다. 식사는 한식 코스요리로 제공되며, 일부 메뉴는 추가 가격을 내고 주문할 수 있습니다. 가격은 1인분 3만 원 이상입니다. 영업시간은 점심 11:30~15:00, 저녁 18:00~22:00이며, 매주 일요일은 휴무입니다. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-3:00pm, 6:00pm-10:00pm. Last order at 2:00pm and 8:45pm.


Venue map for Balwoo Gongyang - 발우공양
© OpenStreetMap contributors

37 Reviews

First Review by wsh79

Sammyantha

Points +22

Vegetarian
29 Nov 2023

More about the experience

We unsuccessfully attempted to walk in on a Saturday night but were able to make a reservation for a few days later. We enjoyed the experience and trying something new. Overall however, this was not our favourite food in Korea. Very earthy and at 65,000 won pp by far the most expensive meal on our trip.

Pros: Fermented Korean plum cold tea , Interesting experience , Mung bean dumpling and pancake

Cons: Expensive

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joesavage

Points +155

Vegan
02 Jun 2023

Just okay

Splashed out on the Hee menu and… it was okay? A great opportunity to try lots of interesting new things, but for the price didn’t quite do it for me. A bit bland and boring, though certainly with some nice elements and lovely staff.

Updated from previous review on 2023-06-02

yumchadong

Points +4905

Vegan
24 Mar 2023

Bland and boring

I tried the Maeum menu and was disappointed by the lack of creativity and flavor. Most of the dishes were based on rice or noodles, with hardly any vegetables to add some freshness and crunch. The food tasted bland and boring, except for the dumpling and the mushrooms from the main course, which were decent.

I usually enjoy Korean temple food, but this was not satisfying at all. I would recommend Han Gwa Chae instead, if you want to experience delicious temple food. It is a buffet, but everything is fresh and tasty there, with a lot of variety.

The atmosphere was also strange. We were seated in a private room which felt quite isolated and clinical. We did manage to get a table just walking in.

In summary, this was not a terrible meal, but it was far from being a good tasting menu.

PiaKay

Points +832

Vegan
05 Jan 2023

Fun and delicious experience!

I give this place a 9.5/10 ! The food wasn’t always to my liking but it was very interesting.. the whole experience was just 10/10. Everyone was very kind and welcoming and spoke English! You get seated in a both and have your privacy while you enjoy
your menu. Some dishes were very very good!
It‘s a bit pricey but worthy it! #Veganuary

Pros: Nice atmosphere , Interesting dishes , Kind staff

Cons: Expensive

xinru_t

Points +7097

Vegan
26 Oct 2022

Michelin Star Temple Food

5 to 10 min walk from Anguk Subway Station Exit 6 / entrance of Insadong Shopping Street, opposite Jogyesa Temple. The first temple food restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star! Reservations are required. You are given a private room with closed doors. However there isn't a bell to call the staff, so there is quite a lot of guess-timation involved between you and the staff about when the previous item should be cleared and the next item should be served. To be honest, I didn't find most of the dishes particularly outstanding compared to the other Korean temple food I have eaten so far. However it was an interesting experience, and perhaps it depends on whether you are in the right calm and meditative state of mind. The Joy of Meditation Seon 6 Course lunch set is the most affordable (Allium-free. 30,000 won); there are other sets with more courses and higher prices. The autumn menu I had featured the following:

Suljuksim (Lip-Moisturizer)
- Gaeul-gwa-il & gwa-il cheong (Seasonal fruits with fruit extract)

Juksang (Porridge)
- Hyeonmi-danhobakjuk & Deodeok mul-kimchi (Sweet pumpkin and brown rice porridge & root vegetable watery kimchi)

Sangmi (Entree One)
- Doenjang sauce-ma-gui (Pan-fried Korean yam with fermented bean paste sauce)
- Muchae-dubu-jjim (Steamed tofu topped with julienne raddish)
- Yeon-geun-beoseot-hokeum (Stir-fried lotus root and mushrooms)

Dammi (Entree Two)
- Modeum-beoseot-gangjeong (Deep-fried assorted mushrooms coated with chilli pepper paste)

Youmi (Medicinal Meal)
- Goguma-hab (Sweet potato rice)
- Gae-feol-kuk (Soybean paste soup with seasonal ingredients)
- Namul (Two kinds of vegetable side dishes)
- Sachal-kimchi (Two kinds of temple-style kimchi)
- Sachal-jangajji (Temple-style pickled vegetable)

Ibgasim (Dessert)
- Yeonip-cha (Lotus leaf tea)
- Dasik (Traditional Korean pressed cookie)

Updated from previous review on 2022-10-25

陈俐蓉

28 Nov 2022

Can’t really read the menu, need to reserve ? I went many times and was rejected entry lol

xinru_t

28 Nov 2022

Hi! Yeah unfortunately HappyCow decreases the photo quality, hence I wrote the menu for the Autumn 6 Course lunch set in prose in my review. But anyway the menu is seasonal and there are different sets available, so it's better for you to check the menu on the English website directly. http://eng.balwoo.or.kr/index.php Reservations are required as mentioned in my review!

xinru_t

28 Nov 2022

You're welcome! If your hotel staff is friendly, maybe you can try asking them to help you make a reservation (preferably at least a week in advance as they seem to be quite popular)

Mrs_Z

Points +228

Vegan
18 Oct 2022

Fine Dining Temple Style Food

Definitely a great opportunity to sample temple style food in a calm setting (private rooms). We actually were able to walk in without reservation for lunch. We opted for the ‘simple’ menu (there were three other option with more dishes/courses). Each dish was interesting and flavoursome, while being light and nourishing. For Korean standards this restaurant is considered expensive, however for the quality and experience worth every penny!

Pros: Unique experience , Nourishing food

J..

Points +88

Vegetarian
17 Oct 2022

Worth a visit

Definitely above average but also priciest meal I had in Seoul. Lots of interesting flavours and dishes, worth a visit! Lunch sets start at 30,000 won and dinner at 45,000. A reservation is needed so do call or drop by to book a slot.

Sunkyung

Points +1359

Vegan
12 Sep 2022

Amazing experience with good food

It is a fancy place at least for me on a student budget, but it was worth it to try this place. They have many rooms so that diners can eat and chat in private. Servers offers explanations for the dishes and ingredients, and they all were friendly. It was overall wholesome experience and we were pretty full after finishing the meal.
Making a reservation for dinner is challenging, but for lunch, it seems to be relatively easy.

Trambau

Points +2458

Vegetarian
13 Mar 2022

michelin stars

Course meal, required advanced booking. Great experience with Korean temple food. private rooms

Updated from previous review on 2022-03-13

ThatSurlyVegan

Points +355

Vegan
13 Jan 2022

So much flavor

For those who have not dined at a temple food spot, this one is not be missed. While I lost track of what the 30 dishes were on the Prix fixe, I would love to return and sample them again.

Pros: Helpful staff, Nice atmosphere, Food made with care

KadiHarmon

Points +6152

Vegan
30 Dec 2021

Exquisite experience!

Loved it. I came for lunch and ordered the set that was one step above the basic lunch and wow was it good! You get your own little room to dine and they bring in the food course by course. Everything tasted amazing and I hope to go back soon!

yebun

Points +84

Vegan
24 Nov 2021

Very decadent experience, wide range of dishes and tastes

Went for lunch and we had the Won option. The tables are in spacious, private booths, really adds on to the experience. The food was extremely well prepared and tasty in my (vegan) opinion, I happened to be with meat eaters who appeared a bit underwhelmed. Still, everyone agreed that the overall experience was great and the food was well worth it. I'm not a huge eater and left with my stomach comfortably full but I can imagine the portions might be a bit too light for some. I'd go back any time I had the chance.

Pros: Very nice atmosphere, Good service

Cons: Expensive, rather small portions

SteveH

Points +17512

Vegan
28 Sep 2021

Temple food for Michelin stars

I am a big fan of Korean temple food but usually stick to the more traditional budget buffet style. There are a number of higher end places in Seoul so I decided to start comparing those.

They recommend reservations but I just walked in for lunch. Each table has a private room. The lunch set menu was KRW 30,000, which was the smallest set they had. Honestly, it was enough food. Not sure what I would do with larger set.

The standard is clearly higher than the buffet places nearby. That being said, you are also likely to get some things you dont like in a set versus a buffet where you choose. The service was excellent here! Each dish is explained by the server.

I fully enjoyed my meal here and recommend it to anyone wanting to try temple food.

JohnnyRawr

Points +299

Vegan
14 Sep 2021

Not-to-Miss Korean Temple Cuisine

Located in the Templestay Education Center, directly across the street from the Temple, this Michelin Star restaurant features a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Albeit expensive, the pre-fixed, multicourse meal set menu is well worth it, and features an array of special Korean ingredients based on seasonal availability, and served in specific order according to "purpose" found in Buddhist thought. Although in accordnance with Buddhist dietary principles, none of the strong herbs are used (i.e., garlic, onion, etc), in no way whatsoever is flavor sacrificed.

Ever person (party) gets their own private room for dining. Reservations are necessary. Be prepared for a special experience not easily found anywhere else. Highly recommend!

Pros: Thoughtful menu, Tasty, Unique dining experience

deborahgonzalez7

Points +43

Mostly Veg
21 Jul 2021

Memorable

The Korean temple food was flavourful and stirs the senses. Everything that was served was delicious, beautifully presented and the portions were perfect. It was a one of a life time experience. I ordered the set meal for 35,000 won and ordered the 45,000 won. One had to make a reservation, you cannot do walk in.

Updated from previous review on 2019-03-21

Pros: Everything is tasty

Cons: Must make reservation

funniecrys

Points +60

Vegetarian
21 Dec 2019

A unique taste of exquisite Korean vegetarian cuisine

First time trying the temple cuisine. I was there with my 8-year old daughter. Initially thought there we could share one course, but the restaurant insists that everyone had to order a set, so I ordered a basic one for her and a more extravagant one for me so that we could share. Even though the portions were small, we were so full, because there was really a lot of food, from appetizers to main course. Overall, I still enjoyed the dining experience, as we sat in a private room with our own space, to enjoy the tasty cuisine.

Pros: Very filling at the end of the meal, Lots of different tastes of the vegetables

Cons: Definitely have to make reservations, Expensive

bongbong733

Points +14272

Vegan
20 Dec 2019

Fancy but hungry

The food at this restaurant was excellent. Even something as plain as a tomato salad with sesame seeds was surprisingly flavorful, owing to them using good ingredients to begin with. Other dishes were innovative and aesthetically pleasing.

However, after visiting the restaurant on four occasions and ordering the cheapest option on the menu (lunch for 30.000 KRW, dinner for 45.000 KRW), each time we left still feeling somewhat hungry after a multi-course meal...

The interior is neat and simple and guests are seated inside individual rooms to enjoy food in a quiet, private atmosphere.

After all, this location is certainly suitable for eating out on a special occasion. Perhaps one of the more expensive course menus will be more filling...

Updated from previous review on 2019-04-23

Pros: excellent food, quiet, private atmosphere

Cons: small portions, price

cultparty

Points +270

Vegetarian
17 Oct 2019

Incredibly fancy-feeling meal

The experience itself was more curious and interesting than the food, but the food was still pretty damn good.
You are seated in a room alone with a closed door, and staff gradually bring and take away your meals.
I thought the flavours were great, very traditional korean staples. I loved most of what we were given, but at the same time, it didn't quite feel like it was Michelin star quality. I had some similar foods at much cheaper places.
Regardless, I think it is a unique and nice experience! I probably wouldn't go above the bottom tier price, as you get much of the same in the higher ones with only small changes.

Pros: Flavoursome meals, Nice friendly staff

Cons: Quite pricey, Food isn't THAT unique to Balwoo

itslizmiu

Points +346

Vegan
03 Oct 2019

Good experience on the whole!

I don't know why I didn't dig it as much as I should have! I wanted to love it, I really did!
On the whole it was great. The staff were lovely, food was stunning and it was fun to have your own set of food with lots of little bowls. We did the 65000W and we got hungry a few hours later when we got home. I'd probably recommend the 45000W because the only difference is about 2 dishes.

I'm a little wary of temple-food experiences since the dry and mechanical Sanchon experience, so I did come with my standards lowered. Honestly it did still feel a little mechanical too, and I think I expected more from a restaurant with a Michelin star - perhaps that warped my expectations.

While I wouldn't come again, I still think you need to visit while you're here!!! It's the famous Balwoo Gongyang!

Pros: Great food, Lovely service

Cons: Left a little hungry

songsong

Points +33

Vegetarian
01 Jun 2019

Filled to the brim.

Cozy restaurant thats very generous in the servings. Tried their soy protein cutlet, seaseme noodles, and bibimbap. Totally in love with the cutlet and noodles!! Super tasty!!! Came into the restaurant feeling famished and leaving it extremely satisfied. 32000 won, worth it in my opinion (Y)

Pros: Generous serving, Nice dining environment

Cons: All of its spicy food contains garlic/onions

JonJon

Points +20133

Vegan
30 May 2019

Gourmet Korean food in the Michelin guide

This vegetarian restaurant is very pleasant, has one star in the Michelin guide and offers typical but gourmet Korean food. Food is vegan but many drinks contain honey. I took the menu at 65,000 won and didn't regret it. It comes with many dishes in small portions, starters, main dishes, medicinal dishes and desserts. The food is very finely prepared and flavorful. I discovered plenty of new tastes. The service is very good and consistent with the standing of the place. It worth the visit!

Pros: gourmet vegan food, original flavors, many dishes per menu, good service

Cons: honey in drinks, quite expensive

JennaHancock

Points +260

Vegan
24 Apr 2019

Peaceful and close to nature

this cuisine takes you on a journey through nature by keeping the essence of what plant based foods taste like cooked and served in this traditional temple cuisine experience.

Pros: wise variety

Cons: splurge if you can afford a $30~$90 dollar meal

HelenHaeryounGi

Points +1942

Vegan
03 Dec 2018

Temple vegan course

Korean temple vegan course. It has private rooms so that it is good for small business meeting and family gathering too. Kimchi was too spicy.

Aventurera

Points +205

Vegetarian
16 Aug 2018

The Best Restaurant Experience

This was the best restaurant experience I have ever had. The private room with sliding doors creates a calm environment for eating. The menu offers several set menus at different price points. My friend and I ordered one of the simplest options and one with more dishes so that we could try more dishes. The pickled melon was delicate and flavorful. Restaurant staff were friendly and knowledgeable, and explained each item to us. Reservations are required for the fifth floor location, and can be hard to get. There is also a buffet restaurant on the second floor.

Pros: Amazing food, artfully crafted and presented, Friendly, knowledgeable staff, Relaxing environment

Cons: Expensive for veg food - and worth it

jtoskey

Points +192

Vegan
09 Jul 2018

Wonderful meal

Lunch was so good that we are going back for dinner. Hosts genuinely happy to see us even though we hadnt made a reservation and were gracious about accommodating allergies. Buffet restaurant on 2nd floor is no longer open 😔 but don't let that stop you from eating here. Worth every penny.

~Florence~

Points +2321

Vegan
03 Jun 2018

Nice food, meh service

The food was delicious and nothing I’d ever tasted before(very unique tastes and beverages). Downside was the service, there is a time span you have to eat in. After eating the 2nd course things became really rushed with staff continuously checking If we had already finished the food. We weren’t even done with a course or the next was was already put on the table. We didn’t have enough time to finish one and we weren’t allowed to bring it with us. I paid for it...

Pros: Very unique tastes

Cons: Everything’s rushed

BCsin

Points +50

Vegan
31 Dec 2017

Temple food for health

Clean private dining room and the food is served by very friendly English staff. However you’ll feel rushed as the staff tend to serve quite quickly. Overall we still enjoyed ourselves very much.




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