Balwoo Gongyang - 발우공양

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 12 reviews )

5th floor of Temple Stay Information Integration Center, 56, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea,

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. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-3:00pm, Mon-Sat 6:00pm-10:00pm. Last order at 2pm and 8:45pm.

Category: Vegan, Korean, Buddhist

Reviews (12)

First Review by wsh79

Excellent experience - Edit

Awesome menu of incredible flavours. With 65,000 won you get more than 30 individual components all house made and Korean organic produce. Totally worth the investment!

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Delicious - Edit

This place makes temple food that is rich and flavorful. My partner and I had a set meal, which was a little pricey, but very interesting. I particularly liked the stews and side dishes, but really everything was great!

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Great vegan food! - Edit

I tried a dish with mushrooms and dumplings on the second floor, and it was delicious! The side dishes were seld-serve. The staff spoke some English. Definitely try the second floor restaurant first!

Pros: Great food, huge portions

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fantastic experience! - Edit

We really enjoyed our 12 course meal. Although most of the portions were bite size about three were more substantial and so we felt satisfied and full at the end of our dining experience.

The food is healthy, fresh, and lite. It's not a place to come seeking umami or culinary feats. It's about having a fine dining experience with food that would be served to monks and therefore it is mild in flavors. We were absolutely delighted by the experience however and would go any time we find ourselves in Seoul again. We are also interested in their temple experience.

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Fun tasting menu, but tiny dishes - Edit

We got a 12 course meal, which was very good. Lot's of very unique flavors, but the portions were TINY. The rice was the only thing that allowed my bf to not leave hungry. Don't go super hungry like we did and you should be find though. Very good service too.

Pros: unique dishes, tasty

Cons: a little overpriced, small portions

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2nd or 5th Floor - Can't Go Wrong! - Edit

As opposed to the previous commenters, I've visited this place twice and both times, I went to the fifth floor - where the expensive stuff is. The first time, I went for their 10-course meal as a part of the Vegan Food Tour I was a part of under O'ngo Foods. The second time, I took some friends and we ordered the 15-course meal. It's a bit pricey but the food variety and quality was well worth it - it was both eye candy and a treat for your taste buds! Obviously, you wouldn't come in regularly but if you ever have the chance, treat yourself. :)

UPDATE 1/2/2015
I finally got the chance to visit the 2nd floor on my last visit to Korea... For both lunch and dinner. When asked, they reassured me that they did not use onion or garlic in any of the food (the 5th floor does unless you request them not to). This place was very informal, compared to the 5th floor. For lunch, we got the temple style buffet. You get your 4 wooden bowls and then you fill 'er up! The food isn't gourmet by any means but it is on the light side and quite delicious. They offered several sides, soup, and various kimchi. Also, they have THE best cabbage kimchi I have ever had the honor of tasting. I need the recipe!! Not salty and perfect amount of sour. There was a side dish of rather tough greens... But it definitely had a ton of fiber. Though not quite delicious, it was certainly healthy and I got seconds. ^^

For dinner, we returned and decided to order. The buffet was still offered, but there is a menu with various items, but we ordered the kimchi stew and the veggie Katsu combo. Both were delicious but my favorite was the kimchi stew. Oh goodness, my mouth still waters just thinking about it!

All in all, the 2nd floor was great. The food was delicious and reasonably priced. It's largely self-serve and help (you put up the dishes yourself after you finish). If I lived in Seoul, I'd definitely make regular visits!

Updated from previous review on Wednesday October 31, 2012

Pros: delicious and beautiful food, great atmosphere, 2nd floor is reasonably priced

Cons: 5th floor is expensive

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Good Buffet in noisy place - Edit

We went on lunch time to the 2nd floor buffet as the 5th floor restaurant needed a reservation. The taste was good and the amount big. But the room was very noisy and the staff not so friendly. Also, a few hours later we both had some stomach issue...

Pros: good buffet

Cons: can be noisy

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Great atmosphere and food on the 2nd floor. - Edit

We had lunch on the 2nd floor, which is the more casual restaurant of TempleStay. The decoration is modern and the architecture captures perfectly the light. There is a special flair about this restaurant. The waitress was very polite.

The food was delicious and had absolutely reasonable prices. A meal usually consists of different components and this makes it very interesting. The mock meat tastes indeed quite real, but as someone who has not been a vegetarian for a long time I can tell it was Tofu.
So don't worry (like the review below), I'm sure they don't use any meat, the whole group of buddhists that runs TempeStay seems to be very trustworthy people. Why would they put meat in your food and tell it's veggie...they are vegetarians themselves.

On the ground floor you can take part in buddhism ceremonies, don't forget to stop on the was outside (during daytime). We felt very welcome in this building and will always come back

Pros: Great architecture, Building/institution is worth a visit, Delicious food for good prices

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Reviewer Avatar

This is not Vegan Restaurant. - Edit

I knew here is good place and hope to go there.
But today I heard about this restaurant from Korean vegetarian Community.
They use red pepper paste sauce and curry which are not vegan.
Even the Curry they use has real meat based!!!
And red pepper paste sauce called "고추장" in Korea is almost not vegan. Meat based in it.
So If u r Vegan, plz be careful.. even that menu is normal Bibimbap...
I'm very disappointed....

1 Response

Kvegana 27 Jul 2016 - It is my understanding that gochujang can be vegan or non-vegan. Why do you think that they used the non-vegan version? Why do you think they used non-vegan curry as well, because vegan curries are available here too?  

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Good restaurant - Edit

Buffet is not 6000 won as it is said in the description but 7000 wons. But anyway, the food was good, especially mushrooms and muk.

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Baru- Jongno gu- 2nd Floor - Edit

The food is simple-but healthy & excellent.There will be 4 or 5 items to choose from & this can cater to any taste. I am from India, but I have seen Europians too there. Basically it is rice, 3 salads,one curry,one fried item and a soup.The atmosphere is modern & great.The temple food motto is- The food is taken as a medicine to clear/purify the body & mind of any ailments.

Pros: simple & natural, good value, friendly staff

Cons: none

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simple buffet - Edit

This is the only restuarant i went in Seoul which offers vegetarian meal without onion/garlic since its run by a temple across the street.
Buffet cost 7000won. There are a few dishes (around 5) and a soup. meals are quite healthy. You may take several times if you wish to, but you have to finish your food. This is usually the culture of koreans if they are having temple food.
You have to make payment before you start taking the food. Located on the 2nd floor. 5th floor same building has another restuarant but is a very expensive one, hence i didn't try that.

Pros: healthy cuisine, cheap, friendly

Cons: not much dishes to choose from

1 Response

kumasuresh 01 Feb 2012 - Thank You for the helpful review.  

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