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Han Gwa Chae

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 30 reviews )
Contact 02-720-2802

30-9 Guan Hoon Dong, Jong Ro gu, Insadong, Seoul, South Korea,

Vegan buffet style. Han Gwa Chae is an abbreviation for "rice with herbal medicine, fruit and vegetables". Food is prepared in a traditional, Korean (temple food) spirit, with ingredients from small farms. The basic menu is composed of porridge, a soy-base soup, variety of cooked season greens, acorn jelly, tofu, and different sides. Organic fruit and seasonable tea served. Directions: Take Seoul subway line 1 to Jonggak Station, take exit 3, walk straight toward Geumgang Jehwa, turn left at intersection of Geumgang Jehwa, turn right at Sudo Pharmacy located centrally on Insadong St, walk 100m and on the left is Han Gwa Chae. Also nearby is Anguk Station on the Seoul subway line 3. Open Mon-Sat 11:30am-3:00pm, Mon-Sat 5:00pm-8:30pm.

Category: Vegan, Buffet, Korean

Reviews (30)

First Review by tohho

Simple and delicious food at an affordable price! - Edit

Finding Han Gwa Chae was very easy thanks to the billboard that was put outside. By the time we found a place to sit in there, the couple (who are the owners of the restaurant) immediately served us tea, a rice porridge, a spicy stew and some scrumptious savory pancake. The pancake had some sort of green thing that may be from the scrub, but we just let it pass since it's so good!

The place feels much like a cafeteria, and as much as we were delighted with the wide array of options to choose from, we were unsettled with the fact that there were no music playing in the background. To add, we were the only ones who ate in that restaurant throughout the whole hour, so the atmosphere really felt awkward. The couple knows basic English and were friendly enough. They introduced to us various vegetables that were unknown to us - such as the apple mint and the peanut sprouts.

Their food variety is very simple and reminds me a lot of simple home cooking. It did not take long for us to get full due to the abundance of vegetables offered!

I am disheartened about the fact that we were the only ones who ate during dinner, and I hope it doesn't close down because there's too few vegan and vegetarian restaurants already! Furthermore, from the previous comments/researches, this restaurant also supports small local organic farms by buying their produce and make simple dishes out of them.

With all of these in mind, despite the unsettling atmosphere and the weird scrub in the pancake, I would go back to South Korea one day just to eat their simple, homely food!

Pros: Wide variety of foods, Reasonably priced, Supports small, local organic farms

Cons: No background music, Cafeteria atmosphere, Weird scrub found in the pancake

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Last visit 27 Aug 16 - Edit

Walked in and the place was empty. We wanted to sit at a certain table. One of the staff members raised her voice and said" no go sit over near the corner." Again the place was empty. While eating we found a hair in the potato dish. We nicely confronted the staff about the hair and all they could say was sorry. Business may be dropping because no one came the entire time we were there. I will not visit there again. Respect your customers are you'll lose them.

Updated from previous review on 2016-09-07

Pros: Ok food

Cons: Pricey, Rude staff, Hair in food (no hair net)

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Traditional Korean food at a very good price - Edit

For just 13000 won, you get a buffet spread of mostly traditional Korean dishes. Considering that a bowl of bibimbap would set you back by 8000won at most places, this is really great value.

We were first served with a tea, a vegetable stew and sesame/multi grain porridge, as well as a full pan cake fresh from the frying pan -- I really like the pan cake.

What I like is that I get to try various Korean dishes. Most are quite tasty, and there were a few interesting dishes -- like peanut sprouts. The kimchi was a bit of a disappointment though.

The restaurant closes quite early though. We came at 8pm on the first night and they were not open to guests any more. Came back on the 2nd night at 7:30pm. By 8pm, they were starting to clear the buffet spread.

Pros: good value, traditional food

Cons: Close early

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Vegan Buffet - Edit

13K won for the lunch buffet. Lots of locals in the place. I had to ask to find it, because they didn't have their sign in English out yet. I regret I didn't try more things, to be honest. I liked a zucchini dish and the noodles best. Some of the green stuff dishes were a bit too chewy for my taste, but I guess I was just not used to that type of veggie at the time.

Pros: Lots of buffet choices

Cons: staff didn't appear to speak English

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Very nice place - Edit

As I walked in I was seated right away with soup, water, and tea served very fast. Grab your own plate and scoop you item food style buffet. This place felt nice and relaxing and had some decent options. Fresh cut fruit, tofu, rice, soup, sprouts, all in multiple varieties. Tasty place and well priced at 13,000 won. around 11USD.

Pros: 100% Vegan, Cheap, Best staff

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Delicious, quick, great ambience - Edit

I went here with a friend last weekend had stuffed myself – three very solid passes at the buffet. When you sit down, they serve you a pair of little soups; one green-veg and one sort of sesame porridge. Both are very nice. Then it's time to fill your plate. They have both 'five grain rice' and brown rice with chickpeas. Sooooo many dishes to try. I thought going in it was a Chinese style place but I think now it's Korean vegetarian/temple food. I loved the little pancake slices, the tofu with spicy vinegar(?), and several veg dishes I can't name. The lady also presented us with some lotus root. There is some fruit for dessert. It's 13,000w each, so more expensive than a couple of nearby options. I loved it, though. If you're hungry, definitely come here. In fact, just come here. As a vegetarian or vegan or veg-curious you can't lose. It's delicious and healthy. They also sell some veggie supplies, like flax seeds, beans, etc.

Pros: Delicious, Choice, Lot of food

Cons: A bit pricey

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Delicious - Edit

The dishes are all delicious and there are a lot of them. The staff are very friendly and happy to chat about the food (in Korean).
My favourite were the peanut sprouts, which the owner assured me were an expensive delicacy. I also really like the marinated Chinese pepper (Sancho) but they don't have it every time.

Pros: Good price, Good food

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very tasty food and a lot of options - Edit

The price was 13 000 won per person for the buffet. There was a very large variety of food to choose from and overall it was delicious!!! Yummy! The only con would be that it is in a basement. I think I saw no windows and even if it is clean, we can't say it is a charming setting. But the food? Wow! And my korean boyfriend told me it tastes like real korean food cooked by his mother and he loved it. :-)

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Good food, questionable hygiene practices - Edit

We really enjoyed the meal and we were the first to arrive for dinner service. However, when we went to get seconds, they asked us to use the same plates which did not seem sufficiently sanitary. Otherwise, the place was clean, but if it was crowded, we probably would have stopped eating at that point.

Pros: Flavorful food, Lots of veggies, Freshly prepared

Cons: Reusing plate for seconds

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Fantastic place to eat, feel just like home. - Edit

My friends & I like everything they served. We were looking for a restaurant that doesn't serve any meat at all it was quite difficult to find a halal restaurant near our hostel in Insadong. The halal choices in Itaewon are pretty over the budget for us.

Glad that we found this restaurant from this site. I would gladly recommend this restaurant to my friends who will be going to Seoul. Warmth welcome from both the owners was sufficient enough to make us feel like having meal at home. And Eomoni (lady boss) gave us a bag full with guguma (swet potatoes) when we're about to leave. Too sweet of her!

Will definitely go back here when I come down to Seoul again.

Pros: Reasonable price, Easy to locate

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A Must-Go!! Fantastic!! - Edit

Besides its super delicious and fresh food from local farms, Han Gwa Chae's a lo-fi and warm place that makes me feel like home. My vegan partner (who has been a vegan for 10 yrs)and I call it the "mama place" because it has a warm chef mama and a cute goofy daddy as staffs. The next day, we couldn't find our way to a nearby famous (but overrated, won't go there again) restaurant called Sanchon. Out of stupid desperation I went to Han Gwa Chae for help. They were sooooo kind that they called Sanchon for me for directions and asked their own customers who just finished their meal to lead me there! OMZ...

Our favorite dish was called Tarae SSuk. The mama chef told us that it's a very special Korean vegetable. It looked like spinach but deserved a category of its own because it didn't taste like vegetables! The overall experience was mouth-and-soul-orgasmic.
Updated from previous review on Sunday August 11, 2013
Updated from previous review on Sunday August 11, 2013

Pros: impressive food, good value, friendly staff

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Vegan Buffet for a Very Reasonable Price - Edit

I was there a couple of weeks ago on a weekday during lunch time.

There was a good variety of food: salads, soups, fruits, main dishes, etc.

The staff was friendly but they only appear to know basic phrases in English.

The buffet is 13000 Won (lunch or dinner), which is a very good deal, I think.
Food do not have labels, but most of the times you can guess what's in there just by looking at it.

The place is a little bit hard to find, given that it's in the basement. So I think you can get pretty close if you go towards the "Kyung-In Museum of Fine Art".
Then, you will see the building right on Insadong 10-gil street.

Pros: good variety of food, very reasonable price, friendly staff

Cons: food do not have labels

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Delicious food. - Edit

We came here for an early dinner and loved the food. The buffet is small enough to not get panicked and big enough to have a wide selection of fresh korean vegetables. The taste was on a really high level, they definitely know how to cook.
What we liked most was that it all tasted so natural, it's about the true ingredients in this restaurants. Especially good are the sort of pancakes made of rise with different herbs inside. The staff is very friendly and warm.

Pros: mostly organic and regional, delicious food , buffet for a reasonable price

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so good!! - Edit

if you expect a large scale buffet you will be disappointed. however, if you don't mind a cozy atmosphere, great service and fresh food for only 12000 won this is the place to go. i loved the soups, the buffet food (had seconds) and the oven roasted sweet potatoes we were given for dessert. plus the owner and wife were so warm to us - we would definitely go again!

Pros: good value, great food, friendly atmosphere

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Great buffet choice in Insadong - Edit

Buffet style restaurant in the heart of Insadong. It can be hard to find in the evening, so look for the Korean spelling of the restaurant's name or count your foot steps ;) Restaurant is below the ground floor and buffet price was 12000 Won (all you can eat). The staff spoke English to a limited extend. Good choice of food. Hangwachae is to the north of Seoul what New Start Restaurant is to the south.

Pros: Good price, Great choice of food

Cons: Can be hard to find in the evening

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Reviewer Avatar

Ouf enfin manger sain a Seoul ! - Edit

je me permets de faire une review en french pour changer, smile. Ce resto n'est pas facile à trouver dans ce quartier tres touristique, d'autant qu'il est dans un sous-sol ! le mieux est de passer avec l'adresse au centre d'info touristique, car il est en plein dans le quartier touristique. Et là, d'un coup : le calme, la tranquilité, un petit buffet simple, deux riz complet, un brouet de céréale, de nombreux crudités, champignons, kimchi (chou fermenté). Ca a l'avantage d'être bon, simple, varié et pas trop épicé ! Personne ne parle anglais, mais on fait des signes et des sourires, le prix du buffet est passé à 12000 K, on paie en sortant. C'est une oasis dans l'agitation des rues marchandes, une aubaine pour les touristes de passage.

Pros: unexpensive, variety of crudities, organic

Cons: only one hot vegetable

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Good food - Edit

Great family atmosphere in this place with very friendly staff who can speak English. Food was as described in above reviews, I would have preferred more hot dishes. My fav dish were shallow fried, crum covered vegetables.

Great site BTW, has helped me a lot during my travels in the far east!

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Fantastic! - Edit

This is a wondeful place to taste a variety of "real" Korean food. It's a bargain, the staff is wonderful, the atmosphere peaceful although you are at the center of Insadong.
The soups are great, as is the rice combined with spicy sauces and the variety f tastes (from bitter to spicy to... unexplainable) in the vegetable is amazing. I would not really know about Korean food had I not come here. A sincere, good place!

Pros: originality of taste, variety of vegetables, roots, excellent value

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Good value, great taste - Edit

For 10000 won, it's hard to beat this place! It's located in Insadong, which is an interesting part of town itself, and pretty easy to find.

The food was delicious - particularly the tempura type veges, the hearty soup and the rice.

Staff were friendly and helpful.

Pros: Great food, Friendly, Good value

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Hanguachae - Excellent ! - Edit

I know several vegan places back here in Canada and abroad, but this has been a wonderful experience. The food is surprising, the caring service, the tastes of prepared vegetables and pickles, all has been a wonderful experience. Their rice tastes like no other. No need to be a vegetarian to enjoy this, as my non-vegetarian friend was delighted too. The menu in English gives some information about the dishes. I truely recommend this place to everyone.

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Reviewer Avatar

Fantastic ! - Edit

I have tried many vegetarian places in Seoul, also pricy ones, but this one beats them. 8 or so freshly prepared dishes, ranging from bitter to spicy, deliciously hot kimch-tofu stew, rice cake (rated by my Korean friend as one of the most delicious she ever tried), fresh raw vegetables with soybean paste... Various soups served, in a calm, honest atmosphere. Mainly Korean people eat here, although their smile welcomed me. According to my friend, this is REAL Korean traditional food. The owner was eager to let me try some "secret" specialities (pickled zuccini, fermented seaweed...). I only can recommend this haven, though the outside may not be inviting. ;)

Pros: tastes unlike anything, healthy and fresh, try all you want

Cons: unappealing entrance

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Paradise for real vegetarians - Edit

This buffet may seem less fancy than many other vegetarian places in Seoul, but it offers a large variety of vegetable dishes based on 100% fresh, high quality products from local farmers. The recepies are not adapted to western tastes, so this is about the most Korean 100% vegetarian (with many vegan options) you can find. My favourite (in the winter): fried pumpkin tempura.Two different soups offered, raw salads, seriously fresh organic apples, pickles... Better than any vegan restaurant I found when living in Europe.
And you can find here vegan products to buy, like seaweed, pickles, lotus tea, and delicious jam (figue, pumkin).
A real bargain for 10.000 Won : food for the soul and body.

Pros: Fresh, Authentic, Surprisingly different

1 Response

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Pipipi 01 Dec 2008 - As a matter of fact, all the dishes are 100 % vegan.

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Large Buffet--Albeit with No Mock Meats - Edit

I liked this place--a surprisingly large number of dishes given that they didn't use mock meats (though a few mock meats would've added even more to the variety). There were several dishes that I couldn't identify--including one very thick starchy wheat-like dish. Otherwise, they had a tofu dish (fairly plain) that contrasted with some spicy vegetable (and kimchi) dishes, quite a few salad items and a yam dish. They had several soups. They brought out a pancake with each meal. Note that this restaurant is actually on Seokjeong-Gil (on the north side approximately 2/3rds of the way down the block as you head east away from Insadong-Gil, in the basement). The price is 10000 won per person.

Pros: good food, decent variety, yams and pancakes were especially good

Cons: could use a few mock meats

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