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SanChon Korean Temple Cooking

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 24 reviews )
Contact 02-735-0315

Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 30-13 Road (Gwanhun) Gwanhun 14, Seoul, South Korea,

Features panchan (side dishes), soups, vegetable dishes, and traditional music & dance. Started by a former monk. Directions: right in the heart of the Insadong area. It is about mid way between the two ends of Insadong Street. In Aug 2010, Sanchon had a type of "health food store" right on Insadong - and the sign said temple food. Road does not appear on Google map. Restaurant is located at a small street in between Insadong 8-Gil and Insadong 6-Gil adjacent to Insadong-gil. Open Mon-Sun 12:00am-3:00pm, Mon-Sat 5:00pm-10:00pm, Mon-Sun 11:30pm-12:00am.

Category: Vegan, Korean

Reviews (24)

First Review by veganqwert

Emotions - Edit

The restaurant is well hidden from the crowd, a place full of plants, old teapots and glass jars.
The food is presented with care, making the guest feeling pampered and important, the tastes are unique and so are the perfumes.
Eating without shoes, sitting on a pillow on the floor or on a chair feeling the carpet under your feet gives a sense of "home" that is priceless.

Updated from previous review on 2016-10-10

Pros: Calm, relaxing, excellent food

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amazing - Edit

Going to Sanchon was an amazing exeperience! the food is great and the ambiance is amazing. it's a must-go, specially for tourists to get a taste of Korean food and culture. Every night they have a cultural presentation, it's worth seeing it. make a reservation before going :)

Pros: amazing ambiance, temple cuisine

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It's a kind of Buddhist magic - Edit

This is a magical vegan restaurant that works as a ritual or an art piece: you don't choose your dishes, but go through the courses from beginning to end, served in a certain order dictated from above, receiving more and more dazzling gifts, in a continuous feeling of gratitude.
To say it was delicious would be an understatement. The lunch's full course (33,000 Won, including tea and rice wine) is so plentiful and each dish is different, intriguing, fulfilling.
I read on the menu sheet that every Thursday during dinner (which is more expensive) they also have a presentation of a tea ceremony at 8pm.
Can't wait to return!

p.s.1 - don't forget to take off your shoes and place them on one of the cabinets at the entrance
p.s.2 - even the toilet of Sanchon is a special place.... make sure you check it out :)

Updated from previous review on 2016-09-21

Pros: endless flavors, endless beauty, temple-like design and atmosphere, superb location

Cons: the staff is not so talkative, but..that's ok :)

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Great ! - Edit

This place is a traditional Buddhist temple restaurant , the owner is a former buddhist monk who decided to share us with this wonderful cuisine . I had a perfect experience , the plenty of flavors I've never tasted , the calm and peaceful atmosphere and the gentle waiters just did it .
I highly recommend visiting this restaurant!

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Quite an experience! - Edit

We went there for dinner. Course with 16 dishes was plenty for four people and food was superb - I loved everything! It's awesome to get delicious food without garlic and onion as I cannot tolerate those.
The show was breathtaking and confusing, in the end everyone in the audience participated in it. If you're looking for a Korean experience more than just food, go here! But be prepared - the full course (the only thing they offer for dinner) is 45 thousand and dinner 35.

Pros: food, ambience

Cons: expensive

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My lunch at Sanchon was an amazing culinary experience. A set full course, consisting of nineteen different varieties of delicious food, is served beautifully in an intimate and relaxing space. The geotjeori and the stew were particularly tasty.
While there is no entertainment provided at lunch time the price is significantly lower.
The menu provides English translation and a copy of their New York Times’ review. Some staff members speak English.

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Yikes, overpriced...it was Okay - Edit

We went for the night performance which was entertaining. The location and decorations in the restaurant were quite breathtaking as well.

WITH THAT SAID, you don't get nearly enough food for the amount of money that you pay and the food was just Okay.

It was a good one-time experience but I won't be going back.

Pros: vegan, entertainment

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One of the Great Vegetarian Restaurant Experiences - Edit

What a fabulous experience! The restaurant itself is beautiful and endlessly fascinating -- dozens of nooks and crannies to explore and enjoy, all with an indoor/outdoor feel and temple/antique collector gone wild look. The food is super abundant. I think the negative reviews were due to the fact that this is not comfort food -- far from it, but truly healthy, earthy, authentic Korean food, not adapted to Western palates. The help seems austere, but in fact, if you are friendly, the staff is also friendly, and if you are needful of anything, the staff will in fact accommodate. The evening show is also not to Western taste, but is authentic and wonderful. Note that this restaurant is very hard to find. The pine needle liquor is awesome.

Pros: Unique, Beautiful, Authentic

Cons: Expensive, Hard to find, Staff is austere

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Beautiful - Edit

We loved this restaurant for the food and for the ambience. As a shellfish allergic traveler it was nice for me to be able to enjoy kimchi for the first time, and my partner who had eaten the non-vegan versions said it was one of her favorites. This place felt special. They have a house made plum wine that I wish I could have taken with me.

Pros: Ambiance., Service. , Great food and a lot of it.

Cons: None.

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Overrated, not worth it! - Edit

I'm very disappointed by Sanchon. They raised their lunch price from 22,000 won to 33,000 won just because they're famous. Their food was neither fresh nor delicious. Only their environment and pine liquor pre-meal drink are worth checking out. The overall procedure and experience was too superficial.

If you're going for real delicious temple food, I highly recommend going to "Han Gwa Chae" instead, a nearby lo-fi and warm vegan buffet that is totally underrated.
Updated from previous review on Sunday August 11, 2013

Pros: traditional vibe, good liquor

Cons: expensive, bad value, food was not fresh at all, hard to find

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Outstanding! - Edit

I have no idea why a couple people panned the restaurant. This place was incredible. Be sure to go hungry as it's a pre-fix menu. There are two rounds of appetizers (about 20 items) and then the main course which consists of another 20 items. Thankfully, dessert was just one item plus tea (albeit, the third tea). The price is $33 per person (no tipping in Korea) and well worth it. The ambiance is fantastic too. Be prepared to sit on the heated floor to eat your meal (there are also standard table and chairs).

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I don't recommend to go for the food - Edit

The food was an experience, but not so much of an enjoyable experience. If you go, go for the show (which by the way only lasts for half an hour).

Pros: dance show

Cons: price, very special food

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Real experience - Edit

I had a set dinner menu at this restaurant while they were having the traditional dance show. I did not even order, they just brought the huge amount of dishes included in the set menu. It is really expensive, but the overall experience was unique.

Food is very original temple food, and I don't think all the people like the food. It has extraordinary flavours and consistencies.

Restaurant is beautifully decorated traditional house, but it is quite hard to find. I think it's not totally correctly marked on the map. It is at the ultimate end of one of the Insadong's side streets.

Pros: Originality, Experience, Aesthetics

Cons: Food even too strange, Hard to find, Expensive

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an interesting experience - Edit

DInner at Sanchon was more about the experience than the meal. As other reviewers have mentioned, it is expensive, but I think you are paying for the whole experience -- the dancers, all of the dishes, etc. I arrived pretty late on a Sunday night and they were eager to close up for the night, so my meal was somewhat rushed, but overall it was interesting. Not a place to go if you are really hungry and just want to get something to eat.

Pros: more than a meal

Cons: expensive

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Great ambiance - great food - Edit

We visited the restaurant for dinner while in Seoul in Aug 2010. It is a fixed course vegan meal, you just sit down, and food starts to come. Nice place right in the heart of the Insadong area. It is about mid way between the two ends of Insadong Street. In Aug 2010, Sanchon had a type of "health food store" right on Insadong - and the sign said temple food. To get to the restaurant, you followed the little alley right next to the health food store all the way back. The food is very good, and you get many courses. There is also live entertainment on certain nights. We did not ever go for lunch, but the lunch prices were lower (so that is a good choice if you want to experience this place, but don't want to spend about 34,000WON on dinner - I think lunch was about 22,000WON).

Pros: Ambiance, Location, Delicious food

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Service is not good. - Edit

Although there have been several positive comments mentioned about this restaurant, my experience there was far from pleasant.

I visited it last Sunday and even though the food was palatable (it was very pricey too!), the service was beyond lacking. After several attempts of calling the attention of the waiters, I was kept waiting for a further 30 minutes by which time I had had enough. I was not even served the full course because no-one had the courtesy of ever coming to the table to see why I had called them in the first place.

And when I eventually decided to leave the restaurant, I was forced to wait even longer to pay! And the manager did not even bother to apologize after I politely lodged my complaint.

Definite pass on this place!

Pros: Vegan meal, Healthy food

Cons: Terrible service, Expensive

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Once in a lifetime dinning experience - Edit

I've been a vegan for over two years now and besides the kimchi, i have no clue what i was eating. I got the lunch special, which was about 15-20 bowls of small servings of mostly root vegetables and root based soups. Amazing flavor.
The waiter server everything in almost kind of a ceremonial vibe. The decor was magical.
The other reviews are correct, the place is a little tricky to find. If you can get to the famous Insa-Dong shopping street, you're pretty much there. Totally worth the adventure. You won't be disappointed.

Pros: Experience, Food, Setting

Cons: A small adventure to find.

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feast is a good descriptive term - Edit

Went here 5 months ago (May 2009) so this won't be the most descriptive review. It was very tricky to find. It was a lovely setting to enjoy a meal. Staff were nice. There was a TON of food and I rolled out of there. I think the price was up to 42,000 won (lunch) when I went there. Definitely good food.

Pros: good food, nice atmosphere

Cons: hard to find, expensive (but not bad value)

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Vegan Feast Like None Other! - Edit

This is one of those can't miss restaurants! It may have been the best vegan feast I've ever had. They do a fixed price meal in a beautiful courtyard teahouse, serve small portions of over 20 different items from sweet lotus to hearty miso soup, cooked greens 8 different ways, to vegetable pancakes, various types of kim chee, lots of mushroom dishes... it is absolutely delicious, healthy, and the whole experience is a major delight for the eyes and stomach.

Pros: Very special experience, Huge amt of variety, Setting is lovely

Cons: Staff spoke little english

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Amazing - Edit

We absolutely adored this place. It was 39000won and there was a LOT of food, but it was super tasty and we were able to polish it off between us - only just though!

Our set menu was comprised of dishes from fried sea-weed to a tofu-mushroom hot-pot, tempura, veggie Kim-Chee and various other delicious dishes.

Staff were friendly and we enjoyed the traditional dance performance after dinner.

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Only go if you are HUNGRY! :) - Edit

As others have said, you get a LOT of food. Menus are set. They are set for a minimum of two people, so they really prefer you do not dine alone, although I have been accommodated once in the past.

The setting is beautiful, the atmosphere is very peaceful, and the staff is very friendly and kind.

If you can't find it easily with the directions provided, go to the information center in Insa-dong and ask there.

It's well worth any time spent looking for it and well worth the price. Bring your camera to take a picture of the layout of food you'll be getting or no one will every believe you when you try to describe it later.

Pros: delicious, spacious, lots of food

Cons: can be hard to find, not so good for solitary diners

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