SanChon Korean Temple Cooking - 산촌 사찰음식전문점

  • Vegan Vegan
    ( 31 reviews )
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02-7350315
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Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 30-13 Road (Gwanhun) Gwanhun 14, Seoul, South Korea

Panchan (side dishes), soups, vegetable dishes, and traditional music & dance. Started by a former monk. Directions: in the heart of the Insadong area, mid way between the two ends of Insadong St, in a small street in between Insadong 8-Gil and Insadong 6-Gil adjacent to Insadong-gil. 고풍스럽고 자연친화적인 인테리어가 특색있는 한옥 구조의 사찰음식 전문점입니다. 온돌방에서 식사가 가능하며, 식사로 한정식 코스요리가 제공됩니다. 저녁에는 한국 전통 음악과 춤 공연을 즐길 수 있습니다. 가격은 점심코스 33,000원, 저녁코스 45,000원 입니다(17년 3월 기준). 영업시간은 12:00~20:30이며 명절 휴무입니다. Open Mon-Sat 5:00pm-10:00pm.

Categories: Vegan, Korean

31 Reviews

First Review by veganqwert

A must see in Seoul even for non vegetarians - Edit

We went for dinner so we could see the dance show. I thought it'd be 10 mins at almost... it was actually 45 mins and absolutely brilliant! There were so many styles of Korean dance and all in different flowing Korean costumes. I won't say much more because I don't want to spoil it for you- but I was transfixed. I would happily pay for that show alone. I haven't heard of anywhere in Korea were tourist could see something like that. Instead here it was free with the meal.

A lot of thought has been put into the food itself. I haven't tasted anything like it before. They've tried to celebrate a different vegetable in every dish. Like others have said, this sort of meal would have costed much much much more anywhere else. The alcohol is also very unique and tasted delicious!

We went at 7:30- but I actually recommend you go earlier even though the show only starts at 8. It's better to be essentially finishing the meal by the time the show starts. That's because during the show the lights are off and you won't care much about eating anyway. Better to be sipping tea at that point.

Pros: the dance!, amazing decor

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magical - Edit

This place is magical, if you have one place to eat in Seoul go here. Make a reservation for 7:45 so you can see the traditional dancing. Bring your appetite, the food never stops coming.

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Not to be missed. Excellent culinary experience. - Edit

If you're in Seoul you must not miss this place. It's a 16 course lunch/dinner in a really really nice setting.

I totally recommend this, the food is just great and varied and well presented. Honestly, for this type of service and quality of food, it's worth a higher price.

Note: I came by myself so the it was a little more food than I expected. So if you're doing the same, bring an empty stomach. I'm guessing some of the pots are shared when you're more than one. On the other side, the food is light enough and along with the ginger tea and beverages they give you, you'll be set for walking the nearby palace.

Updated from previous review on 2017-08-12

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wonderful experience :) - Edit

Slightly hard to find but totally worth the search. Mysterious vegan dishes, pine tea is a true revelation.

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Well worth the higher price, a must for veggies - Edit

A little hard to find, look out for signs on the Main Street. The staff are not the friendliest but I think that is mainly due to limited English. The atmosphere is wonderful, amazing decoration and music. I went by myself, I didn't realize they would just bring me the whole menu for a set price, I definitely had enough food for 2 people!!! Amazing flavors and presentation, felt very authentic. I went at lunch time, but apparently there is live music in the evenings!

Pros: amazing authentic Korean food

Cons: a little hard to find

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Romantic and cultural - Edit

If you think about how much you would spend at an upscale restaurant for a 5 course meal, the price is nothing!

I was so stuffed and could not eat all the food. The dancing/ drumming performance is beautiful and the food, perfectly interesting.

I wish that all travelers will come here to experience Korean culture in a sustainable way.

Pros: Performance, Healthy Whole Foods, Sustainable Tourism

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amazing range of dishes - Edit

Restaurant was easy to find from the main Isa-dong street. Curious decor provides great charm. Not the warmest of welcomes and the dishes came faster than I would have liked, the food however was fabulous. We enjoyed the set lunch for 33,000 won. Worth every penny. The waiting staff did warm up during the service. Well worth a return visit.

Pros: great setting , delicious dishes , very chilled atmosphere at lunchtime

Cons: staff appeared a little brusque , courses were a little rushed

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Vegan food in a very nice setting - Edit

It is not easy to find but managed to find it eventually. The food they serve definitely can feed for 4 persons. The food is a little bland but a great experience.

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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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Fabulous! - Edit

I was taken here by a Korean colleague and it was a fantastic experience. Dinner was delicious and there was beautiful traditional dancing being performed. Expensive but definitely one to visit!

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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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AMAZING - Edit

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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Excellent Buddhist Temple Cuisine - Edit

Great traditional ambiance, generous servings, and well-prepared food. This place is not easy to find but when you do, it's like stepping through a portal. Omnivores will enjoy this place too.

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