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I'm in KOREA!!! woooo

So, here I am in Korea! Day two, to be precise.

So far, the vegan thing has not been very successful. At the moment, we're staying in a hotel and are usually given a set meal. So far, telling people I'm vegetarian has resulted in me getting NOTHING to eat (seriously... "oh, you're vegetarian? ok, we won't bring you the meatbased dish... here, have some kimchi!"), so I'm keeping my mouth shut now and eating around as much as I can/am comfortable with. So far, breakfast has been the best meal (buffet style, lots of fruit and salad). I've probably eaten fish (broth, sauce or tiny bits) in every meal, and EGG... ugh... it's in every freaking soup dish. To be honest, the lack of fibre is what's really bugging me (only rice or snow white bread).

So... food= not so great, combination of really clueless waiters/really clueless me/ probably not really great food at the hotel anyway. Everything else= AWESOME!! Everyone is really great and our orientation is really fun, the weather is awesome, the people are so friendly.

Anyway, in terms of food, I have a feeling I'm going to be pretty hungry until I get to my own apartment... but it's only a week, and as a plus, I really do like Kimchi (maybe just not for breakfast, lunch and dinner!) 

try getting bi bi bop, you can get that without meat, it's a heavily veggied rice bowl...i'm part korean and lived there for a bit, i'll try and get you lots of menu items that are vegan friendly... ;)

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Congratulations! I hope you love it! I have heard wonderful things about Korea :)

Although I haven't been to Korea (my sister and other family members have), it is my travel experience in other countries that hotels are the absolute worst place to eat! They try to cater to typical western food preferences, which as we all know means SAD - lots of meat, cream, cheese, and white bread. It is sad, pardon the pun, that so much of the world things of animal food as the main or only "luxury" food. 

You may have a lot better experience if you get out to some local eateries or even a food selling market which serve working people - they might have more "everyday" food like fruits, veggies, tofu! :)

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if you wanna be unhealthy and spoil yourself, there's a stickyfingers VEGAN cafe in Seoul...~>
http://www.stickyfingers.co.kr/

i'm still researching, but this is fun if you wanna spoil yourself one day*!~  :)

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I said it before, but I'll say it again - fish is in EVERYTHING over here. ;)

But it should get easier for you once you get your own place.
I don't know how korea is, but I have no problem getting the Indian lentils I use in Japan.
Helps that I read and speak Japanese tho.

Of course, I eat a lot of rice and tofu too. ;)
Bread though is almost 95% white in Japan so it's either white rice or white bread.  I imagine Korea is the same.

good luck and EAT!  don't let yourself run down right now.  most people get sick their first month because not just the change of envirnoment, but the germs are different too.  Very easy to get sick if you aren't taking care of yourself AND are tired to boot.

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hey, i spent a year teaching in korea and ordering food in a restaurant is a bit difficult. most food is made with seafood or pork. also when you say you don't eat meat (even in hangul) that doesn't mean chicken pork or fish. you need to specifically ask for no meat, cow, pig, chicken, fish, or shellfish. often people think that you are requesting this to save money or for "dieting" purposes so they may still bring you meat "for free" or "just for flavour". you can order bimbimbap without egg, be careful though because the gochujang (hot pepper sauce) sometimes has shellfish or beef. jolmyun is a spicy cold noodle dish you can also order. because you are foreign, many restaurants will offer or understand if you ask for your sauce on the side, as many can't handle the "heat" of gochujang, so you can inspect your sauce first. it comes with a boiled egg, you can ask to get it without. kimbap, is korean sushi. it can be made veggie, though it often can contain mayo. be sure to watch as they make it because veggie sounding names like "vegetable kimbap" or "garden kimbap" often contain meat, fish or spam. some ramyun (mr noodle) is veggie. kimchee also sometimes contains shellfish.
if you are in seoul you have a wealth of options, itaweon is a neighborhood full of indian, thai, middle eastern and various other restaurants. because it is popular with american gi's, almost all servers speak english and understand vegetarian requests. the area near hongik university is similar as is kangnam. if you can find a japanese shabu shabu place they have a veggie based broth that you add veggies (or meat) from a salad bar that you turn into soup at your table.
galbi or bbq places some times serve tofu to grill and if not there are unlimited veg side dishes if you are with an omni ordering meat. kimchee dubu is tofu and kimchee. dokboki is a rice cake in hot sauce, usually sold on the street. the fish shaped fish sold on the street are filled with sweet red bean paste (delicious) or apple.  many street vendors will be selling fruit, roasted chestnuts, brown sugar filled pancakes, and walnut shaped pastries.
i hope this helps, good luck!

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try getting bi bi bop, you can get that without meat, it's a heavily veggied rice bowl...i'm part korean and lived there for a bit, i'll try and get you lots of menu items that are vegan friendly... ;)

I LOVE Korean food. Can you send those menus my way, also, if you find them?

Theresamch is right. Great advice. Those food items mentioned, I eat. Bimbimbap is my favorite when I go to the local Korean place here in NY. They are very nice there, and always leave the egg out for me. And 9 times out of 10, their kimbap is veggie, also.

About the gochujang .... I buy some at the local asian store that doesn't contain any fish. So it's possible to get it without fish stuff in it. I don't know how easy it will be in Korea, tho.

I also have three Korean cookbooks. There is a lot of veggie options in those books. I just had to REALLY look for them. I have also veganized a few of them that weren't. When you get your apartment, I'll post them for you.

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OMG I ENVY YOU! I spent 3 months in Korea (my bf is half korean and his parents still live there) I LOVED IT. I miss it SO much. Being vegan is very hard. Even with Kimchi, most kimchi has prawns in it. But the good thing about Korea is the open air markets where you can get AMAZING korean veggies and fruit. Pears and apples in Korea are HUGE. Also if you see trucks that sell these round white chip things.. those are vegan and yummy. Also juk (porridge) they have a tuna one which comes with a huge hunk of  tuna. You can ask them to take that out and it's vegetarian friendly.

What city are you in exactly? I can't help with Seoul, but I can help alot with Daegu. Check out Happycow.com.. they have a few places on there also.

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just a little update...

we've moved into our apartment in Mokpo... a VERY spacious 3 bedroom, by Korean standards, anyway. The apartment was unfortunately quite dirty, so we've spent most of the time just cleaning. We have quite a lot of friends close by however, so we don't feel TOO lost.

food is going to be my nemisis here, i think. i just don't really like it that much. it's so odd for me, because i've travelled a lot, to some very strange places, and i ALWAYS like the food... so to not have found a korean dish that i really really enjoy is a very confusing feeling. there are some things i like more than others, but nothing i'm crazy about. on the plus side, we live in the older part of town, so little fruit and veggie markets are everywhere, and the fruit here is super! also, we visited the one vegetarian resturant in town... it's a buffet, very cheap, and quite good. it's a great place to just hang out for a couple of hours, munching away as the urge hits... i plan to make it over there at least once a week.

i'm just glad to have my own kitchen! i made spaghetti for dinner, and even though the sauce was right out of a bottle and tasted a lot like ketchup, it was heaven!!! i just can't wait to get myself an oven.

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Thank you for sharing your travels in Korea with us. Sounds fantastic, Rachandra, well except for the vegan challenges.
Was wondering if you might have had this Korean dessert, similar to a Japanes mochi. They are these balls stuffed with a sweet bean. They appear to be vegan and they are so good but I don't know what they're called. Had them at an Asian festival, with a cup of brown rice geen tea, very delicate and flavorful, also from Korea. Now I'm wondering where I can find these items here in the U.S.

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Thank you for sharing your travels in Korea with us. Sounds fantastic, Rachandra, well except for the vegan challenges.
Was wondering if you might have had this Korean dessert, similar to a Japanes mochi. They are these balls stuffed with a sweet bean. They appear to be vegan and they are so good but I don't know what they're called. Had them at an Asian festival, with a cup of brown rice geen tea, very delicate and flavorful, also from Korea. Now I'm wondering where I can find these items here in the U.S.

You can find those or similar mochis at just about any Korean supermarket or supermarkets owned by Koreans, like Freshia.

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So, here I am in Korea! Day two, to be precise.

So far, the vegan thing has not been very successful. At the moment, we're staying in a hotel and are usually given a set meal. So far, telling people I'm vegetarian has resulted in me getting NOTHING to eat (seriously... "oh, you're vegetarian? ok, we won't bring you the meatbased dish... here, have some kimchi!"), so I'm keeping my mouth shut now and eating around as much as I can/am comfortable with. So far, breakfast has been the best meal (buffet style, lots of fruit and salad). I've probably eaten fish (broth, sauce or tiny bits) in every meal, and EGG... ugh... it's in every freaking soup dish. To be honest, the lack of fibre is what's really bugging me (only rice or snow white bread).

So... food= not so great, combination of really clueless waiters/really clueless me/ probably not really great food at the hotel anyway. Everything else= AWESOME!! Everyone is really great and our orientation is really fun, the weather is awesome, the people are so friendly.

Anyway, in terms of food, I have a feeling I'm going to be pretty hungry until I get to my own apartment... but it's only a week, and as a plus, I really do like Kimchi (maybe just not for breakfast, lunch and dinner!) 

You lucky girl !!
I miss Korea so much.Boohooohoo :'(

If you are there for a long time, start on a Ginseng added teas and eat a lot of Kimchi as I did.
Food is great if you know where to go.
My favorit was Itaewon srea and if you love crowds and cheap and best eateries, nothing like downtown in Seoul.

Enjoy !!

NJA

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OK so I'm late, but I can tell you, hotel food is bleah the world over. The only exception I make is for luxury hotels, and even there, the coffee is watery and horrible. But who can stay in a luxury hotel?

Once you find your way around and learn where the market is, maybe you can shop and cook for yourself.

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