Righty-o! So, part two of our Seoul adventure took us to Insadong; this is the place to go if you want to buy Korean antiques and traditional crafts. It’s a pretty tricky area to navigate, loads of tiny little streets and alleyways absolutely brimming with shops and restaurants.
Our main purpose for visiting Insadong was to find a reportedly amazing Buddhist temple food restaurant called Sanchon. It took us a good while to find it after unsuccessfully following two different sets of directions I’d gotten off the internet. The best way to find this place is to type the address into your phone and wander around staring at your Google map, trying not to bump into anyone in the process.
Sanchon is tucked away in one of Insadong’s many alleyways, but the hustle and bustle of the city completely vanishes as soon as you walk in the door. It’s beautiful inside, with loads of Buddhist antiques, art, and hand-crafted souvenirs.
The restaurant is broken into two parts: Western-style seating (tables and chairs) in a bright, greenhouse-type area, and traditional Korean seating in a cozy, dimly-lit area.
We opted for the Korean seating, which we’re getting used to!
So many beautiful paper lotus lanterns!
Temple food is all vegetarian, made from fresh, seasonal ingredients and meant to be savored and eaten slowly. We were in Sanchon for about 4 hours! It definitely didn’t seem that long; the place is so peaceful, there’s SO much food, and there are just so many things to look at that you don’t even notice time passing.
There’s a set menu for lunch and dinner; we went for lunch, which was about $30 per person, including 4 courses with tea and alcoholic beverages.
First course! Two varieties of seaweed and puffed rice, rice and seaweed balls, acorn jelly, potato porridge, and a selection of pickles. We also got a cute little bottle of homemade rice wine which was A-MAZING, so sweet and light.
Second course! Three different fried veggie patties, salad, and some other things… There was lots of unidentifiable stuff on our plates, but it was all delicious!
The main course! Seven types of wild leafy greens fermented with chillies and garlic, loooads of pickles including kimchi, sweet and sour eggplant, honey potatoes, SO MUCH YUM. This was followed by two bowls of rice and beans, a rice noodle stir fry, and a tofu mushroom soup! You should come to Sanchon STARVING, or else there’s no way you’ll be able to finish everything.
Pudding! Crispy honey rice puffs accompanied by a sweet, cinnamon liquor.
I think dinner is about double the price, but there’s also a traditional Korean performance with music and dancing, and you may even get more food than at lunch…though I can’t imagine how!