At the end of July during my summer break (geesh..almost four months overdue), my superawesomefantabulistic co-worker and I decided to head to Jeju-do (an exquisite island off of South Korea-only an hour's flight from Seoul!). We only stayed a few days, but it was the perfect excursion to recharge our well worn and slightly burned out teaching batteries.
So what does this have to do with Vegan Mofo?
Yeon Wu Nae
I am definitely not an expert foodie (hence my frequent meals of sweet potatoes or fruit...); however, I've been fortunate to experience a wealth of vegan friendly food in Korea. This place was absolutely the best vegetarian proclaimed restaurant that I've been to so far!
Honestly, in trying to rate a restaurant, so many of the reasons that I will enjoy a specific place is based on the experience as a whole. The entire experience of Yeon Wu Nae? Amazing, the end.
After the flight and an extended bus ride, Taylor and I were ridiculously hungry. I had read of this restaurant while trying to do a little planning for our trip, and through randomly bumbling about town, he and I found ourselves somehow magically poofed at it's doorstep.
I attribute it to Korean magic. Everything from the rustically simplistic decor down to the last bites of our meal couldn't have been better.
I even loved all of the cups and bowls!
We each decided to each go with one of our usual favorites, bi bim bap, and then we added an order of Nok Cha (green tea) Sujaebi to share. Taylor also ordered padjeon (kind of like a pancake, and usually brimming with some type of squirmy seafood and veggies), but I let him enjoy that on his own since I had more than enough food that I was about to inhale.
Nok Cha Sujaebi is a soup that is made from green tea noodles. The broth is a smooth, creamy, and comforting blend made from perilla seed powder. I wish I could describe the taste... all I can say about it is that it was excellent.
According to most Koreans, I eat my bi bim bap strangely. In Korean, bi bim means to mix (or at least something similar to that), but I don't always like to mix it all up! I enjoy the individual tastes of the many vegetables that can be included... There have been SO many occasions where K-friends, restaurant owners, or even other customers will try to steal my chopsticks and mix my bi bim bap for me!! :)
(If you are unfamiliar with Korean food, bi bim bap is usually served with a fried egg nestled on top of the veggies and rice. One of the first things I learned how to say in Korean was please take out the egg...)
Taylor and I had coconuts stapled in our brains before we had even left Seoul. Since we were heading to an island...visions of palm trees covered in coconuts danced in our imaginations. We quickly grew determined to find and consume them.
On our second day, we spent an awesome afternoon of hiking, followed by heading south to check out a few waterfalls. Upon our arrival, we were greeted warmly greeted:
After being revived from the fresh coconut juice, Taylor smashed our coconuts in half (1), and like cavemen, we dug out the "meat"(2). I don't even remember the last time that I had coconut, but it was INCREDIBLE.
(1) Have you ever tried to smash a coconut? Prepare yourself for a mini-workout.
(2) I couldn't resist...