Friday, August 21, 2015

Korean Temple Food

Korean cuisine is starting to take over the world. They take pride on their cuisine as they always put on meticulous details on their foods. I have been a big fan of Korean cuisine for a long time now. However, I never tried Korean Temple Food.

On my last visit to Seoul for honeymoon, we decided to try on Temple Food. My husband is vegetarian and he was so eager to try it. For me, I was just excited to try something new, especially Korean temple food has been known as a good cleanse and detox foods.

Originally we wanted to eat in Gam Lo Dang Restaurant. Unfortunately it was close and change into Mara Restaurant. So we decided to go to Balwoo Restaurant near the Jogyesa Temple.

Posing in front of Mara Restaurant

Jogyesa Temple
We picked the one with 12 dishes meal
It was slightly expensive. The same price with hotel buffet in Jakarta. But it was all worth it.
There are 3 highlight of Temple foods;
1. Natural: The food will use only organic and natural ingredients and seasoning.
2. Healthy: Thanks to all the natural ingredients and seasonings, this food is healthy too.
3. Balance: Temple food is a good detoxifying food and a good balance to our bad eating habit.

1. Juk or Porridge

Juk or porridge
We started the meal with Juk or Porridge. The flavor was more on a bland side as expected from temple food and their lack of use of salt.
The white marshmallow looking thing is actually hand towel
Kimchi Radish, side dishes/banchan

2. Juksunaengchae, Bambu Shoot Chilled Salad

Juksunaengchae, Bambu Shoot Chilled Salad
This salad has a very strong flavor of ground mustard. It gives me brain shock, the kinda feeling you got similar to brain freeze or when you ate wasabi. The ground mustard has similar taste to wasabi. It was a good feeling tho. It woke me up immediately. It was like all my senses were finally open.

3. Japanese Anglea and Soybean Pancake

Japanese Anglea and Soybean Pancake
Still kinda blan taste, but thanks to the opening of all my senses including the awakening of my tastebud, I could enjoy this pancake with it's delicate flavoring. It was enjoyable for both of me and my husband.

4. Vegetable Round Mandu and Tofu

Vegetable round Mandu and Tofu
I really enjoy this one too. Dip it to a sweet sauce in the middle (not sure what it was), but it has a sweet tangy flavor to it. 

5. Burdock Root

Burdock Root
This was probably my favorite part of the whole meal. It was my first time eating burdock root. Turned out, it has a sweet flavor that taste similar to sweet potato, except that it also has a more fiber texture to it.

6. Lotus Root and Ginsaeng

Lotus Root and Ginsaeng
Probably the most expensive part of the meal. This dish is not available on the 10 course meal option. Definitely the reason why the 12 course meal is more expensive. Definitely feel healthier after eating the ginsaeng. I didn't eat the leaves tho. I am not sure if I should.

7. Fried Mushroom in Sweet and Sour Apple Sauce

Fried Mushroom in a sweet and sour apple sauce
A salty crunchy mushroom with a sweet yet soury apple sauce was a good balance to the tastebud.

8. Tofu and Wild Aster Soup

Tofu Soup

9. Lotus Leaf Rice

Lotus Leaf Rice 
Contain pine nuts, chestnut, etc.
The rice was a good combination to the soybean soup and banchan. Even to it alone is already flavorful. I ate it bibimbbap style, putting all the banchan together with the rice and mix it all.

 10. Chan / Banchan/ Side Dishes

Banchan/Side Dishes

11. Guk or Soybean Paste Tofu Soup

 It taste similar to the usual Dwenjang Jigae. The only thing different is the seasoning taste a bit weaker. Temple food didn't use the dwenjang or soybean paste that was packed with msg. They usually use their own seasoning. I still like it tho.

12. Dessert and Baverage

dried kelps, lotus root, sweet potato, and orange
The dessert was crispy and yummy. My favorite would be the dried kelp and lotus root.

We went home with a full stomach but it was nothing closer to the uncomfortable bloating feeling after a full course of less healthy food. I feel more energized and healthier. I could imagine if I get to eat this kind of food everyday I could live longer and It might also makes a different on my skin, hair, etc.

If you happens to run into this post and planning to go to Seoul anytime soon or you are already there. I highly suggest to try temple food. It might not for everyone's taste. But the benefit is good for everyone.

The place that I visited is Balwoo Temple Food.
Telp. (02) 2031-2081
Hours: 11am—2:30pm, 5:30pm—9pm
Prices: 25,000—50,000 won
Getting there: Exit 2, Jonggak Station, Line 1. Walk 70m to Jogyesa Temple. The Temple Stay Information Center is across the street. On the fifth floor of the Temple Stay Information Center. Serves Buddhist temple cuisine.