A lot of things to blog about lately like PLANT news, recipes, random eats, Chuseok holidays. It’s all backed up. :( I’m the worst blogger! There has definitely been a lot going on lately, but most importantly, I MOVED! After about 3 years in the ghetto neighborhood of Daerim, I’ve made the leap and found a spot near Itaewon (different kind of ghetto, perhaps). My third apartment in Seoul, hence Apartment 3.0. I’m so excited to finally be walking distance from work and to not have to wake up super early to make the hour commute before rush hour. In fact, I can’t believe I actually lasted this long without moving.
The days before the move, the place was a mess…
Why do I have two mattresses… ㅠㅠ
The almost empty storage room.
Farewell to my outdoor patio. I shall miss you~~
“Hey Mister, where you going wit all our stuffff~~” Moving day was a bit of a nightmare because we had to finish up real estate paperwork, the movers were late, and to top it all off, it started pouring rain at one point.
Bunny on the move! She hates being in the carrier, but it must be done.
In the end, everything got to the right place, including Bunny and myself. We are now happily settling into our new digs, in the Itaewon area. Lovin’ it! I still haven’t unpacked a lot of the boxes, but it’s slowly coming together. Just need to scrounge up some furniture like a coffee table and maybe hang some curtains to cover up the ugry bars. I’m super stoked though, mostly because I can take my time in the morning and sleep an extra hour! The first morning that I walked to work was completely blissful, I almost shed a tear. lol. Home Sweet Home!
Late night ‘Welcome-to-the-neighborhood’ drinks and nachos at Paco Loco. :)
Woops, ok, so this is one of those restaurant posts that have been sitting in my drafts folder for far too long–several months to be exact. I should really be quicker when it comes to blogging about restaurants here in Seoul because you never know, the next day they might disappear! It seems that there are all these new veg-friendly, healthy, raw, fresh-food shops opening up these days, so much so that it’s a bit hard to keep up. Ya’ll probably don’t even need me to blog about them anymore cuz there are so many more up-to-date resources out there. But what the hey, I’ll still blog about them when I can.
I admit that these days, I don’t venture too far from the Itaewon area for food… There are just so many good places around Itaewon with veggie options, and plus, I don’t have as much free time to go trekking to random neighborhoods in Seoul. But when the owner of March Rabbit visited PLANT and introduced his salad bar restaurant to me, I knew I wanted to check this one out! Oh, and besides, it’s got ‘Rabbit’ in its name.
March Rabbit: a bright yellow & green building. You can’t miss it.
Loving all the green imagery around the shop~
So much seating! I always get a bit jealous of restaurants with so much seating space, because PLANT is so freaking small. But at the same time, I still love the coziness of plant, so I should just stop comparing. lol
Such an extensive menu!
As far as I can remember, they only had one main vegan salad option called the Happy Vegan Rabbit, but you can also build your own salad, and add whatever toppings you want. Also plenty of vegetarian options available.
My order. The vegan salad, with mixed greens, green hummus, lentil salad, barley, and a chunk of tofu. They also normally add croutons, but they weren’t vegan, so they just left that out. This was back in March/April, and I’m not sure what the bread situation is now, so maybe ask in advance. The Popeye green ade was also surprisingly good! Haven’t had a carbonated green juice before– a tad sweeter than I expected but nice and refreshing. Tempted to try this at home. :)
Green ‘hummus.’ It looks like guacamole but most definitely is not. I’m not so sure what made it green~~ I can’t even fully remember the taste… it was interesting! In a good way~
The tofu had a nice chewy texture, but it wasn’t particularly flavorful. I kind of wished it was covered in BBQ sauce or something.
Overall I enjoyed March Rabbit for its freshness and vegan options. I just think it’s cool that there’s a salad bar spot like this one. Hopefully this fresh & green food trend will continue. Yay for eating more veggies, less meat.
I know, I know~ It’s been a really long time since my last blog post! And this year is already more than halfway through. Things are busy but also really great, especially now that things are starting to settle into a routine, after the big ol’ transition in May. I even joined a gym by Itaewon and have been able to sneak out of the shop on certain afternoons to get a quick work out in, while my part timer runs the shop. The fact that I have this kind of freedom is so weird and amazing. A few months ago, I would’ve never imagined that to be possible, especially because I’m a control freak and I have a hard time entrusting people with anything. But I’ve been learning to let go and live a little. And my life is so much for the better.
Kung pao tofu stir-fry at PLANT. Super saucy.
So happy cherries are in season again!
If you’ve been following my instagram feed, you’ll probably notice that I’m on an avocado kick lately. Can’t get enough of it. I’ve been eating at least 1/2 an avocado almost every day. Yes, they’re expensive in Korea (usually 3,000+ per avo), but worth it! So creamy-good.
Another avo salad with lentils, kale, chickpeas, tomato, toasted seeds, etc etc.
Avo toasties. This is a typical mid-afternoon snack. Smash some avocado inbetween two bread butts and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Done and delicious.
Dinner at Cotto at the IFC Mall, by Yeoido park. It’s a pizza pasta restaurant and the only vegan option was this beet root tomato-apple salad with lemon-olive oil dressing. It was alright… everything was a bit too big and chunky for me, but I appreciated the generous amount of beets on the plate. Especially since it was 15,000won. Why are salads in Korea so expensive! By the way, this was my first time at IFC mall, and it was pretty cool! Really well-designed, modern, more like an American-style mall, and had some interesting things to see. Check it out if you’re in the area (map here). Oh, and it’s a short 10 minute walk to Yeoido Han River park too~
I’m always craving Korean food. Gondeurae bibimbab and banchans at a random Korean restaurant.
Dotorimuk salad! One of my faves because it’s so salty, spicy, and fresh.
Closing the shop at the end of the day~ looks so different at night.
Anyone else in Korea sleep-deprived because you’ve been waking up at ungodly hours to watch the World Cup? I feel like a zombie during the day. But anything to support my fave teams Ghana, RCI, Portugal, Brasil, Netherlands, and Korea… Although the latest Korea game against Algeria was quite painful to watch (4:2 loss)… can’t believe I woke up at 4am for that. Besides Algeria, the only other winners were those who stayed in bed for that game and slept in a few more hours. ㅠㅠ
Anyway, World Cup aside, things are going swimmingly lately~ Running the shop is gradually getting a bit easier as things start to fall into a routine. And my part-time workers are adjusting and doing a great job. I feel really lucky to have found some wonderful people to join the PLANT team. It’s still always a lot of work and I always feel like I’m perpetually chasing the end of my to-do list, but it’s all worth it in the end. Here are some things I’ve been cooking at the shop:
The other week I made burritos, stuffed with rice, lentils, beans, mushrooms, kale, corn, onions, and more. The whole thing was so loaded, you could probably eat it over two meals. Especially since it also came with a carrot slaw salad on the side.
Veggie tofu quiche! I’m still working on getting the crust-filling ratio just right… This one definitely had a thick crust! It has been such a LONG time since I did anything with pie crust, and I’m still a total pie novice, but hopefully practice makes perfect.
Ahh, this one was much better.
Tempeh carrot slaw wrap with hummus and avocado. Avocados are so expensive in Korea, but I just cant help myself from including them in the PLANT menu. They’re so yummy and good for you (healthy fats, good for your skin, etc!), Koreans need to jump on the avo bandwagon.
Late afternoon lunch: Everything wrapped up nice and cozy, burrito-style. During the day, sometimes it’s difficult to take a break for lunch, and I don’t like eating unless I can actually sit down and focus on the meal, rather than being distracted or stressed and not being aware of what’s going into my mouth. Eating when I’m busy and stressed during service tends to give me digestive problems too, so sometimes I’ll put off eating until the shop closes and I get back home… I admit it’s not a healthy schedule… something to work on. But thankfully I have friends who try to make sure I’m eating on a regular basis. haha, you know who you are.
Some random street art I came across while wandering Itaewon the other day.
Some recommended reading~ :) Trying to get back into the habit of reading books.
Now that it’s summer, it’s time for cold soybean noodle soup! :) This is almost always vegan and although it’s a bit of an acquired taste, I love how refreshing it is on a hot day.
Ethiopian again! So good and really filling– the injera is so huge!
Japchae noodles with fried sweet potato as a garnish on the side. I pretty much ate that as my main meal.
That’s all I have to share for now. Looking forward to another fun work week at Plant. Ta ta! xo
So PLANT is back! After a hectic 3 weeks of re-organizing and a little renovating here and there, the place is back in business. A huge thank you to everyone who waited patiently (and apparently not so patiently for some of you, haha) for its return, and sincere apologies to those who traveled far to eat PLANT food, only to be disappointed and find the place in a complete state of disarray during the hiatus. Before we opened, I was really nervous about having to operate it as the sole owner, and having to oversee every. single. thing. But thankfully, I found some great part time helpers to ease the load. You know, gathering my minions… :) *evil grin* Hopefully I can foster a good work environment that is fun but also challenging and inspiring. Anyway, despite all my anxiety, PLANT reopened without any major hitches, and it was so lovely to see familiar faces again. I half expected people to forget about PLANT, but you guys remembered, and you came back! <3
So here are a few interior changes I made to the shop. Nothing crazy like tearing down walls or anything… just a little paint, new furniture, and fixing etc. If you came to PLANT before the change, this is how you’ll remember it:
PLANT Before. Big table in the back, white table (which I brought from my house) in the front, and a collage of random pictures and magazine clippings on the back wall.
PLANT 2.0 ^^
To recap, I painted the back wall with chalk board paint, and then replaced the big table in the back with three smaller marble tables, and also installed bench seating against the wall. There are also cushions along the bench seating now (they arrived after I took the pic). A lot of people have asked if I made the physical space bigger because it just looks more spacious. But nope! Same amount of space, just optical illusion~~ maaagic. :) jk. It’s still the same PLANT, but tidier. I tried to give it more of a polished look, rather than the cluttered home-decor feel which is what it was rockin’ before. haha.
The ktichen is also much more organized…
A customer took some lovely pictures of our shop and I asked to share them with everyone. :) I love the filter~ makes the shop look extra fancy and pinteresty.
From back left to front right: Green Power Smoothie, Lemon bundt cake, iced soy chai, smoky tempeh salad with pita bread, pumpkin gingerbread cookie cake, and dark chocolate peanut butter cake. Like my sparkly new marble tables?
I also installed a bench outside the kitchen window for customers to sit while waiting on a busy Saturday, or to chill out there when the weather is nice. I like it when people sit right outside our window, and plus, it’s nice to see the bench being put to good use.
Dogs like it too~
One thing that hasn’t changed is that PLANT is still doing meals! I’m still cooking the same food I’ve been making this whole time… things like chickpea melt grilled sandwiches (as pictured above), TLT wraps, veggie burgers, burritos, kale salads, etc, etc. The menu will continue to change every week or so. In the past, we always posted the weekly menu on the Facebook page, but we haven’t been so diligent about that lately, and I’m not sure how on-top-of-it I will be now. Feel free to call the shop that day to ask what our menu is. Or better yet, just come with an open mind, and in return, we’ll do our best not to disappoint you. :)
Serving up some smoky tempeh salad with agave mustard dressing, and toasted pita bread.
BBQ lentil mushroom meatball salad.
Check out our new eco-friendly take-out boxes! Looks like one of those Whole Foods boxes… :P Before, we used plastic to-go containers, and I just didn’t feel good about the whole thing. So I was ecstatic to find these paper ones. They’re great, and hopefully better for the environment.
Brought back the Chocolate Stout PB cake after a long time away.
Gluten-free, vegan banana nut & chocolate chip muffins. Trying to make sure the gluten-intolerant people don’t feel left out of all the fun. :)
Couldn’t resist snapping pics of this gorgeous doggie at the shop. Just look at those eyes!
Me and my wall art. It’s chalk paint, so the artwork may change after a while… Oh the possibilities!
So there you have it. Welcome to PLANT 2.0. As always, thank you to everyone who has been supporting Alien’s Day Out and PLANT from the beginning. I couldn’t do what I do with you guys’ support, whether you’re family, one of my closest friends, a regular customer, or even a distant blog reader overseas…. you guys totally rock! Hope you will continue to join me on this bizzare veggie adventure~ ta ta!
This past Sunday I finally got a chance to check out the Ethiopian bar/restaurant CLUB ZION in Itaewon! I’ve been wanting to go for ages, like for years, but then at one point they stopped serving food all together so I gave up. But then they recently reopened the restaurant, so I couldn’t wait to finally get my fill. The only thing is that the restaurant side is only open on weekends (Saturday and Sunday, open at noon). Lucky for me, PLANT is closed on Sundays so I can eat there on my day off. Yeaerz.
From the outside, the place looks dark and dingy, but don’t let that deter you. The service is great- lovely servers, cooks, etc,
They have several options on their menu, but most of the time, there’s only two options actually available: the vegetarian platter and one of the meat-included options For 10,000 you get a ginormous plate of injera (the Ethiopian spongy sour crepe), with various veggie items on top like beets, lentil curry, cabbage, sautéed greens…. Wow.
Everything is great, and the injera is legit! Some items are more flavorful than others but it’s nice to get so much variety with one order. No utensils provided, so wipe your hands clean on the wet napkins they provide and then get messy again. :)
Love the beets… wish they gave more.
And then after the meal, you should get some Ethiopian coffee. Dark, rich, sweet coffee. It’s pretty awesome.
And you can even get it to-go! Check out this amazingness that one of my friends brought for me one Saturday when I was working at PLANT. Awesome tasty food, delivered straight to my mouth. Man, I have the best friends.
Directions to Club Zion
Itaewon Station, line 6, Exit 3. Walk straight out the stairs, pass the police station and then Starbucks… Turn right, after Dunkin’ Donuts and start going slightly uphill. Club Zion will be on your left, across the street. 2 minute walk from station.
*Restaurant side is only open on weekends, starting from noon.
So.. it’s been an interesting month so far…. If you’ve been following PLANT’s facebook page, you will know that PLANT is currently taking a temporary break as it undergoes some changes. My business partner Yona decided that it was time for her to leave PLANT and venture out to eventually start her own shop. It’s a bit scary to think about me operating PLANT on my own, but I’m trying to see this as a new growth opportunity, and hopefully I won’t run the whole thing into the ground. ha. Yona and I have always known that our partnership was temporary, and we always saw PLANT as our ‘training grounds,’ where we would learn as much as we could and eventually take that knowledge and experience towards building our own store and brand. So anyway, during this transition, I am taking some time to refocus and do some minor renovations/fixing, and give PLANT a bit of a fresh start. Nothing too big~ it will still be the PLANT that everyone has come to know, but hopefully a little improved? I’m also looking for part-time help, so if anyone is looking to make some extra moolah working hard at a vegan cafe, check here for more details and consider applying!
I took down all the pictures on the back wall! Aren’t you curious as to what I’m going to doooo~~? You’ll just have to wait and see, because honestly I have no idea myself. Actually, I probably shouldn’t lead people to expect any huge changes… For the most part, PLANT will still be the same, just maybe a little more polished and put together.
Catching some sunlight while on the job, with a green spirulina smoothie. I think I might put this on the PLANT menu soon, once we reopen. :)
Lately, when I’m not reorganizing the shop, or planning the renovations, I’ve been trying to meet up with as many long lost friends as I can…. My friend Chad was back in Korea for a business trip, so we grabbed dinner at Casablanca in HBC. It had been ages since I last went to Casablanca and as always, the place was packed. I also ran into a handful of people I know… It’s like one of those watering holes where everyone gathers and runs into each other. We got the veggie sandwich, no mayo (5,000), and a small bowl of lentil soup (2,000).
And Chad’s gf Johanna sent this amazing care package packed with Trader Joe’s goodies! I’ve already opened everything and finished about half of it. Those Thai lime chili almonds are bomb.
Dinner and drinks with some Window Bakery Collection friends: the owner of May Bell Bakery and my good foodie friend Michelle. For dinner, we got some good Korean eats at Parc, a hip modern Korean restaurant in Hannamdong. And then drinks at Wonder Coffee. Good food, good people, good Friday night.
More Korean food, because that’s what I’m craving lately. Gondeurae rice with doenjang jjigae and banchans. Korean food rules.
Japchae noodles with fried sweet potato chips. YUM.
Brick Pop at Sinsaegae department store. Not everything is vegan, but they have a good selection of flavors that are dairy-free. :) And everything is made with fresh, real ingredients. Plus, just looking at all the colors is eye candy.
Sometimes you just need a drink….
Iced soy latte at one of my fave cafes in Hapjeong .짧은 여행의 기록. It has been a while since I went there, and I noticed they’ve added soy latte to their menu, which is so rad! Not exactly sure what soy milk they use though (might contain D3). It was good, but didn’t stand a candle to Botton’s soy latte, imo.
They best soy latte in Seoul is at Botton Cafe. Ah, i remember those days when I would get to hang out at Botton every week~~ alas, now I’m lucky if I can hang out there once a month even.
Just for these few weeks that the shop is closed, I rejoined my mma boxing gym. I’ve missed working out so much, but I think I missed my coach and gym friends even more.
Foot in mouth…
Oh, and PLANT got a full page write-up in this month’s Korean Marie Claire! They were doing this feature on various vegetarian/health conscious food establishments and Plant was included! Super cool, but not the terrible photo of me and Yona (I cropped it so you can’t see! haha). Neither of us thought our faces would be included in the article so both of us look completely unprepared to have our photo taken. lol. If you wanna see it, you’ll just have to go seek out this issue.^^ But regardless, it’s really cool to be included in the magazine (a full page), and among such great company too like Sukkara and Cook n Book.
That’s all for today. Thank you for keeping up with Alien’s Day Out blog, and please stay tuned for more info on PLANT’s reopening~ :) ta ta~
I don’t have anything vegan or food-related to post today… Just want to express my sadness over the Sewon Ferry tragedy. This is a really tough, sad time for Korea…. The mood here is palpably downcast and dispirited. Everyone is beyond frustrated, saddened and heartbroken for the young lives lost… Not just that, we’re angry at the irresponsibility and carelessness. Needless to say, it has brought to light various problems that are rooted in Korean culture, societal system, and development, and has promoted serious self-reflection and critical examination of its values, ethics, and priorities. Is there something Korea can learn from this? Let’s hope so.
Anyway, I don’t have a whole lot more to say… Please pray for Korea. My hope is that we will come together for those who lost loved ones and that we will heal from this.
Waaah, the weather is so nice, it’s difficult to focus on work these days, let alone blogging. There’s always a lot going on, so many distractions, so much to do….
Cherry Blossoms! I didn’t think I was going to have a chance to see them this year, but luckily I was able to visit Yeoido Park just as they were in full-bloom.
Walking under clouds of cherry blossoms.
Now that it’s plenty warm outside, I’ve started running a little again after a very very verrrryyyy long hiatus (been feeling sluggish these days, I can’t take it any more). I’ve missed it so much, but not as much as I miss boxing at my mma gym. I’m still praying for the day when I’ll have more free time to get back to it.
Bunny is loving the warmer weather too~~ here she is checking out my new shoes! Hot pink, yeaaz.
Sunday Brunch with the sister at Le Alaska, Garosugil.
It’s been forever since I last came here, it was nice to revisit this spot. I think I got the exact same thing as before too. Just their simplest salad with the usual chicken omitted, and some ciabatta bread on the side. My sister got a sandwich and cappuccino. But more than anything, I just love the interior of Le Alaska and the vibes. If you get there before the lunch rush, it’s just a perfect chill spot to start the day.
And check out their grapefruit juice, with a mountain of shaved ice on top. It’s like an upside down snow cone. Really nice and refreshing.
And now for some recent PLANT food: vegan “turkey” grilled cheese sandwiches with seitan deli slices, cranberry sauce, and cheese. All handmade from scratch. This was a simplified version of the Thanksgiving sandwiches I made last year, minus the mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy dip. If I ever write a vegan recipe book, this one will definitely be in there. :)
Kale salad with chickpeas, carrots, smoky tempeh bits, and agave-mustard dressing. A lot of people have been asking where I get my lacinato kale from. I order it from a Home Base supermarket across the street from PLANT in Itaewon. They don’t carry it in their veggie section, but I can order a big box from them and they will have it ready for me to pick up the next morning. And if you want this lacinato kale, you have to call it “New Green” because if you say “kale,” you’ll get the flat leaf, dinosaur style kale, which probably isn’t what you’re looking for. So just say you want to order a box of ‘new green’ and they’ll understand. capiche? :)
And even if you don’t have a Home Base around your area, try asking another local supermarket if they can get some for you. Just think of all the amazing kale salads and green smoothies you can nourish your body with!
One thing I love about PLANT is that it’s like this little community gathering spot. It’s not unusual for random people to start talking and become friends. If you’re new in Korea and don’t know many people, come to PLANT. More often than not, you will make friends with someone. The shop is so small and the seating is so limited that many times, you kind of have to sit with people you don’t know. I understand it’s uncomfortable for some people, and especially native Koreans are a bit wary of sharing tables with strangers, but foreigners and expats are always more than willing to squeeze together and start talking to each other. Just an observation as someone who works there every day. :) Anyway, I’m grateful for all of Plant’s customers, you guys make it worthwhile. Overhearing a vegan customer say that Plant is their sanctuary and home away from home, makes my heart melt. That kind of compliment is priceless. I know we are inadequate and undeserving in so many ways, and there’s so much room for improvement, but thank you to everyone for accepting us, despite our limitations and short-comings.
On the rare occasion, we’ll have fresh flowers in the shop and it just brightens up the whole place.
Furry friends have the same effect. :)
Dark Chocolate Chery cake. The most chocolatey cake ever, with chunks of half-dried cherries and a splash of amaretto. This was one of those random cakes which came together because I just happened to have all those ingredients on hand at that moment. Death by chocolate? Bring it.
Last month I had two wedding cake orders. Each one was a little different, but here’s one of them. Wedding cakes are pretty labor intensive, even small two-tier ones, so I now understand why bakeries charge a lot. It’s also a lot of pressure cuz you gotta make the bride happy, as well as impress the guests. Anyway, I’m glad all the cakes were made without too much trouble. For this cake, the bride wanted the swirly flower design around the edge, but the other cake I made was much simpler with just spackled frosting. Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the final product with flowers, etc.
Lastly, after a long work week, my favorite place to get a drink and wind down is the Southside Parlour by Noksapyeong. The guys over there are so great and are also super supportive of PLANT. There’s this really precious camaraderie between the expat/gyopo restaurant owners in Itaewon that is really encouraging and cool to see. We all want each other to succeed and I just love that. So yea. I love Southside for their amazing cocktails, chill vibes, and the guys behind the bar. They’re doing awesome things and once they add a few vegan options on their menu, they’re gonna be unstoppable.
Aiights, that’s all I got for this blog post. Thanks for reading!! xoxo
This blog post has been sitting in my drafts folder for a really long time~~ but better late than never, rah?
I’m so grateful for my Sundays off because it’s my chance to get out of the studio and eat out! Especially now that it’s spring, I just neeeeed to get out and breath some fresh air.
So I’m sure a lot of you already know this, but there’s a Dean & Deluca in the food court area of Shinsegae Department Store at the Express Bus Terminal station. They have a market, cafe, and deli/restaurant, all rolled into one. The market section has all kinds of imported products like gourmet crackers, cheese, nuts, sugar sprinkles, to Peanut Butter & Co nut butters. Ofcourse everything will cost an arm and a leg, but that’s the price you gotta pay for a taste of home.
They have a gorgeous bakery section that is loaded with all kinds of sweet and savory treats. Even though none of it is vegan (except for maybe a few breads), the visual of all the baked goods will make you salivate.
I love the way they displayed everything~ Different from the typical Korean bakery.
Anyway, it’s obviously not quite the same as NYC Dean & Deluca, but I think they did a pretty good job of bringing it to Korea.
At the deli, there is a salad bar of sorts where you can choose to ‘build your own salad’! For 11,000won, you can choose your greens, 5 salad toppings, and your salad dressing of choice (vegan option available). I totally think it’s worth it, considering it’s located right in Shinsegae, and most fresh salads in Seoul cost around 12,000won or more.
I built my own salad with spinach greens, roasted beets, edamame, roasted veggies, green beans, and olives, with balsamic vinaigrette. Sooo delicious. This was one of the best salads I’ve had in Seoul (other than what I made at PLANT, obviously).
And if you don’t have time to sit and order a custom salad, you can also get this pre-packaged “Super Veggie Salad” to-go. I don’t know about you, but I’m craving lots of fresh salads these days, so this is right up my alley. Check em out!
Dean & Deluca:
Shinsaegae Department Store, B1, food court. @Express Bus Terminal, Line 7 & 3