I’m no vegetarian, but after gorging myself shamelessly on burgers, pizza, and beer, I sometimes crave a lighter, healthier meal. While the Loving Hut is always a good option for a healthy meat-free meal, there are only so many times one can comfortably eat at a restaurant that broadcasts 24/7 news coverage from Supreme Master Television and features posters claiming both Jesus and Spiderman as fellow vegans before a break is necessary.
If you’re vegetarian, vegan, or just looking for a healthy meal, Seomyeon’s Well-Being Namsae Buffet offers a more traditional alternative to the new-aged Loving Hut.
For 13,000 won, it’s quite a good deal. As a buffet, it’s all you can eat: fill your plate, gorge to your heart’s delight, grab another plate and repeat the whole process again (and again and again).
It’s traditional Buddhist fare, so there’s a wide array of vegan dishes and a calm, natural atmosphere, complete with music reminiscent of a dental office. To give you an idea of the usual clientele, the first time I went, I saw some Buddhist monks enjoying a meal. The second time, I stood in line at the buffet behind a nun. This restaurant serves no liquor, and the owners wear traditional Buddhist clothing.
The dishes change from time to time, depending on whatever ingredients the restaurant has on hand. The standard buffet protocol applies here: try everything, because you never know what unassuming, unappealing-looking morsel will turn out to be the best. This is especially true since many of the dishes are labeled only in Hangul. But fear not, there are no strange creatures or body parts at this buffet since it’s strictly vegan.
The best dish was probably the pumpkin juk, sweet squash porridge with hearty beans. The wide array of fake meats were also surprisingly good and on par with that of the Loving Hut – I judge fake meat first and foremost by whether or not it tricks me into thinking it might be meat. The meatless meatballs were the best of the bunch in this regard, with the mushroom bulgogi coming in second. Last but not least, make sure to wash down your meal with a nice bowl of sikhye, a tasty, sweet dessert drink made of rice.
All in all, Well-Being Namsae Buffet skips the propaganda and offers a valid vegan alternative to Loving Hut: fairly good food for a fair price (if you plan to eat a lot), and no doctrinal strings attached.
Directions: Take Seomyeon station exit 11, follow the street left past the Busan Bank, keep going, and you’ll find the restaurant just past the KB Bank. It’ll be on your left on the 2nd floor – a green sign (see pic). The restaurant’s name, Well Being Namsae Buffet, is written as 웰빙 남새 뷔페.
Address: 397-44 Bujeon-Dong, Busanjin-Gu (2nd floor)
Phone: 051-818-9289 (keep in mind, they don’t speak English)
Open from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 8 p.m. Closed every Saturday.
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