Vegan food in KOREA. It’s not the easiest to find, and when you do, you may have to travel for it. I already wrote a post about Korean vegan food, but now I’ll introduce a Western vegan restaurant that has stolen my heart: Nammi Plant Lab.
The owner is Columbian and moved to Korea because he fell in love with the country during his travels. Sounds familiar. Luckily his genes have blessed him with magical taste buds that have led to his success in the food industry. This isn’t just a passive review to raise awareness of veganism in Korea – this place is actually good.
I’ve visited Nammi Plant Lab a handful of times which has resulted in me consuming practically their entire menu. Today I’m going to tell you about the neighborhood, the best food options, and how comfortable the atmosphere is. So, vegan or not, make sure you add this one to your list.
Opening Hours: 12-4PM, 5:30-9PM (closed Monday)
Address: Second Floor, 455-20, Bangbae-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul
Average Price Range: 12-14,000 won (main course)
Wheelchair Accessibility: No
Nammi Plant Lab is located near the southern station Sadang (Line 4). This is on the light blue subway line that runs straight through the middle of Seoul.
Sadang is actually where my hula lessons are held, so I often visit Nammi before or after practice. But truthfully, this neighborhood doesn’t have a lot going for it aside from being a busy transit location. That being said, it’s absolutely worth coming to for this amazing restaurant experience.
If you don’t want to run off straight after your meal, take exit 10 for Penny Hills coffee shop, offering hand-drip coffee and homemade tiramisu.
Food & Drinks
Let’s get down to what Nammi is really famous for: food. Nammi has an incredible menu consisting of one-of-a-kind vegan dishes. Trust me, the taste is unlike other vegan joints in Seoul, so it’s definitely refreshing. Additionally, the owner has always given me a free salad and balsamic bread plate to start, and more often than not, a free dessert. Is this a Western version of banchan? I’ve never asked why, but who needs a reason, really?
While the menu has tended to stay the same over the years, you’ll be hard-pressed to try all of the options in a short amount of time. I’ve eaten nearly everything they have to offer, so if my word means anything, here are my top three meals.
There are plenty of pizza options to choose from and all are winners, but if I had to pick only one, it would be the Steak Hawaiian Pizza. The vegan ‘steak’ is just the right amount of smoky that matches perfectly with that tangy pineapple crunch (sue me, pineapple shamers).
One of the most popular options among my friends was the Rose Creamy Fettucine, and while I never order pasta at restaurants (I’m a snob who believes I can cook good enough pasta at home), this is one I would also order on my own.
Perhaps my favorite choice is the Calzone Burger. A juicy bean patty and melted vegan cheese is stuffed inside a crunchy bread pouch. When you bite into it, a burst of oil and spice fill your taste buds. Matched with the vegan cheese dip and side salad, it really is the stuff of dreams.
Additionally, the cuban wedges are not to be missed. As for dessert, I’ve only ever had their cake and admittedly wasn’t so impressed by the peanut butter-chocolate option. Something about it was bitter and didn’t quite satisfy my after-dinner cravings. However, their other options are very popular, particularly their cakes offering more traditional Korean flavors like mugwort.
There’s very little to complain about when it comes to Nammi Plant Lab’s atmosphere. Although the staircase up to the restaurant is a bit dim and gloomy, the burst of light that follows upon your entrance is sure to make up for it. Large windows open up behind the bakery counter and filter in the natural sunshine. Meanwhile, the white walls emphasize a summery warmth alongside wooden tables. It’s a great place to come for food, but also for some peace of mind. If I had to label it in design terms, I would go for ‘rustic Scandinavian’.
The staff does a terrific job of taking care of the plethora of plants, which decorate the restaurant high and low. Additionally, the somewhat open nature of the bakery and kitchen helps to maintain your interest while you’re waiting for your meal.
If you’ve just finished shopping or are carrying a large bag with you, the baskets underneath the tables help keep things organized. Some of the tables and chair settings are small for parties larger than 3, so if you’re coming with a bigger group, it may be best to call in advance with a booking. There’s no lobby, so waiting inside the restaurant is a no-go.
Nammi Plant Lab is a great lunch or dinner option for small groups in the mood for Western-style meals. Additionally, if you’re in the neighborhood and looking for a sweet treat or bakery item, Nammi Plant Lab is sure to oblige. Just make sure that it’s on your food bucket list when you’re making your vegan rounds in Seoul.