A friend invited me to meet her at the Vegan festival and I was not properly prepared at all. Vegan means without he use of animals or animal by products. This is used for both diet and lifestyle meaning most things are made from plants and nothing like dairy, eggs or honey is used in making food or consumed.
Almost everyone I saw at the festival brought their own supplies. I saw tons of people wandering around eating out of glass containers with their own forks/spoons/chopsticks. I saw people having their coffee filled up in tumblers. It felt like a block party where everyone had just popped out of their house with their own plates before chatting with their neighbors. I, of course, didn’t have any of my own containers in my bag. I had cash, I figured cash was a necessity since it was an outdoor festival. But that’s about as prepared as I was. Thankfully there was a little booth where you could rent their dishware, like these in the boxes pictured above. Which I thought was pretty cool. However I took what I was given in the containers/on the plates the vendors had, mostly because I kept jumping in ridiculously long lines and didn’t want to have to run back and rent a plate and then have to wait even longer.
First up I got in line for doughnuts. The line was huge and a person who’d come with my friend said that it was the thing they went straight for, because the line had been so long last year. So with a glowing review I got in line and waited to grab a doughnut.
The line was long. Very long. Several people in front of me had brought jumbo containers and bought tons of doughnuts, which made me a bit nervous until they put more out. My friends also left to grab other foods and eventually came back to give me money to buy them something.
For the three of us we each got one thing. I got a dark chocolate caramel doughnut and my friends got a mocha brownie and a green tea with strawberry jam doughnut (I was told to just pick something out for her, so I did).
Here’s the thing at the vegan festival. Popularity doesn’t always mean it’s actually good. I waited in line for that dark chocolate caramel doughnut forever and it was not worth it. Mind you I’m not vegan. For a vegan who hasn’t had a doughnut in a long time it might be great. But this was more like an overly sweet dense and dry bagel pretending it was doughnut. The caramel? A filling in the center like the cream cheese on a bagel. It was two complete separate halves stuck together with caramel as the glue and doused in the messiest icing imaginable. It was not easy to eat. It left me feeling like a dog who’d just taken on a tub of peanut butter without any water in sight. And my friends? Not the biggest fans of their own dry desserts. It does however get an A+ on looks. Those are some mighty appetizing looking doughnuts and brownie but they settled in my stomach like a rock and I was without water.
There was a lot of really cool sounding food as I wandered around. Jackfruit sloopy joes and bbq veggie burgers sounded delightful. I’ve always wanted to try a jackfruit masquerading as meat. However after a quick chat with the people working there I learned both were spicy and thus beyond my ability to enjoy. Which turned out to be a theme. Everyone was making their food quite spicy and thus my options were rather limited. At that point I really just wanted a black bean burger. My aunt back home makes great ones and the only black beans I can find here are dry which requires me to soak them for several days so I don’t accidentally poison myself…and I don’t have time for that. However I didn’t find any. Instead I spotted a long line for burgers.
Monks Butcher is a vegetarian friendly restaurant found in Itaewon that was working overtime making their one thing: Burgers.
The line was insanely long and it didn’t move. At all. Eventually I told my friends to go get what else they wanted. I.e. drinks/ find us a seat so we could divide and conquer. Which under the blue skies and beating sun I instantly regretted. It was my second long line and it was at least an hour that I waited to get tickets. Since it was a small booth with only about 2-3 people working they were working in a very specific order: Take about 10 orders and payment. Make burgers. Call numbers. Give out burgers. Take new orders.
Because people had left due to how long it took to cook and make the burgers people would wander off and they’d keep calling out numbers and no one would come forward and claim their burger, which slowed down the process by a lot. But eventually, when I was utterly exhausted we finally got our burgers.
The burgers included Beyond Meat. (Which is a brand of meatless patties made from plants.) They were pretty good but by the time I got to sit down and eat I was utterly exhausted and
a little bitter hangry. The burger was decent, however it also had sriracha mayo on it which is spicy so my enjoyment of it was greatly decreased. It also hadn’t been a cheap burger so I was wishing I’d found something else to enjoy instead.
The final thing I got before leaving was a turmeric latte. It was pretty good and helped wash down the donuts which I’d saved for a dessert.
My phone decided the camera wouldn’t work so thank you to GuacandrollinSeoul for being patient taking all the pictures I asked her to and sharing them with me.
I think my first vegan festival was a mixed success. I kind of wish I’d had the foresight or even just a heads up to bring my own containers. It was windy and the ground was dusty and I nearly lost my burger just walking to a table to sit down. I also wouldn’t have ended up with chocolate all over my bag from the doughnut if I’d brought some sort of glassware to put it in. I also wish I hadn’t decided to wait in lines the entire time. I feel like I didn’t get to fully enjoy the festival and ended up just hot and hangry by the time I did get my food. It was probably not the best, but there was a lot of cool things I did enjoy like the whole block party feel of it and the fact they’d set up areas for you to wash your dishes (borrowed or your own). And that there were so many options. I didn’t think vegan was an easy life style to maintain in Korea but it was a packed festival and everyone was very friendly.