Jen was born in Seoul and spent some years in Korea teaching English. Since knowing her, I have come to truly appreciate the delicious differences in Korean cuisine over every other cuisine and, especially, over other Asian foods.
One of our regular places to eat is a small restaurant near Cornell University called Koko. We ate there before becoming vegan and they were always very accommodating with Jen’s vegetarianism, and they are just as accommodating with our vegan requirements. If all the area restaurants took their same approach to customer service, vegans could dine anywhere.
Traditional Korean dishes, especially barbecue, center around meat or fish. Even some dishes, like kimchi, may contain fish sauce and other non-vegan ingredients.
At Koko, we have our usual items (shown) but the staff and kitchen crew are always willing to adjust items as needed.
We will always order soon dubu chigae, a very spicy soft tofu soup that comes with rice. And, while we may have to pass on their kimchi (I plan on publishing my vegan kimchi recipe here), they are always generous with other Korean vegan side dishes to round out the meal. Most times, we will also order duk boki, rice cakes swimming in a spicy sweet sauce with onions and peppers. Even on the hottest days, this meal is satisfying and filling; without ever making you feel stuffed. Koko also offers dol sot bi bim bop, in a hot stone bowl. This is a blend of vegetables and tofu over rice (obviously, ordered without the egg).
Whenever we travel (including a recent trip to Paris) we always find one or two Korean restaurants to try. What’s your favorite?