If you're a vegan traveling around or living in South Korea, Seoul has a lot of (new!) vegan bakeries, restaurants and just hidden menu options for delicious meals, both western and Korean style. On a short trip to Seoul, I visited and taste-tested as many places as I could, and Cafe The Bread Blue was my first stop. Here's my review of this lovely little bakery in central Seoul with its motto of No Eggs, No Butter, No Milk.
You can find The Bread Blue, or Paran Bbang, near Hongdae in Sinchon area at this address:
Seoulsi Mapogu Sinchonro 12 Dagil 3 (Nogosangdong by the old address system)
They offer custom cakes for birthdays and the like, too, if you place your order in advance at this phone number: 070 4405 0723
I think the staff or at least the owner speak a bit of English, but I forgot to ask!
After the long search for a wedding guest outfit in the shopping paradise that is Hongdae, The Bread Blue had the perfect sugary treats to help me recharge! It's a bit of a walk from Hongdae to the corner of Sinchon where The Bread Blue is located, but hey, I wanted to work up an appetite anyway!
Vegan Options when Traveling around Korea
Seoul has, over the last couple of years, seen a lot of vegan options pop up. Where there previously were only traditional Buddhist temple food restaurants offering vegan food and the random Korean dishes which were "accidentally" vegan like Kongguksu, you can now find cafes, bakeries, and both western and Korean style restaurants specializing in vegan options.
So, of course, when I went to Seoul for the weekend, I couldn't wait to get my hands on delicious, plant-based cakes, lattes and whatever else I'd be able to find!
My options on Jeju are limited to (totally delicious) traditional, temple-cuisine-inspired restaurants like Jayeoneuro and a couple fusion restaurants with vegan menu items, but to be able to visit a cafe and find vegan desserts is still a bit of a dream...
All the sugary goodness!
I'm quite the healthy vegan, though not entirely by choice. Living on Jeju forces me to cook and bake from scratch most of the time and I prefer the simplicity of bread to elaborate cake baking sessions. For a year or so I'd only ever eaten rice cakes, homemade banana bread or similarly "healthy" desserts - imagine how overwhelmed I was by the sheer number of cakes, pastries, puddings, and sweets here!
Seriously, how to choose? Everything looked wonderful...
Since I bake for myself a lot, I'm all for trying new things that would be too complicated/time-consuming or require too many special ingredients at home. The vegan Ganache Tarte definitely looked promising!
There were packaged cookies, simple breads, and some savory dishes like sandwiches available too. I only noticed when preparing this blog post that I didn't take a single picture of the salty/savory section of the bakery! My brain and camera were focused on the desserts...
Taste-Testing! Vegan Dessert in Seoul's Cafe The Bread Blue
In the end, we went with the Montblanc dessert! It's my husband's favorite dessert and also something I'd eaten a lot when I was a child since my dad loves the similar "marron vermicelle" in Switzerland. Childhood memories!
And really, there's no way I'll ever make this at home!
Spoiler alert: It was delicious! I don't like saying that a Vegan dessert tastes exactly like a non-vegan one, because a) I'm not sure if my taste buds aren't a bit forgetful b) there are good and bad versions of any recipe out there, anyway. But the chestnut vermicelle had the perfect texture, it wasn't too sweet (a bit of an issue with most desserts sold in Korea...), the tarte and cream at the bottom just melted in my mouth and we had a fight over who got to eat the chestnut hidden inside this little sugar mountain. (Went 50/50 in the end! Marriage saved!)
We also got a free red bean paste bun (which I took with me as a snack for the next day...) and ordered soy milk lattes. Disclaimer: I hate the soy milk lattes at Starbucks. They drown their lattes in milk... If you like to have coffee that actually still tastes like coffee, I can definitely recommend the lattes here at Paran Bbang!
I regret not having bought more - like maybe a cookie or two (or ten) and some of their sandwiches looked great, too. Next time!
Cafe The Bread Blue Review:
So, in short: A cozy vegan cafe and bakery, with delicious breads, desserts, and savory meals, tea and coffee, all clearly labeled for your vegan/lactose-intolerant needs. Located in Sinchon near Hongdae, so it's easy to reach as a tourist, too. Staff is super friendly, helpful and gives away free goods, which is always a plus! Affordable prices and large selection. We'll definitely be back!
You can find The Bread Blue on Happy Cow for information on opening hours, too.