Grain Seoul, Healthy and delicious: Food that nourishes your body and your heart
Finding vegetarian or even healthy choices in Korea is not always an easy task even in Seoul, which must be one of the cities with the highest ratios of restaurant to resident.
In the last few years, there has been an increasing global trend of body consciousness in terms of health. Many of us believe that our bodies are a temple that we should treat with care and respect since it is the only one that we are given, but the food industry doesn’t always agree nor does it make this process easy.
More and more, “healthy choices” are becoming not so healthy. Genetically modified, filled with toxins, and in constant contact with numerous pollutants…So, when even vegetables could not be a healthy choice anymore, how can you make sure to have a nourishing meal when you are out?
The answer is eco- and health-conscious restaurants, a trend that has widely spread among cities like Berlin and one that Seoul is finally catching up with.
Visit Grain to eat delicious and healthy choices, but don’t forget to charge your phone because you will also be taking a whole ton of pictures.
Yeonnam-dong is defying Itaewon
Up until now, most healthy food choices have been concentrated in the Itaewon area. Well-known and adored restaurants like Plant and other healthy food spots have been visited religiously by grateful vegans, vegetarians, and health conscious inhabitants of Seoul that could not find food catering to their needs anywhere else.
But just one spot is not enough, Seoul is an enormous metropolis that houses over 20 million people (counting the suburban areas), so thankfully more and more passionate business owners are jumping onto the train of healthy food to present us not only delicious food choices but also nourishing and healthy options as well.
Grain is a spot that offers easily customizable food choices, something that I am sure many people living and traveling here will appreciate since it is a luxury not so easily available in Korea.
Taste does not have to be independent of health and that is something that the owner and team of new restaurant Grain believe wholeheartedly. A message that they are trying to spread through their specials and food options.
Grain is a relatively new spot, opening a bit less than a year ago in a beautiful corner of Yeonnam-dong. It is a vegetarian and vegan-friendly spot ready to shower you with extremely Instagrammable food.
From the decor to their dishes, everything at this restaurant is very flash deserving, so don’t forget to charge your phone because I am sure you will snap many pictures during your visit.
With an aesthetic that made me instantly go back to my two years living in Berlin, the chef and owner of Grain Jae Yun Choi, got the idea and inspiration to open this new place while traveling. Places like Hawaii or Europe seemed to have many healthy food options that were also tasty, but this was still an unheard of concept in most parts of Korea.
That is why the chef of 8 years decided to open his own spot to recreate the nukkim (느낌, feeling) of health and wellness he got while traveling.
Where does Grain come from?
Most Korean run places that focus on “healthy” food choices do it through rice-based dishes, but when I asked if any of the dishes at Grain contained rice, I was pleasantly surprised by their response:
“We do not wish to have rice – rice is easy to find everywhere else in Korea. Grains and oats can be just as delicious, healthy, and even more nutritious but are not so well known nor so easily available here.
That is why we wish to create more dishes that are grain-based like grain salad bowls or serve them cooked alongside vegetables, or even include different flour choices on our specials. That way, people can make healthy eating choices and discover that healthy foods can be delicious too.”
At Grain, they have a relatively small selection of dishes and just a few specials. I say relatively because the favorite dish among the team, the brunch bowls, can be your DIY project for the day. Not because you have to cook it yourself, of course, but because you can choose four to six ingredients to your taste.
But this is not the only customizable option on their menu; they have different alternatives also for flour or even milk to satisfy different types of taste and lifestyle choices. Thus, it is a spot that offers easily customizable food, something which I am sure many people living and traveling here will appreciate because it is a luxury not so easily available in Korea, where many times something can only be eaten as it is, even when only a small modification is requested.
We asked the small family-like team at Grain to help us choose from their favorite dishes. Our final selection was oatmeal pancakes, a green juice, a cafe latte, a rich and consistent avocado toast, a mushroom, egg, salmon, and avocado brunch bowl that was served with bread and yogurt, and my personal favorite of the menu, a huge surprise since I hardly ever eat meat and I am not a big fan of burgers, their hanu beef burger.
In terms of pancakes, I do recommend you the souffle pancakes, a wholemeal favorite among many visitors but if you really like cinnamon or you have any kind of gluten intolerance you can also opt for the oatmeal pancakes that do not contain any flour but are made out of a blend of oatmeal and bananas.
As you can see, not all their choices are vegan or vegetarian but they still aspire to make each and every dish as healthy as possible through fresh and high quality ingredients and great cooking techniques. For example, their hanu beef burger is prepared with 100% hanu beef and only round steaks, which is one of the leanest cuts.
Lean meat is one of the healthiest meats and, even though the meat Grain uses is already one of the leanest options, they still remove all the extra fat to make it an even better choice in terms of health and flavor, serving it medium-rare (if not requested otherwise) to let the true juicy taste of the beef surface in the dish.
A message from the team
We are right at the beginning of our journey; everything might not be perfect all the time because we are just starting, but we hope to grow along with the restaurant and customers to become better and give you an even better experience every day.
서울 마포구 동교로46길 23
Mapo-gu Donggyo-ro 46-gil 23
Editor: Lorena Jiménez
For: Groove Magazine May Issue
Photography by: Jackson Tritt
Curious for more?
To see the location of Grain Seoul go to minute 2:04 :
That was all for today on Grain Seoul, but you can always check some more of my articles.