- A beautiful spread of
food, nursed by the earth,
raised by the sunlight
‘Healing’ is a buzzword attracting great interest
in Korea these days. There was even a popular song, “October Rain” by Yoon
Gun, with a refrain that went “Healing pilyo-hae
[I need healing].” When daily life gets so frantic that it’s hard to even
catch your breath, you’ve got to do something to get away from the
hectic routine. If you were to ask me what little thimgs help me to cope, I might
say sharing dinner and affable conversation with like-minded people. For me, that’s
healing. What is healing to you? What do you do, when, and with whom?
I would like to introduce a praiseworthy
restaurant in Gyeongju that is healing to both mind and body. Located in
Mulcheon Village, near Gyeongju’s Bomun Lake resort, it’s called ‘Healing
Kitchen.’ You can sense its character from the name alone, can’t you? Healing
Kitchen is a vegetarian restaurant using ingredients nursed by the earth and raised
by the sunlight, exuding an earthy aroma. Let me tell you about the cozy
dinner I enjoyed at Healing Kitchen.
About Healing Kitchen…
From the very first stage of opening the
restaurant, the whole process was very sound. Consulting services were
provided by Mr. Lee Do-kyeong, an expert in vegetarian cuisine who is
originally from Gyeongju and whose books include Soul
Food, I’m a Vegetarian Chef, and Diet
Healthy Doshirak. Mr. Lee took the position of consultant for Healing
Kitchen, wanting to share healthy cuisine at a vegetarian restaurant in his
hometown. On top of that, his younger brother, who is also a top student of Mr.
Lee’s, and Mr. Lee’s cousin Gyu-dong Choi, the pretty lady in the accompanying
photo, joined forces and opened the restaurant.
As a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Healing
Kitchen doesn’t use any dairy or animal products, basically. Also, in the
interest of using only the freshest ingredients and contributing to local agriculture,
Healing Kitchen finds and uses local Gyeongju resources as much as possible.
The mushrooms used in the ‘steak’ and pasta are from Geoncheon-eup, a
well-known mushroom growing area. The brown rice is from Cheonbuk-myeon, the paprika from
Yangnam-myeon, and the pine
bud, mugwort, and apricot enzymes come from Hyangjungwon, a fermented-food
specialty house in Gangdong-myeon. Healing Kitchen is all about ‘made in, by, and of Gyeongju.’
How about this dinner~
Doesn’t it look delightful?
The dinner table is boisterous, with four
women gathered together for the first time in a long while. Greetings and hellos
are being exchanged, along with amiable conversation and delicious meals
prepared by Healing Kitchen. The menu for today’s dinner was determined with
lightning speed, accepting the recommendations of a friend who had already
tried it. We tasted mushroom steak, vegetable fried brown rice, wheat-gluten (seitan) bulgogi tortilla
wrap & salad, and soy cream whole wheat spaghetti. I already knew that,
just because it’s a vegetarian
restaurant, that didn’t mean that
everything they served had to be green, but I didn’t expect the range of flavors and variety of foods.
Personally, this is the menu item I would recommend
most strongly. Shiitake mushrooms are finely minced to create a thick steak. Soup
is served as an appetizer, and the steak is garnished with grilled vegetables.
The texture was better than beef. The mushrooms’ savory taste was aromatic, and
went perfectly with a very refreshing sauce, made from bokbunja, fermented Korean raspberries. As I’m sitting here typing
this, my mouth is watering just thinking of it. Imagine that, and you’ll definitely want to
try it for yourself. ^^ The garnishes accompanying the ‘steak’ will pique your
appetite, and as the Korean expression goes, all other things being equal, “choose the red skirt” (the better option).
WHEAT-GLUTEN BULGOGI TORTILLA WRAP & SALAD
This ‘fake meat’ bulgogi tortilla wrap (made
from the wheat gluten product known as seitan) looks like it would be perfect
to pack in a lunchbox. The seasonings were not too strong, so it makes a good
evening meal, too. Vegetarians and vegans can purchase ingredients for vegetarian
cooking at Healing Kitchen. Products like wheat-gluten (seitan) bulgogi and
soy-based mock meat are simple and quick to prepare.
SOY CREAM WHOLE WHEAT SPAGHETTI
This spaghetti features a cream sauce made from
soy milk. Although the pasta noodles are not as springy as regular refined wheat
noodles, the whole wheat gives them a rich, nutty flavor. As I tasted it, I
was amazed that such a rich dish could be created with the restrictions of
VEGETABLE FRIED BROWN RICE
For us Koreans who rely on rice for our energy, this tasty and healthy dish may be the most familiar one on the menu. So, I would also recommend this vegetable fried brown rice. Everyone knows that brown rice is good for your health, and the longer you chew it, the healthier you get. As long as you’re having brown rice, why not enjoy this healthy food in a tasty recipe that makes it a pleasure to eat, right?
Healing Kitchen also doubles
as a café that serves enzyme teas, including pine bud, apricot, mugwort, and peppermint, as well as a variety of organic herbal
teas. This place offers both meals and a pleasant ‘tea time.’
A fine dinner that GyeongjuLove celebrated at
How about that? That’s real healing, isn’t it? To those seeking healing, I have a declaration
to make. Heal your body and find peace of mind at Healing Kitchen.
TIP: You can find Healing
Kitchen in a village called Mulcheon-ri, located on the road that runs behind
Hanwha Resort near the entrance of Gyeongju’s Bomun Lake Resort. I would not
recommend taking the bus that goes directly to Mulcheon-ri because it follows a
very roundabout route, and doesn’t run very often. Instead, take Bus No. 10 or
700 to the Hanwha Resort stop at Bomun Lake Resort and then walk for about 20 minutes
towards the part of Mulcheon that has a lot of pensions. Or, you can take a
taxi from Hanwha Resort, which costs no more than the base rate. The owner of
the restaurant recommends the latter