Templestay Building, 71 Gyeonji-dong, 5th Fl., Jongno-gu
HOURS: Mon.-Sat. noon-9 p.m.
COST: Entrées more than ₩25,000
SUBWAY: Anguk (Line 3)
For years Sanchon was the leading light of Seoul ’s rather limited temple cuisine scene, but relatively recent entrant Baru is a convincing contender for the title.
It’s run by Korea’s largest Buddhist order, and the dishes here seem to adhere more closely to monastic principles, eschewing the use of all animal products and bold spices. In some hands this would be a recipe for monotony, but Baru’s set meals here boast a surprising versatility of flavors and textures, with skill and imagination evident in each impeccably presented dish.
Who could have guessed that temple-dwellers would come up with creations as downright whimsical as jujeonburi, an assortment of fruit and wild vegetable chips, or sweet pumpkin tofu? A suitably contemplative atmosphere adds to the overall experience.