It’s January and many people are looking at their food differently as part of their New Year’s resolutions. Lots of people sample veganism or vegetarianism in January, which I think is a great. Hopefully they gain some new favourite foods in the process.
Whether you’re a seasoned vegan, trying out veganism or vegetarianism temporarily, or just curious about vegan Korean foods, I hope you try these dishes or others like them, because the world of vegan Korean food is pretty wonderful.
My food-related plan for this year is similar to last year. I want to try more new foods, and keep trying out new recipes at home. Trying more Korean food last year was something that I really enjoyed, so I want to keep on the same path, and keep discovering more Korean foods I enjoy, and many other types of cuisine.
Mot Na Son
My last Korean meal of 2017 was at Mot Na Son Traditional Korean Restaurant. I went there on a bit of a whim one day. I hadn’t seen the menu, so I was taking a chance going there. Fortunately, I was not disappointed!
We spoke to the server about vegan options and he was very accommodating. He told us that several dishes could be modified to be vegan.
The menu has the names of dishes written in Korean and then a short description of the food in English. So if you can’t read Korean and you’re looking for kongbiji, you need to look for “napa cabbage in a ground bean soup.”
So just realize that you might not see the name of the food you’re looking for, but just read the descriptions and ask questions if need be.
We ordered the kongbiji and tteokbokki (listed as spicy rice cake). We asked if the tteokbokki could be done without the fish and were told that it could, so I was very happy to be able to order it.
There are a couple of exceptions to the menu’s naming system. The japchae is written in brackets as “job chae” and then says “sweet potato noodle w/veggies.” They also list bibimbap in that way, as “be bim bob” and then as “veggies on rice.”
We only ordered three items, but I’m sure there are other dishes on the menu that can be made vegan. There was at least one other tofu soup option that was vegan, and if you ask questions, I’m sure they will help you figure out what you can order.
My friend asked questions in Korean, but the server also spoke to me in amazing English, so ordering in either language would have been fine.
For banchan (반찬, side dishes) there were spicy sprouts and pickled spicy cucumber. They also brought some kimchi and veggies that were not vegan, so be sure to clarify before digging into any of the side dishes. I only had the sprouts, but I was told that the cucumbers were vegan as well.
The kongbiji (콩비지, cabbage in a ground soybean soup) was delicious. The soybean is ground up, so you can’t see it in the soup, but it makes the broth very thick and hearty. The soup had lots of cabbage, and the broth was spicy. I loved the flavour of this soup!
The tteokbokki (떡볶이, stir-fried rice cakes) was really good. We asked if the tteokbokki could be done without the fish and were told that it could, so I was very happy to be able to order it. It was a little spicy, nice and chewy, and had some sliced vegetables on it. Our server actually came by the table at one point and stirred this dish so that it was thoroughly coated in the sauce.
We ordered the japchae (잪채, sweet potato noodles with vegetables) and it was huge. It had lots of onion, and also had carrot, spinach, and mushrooms. The japchae was good, but the sauce was not incredibly flavourful.
The restaurant is on the smaller side, but didn’t feel cramped. It was a clean, pleasant setting, with slightly eclectic (but fun) decorations around the cash area.
There is a small television near the cash and another near the entrance. They and played K-pop videos and K-dramas while we were there, which I enjoyed.
One thing that was less than ideal for a vegan was that they brought out grills for people to grill meat at the table. I expect to see meat at non-vegan restaurants, of course, but it’s a bit more unpleasant to see/smell/hear it being grilled right beside my table. This is only done upon request, so it might be a rare occurrence.
This restaurant had the most helpful, hands-on service I had experienced in years. Our server answered all of our questions, checked in with us often, and joked and was friendly. When we asked to have boxes to bring some leftovers home, he brought us boxes for every dish and helped us pack them all up in bags, trying to pack them in the best way to get them home safely.
Overall, I would give Mot Na Son a 4 out of 5. The food was good, the service was great, and they catered to my dietary restrictions with ease.
Just the Facts
- Name: Mot Na Son Traditional Korean Restaurant
- Address: 5374 Yonge Street (South of Yonge and Finch)
- Phone: 416-222-1170