Korean BBQ For Vegetarians

Korean BBQ For Vegetarians (Ordering Guide)

A Korean BBQ meal is unlike anything else. In addition to being a wonderful social and connecting way to eat, family and friends may cook and enjoy their favorite cuisine while gathered around an open barbecue. Going to a Korean BBQ restaurant with friends or family is only problematic if you are a vegetarian and are concerned that you won’t be able to participate as fully.

The good news is that, as a vegetarian, you may participate just like everyone else in having fun and enjoying delectable food during a Korean BBQ! What is vegetarian-friendly at a Korean BBQ? A Korean BBQ offers a variety of vegetarian options, such as cooking tofu and veggies in place of meat and consuming one of the many vegetarian side dishes in addition to the vegetarian cuisine you have grilled. Don’t let being a vegetarian prevent you from enjoying Korean BBQ. Continue reading to learn how to place the appropriate vegetarian order at a Korean BBQ!

What Is A Korean BBQ?

To understand how you can enjoy a Korean BBQ as a vegetarian, first grasp what a Korean BBQ is. A Korean BBQ is a meal in which you gather with friends or family around a barbecue and grill the meat or food you want to eat. Sauces, sides, and other foods are served beside the grill, allowing you to make a full meal out of it! In a Korean BBQ restaurant, you would be seated at a table around a grill, and the server would bring you raw meat or veggies to grill, as well as banchan, or side dishes.

Then you can cook your food at your own pace and according to your preferences, and enjoy it with the banchan supplied to the table! Korean BBQ is extremely adaptable; you can order the meat, vegetables, and sides that you choose, then take your time preparing and eating it!

Ordering Guide For Korean BBQ For Vegetarians

Have you scheduled a Korean barbecue date? Or perhaps you want to test out the neighborhood Korean BBQ joint with some pals but are unsure of what to order because you follow a vegetarian diet? Continue reading to learn about your alternatives and what to request! The proteins you can grill, the banchan you can order, and the sauces and dips you may eat are all included in this.

Protein Options

Protein items that can be grilled are what you would mostly desire at a Korean BBQ. After all, that is the experience’s main attraction, so you wouldn’t want to miss it! There are many other protein selections available, however it is a good idea to ask the Korean BBQ restaurant if they provide these. Here are a few vegetarian Korean BBQ protein options you can choose from.

1. Grilled Vegetables

There are so many various alternatives to pick from, but grilled veggies are one of your best bets at a Korean BBQ. There will likely be a variety of veggies available at the restaurant you are at, but some of the greatest choices are zucchini, tomato, eggplant, onions, peppers, and so much more. These can be cooked in a similar manner to cuts of meat, and to enhance the flavor, they can also be marinated and season before grilling.

Some, like eggplant, may even be dusted or breaded, giving them a meatier, richer feel. Additionally, there are some incredible dipping sauces and seasonings that may be utilized to improve the vegetables. Garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, chili powder, and these ingredients are all excellent for seasoning veggies for a Korean BBQ.

2. Mushrooms

Although we just discussed veggies, mushrooms need their own section because they’re a favorite dish at many various kinds of Korean BBQ restaurants! You can even test out a few different mushrooms on the grill to enjoy a diverse combination of flavors and textures at some Korean BBQ places that will even have a ton of mushrooms available. At a Korean BBQ, mushrooms may easily take the place of meat because they are meaty and tasty.

3. Tofu

Tofu is another excellent substitute for meat at a Korean BBQ, and, like grilled meat, it can be prepared and served in a variety of ways. Tofu slabs can be grilled at a Korean BBQ, and they can be marinated and seasoned before being grilled. You might also come across tofu skewers, which can be impaled with various vegetables and grilled together. Tofu bites and crispy tofu are two other tofu options that can provide some variation when you wish to avoid meat on a Korean BBQ grill.

4. Mock Meat

You can also cook mock meat, or vegetarian meat alternatives, on the grill at a Korean BBQ, but you should confirm that the establishment offers these. This might include tofu chicken, vegetarian sausages, beefless burgers, and many other things.

Banchan — Side Dishes

You can start considering the banchan, or sides, once you have decided on the vegetarian protein you will cook at the Korean BBQ. Small dishes called banchan are often served with a Korean BBQ to offer variety to the meal’s flavors and textures. You shouldn’t feel too constrained because there are many different vegetarian banchan options available, but be sure to read the ingredients list to prevent mistakenly eating animal products.

The top vegetarian banchan selections are listed below:

Sprouts of Soybean in Season
Hey Muchim (Cucumber Salad)
Avocado Kimchi
Nameul Sigeumchi (Seasoned Spinach)
By Gaji Namul (Steamed Eggplant)
Muchim Kongnamul
House of Bokkeum (Stir-Fried Zucchini)
Bokkeum, Oi (Stir-Fried Cucumbers)
Namul Sukju (Seasoned Bean Sprouts)
Saengchae Mu (Spicy Radish Salad)
Nameaji Doraji
Takebaechu Doenjang Muchim (Young Cabbage)
Mu Namul (Stir-Fried Radish)
Gaming Jorim (Glazed Potatoes)
I’m Gaji Bokkeum (Stir-Fried Eggplants)
Goingsari Namul (Fernbrake)
A Mu Saengchae (Sweet and Sour Radish Salad)
Indu Jorim (Pan-Fried Tofu)
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice any flavor at the Korean BBQ when it comes to banchan because all of these meals should be entirely vegetarian. Ensure once more that you confirm with the restaurant that these are in fact free of animal products.


A common food at a Korean BBQ is bibimbap, which is served in a single bowl. The most typical ingredients are rice, a variety Korean veggies, and gochujang chile paste. Sesame oil and soy sauce are two additional sauces and seasonings that can be used. Usually, grilled meat is added to bibimbap, but because you’ll be eating vegetarian protein, you may also add grilled veggies, tofu, or other meat alternatives to make the dish whole.

Bibimbap is a fantastic choice to order at a Korean BBQ, especially if you are a vegetarian because the rice will fill you up and the tastes are out of this world. You’ll go home feeling incredibly content! To ensure that no meat or other animal products are included in your vegetarian bibimbap, just make sure to let the restaurant know in advance. A fried egg may be placed on top of bibimbap, but if you follow a vegan diet, you must request that it not be included. This option is also available.

Sauces And Marinades

As previously said, you will most likely be served sauces and marinades in addition to the banchan you buy. These sauces may take Korean BBQ to the next level, so make sure to get some vegetarian options to go along with your meal. A traditional Korean BBQ marinade will have a sweet and sour balance and will be created mostly with soy sauce. Even if you order vegetarian protein to grill, make sure the marinade is vegetarian-friendly.

When looking for a marinade or sauce at a Korean BBQ, seek for the following components – all of which are suitable for a vegetarian diet:

Sauce de Soja
Brown Sugar Tamari
Pureed apples
Ginger \sGarlic
Sesame Seed Oil
Seeds of Sesame
Onion Green
Chipotle Powder
Maple Syrup with Black Pepper
Gochujang, a thick and spicy paste prepared from glutinous rice, red chile pepper flakes, fermented soybeans, and salt, is one of the most popular sauces or pastes offered during a Korean BBQ. This is typically acceptable for vegetarian diets, so you should be alright.

Cooking On A Hot Grill

One thing you should be wary about when attending a Korean BBQ is that you will likely be sharing the grill with others who will be grilling meat (unless everyone you are going with is vegetarian). The grill would have been used before to cook meat items, and while it should be cleaned between each grilling session, there might be some traces of meat left behind. While this is fine for some vegetarian diets, others might not want to grill their vegetarian protein alongside meat or where meat has been grilled before, so you could try to speak to the restaurant to try and help accommodate this.

Best Way To Feel Full At A Korean BBQ

If you follow a vegetarian diet, you might worry that your selections at a Korean BBQ are limited, but this really shouldn’t be the case. When it comes to proteins supplied that aren’t meat, chicken, or fish, the right Korean BBQ restaurant will give you quite a few different alternatives, and you should have plenty of vegetarian protein to grill. Other than this, there ought to be a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan banchan alternatives, which, if you order a few, may be rather filling.

The next best thing to do is to get a lot of rice to go along with your Korean BBQ if you still don’t feel satisfied. Although it may appear monotonous at first, you may add a variety of wonderful sauces, veggies, and grilled meats and fish to the rice. Vegetarians shouldn’t ever feel deprived after eating at a Korean BBQ because there should always be an abundance of food available, and the variety of flavors and tastes should leave you feeling content and joyful.

Can I Eat Korean BBQ As A Vegan?

It’s a little bit simpler to discover restaurants, like Korean BBQs, that accept vegetarian orders than it is to find ones that just serve vegan food, but it’s still feasible. Vegans eating Korean BBQ should essentially follow the same rules as vegetarians when placing their orders; they only need to keep a look out for any dishes that might include animal byproducts. Check to make sure no eggs or honey were used in the preparation or marinades of the proteins, which should still be tofu, veggies, and meat replacements, before grilling them.

Another thing to watch out for is while ordering bibimbap, which can be entirely vegan if there isn’t an egg on top of the meal. As long as no honey or other animal byproducts are used in the sauce’s preparation, many of the sauces and marinades used in banchan and proteins can also be made entirely vegan. You should be able to discover at least one Korean BBQ restaurant that offers vegan options because they are becoming more and more prevalent worldwide. With no meat or other animal products, you can still enjoy all the advantages and flavors of a Korean BBQ!

Final Thoughts

No matter if you’re preparing a Korean BBQ at home or visiting a local restaurant, vegetarians can still appreciate Korean barbecue. You can replace meat with a variety of vegetarian-friendly options, and many of the banchan dishes are also vegetarian. You will feel incredibly happy if you order a lot of banchan, order a lot of vegetables and tofu, marinade or season them before grilling, and include a lot of rice with your Korean BBQ. If you are still hesitant to eat at a Korean BBQ as a vegetarian, get in touch with the restaurant in advance to learn about all of your alternatives and to select the best location for you.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve learned everything there is to know about Korean BBQ and how to eat it as a vegetarian or vegan, here are some follow-up questions.

What are popular Korean vegetables?

Knowing which vegetables are frequently used in Korean cooking will help you understand what to expect at a Korean BBQ or restaurant. Napa cabbage, potato, cucumber, Korean radish, sweet potato, bean sprouts, spinach, garlic, onions, zucchini, seaweed, mushrooms, and chili peppers are a few of the most well-liked vegetables in Korea.

Do Korean restaurants have vegan options?

You should check with the restaurant directly, but the majority of Korean eateries will provide vegan options that are based on tofu, rice, and vegetables.

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