Gwangju Restaurant Review: Go Vegetarian

By Whit Altizer

David Byun spreads the vegetarian gospel.

“I am a bit of an evangelist,” Byun confessed while taking a short break to talk about his restaurant, Chayon Chuwe, which literally means “naturalism‟, and to discuss the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle.

Byun has been serving delightful vegetarian food in Pungam-dong for more than two years now, but has been a lifelong vegetarian.

“There is so much pollution in the food now,” Byun said. “I serve natural food; it is better for people.”

Chayon Chuwe is a great respite for anyone who has eaten too much galbi and bulgolgi in Korea. Byun offers as much of the all- natural food and non-meat eats you can eat for W10,000.

Byun uses no artificial flavors, eggs or margarine. He cooks the food in natural olive oil and only uses organic vegetables.

Most of their vegetables come from a farm he owns outside of Gwangju. veggie2

Chayon Chuwe is definitely worth the trip to Pungam- dong if you live downtown. As it says on one of its signs, “You are the very blessing” and Byun certainly makes you feel that way when you visit.. “I am just happy to supply healthy food to everyone,” he says with a sincere smile.

veggie coverSome highlights:

Spaghetti: Byun says that the sauce is made fresh daily from organic tomatoes. Unlike the cafeteria school, don’t expect to find Spam in this sauce. Just a great tomato sauce that rivals the Italian‟s version.

Pizza: This is the only dish here that has any dairy in it. Itisa very good vegetable pizza made from scratch.

Non-meat meat: It‟s made with gluten, sunflower and pumpkin types of nuts. If you just have to have something with a meaty taste, you can find its flavor in several dishes, but it never moos.

Smooth tofu: This is a smooth, silky alternative to firm tofu. A great side dish.

Rice cakes:
Byun says they serve about eight different types of rice cakes. These are my favorite in town. They are not too sweet and do not ooze with sugary goo, but definitely act as a great dessert.

Homemade salad dressings:
They have everything from cabbage, tofu, and kiwi to beet dressing for all of those “hard-to-eat” raw vegetables. I mixed grape tomatoes with the kiwi dressing and thought I was eating a fruit dessert. Fantastic.

A vegetarian grocery store:
Just inside the door you can stock up on plenty of vegetarian goods such as flaxseed and honey from Jeju Island. Byun‟s mom even makes an all-natural grape juice.

: Chayon Chuwe
Cost per person: W11,000
Location: Pungam-dong, Gwangju
Hours: 12-3 p.m., 5:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday—Thursday. 12 to 3 p.m. Fridays

Whit Altizer is an American living in Gwangju. E-mail him at [email protected]