Mipa Lee is the kind of girl that everybody wants to be friends with. Not only is she creative and cute, she’s a compassionate consumer and a prolific baker. But even if we can’t all be BFF with Mipa, we can live vicariously through her vegan blog, Alien’s Day Out and its off-shoot bake shop. Through her alias, she’s brought together people in the name of genuinely good food and inspired vegan transplants and curious omnivores to pursue a cruelty-free life in what can sometimes seem like one of the most carnivorous cities in the world.
So, where does this vegan extraordinaire hang out? What does her city look like? We asked Mipa to map out her Seoul for us.
Favorite vegan restaurant: Achasan Loving Hut Buffet
“You simply cannot beat an all-you-can eat, diverse spread of 100% cruelty-free food, for the affordable price of 12,000 won (on weekdays). Not only is the food delicious, healthful and vegan, the selection is almost overwhelming: sushi rolls, soy and wheat meats, salads, common Korean side dishes, noodles made-to-order, hot soups, dumplings and even desserts. I guarantee that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Even my hardcore meat-loving, macho male friends have enjoyed eating here!”
Loving Hut, 53-10 Guui-dong, Gwangjin-gu (02-453-2112)
Favorite hiking trail: Achasan
“While I was living in on the East side of Seoul, one of my favorite outdoor activities was hiking up Achasan. The hike itself is not very difficult, with only one very steep climb in the beginning before it levels off and is relatively easy. I always seemed to find a new trail that led to a different look-out point over the city so I never got bored, no matter how many times I went. There’s also a Buddhist temple somewhat hidden in the side of the mountain which is quite beautiful and tranquil. Oh, and the best part is that after your hike, you can reward yourself with a feast at the Achasan Loving Hut buffet!”
Achasan, Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu
Favorite place to shop: Bangsan Baking Market
“As a self-proclaimed baking-supply hoarder, one of my favorite places to shop is the Bangsan Baking Market by Dongdaemun. It’s not exactly a huge market, but I still love it because everything is mashed into such a tiny area. It might seem like chaos, but if you take your time and appreciate the mess of it all, you can find all sorts of goodies from marzipan and bricks of bakers’ chocolate, to orange extract and blackstrap molasses. I can easily spend several hours exploring each tiny shop in each alleyway, trying to choose between hundreds of different cookie cutter shapes or paper muffin cups. It’s a baker’s paradise!”
Bangsan Market, 251-1 Jung-gu, Jugyo-dong
Favorite place for Korean street food: Gwangjang Market (광장시장)
“After shopping at the Bangsan Market, I often like to step across the Cheongyecheon stream and hit up the Gwangjang open market for some delicious vegan eats. Here, you will find whatever type of Korean street food you are craving, whether it be fried pancakes, ddeokbokki, steaming red bean porridge, or bibimbab where you get to select the ingredients. Not only is the food tasty, but you also get a complete and authentic cultural experience as you are surrounded by the noisy sounds, damp smells, and crowded sights of the market place.”
Gwangjang Market, 6-1 Yeji-dong, Jongno-gu
Favorite place to hang out, both night and day: Hongdae
“It’s no secret that Hongdae is known for its night-time party scene with numerous clubs and live music bars catering to the hip, young, and carefree. However, when the sun is up, Hongdae is just as interesting with unique cafes, art supply stores, street art, and vintage clothing boutiques. There is a creative energy running through this part of Seoul, that I always leave with loads of inspiration for my own creative projects. Also, I could never tire of exploring Hongdae’s residential alleyways and visiting some of my favorite veg-friendly cafes such as Cook and Book cafe, Sakkura, and Naya Cafe. I also always love stopping by either Paul & Paulina or the Veggie Holic to stock up on vegan bread!”
Cook and Book (쿡앤북) 333-39 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu (02-325-1028)
Sakkura (사쿠라) 161-10 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu (02-337-3969)
Naya Cafe (나야카페) 396-54 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu (02-322-2737)
Paul & Paulina (폴앤폴리나) 344-6 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu (02-333-0185)
Vegi Holic (베지홀릭) 204-59 Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu (070-4114-0458)
Favorite public space: Olympic Park
“This park is so large that it makes you forget that you are still in a bustling metropolis. With plenty of open grassy lawns, shady trees, and even flower or vegetable gardens, it’s the perfect getaway without actually having to get out of the city. I enjoy coming here during the week on a mid-summer’s afternoon, just to feel grass between my toes, enjoy a good book or take a nap. You can also see some art at the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art, chill at a cafe, or rent a bike and go for a ride.
Olympic Park, 88 Bangyi-dong, Songpa-gu
Visit Alien’s Day Out Bake Shop for vegan baked goods made from 100% organic, unrefined cane sugar and organic soy milk. For more immediate gratification, find Mipa’s wholesome goodies at her bake sale fundraiser for Africa this Saturday, September 17 at Suji’s in Itaewon (Facebook event page).
Explore A Vegan’s Map of Seoul charted out on Google Maps.
Read An Actor’s Map of Seoul.