We have all been there, on one side or the other. You are meeting up with someone who eats very differently than you and while most places, especially in Long Beach, have a few vegan or vegetarian options there is a chance your non-meat-eating friend will end up with a plate of fries and or a combination of sides as their main course. The struggle is real when you are vegan, vegetarian, or just trying to eat less meat. I was a vegan for years and remember the look of disappointment on my more carnivorous friends faces when it was my turn to choose the place we all went for dinner.
At Sura, in downtown Long Beach, you don’t have to leave anyone disappointed. Their menu is diverse, featuring authentic Korean dishes alongside their popular fusion (definitely check out the Bulgogi Fries if you haven’t already). While their Spicy Pork, Bulgogi, and Galbi Short Ribs are front and center, you won’t struggle to find quality vegan or vegatarian options. Not only do they have a full vegan menu, they do nearly indistinguishable versions of those traditional Korean BBQ favorites completely sans meat. Their Vegan Dumpling Soup has long been a favorite hangover food of mine, but I was excited to try their new Vegan Bulgogi BBQ. Of course, for posterity, I had to try both the vegan and original versions side by side and couldn’t believe how similar the flavor, texture, and appearance all were. The vegan bulgogi was chewy in that pleasant way steak is and finished with a smoky flavor. One of their more popular dishes is vegan in every form. The Shitake Shroom Fries are perfectly breaded shitake mushrooms served alongside a vegan aioli with just the right amount of bite to pair with the earthy mushrooms. Because the integrity of the food is the important to Sura, they use separate cookware and fryers dedicated to only vegan food.
The rest of their menu is nothing to be overlooked. If you’re not in the way of avoiding animal products there’s a huge offering of Korean BBQ classics and a few unique dishes. Their selection of tofu soups and even a hangover ramen are impressive with customizable heat levels ranging from plain to the daunting inferno level which lives up to its name. The traditional BBQ plates are always cooked to perfection and come out sizzling on a hot plate. If you like something a little sweet the dessert options are unique and satisfying. I tried to Hoetteok Pancake topped with vegan Strawberry Shortcake ice cream from Huglife. Inside the pancake is a comforting brown sugar concoction and it’s all covered in almond slivers and a little powdered sugar. For those of you who like imbibe, Sura also has a great selection of flavored Soju, beers, and hard kombuchas on tap and for the non-drinkers there’s always the delicious and local Fine Feathers Kombucha available as well. There truly is not a bad thing on the menu and you can easily find something for any palate no matter how diverse the taste buds, or dietary restrictions, in your lunch crew are, including gluten free options.