Friday, November 15, 2019

Tosokchon Samgyetang {토속촌 삼계탕} - Best Korean Gingseng Chicken Soup in Seoul

Samgyetang {삼계탕} or Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup is a must-eat whenever you are in Korea. And if you can only choose to go to one place to eat it, then you definitely have to make your way to Tosokchon Samgyetang {토속촌 삼계탕} near Gyeongbokgong.

I daresay this world-famous Korean restaurant is recommended in any tourist book and it was apparently frequently by the late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

When you go, you'll likely see a long queue outside the restaurant, especially during the peak hours, but don't worry, as the queue moves pretty quickly since service is fast and the restaurant is rather spacious.

Made of Korean chicken, ginseng, chestnut, jujube, garlic, adlay, perilla seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, etc, this hearty traditional Korean soup is perfect comfort food after a long day of walking and sight-seeing in Gyeongbokgung {main royal palace of the Josean dynasty} and the nearby culture hub of Insadong (*^▽^*)

This was probably the 3rd or 4th time we ate at Tosokchon.

Sure, you can get Samgyetang almost anywhere in Seoul, and sure, Tosokchon is filled with tourists {both local and overseas}... but still, you will never be disappointed with the Samgyetang there and I love the atmosphere of eating from the traditional wooden tables on the wooden floors in the quaint heritage-filled hanok houses.

Note: Table-seating is available for those that prefer not to sit on the wooden floors.

At Tosokchon the menu is very simple as they specialise in Samgyetang. They offer Samgyetang {Ginseng Korean Chicken Soup}, Ogol-Samgyetang {Ginseng Korean Black Chicken Soup}, Tongdak {rotisserie chicken}, Dakdoritang {spicy chicken stew}, Haemul Pajeon {seafood & green onion pancake} and Sansam Baeyanggeun {chopped wild ginseng roots}. Prices start from 18,000 won {S$21} for a single serving of the soup.

You can choose to add extra wild ginseng to your Sangyetang for a slightly higher price, and if I'm not wrong, the Korean chicken they use in their dishes are reared in-house too.

To me, black chicken {or silky fowl as they call it} and white chicken tastes about the same, although at times, I do find that black chicken tastes slightly sweeter.

However, a lot of people {Asians?} think that black chicken meat is richer and has a more unique flavour, not to mention more health benefits, thus the higher price for its dishes. A bowl of Samgyetang here costs 18,000 won {S$21} while a bowl of Ogol-Samgyetang costs 24,000 won {S$28}.

As we had tea and desserts in an Insadong traditional teahouse not long ago, we only ordered a bowl of Samgyetang and Ogol-Samgyetang each, as well as a plate of Haemul Pajeon {15,000 won, or S$17.50}.

The soup does not come with rice {as there's already some glutinous rice stuffed inside the chicken} but the portion of Haemul Pajeon is pretty huge and satisfying for all 3 of us. Very delicious and a must-order for us. As with most Korean restaurants, the side dishes {banchan, 반찬} are free-flow.

For the banchan, they serve only kimchi and spicy pickled radish at Tosokchon. They used to put small containers of the banchan on the table for you to dish them out yourself, but now they have ready-portioned dishes that they serve to customers on arrival. If you wish to have extra servings, just ask the staff.

I must say that although the menu is very tourist-friendly and printed with English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean text, the staff are not really and I don't think most of them speak anything other than Korean. The younger ones may speak some English, or you could try speaking Chinese if need be, but most of the time they seem rather hurried and not that helpful. 

Oh, on arrival you are given a small cup of Insamju {ginseng liquor, 20% alcohol} to try too. You can drink it anytime before, during or after your meal but we prefer to just add them to the soup for extra oomph and yes, Lil Pumpkin drinks that too.

If you don't mind lugging them home, they sell their Insamju in 375ml bottles for 10,000won {S$11.70} each. Reasonably priced and makes for a nice souvenir for families and friends.

When you leave, just bring this little tablet with your table number to the counter to pay ( ◞・౪・)
We will definitely be back the next time we visit Seoul again!

Tosokchon Samgyetang {토속촌 삼계탕}
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Open daily 10am - 10pm
Tel: +82-2-737-7444

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