A few years ago, Korean food took the world by storm partly due to the hit K-drama series, Daejanggum 대장금, or as many Asian Chinese call it – 大长今. Together with this K-Food craze, Ginseng Chicken Soup or Samgyetang 삼계탕 also rose in popularity and people were arriving in Seoul by the throngs to try this unique South Korean dish. Ask any local Korean where the best Samgyetang might be, the restaurant Tosokchon 토속촌 would undoubtedly surface. So, we decide to dive straight to the restaurant to find out just why this place was proving to be so popular with both locals and tourists.
We arrived at Tosokchon on a Friday evening, at about 7pm. Strangely, there was no queue outside the restaurant and we managed to get a seat as soon as we walked in. The restaurant was also not that packed – quite different from what we’d imagined based on the reviews we had read. Perhaps this was due to the decrease in foreigners and tourists of late?
The interior of Tosokchon is quite a feast for the eyes in itself. The restaurant is housed in a refurbished Hanok 한옥 or traditional Korean house. Its rooms, sliding doors, elevated wooden floors and traditional roofs are kept to its original, with few modifications made.
We walked through the narrow alley before being greeted by large rooms with low tables for seating. We were quickly ushered to our places and efficiently handed the menus to place our order. We ordered two bowls of their legendary ginseng chicken soup – the only difference being one was the original and the other was black chicken. The former cost 15,000W and the latter 23,000W. There were also two cups of additional ginseng essence on the table – this was for adding to the meal if you prefer a stronger ginseng taste.
Within ten minutes, our meals arrived, complete with appetisers/side dishes or banchan 반찬. In fact, we aren’t exaggerating when we say we smelt our food before we saw it! It was that good! We quickly proceeded to pour the entire cup of additional ginseng juice into our broths (you can slowly pour this to your desired amount, but we both LOVE ginseng so we didn’t hesitate!)
The broths were rich and flavourful, and we could feel the endless goodness flowing into our stomachs with every mouthful. In fact, the broth was so rich that the soup was a milky white owing to hours of boiling. The chicken was tender and tasty, and the glutinous rice was piping hot, smooth and chewy. (Psst… pardon our pictures – our cameras kept getting ‘fogged up’ by all the steam from the hot soup!)
Besides the delicious glutinous rice, there were two whole ginsengs in the broth, adding some sweetness and light bitterness to the soup, which we both loved. (The one in the picture was half bitten by me, fyi 🙂 ) However if you prefer your soup to be saltier, do remember to add some pepper and salt, which are available upon request.
We gulped down every morsel of food, craving for more! Indeed, this was the best ginseng chicken we had ever tasted in our lives!
P.S. You don’t have to worry about language barriers here because menus are available in Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese!
Tosokchon Samgyetang 토속촌 삼계탕
Address: 5 Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Sajik-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Subway: Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2 (Walk straight for 200m, and turn left at the first junction)
Phone: +82 2-737-7444
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