Friday, 12 December 2008

Tosokchon and their famous Samgyetang

If you have to try Samgyetang, then you have to try it at Tosokchon.

Samgyetang (삼계탕): Chicken ginseng soup. A whole spring chicken
stuffed with glutinous rice, dates and gingko nuts boiled in a herbal ginseng broth.

Every restaurant has a their own unique Samgyetang recipe. Tosokchon is liked by so many because their Samgyetang broth is rich, flavourful and simmered to perfection.

While in Seoul, the K-popped! Trio met up with Seoul Sista twice. On our second meeting, Seoul Sista took Liz and I to Samcheong-dong for some comfort food. During the first meeting, the Trio were whisked to a Hanok style restaurant for some darn good Samgyetang.

We met Seoul Sista in Myeongdong one evening. Almost immediately she asked us what foods we’d like to try. Upon hearing “Samgyetang”, Seoul Sista clapped her hands and went, “AH! I know just the place!”

I’m so glad I have friends who love food just as much as I do. ^_^

Arrival: Seoul Sista leads the Trio into Tosokchon.

Tosokchon's samgyetang is extremely popular among the locals and visitors alike. The restaurant is also a favourite of the previous South Korean president, President Roh Moo-hyun.

At night, the exterior of Tosokchon is non-descript. A neon sign brought our attention to the modest entrance of the restaurant. As we entered the establishment, Tosokchon was anything but modest. In fact, it looked like a small Hanok village to me.

Restaurant or village?: The interior of Tosokchon is huge.
Come to Tosokchon in the Summer and battle hordes of customers for
a bowl of their famous Samgyetang.

Traditional: One of Tosokchon's many Hanok style dining rooms.
The ondol floors are pleasantly warm and comfortable during the colder months.

We sat down on the warm ondol floors and got comfortable. While we waited for our meal to arrive, we were served pots of very nicely made radish and cabbage kimchi. When we were served, the Trio were shocked to see that Seoul Sista had ordered FOUR cauldrons (well, they looked that big to me) of samgyetang.

Eating Samgyetang: You're given ginseng wine with your bowl of Samgyetang. Either drink it, or add it to your soup. First, eat the chicken, dipping the stewed meat in a salt and pepper seasoning if you wish. Discard the bones in the steel pot provided, then stir the remaining glutinous rice in the broth and eat your Samgyetang like congee.

The samgyetang was very good and nothing was left to waste. I guess those bowls weren't that big afterall. :)

In traditional Korean medicine, it is believed that the best way to fight off the summer heat is to eat foods that will heat you up. In other words, to fight fire with fire. Perhaps there is some truth in that, but I found samgyetang perfectly fitting for the cold as the next day (and the day after) I was walking around Seoul in November in just a shirt. Imagine what ginseng would do to me in summer!

Trio moment: A toast to great food and great company!

The bill:
Samgyetang at Tosokchon: KRW15,000 per bowl

We ordered a bowl each, which seemed enormous but we were able to polish off our bowls. The restaurant also serves other items which, I've been told, are also very good.

Getting there:
Stop at Gyeongbokgung station on subway Line 3 and leave the station at Exit #2. Tosokchon is a 5 minute walk from here. The restaurant is well-known and locals should be able to assist you with directions.


Orchid said...

I was sitting at the back & the cab driver who brought us there looked like Bae Yong Joong from the rear-view mirror!!! Serious! hehehe

ana said...

15,000 won is not so expensive for a good place like that. here, the cheapest korean meal is 15 euro. but usually i end up buying the 25 euro O_o. i cant help for the love of food! i wish to go there.

Anonymous said...

My grandpa also believes in having hot things in the summer to keep cool.

humairah said...

hello! i'm a new reader and i'm from singapore, and i think it's awesome that you guys are doing this guide to seoul thing! i'll be going to seoul next may to june, so i think your guide will be an enormous help. better than the lonelyplanet books i reckon! so thanks k-popped trio!

p.s i'm planning to go to seoul with a friend actually, just the two of us, and we're 18. do you think it's better to have an adult come along? thanks!

Rooster said...

@ humairah: Hi there! Welcome to K-popped! :) I'm glad our posts of Seoul are helpful to you.

I felt pretty safe in Seoul but you never know so always be on the alert. ;) I think it's ok for you 2 if you've traveled on your own before.

I'm not sure where the rough neighbourhoods are in Seoul. Maybe someone here can help us with that?


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