Seoul Day 4: Samgyetang Ginseng Soup at Tosokchon

During our visit at Gyeongbokgung Palace, we experienced the first snow fall in Seoul for the winter season. Anyone who experienced snow for the first time will feel ecstatic, charmed and excited for the first few hours but as the snow started to melt and soak on your head or clothes, for sure one will start to feel annoyed and hungry. So we’ve decided to have our early lunch at a nearby known shop – Tosokchon – which is famous for their Samgyetang or Korean Chicken Ginseng Soup. It is suggested to come as early as possible as there might have long queue especially during lunch or dinner time.

Samgyetang or Chicken Ginseng Soup comes from the word Insam (en. ginseng) – gye (en. chicken) and tang (en. soup) which is consist primarily of a whole young chicken filled with garlic, rice, jujube (red date) and ginseng. Ideally, hot soups are best served during winter to ease the cold but on Korean custom it is best eaten during hot summer as it is believed to promote good health.

Actually, this is somehow similar to pinoy’s version of Arroz Caldo (Chicken Rice Porridge) but ours were lacked of chicken but more of rice and has no ginseng on the base ingredients.

 

HOW TO GET TO TOSOKCHON SAMGYETANG

From Gwanghwamun Gate, walk towards the Gyeongbokgung station (Pic-1). Turn right to Jahamun-ro street and walk for a few minutes (Pic-2). From Jahamun-ro 6 gil, cross pedestrian towards the opposite side of the street to Jahamun-ro 5-gil. Tosokchon restaurant is the only traditional house on that area.

Tosokchon is just near the Gyeongbokgung gate and subway station.
Pedestrian crossing to Tosokchon
Tosokchon is the only traditional-looking-house on this street.

Tosokchon is just near the Gyeongbokgung station so normally people visiting the palace tends to visit this restaurant as well. The exterior of the shop looks traditional house too so the feels and mood of the recent palace tour is still there. As the snow started to fall hard, we are lucky that there are no long lines when we arrived.

The interior is fascinating as well but at the same time might be confusing as there a lot of people already waiting inside and there seems to be no systematic order for those who’ve just arrived and staffs might not noticed you. On this case, don’t be intimidated and just approach personnel in the area. The restaurant has different sections or rooms; once entered you need to at least removed your shoes. The dining has traditional feels too as there are no usual table and chair setup. To dine, you need to sit on the floor – traditional style. The shop has modern table and chair setup for those who doesn’t want to sit on the floor but these rooms have limited availability and while more people coming in, we decided for the traditional seating instead.

Traditional seating at Tosokchon. They also have the usual table and chair if you’re not comfortable seating on the floor

The shop offer different type of Samgyetang; the cheapest is the Original Tosokchon Ginseng soup which costs around WON 16,000 and more expensive Black Ginseng Chicken for WON 23,000. Additional WON 6,000 if you wanted added Wild Ginseng Adventitious roots on your soup.

Aside from their famous Samgyetang, they also offer Rotisserie Chicken (Jeongigul Tongdak) for WON 15,000; Haemul Pajeon (Seafood and Green Onion Pancake) for WON 15,000 and Sansam Baengyanggeun (chopped Wild Ginseng roots) for WON 6,000.

The usual Samgyetang meal. Usual Korean meals have plenty of side dishes 🙂

Since they are just near a tourist area, their menu has English translation counterpart on each picture. They also care to write instruction on How to Eat Samgyetang properly. In summary, each table has unlimited cabbage and radish Kimchi. To better enjoy your Samgyetang, you can put salt and pepper based on your preference. A separate bucket will be given for chicken bones disposal. At first I thought the bucket will be used to mix kimchi and something but this was supposed to be a dandy trash bin!

Korean and English translation on their menu. They also have instructions on how to enjoy Samgyetang

Finally, our Samgyetang and Rotisserie were served. The Samgyetang was served on a Dolsot or Stone Bowl Pot so the soup still boils when served to us; the smell is also really homey.

Food is served! Let’s dig in!
Presenting you the Samgyetang. Whole chicken stuffed with rice and Ginseng.
Samgyetang aftermath

A checkout number will be given to you as well, this is needed for payment before you can leave the establishment.

Checkout number that you need to present upon payment at the exit counter

 

Good choice that we went there for lunch as the hearty ambiance and simple but good food makes us happy and warm during the cold winter of Seoul.

Tosokchon Samgyetang (토속촌 삼계탕)

5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 자하문로5길 5 (체부동)

10:00am to 10:00pm

 

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