[Seoul, Korea] While I had the signature hot piping Korean Ginseng Chicken during winter because it feels warm and fuzzy to the tummy, most native Koreans prefer it during the hottest summers.
They believe this is a dish with high nutrient content, and can help regain stamina lost by excessive sweating. And the three specific days in summer they would take are the “Chobok” (초복), “Jungbok” (중복), and “Malbok” (말복).
The main reason why I recommend this Samgyetang restaurant is because my tour guide brought the group here (and I thought it was a tourist trap).
My friend working in Korea also took me to exactly this same place, and it is listed as 50 Top “Hi, Seoul Korean Restaurants” by Seoul City Government.
Its big orange signboard reads that “1st Korean Ginseng Chicken soup restaurant since 1960” which is as good as saying they invented this dish. Well, the restaurant was buzzling and filled all 4 floors by locals and tourists on a weekday night.
The basic Chicken Broth with Korean Ginseng cost 14,000 won (SGD$16.70), and there are other options and additions of black-bone chicken, Korean wild ginseng and abalone. And they also sell the western style Rotisserie Chicken! (for 15,000 won, SGD$17.90)
Korea Samgyetang’s secret is using very special ingredients, such as specifically 49-days old farm-grown native chicken and 4-year old Geumsan cultivated ginseng.
The soup boiled with ginseng, Chinese dates and garlic, and topped with ginseng wine after serving, was surprisingly light and bland. My guess is this is traditionally a summer dish and thus cannot taste too heavy and strong.
My favourite part was not the chicken meat, but the glutinous rice within which had absorbed flavours of both the chicken and the broth. If you manage this remove all the bones first, it actually feels like a nutritious bowl of ginseng chicken congee. They should also do away with the noodles though – it was carb overkill.
Korea Samgyetang (고려삼계탕)
Seoul-si Jung-gu Seosomun-dong 55-3 (close to Deoksugung Palace)
서울특별시 중구 서소문로11길 1 (서소문동)
Tel: +82-2-752-9376, 2734 (Korean)
Directions: Subway Exit 10 of Subway line 1, 2 Cityhall. From Korean Air head office proceed 50m toward Sinchon. Across from Shinhan Bank, next to Woori Bank
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm Daily
* Let me know if you have other food recommendations for Seoul Korea