If you ever visit Korea, one of the must eat food or highly recommended food is definitely Samgyetang. This dish is known to be one of the national dish or at least the highlight of your visit to Korea. During the hot and humid summer, Korean figured out a way to deal with the extreme heat and at the same time fighting against the cold weather during the winter. This unique dish that is made with the main ingredients like chicken and ginseng is the key to fight against these extreme weather.
With all the guessing in my head, I only get to know the reason why Samgyetang is so popular to be eaten during summer even though it's piping hot out of the earthenware after I asking for the reason from a local. We learned that this dish is perfect during summer because it boosts one's appetite from the summer heat. Besides, Korean believe in the theory that the best way to deal with heat is by heat. By using different ingredients like ginseng, goji berries and dates is able to promote blood flow in the internal organs and to lower body temperature by sweats. Although it's not proven scientifically, this is what Koreans believe and all we need to do is just respect and enjoy the way it is said to be.
In this article, I am bringing you on a journey with me to have the best Samgyetang in all of Seoul!
We always believe that the best way of traveling is to eat. Thus, this explained why there are so many food articles coming out of me. Before arriving in Seoul, besides Tobokki and Korean barbecue, the food that I was longing the most is Ginseng chicken soup. The overwhelming positive review of ginseng chicken soup here at this restaurant had me crazy thinking about it. Until we finally made it there one night as a spontaneous visit for dinner. Toksochon is believed to be the best of the best restaurant in town that specialized in ginseng chicken soup with their house brew insam-ju (ginseng wine).
Upon entering, we were shocked to know that the whole compound is way larger than we expected. Instead of the size of a typical Korean home, this restaurant is at least 5-6 times the size and can fit almost 200 customers at once. Honestly, I couldn't have imagined how crowded the place could be during peak hour.
Anyways, as we entered, we first need to go through an indoor yard compound where you'll find a few buckets of homemade ginseng liquor being displayed and a massive tree growing in the middle of the space. Next to it, it's the Korean seating section where you'll find those short table similar to Japanese Chabudai seating. It's a seating where a bigger group is served. What I love most about the space is the way they incorporated everything wood in their architecture.
Alternatively, they also have a bar counter seating where it's more for customers who perfer to dine in lightly and going for more on their alcohols and liquor. Since it's dinner time, it's not a suprise that this area is not as packed as we expected.
As soon as we sat down, the server here came and go with lightning speed. A minute she was serving us to the table, the next second she's gone somewhere and came back with a plethora of side dishes on our table. Before realizing she's gone again, our table was already full of assorted condiments and sides.
While I was wondering what was the liquid in the tiny cup and found it was liquor. At that moment, I was hesitating whether I should chug it in down my throat or should I be doing something else with it. Then we came to know that the menu has a specific page to direct you on eating the ginseng chicken here.
Typically, Korean drink the liquor directly while some people prefer to add it into the soup to boost up the ginseng flavor and also to give it a little sweetness from the liquor. Since we are both love exploring, we did both ways and it turns out to be an excellent idea. First, we tested how strong the liquor is. Similar to soju, it has the strong alcohol flavor with a strong ginseng aftertaste that lingers on your tongue. After tasting it, we then added the balance of liquor into the soup to enhance the taste of the broth even further.
Even though it's busy in the restaurant, but we were served so quickly after placing our order. Honestly, am I the only who gets excited seeing bubbling hot bowl being served? I especially love the idea of serving the food in an earthenware where it can keep the food warm throughout the meal. As soon as the bubbling goodness arrived on our table, my anticipation spiked and I couldn't stop myself to dig in immediately. At first, it took a sniff and the ginseng smells way stronger than it tastes.
However, what surprised me was how nutty the broth was. I wasn't sure what was the ingredients used for the broth but I can totally taste a dense nutty flavor. The reason why the broth is milky instead of clear, it's because samgyetang is cooked in a way where the chicken is filled with glutinous rice and a ginseng inside until it softens and falls apart tender.
I mean, look at that chunky ginseng and the tender meat. You can really tell that they must have boiled them in super long hours until it melts in your mouth. We were told that we should stir and mix the rice with the broth until like a congee texture and add on pieces of chicken as we eat. This way, we can get everything in one bite.
As we were eating, the server came to told us that we should add in different condiments like the raw garlic and adjust the flavor based on our preferences. There is a side of salt and pepper for us to add but the highlight for me was the soybean paste and also their kimchi. It's super flavourful and it brings the dish to a brand new level. It's spicy, sour, salty and it's super appetizing.
The bill came to 32,000 KRW which is around $28 USD. In my opinion, this is totally worth for its price and I can see myself recommending people to visit if they are visiting Seoul. Also, I found out that the liquor is replenishable, if you like, make sure you get extra shot before you leave.
Posted from my blog with SteemPress : http://explorernations.vornix.blog/2018/09/06/food-blog-the-best-gingseng-chicken-samgyetang-at-tosokchon-seoul/