Mmmm, chicken soup. Good for what ails you. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, so I decided to seek out one of my favorite Korean soups. Samgyetang! It’s chicken soup with ginseng! I find a place while walking down an alley off of Insa-dong. Evidently the broth at this place is made with mushrooms and some plant bark used in Chinese medicine. I don’t trust it for healing, but it does add a unique flavor, so I jump on board. Bring on the Samgyetang!
Literally Ginseng Chicken Soup
The samgyetang posted above has a thicker brother made from mushrooms. Usually the broth is clear. Many samgyetang places have variations of the dish, adding some extra herb or traditional antidote that is supposed to make your healthier or longer lived. These extras often add bitter flavors to the soup, but I’m all for that!
The biggest difference between the American style chicken soup and the Korean style is the chicken used. While the chicken soup your mom might cook up for you will have pieces of chicken, the Korean style, even home-made, usually has a whole chicken in each bowl! This means you’ll have to contend with bones and bits, though the meat comes off fairly easily, so it’s not difficult to get around. Just a bit more involvement with getting at the meat.
The best part is that the chicken is stuffed with rice, a date or two, and ginseng. The latter is by far my favorite part. The bitter ginseng combined with the slightly salty broth and chicken is just pure delight, wether I’m sick or not!
Of course, as a Korean restaurant there is also a nice spread involved:
Many Samgyetang places, particularly the slightly more expensive, upscale restaurants, serve complimentary shots of “Yaksul” – which for the non-Korean speakers might appear that it is alchohol made from yaks, but that’s because you’re pronouncing it wrong. That’s an ‘a’ as in ‘father’. In general ‘yak’ means medicine, and it’s fairly strong stuff. Tastes really good in conjunction with the soup’s broth.
Of course I’ve gotta finish the bowl. Chicken soup is good for you!
This place gives some complimentary maeshilcha (매실차) – plum tea! A sweet ending to a satisfying meal!
I can’t say this samgyetang is anything extra special compared to other samgyetang, so I won’t overly recommend this place. It’s still nice, just saying that visiting your local samgyetang place would suffice.
But for the curious, this one is called Gyerim Sanghwang Samgyetang. Plug the address below into your map app for directions:
서울특별시 종로구 인사동 194 홍익빌딩 2층