One of the things people associate with eating in South Korea is samgyetang, or ginseng chicken soup, and Tosokchon is virtually legendary for this. Finding the restaurant was easy enough, albeit tucked away in a little alley. We reached there at 10:30 am to avoid the queue, which worked a treat as we were immediately seated within.
The restaurant seemed quite quaint and pretty, and certainly looked as if it’s been around forever, while still being clean, bright and airy. To our surprise though, we had to sit on the floor and tuck our lets underneath the table Japanese style, which was slightly tricky for my inflexible limbs.
The kimchi was straightforward, but quite good with just the right degree of spice and fermentation for me. There was just two types available (cabbage or radish), and the waitress left a big pot containing each at our table for us to consume away.
The main thing to eat here is ginseng chicken. The menu reflected this, as despite the 4 apparent options, there are only two real decisions to make. First is the colour of the chicken: black or white. The other is if you want extra 100年 山参培养根，which translates into cultured roots of 100-year-old Korean mountain ginseng. We had a black and white chicken in the end to share between 4 people.
Essentially, the dish came in a claypot containing a little chicken, stuffed with rice, swimming in a rich delicious ginseng broth. Whilst both soups were really good, we found the one with the white chicken a tad sweeter, possibly as black chickens tended to be leaner.
Each of us also got a little glass of ginseng wine, which packed a mean punch both in terms of the alcohol and ginseng aroma. I took a couple of sips throughout my meal, but apparently some people add it into their soup for extra oomph! Wish I had known that before.
We also ordered a haemul pajeon (seafood pancake), which was not bad, but a bit on the dense and floury side. Also, it was much bigger than we anticipated!
Altogether, the bill came up to KRW64,000. This is slightly more on the expensive side of the meals we had, but I do honestly feel that it was well worth it, partly as ginseng can be quite expensive, but mainly because it was really delicious. We finished every drop.
- While the ginseng chicken at Tosokchon was really good, for some reason we didn’t have it anywhere else. Too many temptations.
- Not really convinced the extra ginseng really made a difference, but I suppose an extra KRW6,000 isn’t that huge.
Tosokchon Samgyetang 토속촌 (土俗村参鸡汤)
Add: 85-1 Chebu-dong, Jongro-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Directions: Subway line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station, exit 2. Walk 120 meters towards Hyoja-dong. You will past “popoyes”, then look for GS25 convenience store, turn into the small lane at the corner of this store. Turn left onto Jihamun-ro 5-gil.
Operating Hours: 10:00 to 22:00 daily