Tosokchon’s Black Chicken And Ginseng Soup

Tosokchon’s Black Chicken Samgyetang

So…many of you might be looking at the above picture and thinking, “what does black chicken taste like?” It tastes just like regular chicken but a bit of complexity. I can’t really describe the taste but there is an elusive flavor there. Most people don’t eat it for the flavor- they eat it for the miraculous healthy qualities it is supposed to pass on to the diner. It’s a dish that I will have a couple times a year because I do feel something after eating it. I wouldn’t say that I feel like Popeye after eating spinach- I would say it is more like spending a nice day in the sun after eating a very fresh salad. I feel something more psychological- I feel more optimistic like if an anti-depressant kicked in.

Tosokchon is a place famous for their chicken and ginseng soup. Often there is a line outside the door with Japanese tourists waiting to get in. I went there with a tour because one of my guests said they were feeling a little unwell. We got the regular samgyetang (chicken and ginseng soup), the black chicken samgyetang, and their roasted chicken.

The meal starts out with a shot of ginseng liquor and a few minutes later the roasted chicken came out. Not the best presentation (the chicken had 4 bullet like holes), but the chicken skin was crispy and savory. I thought the chicken was a bit dry- probably because of the way they skewered the chicken. Tosokchon isn’t known for their roasted chicken and I scolded myself for even ordering it.

Anyway, the chicken and ginseng soups are quite good. The broth is white and thick. The sticky rice that is stuffed inside of the rice thickened the soup. The black chicken samgyetang had pumpkin seeds and ginko nuts that added to the health factor of the dish. The broth was flavorful- a bit medicinal because of the ginseng. I thought it was quite good.

Now one of my guests, who never had this dish didn’t seem to enjoy it much. Watching them eat it was like watching an uninterested kid playing with a Christmas present that they didn’t ask for. Even after deboning the chicken and explaining the health factor of the dish, the guest seemed to hold their opinion to themselves.

This is a Korean dish that is an acquired taste. Having lived in Korea for a long time, I forgot that I reacted the exactly same way when I tried this the first time. Next time I am trying to introduce Korean food, I think I should pick something else. Tosokchon is great for those used this type of dish, but not so much for those who haven’t drank the ginseng-kool aide.

Tosokchon
T. (02) 737-7444
Hours: 10am to 10pm
Directions: Take the subway line 3 and get off at Gyeongbokgung station and go out exit 2 then walk 120 meter towards Hyoja-dong direction. At the GS25 make a left.

Oven Roasted Chicken from Tosokchon in Seoul

Tosokchon, Seoul
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