I don’t always dream of eating at the same place twice, but Tosokchon’s legendary Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup) is an exception. It left such an indelible impression on me during my first trip to South Korea in 2018. Alongside Sinsa Gopchang (BBQ beef innards), Tosokchon is going into my Seoul 2022 list. Here’s what I ate back in 2018 and why I’m raring to go back.
When I first did my research on Tosokchon, I felt the reviews were too good to be true. It had “tourist trap” vibes being just a stone’s throw away from two major tourist attractions, Gyeongbokgung (경복궁), and Seochun Hanok Village (서촌 한옥마을).
The famed Ginseng Chicken Soup from Tosokchon has been covered many times by every Seoul travel guide imaginable. Was it just hype?
Tosokchon Address and Details
- 토속촌, 서울 종로구 자하문로5길 5 (체부동) (Open on Google Maps)
- Tosokchon, 5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Open daily from 10 am – 9 pm
Table of Contents
- Tosokchon Samgyetang
- Tosokchon Ogolgye Samgyetang
- Haemul Pajeon
- Side Dishes and Service
- Crowd Situation
The broth, which we joked was “liquid gold”, boasted a creamy consistency with a rich beautiful nuttiness, likely from a mix of pumpkin seeds, black sesame, walnut, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, ginkgo, and native chestnuts. The aroma of ginseng was heavenly and the broth carried a hint of garlic and some medicinal herbs.
The chicken is stuffed with glutinous rice and, thanks to hours of stewing, was extremely tender. I really loved the aromas and different textures of everything in this dish and this is what makes the satiety level of it so good. Perfect, perfect, perfect! (If you caught that TikTok audio reference, we can be friends.)
Tosokchon Ogolgye Samgyetang
We tried both the Tosokchon Samgyetang and the Tosokchon Ogolgye Samgyetang (Ginseng Korean Black Chicken Soup) made with “Silky Fowl” just to see what the difference was.
I don’t recall any big differences between both versions of Samgyetang from Tosokchon. The Tosokchon Ogolgye Samgyetang is touted for its health benefits and was served only to royalty. The “Silky Fowl” was historically a rarity. This might make an interesting photo opportunity at meal time especially if your travel companions are ravenously hungry and can afford to order a second hot stone pot of soup.
Also, as huge pajeon fans, how could we not try the Haemeul Pajeon (Seafood and Green Onion Pancake)? It was a great addition to our meal time, because I was traveling with my sister and boy, and we needed more carbs to fill her up.
If you’re traveling with tiny eaters, skip this and save space for a sweet treat after taking a walk at the nearby cultural landmarks. Trust me, there’s so much to see and so many photos to take, so you’ll definitely need a cafe pit stop to rest your feet.
Side Dishes and Service
Tosokchon also provides some banchan (side dishes), a small shot of Ginseng spirit for some warmth, and pots of kimchi and kkakdugi (pickled radish kimchi seasoned with garlic, salted fish, ginger, and red pepper).
When I come back here, I’m personally expecting a crowd. I know it’s post-pandemic, so the crowd situation might not be the same as back in 2018. However, with revenge travel on the rise, I won’t be surprised if I’ll be queuing for at least 45 minutes.
Back then, we had to join a snaking queue outside the hanok the restaurant was in. The restaurant was so bustling that everyone is sitting pretty close to the next table on traditional low tables. I don’t mind the queue, because my memories of the place were great. I really want to see if it’s as good as I remembered!
If you find this guide useful, you can buy me pasta!