The Legendary Tosokchon – The Best in Seoul

Tosokchon (토속촌)

Address (Naver Map): 서울 종로구 자하문로5길 5

Address (Google Map): 5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Operating Hours: 10.00am to 10.00pm daily

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

Introduction

Ginseng Chicken Soup, or otherwise known as Samgyetang (삼계탕),  is one of the most well known Korean dishes. It’s prepared by boiling a whole young chicken that is stuffed with glutinous rice in a broth of Korean Ginseng. Other herbs and spices such as jujube fruits, gingko nuts, garlic, ginger, wolfberry and Danggui (or otherwise known as Angelic Sinensis) or other medicinal herbs may also be added.

When people ask about the best Samgyetang in Seoul,  the name Tosokchon will always pop up. Tosokchon is a restaurant that was converted from a traditional Hanok that is situated near Gyeongbokgung station.

Apart from the food, you also get to enjoy the dining experience in a Hanok. Dining areas are divided into rooms with a few tables.  Guests are to remove their shoes before entering and the dining will be at the low lying tables. There is no chair, just cushions on the floor.

As seen in the photo, it is NOT wise to visit during meal hour. I returned at about 4 pm (on a weekday) and to my delight, the is no queue and I got a seat right away.

Samgyetang (W$15000)

This legendary ginseng Chicken Soup was said to be well loved by a South Korea late president Roh Moo Hyun. Despite of having a history of only twenty years (comparing to restaurant such as AndongJang, Mabongnim Halmeoni Tteokbokki, Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari), they had established a reputation as one of the best Samgyetang in Seoul.

Tosokchon uses free range young chicken (no more than 49 days old) and they are butchered and delivered fresh daily, making for only the tenderest meat.

Tosokchon’s Samgyetang is very distinct for it’s rich chicken broth and for it’s strong ginseng taste. Depending on personal preference, the ginseng taste can be a Yay or Nay. Unlike some Samgyetang that only contains a tinge of ginseng taste (or totally none while they still claim that it’s Ginseng Chicken Soup), this one is full of it.

Look at the size of the ginseng.

The ginseng taste is especially strong in it’s glutinous rice and some may even find it bitter to a certain extend. For those who don’t like ginseng taste and want to have some authentic Korean chicken soup,  you may want to try Dakhanmari.

Stuffed Glutinous Rice in Chicken

The chicken soup is really thick and rich that the broth turned milky instead of a clear broth. I can literally taste the freshness and sweetness of the chicken just by drinking the soup alone. However note that the soup is intentionally lightly-seasoned (I like my soup a little saltier), therefore do remember to add salt and pepper according to your taste preference.

The chicken meat is super tender and moist and the meat easily falls off from the bone by just using a pair of chopsticks. Dip the chicken into salt and pepper too if you demand more flavour. By the way, the portion of a bowl of Samgyetang is good enough to be shared by a couple.

Conclusion

I found a few Best Samgyetang candidate from online but Tosokchon is the most accessible so I decided to pop by. I can’t decide for sure that it’s the best Samgyetang in Seoul but it’s indeed the best I had.

Tosokchon is also frequently visited by Chinese and Japanese tourists so do avoid meal time as much as possible. Did I mention the staff at Tosokchon speaks English and Mandarin?

As it’s location is relatively near one of Seoul’s most popular attraction Gyeongbokgung Palace, do pop by to immerse yourself in their Korean dining culture if you happen to visit this attraction.

Click here for full list of Seoul Food Itinerary

 

Map and Directions

 

The route to Tosokchon is rather straight forward. Exit from Gyeongbokgung MRT station Exit 2.

Walk along the main road for about 200m.

When you reach a cross junction, turn left and you should see Tosokchon.

 

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

Address: 100AM, Amara Hotel, 100 Tras Street, 03-15,

Operating hours: 11.30am to 10.00pm daily

Introduction

Tori King = 鸡王(Chicken King). The founder, Keisuke Takeda, was once selected as the top ramen chef in Japan and crowned as Ramen King. We can easily identify this place by the queue forming out the restaurant during dinner. No reservation is allowed so just be prepared to queue, especially during dinner time.

Like Ippudo ramen at Mandarin Gallery, seating priority will be give to those group with all members present.

The menu is very simple. You got three kind of soup bases, the original, peppery black spicy, and green Spicy.  The ingredients for the ramen are the same for all the three soup bases. That’s right!! The secret to their great tasting ramen is definitely the chicken soup (鸡 白汤).

After waiting for about 30 minutes for my seat, the first thing that was served in Tori King was the mixed sesame bowl, for me to grind them into powder form, and probably to be added into the soup, or dip it with the chicken. Or maybe they just want to keep me busy while waiting for my ramen.

Original Soup Base

Tori King uses chicken broth unlike the majority, many traditional ramen places use pork broth. In comparison to Marutama ramen which also uses chicken broth, the taste of Tori King’s broth is stronger and much more flavorful. The stock is made from chicken bones, chicken feet, Japanese seaweed and an assortment of vegetables and boiled for eight hours. The original soup base comes with a piece of pork slice, giant seaweed, half boiled egg and the star of the show – the chicken drumstick!

Chef Keisuke said the chicken is boiled for 45 minutes and submerged overnight in soy sauce and is grilled before it’s served. The chicken drumstick is so tender that the meat comes off the bone so easily. A pair of chop sticks is all you need. No fork and knife involved.

Black Spicy Garlic Soup Base

The original broth with added black spicy garlic. I got to pay $1.00 more for this broth. I prefer this to the original. I like my ramen to be spicy.

Free flow condiment

There are a lot of sauces at Tori King – There’s a glass jar containing chilli sauce which there is a written instruction on the wall mentioning that it goes well with the chicken.

Like the Keisuke Tonkotsu King, there’s also free flow hard boiled egg, pepper and bondito flakes available. The mayonnaise goes pretty well with the chicken too, though i am not exactly sure that it’s the correct way of eating it. Remember to sprinkle some bonito flakes into your ramen soup!

Conclusion

For those who prefers a blander kind of soup base, you may think that Tori King’s thick soup broth is a little too much to take.

If you do not want to queue for too long, try to reach this place before 6.15pm and you should be able to get a seat for two quite readily.

Did i mention that that i was quite a ramen fanatic previously when Standard Chartered Bank released a list of top 10 ramen in Singapore and i tired about seven or eight out of the ten, like Noodle Ken at Somerset, Ippudo at Orchard, Santouka and Marutama from Clarke Quay, Yoshimaru at East Coast, Mentei and Baikohken at Raffles Place etc.

In my opinion, Tori King serves one of the best ramen that i ever had till date cuz the soup is awesome! And not forgetting the drum stick. Try it. Now.