Toe Soek Choen Samgaetang – Korean, stuffed, whole-young-chicken soup

Samgaetang is a Korean chicken soup that contains a whole young chicken stuffed with sweet rice, ginseng, garlic, chestnuts, jujubes, and some other possible ingredients.

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Toe Soek Choen (토속촌) is probably the most well-known, yet unknown, samgaetang place in Seoul. It is one street north of Kyoungbuk Palace in a side alley (subway line #3–orange line–not sure which exit). Google maps doesn’t get in close enough to pinpoint the location, but the map below gets you to the area. When you get there just look for the line (there is always a line).

I’ve had samgaetang dozens of times. I’ve been to places that I really like (most that I don’t know the names of), but Toe Soek Choen is certainly the best that I’ve had so far. I’ve even had fresh-killed chicken in a little country restaurant outside Ilsan, which was my favorite up until now. This place was better. The broth was light, but not bland. It was flavorful, but not overpowering. The Chicken fell apart, perfectly cooked. The stuffing was simply amazing.

The service was quick and efficient. No frills. Order soup, get soup fast, eat soup, pay, leave. However, all of this is in a traditional Korean house in the middle of Seoul. Not an old, small house mind you, but a large house that likely belonged to someone of significant wealth at some point. Of course, all of this is lost when you are packed into rooms, shoulder to shoulder with other samgaetang connoisseurs.

If you’re in Seoul and haven’t tried this yet, get there and get some. They also serve Dakdoeritang (spicy chicken stew), which I’ll definitely try next time.

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