Seoul: Baekje Samgyetang

2 Nov

I had initially planned to get my Samgyetang (Ginseng Chicken Soup) fix at the popular Toksochon near Gyeongbokgung, but due to a change in plans we went to Baekje Samgyetang in Myeongdong instead. Baekje has received good reviews in guidebooks, Chowhound, and is also listed on Seoul’s tourism website.

Their Ginseng Chicken Soup is made with young chickens boiled in onions, leeks, ginseng bark and stuffed with gingko nuts, jujubes and glutinous rice. It was served with 3 types of a kimchi, a small bowl of short grained rice and a shot of Insamju (ginseng liquor). You could choose to down the rather potent shot to warm your body up, or pour it into the soup to add ginseng flavour, which is what I did.

The chicken meat was very tender and tasted even better with the salt and pepper dip. The glutinous rice inside the chicken was infused with the flavour of the soup. But though the soup had a very clean taste, I felt that it was actually a little too light for my liking and I had to rely on the insamju to bring it up one notch. I would have preferred it to have stronger ginseng and chicken flavours.

We also ordered the fancier Ginseng Black Chicken Soup for comparison. The black chicken was noticeably less fatty than the normal chicken, and hence produced a less oily soup. The hubs preferred this but it was almost double the price of the normal one.

Overall, I felt that it was quite good but I can’t say I agree with the stellar reviews. I’ve probably had better ones in Singapore (especially Su in Far East Plaza). Not too sure if the lightness is a more authentic-Korean thing? Perhaps Toksokchon would have been more to my liking as I’ve seen pictures and the broth is actually a milky broth (which I assume is tastier). But if you don’t mind a light soup, then Baekje should do the trick.

Price: $-$$ (~15,000W for the normal chicken soup)
Location: 50-11 Myeong-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul (Would advise you to get directions from the tourist guides wearing red as it is very difficult to find on your own)

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