One Night in Seoul - Where to Eat Tosokchon Ginseng Black Chicken and Our Shilla Stay Hotel in Gwanghwamun

I recently went on a trip outside of Seoul to Gangwon-do to check out the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics sites and tourist attractions that are famous with locals! The closest international airport from Manila is Incheon (entry for Seoul). If you're like me and flew via Korean Air then chances are, you arrive late afternoon then stay overnight in Seoul before going to places like Everland, Seoraksan in Gangwon-do =) What to do so as not to waste that night away? Head out immediately for dinner and make the most of Seoul! One area I would recommend is Gwanghwamun area where the Cheonggyecheon Stream is! The Deoksugung and Gyeongbokgung Palaces are also there, the King Sejong underground museum, Myeongdong, Tongin Market, the Lotte Duty Free, the very awesome Lotte Hotel among other things haha. My recent discoveries include the Shilla Stay Hotel and Tosokchon Samgyetang Restaurant. Check out below for my experience ;) 

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If you haven't decided on a flight yet, maybe you'd want to consider Korean Air :) The legroom in economy is wide enough for my built and the DIY bibimbap was delicious. Hehe. Plus it's a member of the Skyteam alliance so you earn miles.

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We checked-in Shilla Stay Gwanghwamun first upon arrival. I've stayed in this chain before and I liked it very much. The price is reasonable and the modern room feel with amenities was all I could ask for. The location is just right behind the US Embassy - minutes to the subway, the stream, Myeongdong, etc. Seoul is a walking city BTW.

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The one in Ulsan also has this lobby which I loved at first sight ;) I would stay at this Korean hotel chain again.

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For dinner, our guide Monica took us to Tosokchon Samgyetang, a traditional indigenous restaurant nominated by Seoul city. They have been in business for decades and their specialty is the traditional ginseng chicken. Surprisingly, it is actually a hot dish eaten by locals during the hottest days in the summer months (~July to September) to boost one's energy.  

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The courtyard is huge and I heard the owners combined several houses to form this big compound. The restaurant has been serving Korean ginseng chicken in this location since the 1930s. I loved the ambiance of the place. I felt like I've been transported to the old hanok times. There are many seating options, some chairs (we had to wait for this one so we opted for the floor) but mostly floor.

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Clearly, they don't just eat ginseng chicken in the summer months only these days hehe.

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I went for the tangy radish kimchi the whole dinner haha. Unli refills!

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I chose the classic Tosokchon Samgyetang - chicken soup with ginseng, rice, pumpkin seeds, black sesame, walnut, pine nut, chestnut, jujube, gingko, garlic, sunflower seeds and other secret ingredients.

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They even included chopped wild ginseng roots and ginseng liquor to drink or pour in the soup.

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Monica super recommended eating it this way by yourself. Honestly, one order was too much for me and I'm not a fan of pale-colored chicken. I also found myself palpitating the first time I ate samgyetang a few years ago so we shared an order. I could feel her warm wishes for my good health though so I tried my best to enjoy this meal. Hehe. The one from this restaurant tasted a little like arroz caldo but this one is jampacked with so many medicinal properties ;) 

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"Eat some more! Eat everything, especially the ginseng! It's very good for you," I could still remember her say over and over during the meal. Hehe. She then went on to tell about how it was for her going to a friend's house with the parents there. She said Koreans find it hard to refuse more food from elders and the elders feeling like they don't take care of their guest if they don't eat, even that extra bowl of sticky Korean rice and you feel like your stomach is about to pop. And so, we try to eat like a local but I stay within the limits of my body too. Balance ;)

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I wonder why they haven't come up with a boneless version yet of samgyetang LOL. In some restaurants, I believe you can order just half chicken.

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My new friends ordered the Tosokchon Ogolgye Samgyetang. I haven't heard of this option before - black chicken samgyetang! The more healthy black silky fowl used to be eaten only by the royal family and is believed to have more medicinal properties. Our guide said it has a more tender meat and you can eat it with abalone. I've seen the live cute black chicken so it pains me to eat it.

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Another dish you can order is the Haemul Pajeon - seafood and green onion pancake! I prefer jeon over samgyetang in general, esp. with the sauce haha. This traditional pancake comes with shrimp, clam meat and mussels. Just looks healthy too haha. On a rainy day like this night, Koreans like to eat pajeon =) Monica says when you make it (fried), it reminds you of rain. So when you hear rain, you think of eating pancake! Hehe.

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You can also eat Dakdoritang (spicy chicken stew), Jeonggigui Tongdak (rotisserie chicken), Dakbaeksuk (whole chicken soup with porridge and meat separate) and Otgyetang (chicken soup with sumac) at Tosokchon in Seoul. :)

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It wasn't the hot at all in April that day but we surely felt the warm offering of health of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) to its visitors through Monica's recommendation with the ginseng chicken for our first day. And, I will probably now think of jeon too when it rains in Korea haha. I can make it at home, I took a cooking class with O'ngo Food Communications a while back LOL.

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Hotel Details:
71 Sambong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Here's the location and address of this restaurant:
Tosokchon Samgyetang 土俗村 蔘雞湯 토속촌 삼탕 
5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul Korea
02-7377444 / 02-7337444

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