Get ready for very very very long lines here, unless you time your visit appropriately: but the reward is a healthy and delicious ginseng chicken cooked the traditional way like they do in Korea – in a dense rich broth that bubbles inside a stone pot and with plenty of side dishes too!
This is what the place looks like from the outside:
Granted I visited this establishment near Gyeongbokgung Palace on Xmas day, I got there JUST in time before a tour bus pulled up and dropped off 50 Koreans that stood in line for an hour braving the bitter cold. But don’t let the tour bus fool you. It’s not a tourist trap, it’s just a very old place that has gained a great reputation and therefore ended up on some must-go-place list in Korea.
Here’s what the line looked like when I walked out after my meal:
The inside of the restaurant presents itself like this (see pic below), and you can choose between regular height tables and chairs or traditional short tables where you sit on the floor cross legged.
In the middle of the atrium there is a HUGE pot of shredded Ginseng root that burns and gives the whole restaurant the right smell.
And then of course there are the chickens. The menu only has two types: the regular white chicken or the more expensive and rare black chicken. All chickens are the small Cornish Hen variety and every order gets you a full one in your personal pot, but they are much much smaller than the chickens you might be used to so fear not: You can do it!
There’s only 4 dishes to choose from and they start at 16000 won (about $15) and go to almost double that, in the following order: white chicken (see picture below), white chicken with extra ginseng dried roots to sprinkle, black chicken and black chicken with extra ginseng dried roots to sprinkle (see next picture).
The extra ginseng root you receive to sprinkle on your dish looks like this (it’s small but makes a sizeable difference in the price):
Along with your meal you get tea (of course!) as well as a shot of ginseng liquor. If you like it you can buy a whole bottle in a gift bag for less than $10 when you leave.
Here are some of the side dishes you get. All you can eat Kimchi of course!
The menu is small, only 2 pages, with a brief history, explanation of how to eat it (in Korean and English) and the four options available (plus some side dishes).
On the way out admire the huge ginseng roots on display and the liquor bottles they make (and sell).
Definitely worth a visit if you are in the mood for a healthy chicken soup. Can’t beat it if you feel under the weather or if it’s cold. Prob wouldn’t wanna do it on a hot summer day. Definitely make sure to go early for lunch, like 11-11.30 or so, before it gets crazy busy!