In Korea, Sambok refers to the three hottest days of the lunar calendar, which are Chobok, Jungbok and Malbok. Koreans also call these three hottest days of summer Boknal Days. During Boknal, people will eat some healthy food to replenish stamina and beat the summer heatwave. Among all food choices, the most popular special food for Boknal loved by the Koreans is Samgyetang. You can easily spot long lines in front of Samgyetang restaurant on Boknal days.
What is Samgyetang?
Samgyetang, which is also widely known as ginseng chicken soup, is a Korean traditional health food cooked with simmering whole chicken in medicinal broth. In general, samgyetang is cooked using a whole young chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, jujubes, garlic and herbs and then boiled in broth.
Samgyetang got its name from the Korean words 삼계탕, where 삼(sam) means ginseng, 계 (gye) means chicken and 탕 (tang) means soup.
You might be questioning why do Koreans eat such a hot dish on hot summer days. Shouldn’t they be having cold food like naengmyeon (cold noodles)? In Korea, there is a saying that goes “Yi yeol chi yeol” (이열치열, 以熱治熱), which means fight heat with heat. Hence, Koreans believe that we have to take in hot food so that our stomach will maintain the same temperature as the rest of our body. Also, having a soup cooked with herbal medicine will help replenish nutrients lost from sweating during the summer days.
Restaurant Recommendation: Jiho Hanbang Samgyetang
Jiho Hanbang Samgyetang is a chain restaurant specialized in samgyetang. The chain restaurant first started in 1991 and currently owns 76 branches all over the country. Besides, It is also worth mentioning that Jiho Hanbang Samgyetang is selected as one of the Top 100 Franchise Businesses by Maeil Business Newspaper in 2021.
Last week, I visited the Jiho Hanbang Samgyetang Seongsu branch for lunch.
The restaurant offers a wide range of choices of samgyetang. We ordered a “healthy samgyetang” (건강삼계탕) and “beauty samgyetang” (미용삼계탕).
The samgyetangs are served hot in earthenware pots. You can’t tell if there is any difference between the two dishes by just looking at the photos. The one on left is the healthy samgyetang and the right one is the beauty samgyetang.
The side dishes served include cabbage kimchi, radish kimchi, fresh green peppers, freshly sliced onions and pickled garlic.
Seasonings like salt and pepper are prepared at the side of the tale. You can use them to season the soup in case it is too bland for you. You can also dip your chicken in the seasonings.
The samgyetang served here has really refreshing and thick broth. The beauty samgyetang has a little milder taste than the one of healthy samgyetang. This is due to the difference in herbs used to boil the soup.
Just like the usual samgyetang, the dish has whole chicken stuffed with glutinous rice, dried jujube, chestnut, garlic and a herbal pack in the soup.
They also served you insamju (ginseng wine) as well. The liquor has a strong aroma of ginseng. For your information, insamju is known for various health benefits like strengthening the body’s immune system, improving blood circulation, increasing energy levels and more!
Overall, I enjoy my meal at Jiho Hanbang Samgyetang. These days, the scorching heatwave is striking hard on South Korea. Thus, remember to pay more attention to your health and have some good food like samgyetang to beat the summer heat!
Everyday: from 11.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m.
How to get there?
Walk out from Konkuk Univ. Station (Subway Line 2 or Line 7, Exit 6). Jiho Hanbang Samgyetang is just 11 minutes walking distance from the station exit.