Ssyal Ginseng House | Albany Park | Asian, Korean | Restaurant

Ssyal Ginseng House

Hours: Lunch, Dinner: Monday-Saturday
Closed Sunday

Price: $

Koreatown dispensary whose specialty is saam gae tang, chicken-ginseng soup.

Restaurant Details

When I find myself weakening in the early stages of the grippe and the usual fortifying regimen of zinc, vitamin C, raw garlic, and Wild Turkey won’t vanquish it, saam gae tang, chicken ginseng soup from this Koreatown dispensary, is my tonic of last resort. A stewed Cornish hen stuffed with rice and small dates sits meekly in a small bubbling cauldron of murky yellow broth. Whole, softened, and slightly sweet ginseng root swims under the surface, and small side dishes of green onions and sea salt are meant to enliven what is otherwise an appropriately bland remedy. I've heard others say they find an off-putting, slightly bitter understory to the broth, but I’ve never detected it. As a further reminder that you’re not so much meant to enjoy yourself as heal yourself, the pot comes with a side of sticky brown rice and red beans. For the healthy there are four other perfectly respectable hot soups (codfish, bean with seafood, beef with cabbage, and bean and vegetable) accompanied by the usual assortment of panchan. And you don’t have to take your medicine in a bowl: there’s a $3.95 sweet ginseng shake or hot ginseng tea floating with pine nuts; for the home cure you can buy ginseng fresh, dried, powdered, and infused in a molasseslike solution, all displayed under tall clear containers of whole roots, with an extraterrestrial appearance resembling something I once saw in the woods devouring a squirrel.

Mike Sula

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Price: $

Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa


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