Korean Eating: Dakgaejang: Spicy Chicken Soup 닭개장
Always preferring to stop at an actual restaurant with good food over the nearest highway rest area with so-so fare, while still in Chungcheongnam-do, we decided to make a pit-stop in Dangjin for dakgaejang (닭개장) or spicy chicken soup. While you may not have heard of this spicy soup, you’ve probably heard of her big brother yukgaejang (육개장) or spicy beef soup. Dakgaejang is a favorite during the summer months when the heat is abundant and Koreans believe in the effects of iyeol chiyeol (이열치열) or the idea of controlling heat with heat. Warming the body from the inside out is believed to help to cool the body. While many people are commonly told that samgyetang is the popular dish in the summer months, for a spicier kick, there’s also dakgaejang. This soup is eaten not only to help those that ail from the heat during the summer, but it is also a comfort food for many. Just as we have chicken noodle soup in the west when in recovery from an illness, in Korea, there’s dakgaejang. Made with chicken, mung bean sprouts, scallions and mushrooms in a spicy broth made from a mixture of red chili pepper flakes, sesame oil, soy sauce and garlic, dakgaejang will really hit the spot. I personally found this soup more appealing and tastier than yukgaejang and would gladly go back for seconds.
While en route from Anmyeondo back to Seoul, my husband searched Naver and scanned the reviews and decided Jangchun Dakgaejang would be the best spot to stop. Easily accessed just off of the highway, we found the restaurant. While it’s not the newest of places, the lived in feel certainly proves the place has been around for awhile and that’s a pretty good indicator of good food at times. The restaurant was clean and though it wasn’t packed at the odd time in the afternoon that we ended up stopping, there were other families that came and went while we sat. One family, regulars it seemed as their conversation with the staff was extremely casual and comfortable stopped in as did a family passing through like us and everyone seemed to leave just as pleased as we were. I would highly recommend this dish wherever you can find it, but this restaurant is a good choice if you’re in the area. The staff will also lower the spicy level if you request it and they will even provide a free chicken in bland broth for your playful baby if you have one.
Jangchun Dakgaejang (장춘닭계장)
충청남도 당진시 원당동 416-7
416-7 Wondang-dong Dangjin-si Chungcheongnam-do