On the list at #7 of Seoul’s oldest and best restaurant is the legendary Cheongjinok 청진옥 in the Jongro district. They’ve been satisfying customers with their hearty bowl of haejangguk 해장국 (“hangover soup”) for over 75 years with generational ownership intact, meaning the recipe has been unchanged for all those years. Unlike other establishments, their hangover soup is packed with seonji 선지 (congealed cow’s blood), tripe, and other intestinal goodies in a beefy broth that’s been simmered for more than 24 hours. Being my first time eating here, I was a little apprehensive because I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences with these types of haejangguk.
Fortunately, the restaurant lived up to its reputation of being one of the best in town—the seonji had a tougher texture than expected (a good thing) and similar to firm tofu. There were no strange odors emanating from the tripe, and the broth was invitingly pleasing (slightly beany and salty in taste). All together, there were some mean things going on texture-wise, but it really hit the spot and left me fully satisfied. The restaurant is open 24 hours with a packed house during peak times. With or without a hangover, head over to this iconic place for your haejangguk fix. The cost is 9,000 won. 🙂
The Joongang Daily has a great article about Korea’s different haejangguk varieties. Here is a small excerpt from the article:
Haejang soup is said to taste better when served in an earthenware bowl. Haejang means to eat or drink something in the morning to relieve a hangover. The soup often contains different kinds of meat, vegetables and seasonings and can be easily eaten without side dishes, though kkakdugi, or sliced, pickled radish, goes well with it. Some eat the soup at night with alcohol and again the next morning to relieve the ill effects from their drinking.
“Haejang soup was the beginning of the Korean dining out culture,” said Chung Hae-kyung, a food and nutrition professor at Hoseo University. Different types of haejang soup can be found all over the country. Besides its taste, the soup is affordable and widely available. It is usually sold in humble-looking restaurants and costs about 5,000 won ($5).
There was no concept of dining out during the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties, but taverns sold haejang soup as an accompaniment to drinks or as a complete meal. Though all share the same name, there are many types of haejang soup.
A blood sausage soup is sold on the streets of Cheongjin-dong, Seoul; bean sprout soup (kongnamul gukbap) in Jeonju; pork soup (dwaeji gukbap) in Busan; corbicula shell soup (jaecheop guk) in Seomjin; marsh snail soup (olgaengi guk) in inner Chungcheong province; and dried pollack soup (bukeo guk) in Gangwon province ― guk means soup and bap means rice.
Food ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Service: ★★★★½ out of 5 stars
Ambiance: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Value: ★★★★ out of 5 stars
Address: 24 Jongro-1ga, Jongro-gu 서울 종로구 종로1가 24
Hours of Operation: Open 24 hours
Directions via Naver map: http://me2.do/Fr3c36PK