If you have read my Juk post, you will know I am a LOOOOVER of soups! For a while I thought my soup world in Korea was limited to things like kimchi jjigae, until Nara introduced me to the delicious world of Seolleongtang 설렁탕~ a simple, but satisfying dish that has been around in Korea for over 500 years!
You can find this soup at many places around Seoul, some are good… many blah and not so great at all, so where do you go? Do not worry, I am going to share a delicious Seolleongtang chain found all over Korea that will make your tummy so happy now that it is chilly outside~ 신선설농탕 Sinseon Seolneongtang
A version of 설렁탕 I had with noodles~ honestly I prefer it with just rice though!
To start, a bit about the dish itself ♥ Seolleongtang is a Korean broth soup that is made from boiled beef bones to create a stock. The base is usually a nice milky color, simmered over a low flame for hours if not a full day to boil with the bones to draw out the flavor. When it is time to eat, the broth is removed and served usually with a very soft pile of brisket meat, green onion, and a bit of garlic. If the thought of bone soup is a bit odd for you do not worry~ bone-based soups are extremely delicious! If you are a Ramen fan some extremely yummy bases are made this way in Japan ♥ The bones soak and really bring out a rich flavor to the soup.
** Tip!** If you want to try this dish and can not visit the chain I recommend in this post, make sure you find a place that specializes in this dish or broth based dishes. If it is just part of a vast menu the taste is almost always bad because they can not invest the time into the soup base that is required to make it extremely yummy!
Some people new to Korea make the mistake of eating the soup just as-is, NO!! Just like with Juk, you must add things from the table to this to taste. Sinseon Seolneongtang 신선설농탕 and most other places serving Seolleongtang will give you a bowl of rice, salt, pepper, and uncut large pieces of kimchi along with the soup.
The first 신선 opened 1981~ now they have locations throughout Korea and are an extremely popular chain! You can easily find one in almost every major area of Seoul ♥ The name “신선” is actually a play on words~ Sinseon in Korean typically means FRESH, but another meaning when written with different Hanja can also mean ‘Taoist Hermit’ who in old Korean folktale character that lives among nature up in the mountains and has special powers. If you look closely on the sign outside or promotional materials inside you will see that this hermit is the mascot of the restaurant!
♥ ♥ ♥ This chain is open 24 HOURS!! YES~ PERFECT LATE NIGHT YUM YUMS! ♥ ♥ ♥
Perhaps you noticed, but while the dish is called “설렁탕 Seol-leong-tang” the restaurant Sinseon chooses to spell it “설농탕 Seol-neong-tang“. Both are actually accurate, 설렁탕 is just the popular way to spell it nowadays, while 설농탕 is apparently the true original name of the dish.
♥ The name 설농탕 comes from ♥
“선” (선농단 the traditional Korean pot that the bones were brewed in)
“농” (the Hanja for frost/snow that describes the color of the soup)
and “탕” (soup)
Through history the name changed to 설롱탕 (sul-long-tang ) because it was easier to pronounce, and a few years ago people started calling the dish 설렁탕 (sullungtang) which is even easier. Nowadays the most common way to spell the dish is its easiest form 설렁탕 (Seolleongtang), so I will be using that for this article!
So why do I love the chain Sinseon Seolneongtang 신선농탕 so much? Well, since it is a chain the taste is very consistent for me to the point I crave it on a weekly basis now. When I have gone astray and ordered Seolleongtang at other restaurants it was not even close and always tasted blah bland…. now I pretty much just go here for my 설렁탕 exclusively! The broth is very flavorful, the meat is always of a good quality + stewed so it is nice and soft, and the kimchi is always the perfect amount of spice and flavor for me.
This is pretty much the only dish that 신선설농탕 serves, which is always a good sign at any restaurant.
It should be noted that the soup at Sinseon 신선설농탕 has the special added ingredients of peanut powder and cheese to enhance the flavor. I never noticed these tastes personally so the amount must be very minor, but they have posted this as a notice in the restaurant in order to warn customers that may have a nut allergy~ so heads up if that applies to you ♥!
thanks to Nara for translating these 신선설렁탕 promo images for me!
Now you can see the process that goes into making this delicious soup!!
Sinseon has countless chains around Seoul and I have visited a handful of locations aside from my usual go-to place by home. They are always clean and have a very organic feel to them with the trees and colors, it is very relaxing even when it gets extremely crowded during lunch and dinner rushes!
When you enter you will see picture and text menus posted around the location with several versions of Seolleongtang 설렁탕, but honestly just stick with the regular old 설렁탕! The dumpling version gives you way less meat and the garlic version was skimpy on the meat and just included a few half cooked slices. Basic is best in this case and also the cheapest!
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The menus posted are in Korean only, however we have seen posted English + Japanese versions just outside the door! I’m not sure if they have a table menu in English, I know I have never been offered one even when I eat alone, so I think the posted one may be the only thing they have~ but it is helpful if you can locate it. You pretty much just want to order one type of thing at this place though, so having a menu is not entirely necessary I think! ^^
When you sit down they will come out with the cases for the Kimchi that snap right into the table. Your spoons and chopsticks will be in a similar container as well!
After you order you can kill some time while you are waiting for your food by preparing the kimchi for the table. At 신선설농탕 when you sit down they will bring out 3 containers of kimchi, a plate, and some scissors to cut. This is up to you to take care of, so get ta snipping! ♥
You are given 김치 Kimchi - younger fermented spicy cabbage, 숙성김치 Sooksung Kimchi – an older fermented kimchi and much softer, and my favorite ever 깍두기 Ggakdugi which is a white radish kimchi and has a really nice flavor and crisp to it!
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In my early years eating Korean food I had a really hard time with kimchi overall, radish kimchi was the only type I could eat for years because it was not nearly as spicy! Now my tongue is much stronger, but this is still my favorite kind when eating meals because of the flavor!!
after a short wait the soup and rice should come right out, careful because the bowls are metal and hot at first.
Usually I start by taste testing the broth and adding the required salt. The broth at this place is pretty flavorful already so usually you just need a pinch or two. Do not worry about salting it too much because the kimchi will also add a punch of flavor when you add it in.
Next, add the rice into the soup and mix around!
Finally it is time to add in some kimchi!! Some people eat the soup and use the kimchi as a side dish, others put it in the soup and mix it around to flavor the soup~ that is my favorite way! I throw a few pieces in and stir it around to flavor the broth, and plop more in while I am eating.
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For extra 2000 won you can order 깍두기국물 Ggakdugi-googmool, which will be a pitcher filled with Ggakdugi juice essentially! It tastes really good, but it it very easy for the Ggakdugi juice to overpower the taste so you have to be careful. Nara and I prefer to do it the free way with the kimchi at our table… close enough lol.
I eat so much kimchi when I have this soup~ it is SO good with it!
It seems like a simple dish, but it REALLY grows on you~ ah my mouth is watering just posting these pics!. This is great to eat on days you feel sick, hungover (heh), or it is icky and cold outside! Just like juk, it feels great in your stomach and gives you a nice warm satisfied feeling VS a heavy gross I need to nap for 20 years feeling. lol
At the end of the meal the waitress will usually bring you a nice cup of sweet lemon tea to finish. They call it “tea” but is more like a punch or lemonade and really good after all that salty broth! I wish they sold it in bottles at the mini stops here haha.
If you want more or are not given a cup (sometimes they forget) the tea has a self-serve area in the front. They also have self-serve coffee by the cup for 100 won if you feel like that!
We always leave with completely empty bowls at Sinseon Seolneongtang 신선설농탕 which is good! Sinseon is a Eco-friendly chain, so if you finish your entire plate + banchan they will give each person a ticket to fill out and donate 100 won per dish to help the environment.
After you fill your little ticket out you can submit it at the cash register ~each store will pick a customer per month out of their ballots and reward them with free meal coupons. I wanna win some free food!!
So yes, if you are looking for a nice satisfying Korean meal you should check out 설렁탕 next time you are out, especially the chain Sinseon Seolneongtang 신선설농탕! It is not spicy (even with the added kimchi, which you control) and is just an overall delicious beef-based soup that is very easy to enjoy! I am seriously so scared that when we move back to California someday I will not be able to get my 신선설농탕 fix… hopefully they will open a location in K-town someday *_*
Locations for Sinseon Seolneongtang 신선설농탕
Since this is a chain and has many locations in Korea I can not give directions since you may have one close to you and not even realize it! To search the nearby area you can open up Naver Maps and paste in 신선설농탕 to see pins of locations around you. If you are within Seoul and Naver is a bit of a headache for you~ I visit the following locations on a regular basis..
서울특별시 서대문구 창천동 5-38
Which you can walk to from Ewha University easily or from the Edae and Shinchon stations since it is almost in the middle of both areas~ I walk to this location from either area depending on what I am doing!
서울특별시 관악구 봉천동 863-2
And this is the location around the first Seoul University station~ this one is just a straight walk from the metro and very easy to find.
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Dozens more exist, but sadly the official Sinseon site does not give you a nice clear listing + map so you will have to fire up the Korean internet and Naver map around a bit ;) If you have a location around you and feel like sharing directions with others, please feel free to comment below!
As far as I know, all locations seem to be open 24 hours a day~ got to love Korea and the amount of food available 24-7 lol.
Have you ever had Seolleongtang 설렁탕 before? Where is your favorite place to eat it? Did you check out Shinson Seolneongtang 신선설농탕 after reading it here? Comment below and share!