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When you settle in at the restaurant and lean into a shot or two of soju or iced barley tea, you are brought small plates of simple but delicious panchan: appetizers of crunchy radish pickled in a fiery chile paste, a few leaves of cabbage kimchi, perhaps some cucumber in bean paste. If you want to postpone the inevitable, there are big plates of chicken gizzards sautéed with scallions and whole garlic cloves, which are as irresistible as fajitas; soothing bowls of chicken porridge; and milk-colored chicken noodle soup. What you invariably will get, though, is the samgyetang, a crock of mild, cloudy broth fragrant with the prickly scent of ginseng, dominated by a wee, dumpling-size chicken stuffed with sticky rice, jujubes, whole garlic cloves and a gnarled sliver of ginseng root that traces the contour of the chicken's cavity like some kind of alien internal organ. The deluxe version of samgyetang includes a full hen per person, served clustered in a giant, seething stainless-steel pot set atop an electric burner, and is followed by bowls of gook soo, knife-cut Korean noodles, that simmer down to soft slitheriness in the concentrated broth.
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