As far as I'm concerned, my home borough of Queens is the food capital of New York City, Manhattan be damned. Well, that's not entirely true, but with the exception of Japanese, Queens is the best place in the city to find authentic Asian cuisine ranging from Nepalese and South Indian to Northern Chinese and Korean. Lately I've been asking my Korean dry cleaner for restaurant recommendations. When I dropped off some pants Saturday afternoon and told him that I had a bit too much to drink the prior night, he said I should head over to a spot in Flushing called Budnamujip for a steaming hot bowl of sahm-gyae tahng. He assured me that the ginseng-infused chicken soup would help sweat out my hangover and make me "strong." No doubt this was a backhanded reference to ginseng's reputed effect on male virility.
When I arrived at Budnamujip it was filled with noisy revelers who were well into their cups and would probably be finding themselves in need of some sahm-gyae tahng the next day. When the waitress brought over the bowl it was still boiling. It soon became clear this was no mere chicken and ginseng soup. For one thing, it contained an entire young chicken. The cavity was filled with rice and all sorts of other goodies. The first sip of the blazing hot broth was a tad bland, though this was readily fixed with a few shakes of pepper and a bit of coarse sea salt. As I dug in all sorts of treasures emerged: whole jujubes, or dae chu; bits of chestnut; several cloves of garlic; and a piece of ginseng. By the time I finished picking the chicken clean skin and all and slurping up every last bit of broth, I felt like a new man. So new that I had paranormal abilities and clearly envisioned an article on sahm-gyae tahng's restorative powers by Elaine "One Pot" Louie.
When I asked a gent at the next table whether sahm-gyae tahng, was good for curing hangovers he nodded and laughed. Then he held out his arm with his fist raised in the air and said "makes you strong." If you'd like to try making your own sahm-gyae tahng, here's a great recipe.
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