As the Korean proverb goes, "Even the sights of Geumgang Mountain* must wait until after a meal." This means that no matter how badly a person desires to engage in a fun activity, eating should come first because no activity can be enjoyed on an empty stomach.
Are you planning to travel outside of Seoul? If you will be taking the expressway, then why not have a hearty meal along the way to your destination, just as the Korean proverb suggests? Wherever you're heading to, there are plenty of food options to choose from. There's no room for boredom on Korean expressways as the distinctively unique rest areas offer a variety of special food items in a relaxed atmosphere.
As a place where travelers can take a short break from their journey and have simple snacks like hodu gwaja (walnut cookie), gamja-gui (roasted potato), and eomuk (fishcakes), rest areas along expressways have been continuing to evolve over the years. Some rest areas have a food court with a variety of food offerings, a coffee shop, a dessert shop, and clothing stores under one roof. Nowadays, rest areas are not just for simple snacks or quick stopovers; they are also for full meals and leisure shopping. By far, the most striking change can be seen in the food offerings. There are even those who make it a point to go to that specific rest area in order to have that unforgettable meal once again. Who knows? Maybe one day there will be a travel map dedicated to rest areas.
This article presents some of the recommended dishes to try at some of the major rest areas. If you are planning to
travel outside of Seoul, we hope you will find the information below useful.
* Geumgang Mountain, which rises 1,638 meters above sea level, is recognized as the most beautiful mountain on the Korean Peninsula.
☞ The Basis of Korean Food-Spices
☞ The general kinds of Korean Food
▲ (top row) Dori baengbaengi* jeongsik at the Geumgang Rest Area & mushroom bulgogi deopbap at the Anseong Rest Area
▲ (bottom row) Ppageumjang-jjige** at the Manghyang Rest Area & Byeongcheon sundae-gukbap*** at the Cheonan Rest Area
Gyeongbu Expressway (416 kilometers) stretches from Seoul to Daejeon, Daegu and Busan. Being Korea's oldest expressway, it boasts a great number of rest areas. Some of the most popular food items on the road include Anseong gukbap and beoseot bulgogi deopbap (rice topped with mushroom and beef bulgogi) from the Anseong Rest Area, ppageumjang-jjige from the Manghyang Rest Area, and doribaengbaengi jeongsik from the Geumgang Rest Area.
Gukbap, a one-dish meal of soup and rice, is by far the most convenient fast food that can be had on the road. Also, deep
fried donkatsu and udong noodles are popular among children. Visitors also look for regional specialties like ppageumjang-jjige at the Manghyang Rest Area or doribaengbaengi at the Geumgang Rest Area. When you're on a tight schedule, do take into consideration that the Doribaengbaengi Jeongsik, which is made of freshwater fish, takes quite a long time to prepare.
* What's Doribaengbaengi? Doribaengbaengi is a local specialty of Chungcheongbuk-do. Small freshwater fish are placed in a circle in the pan and then braised in gochujang (red-pepper paste) sauce.
** What's Ppageumjang-jjige? Ppageumjang-jjige, a local specialty of Cheonan-si in Chungcheongnam-do. Ppageumjang is a condiment made with finely ground fermented soybean blocks. It is less salty than soybean paste and has a milder taste.
**** What's Byeongcheon sundae-gukbap? Byeongcheon sundae-gukbap is a local specialty of Cheonan-si in Chungcheongnam-do. Sundae is a sausage-like dish stuffed with various ingredients. Vegetables and pig's clotted blood are stuffed into the pig's intestine casings and steamed. This savory dish is quite nutritious.
▶Anseong Rest Area (in the direction of Busan): Wongok-myeon, Anseong-si, Gyeonggi-do / +82-31-655-0531 (Korean) / Anseong gukbap 6,000 won, beoseot bulgogi deopbap 6,500 won
▶Cheonan Rest Area (in the direction of Busan): Susin-myeon, Dongnam-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do / +82-41-552-4560 (Korean) / Byeongcheon sundae-gukbap 6,000 won
▶Manghyang Rest Area (in the direction of Busan): Seonggeo-eup, Seobuk-gu, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do / +82-41-557-4000 (Korean) / Ppageumjang-jjige 6,000 won
▶Geumgang Rest Area (in the direction of Busan): Dongi-myeon, Okcheon-gun, Chungcheongbuk-do / +82-43-731-2233 (Korean) / Doribaengbaengi jeongsik 10,000 won
Seohaean (West Coast) Expressway
▲ Cafeteria food at the Haengdamdo Rest Area & hot and spicy donkatsu at the Hwaseong Rest Area
The Seohaean Expressway (341 kilometers), the second longest expressway after Gyeongbu Expressway, stretches from Seoul to Mokpo in Jeollanam-do. The expressway offers great views of the Taean Peninsula landscape and the Byeonsan Peninsula landscape in the west.
Past Seohaedaegyo Bridge, which connects Gyeonggi-do and Chungcheongnam-do, you will soon reach Haengdamdo Rest Area, where visitors can enjoy plenty of food and shopping. The cafeteria, where food is served buffet style, is always bustling with people. The cafeteria even has customers that come back frequently. The most economical way to enjoy food at the cafeteria is by eating with three or four other people rather than eating alone. Also a popular food item is the dolsot-gulbap at the Daecheon Rest Area. This is rice cooked with oysters caught from the West Sea and served in a sizzling hot stone pot. Only fresh oysters are used in this dish; hence, the dish is not available in the summer. If you happen to pass by a rest area along the Seohaean Expressway in late afternoon, you can also get a view of the beautiful sunset.
▶Hwaseong Rest Area (in the direction of Mokpo): Paltan-myeon, Hwaseong-si, Gyeonggi-do / +82-31-353-8140 (Korean) / Hot and spicy deep-fried donkatsu 7,000 won.
▶Haengdamdo Rest Area (in the direction of Mokpo): Sinpyeong-myeon, Dangjin-si, Chungcheongnam-do / +82-41-358-0700 (Korean) / Prices vary by dish.
▶Daecheon Rest Area (in the direction of Seoul): Jugyo-myeon, Boryeong-si, Chungcheongnam-do / +82-41-931-6801 (Korean) / Dolsot-gulbap 6,000 won
▲ (right) Heongseong Hanu-gukbap at the Munmak Rest Area
The Yeongdong Expressway (234.39 kilometers) connects Incheon and Gangneung. It has a lot of traffic, so there are also many rest areas along the road. The best part is that the hanu beef of Gangwon-do can be enjoyed here at an affordable price. The hanu beefsteak at the Hoengseong Rest Area is considered the best special food in all of the rest areas along the Yeongdong Expressway. Priced at 10,000 won, the dish is quite affordable. It also comes with deodeok (codonopsis lanceolata) on the side, which is great for recovering energy. These factors make hanu steak a very popular item at the Hoengseong Rest Area. Note that the steak is only available in limited quantities, so it is usually sold out at lunchtime. If you missed the hanu steak, try the hanu bulgogi jeongsik (set meal) instead. Another must try at the Yeongdong Expressway is the hanu gukbap (hanu beef soup with rice). This dish is available at the Munmak and Yeonju Rest Areas. The sogogi-gukbap (beef soup with rice) at the Deokpyeong Rest Area was voted the number one best-selling dish on the road last year.
▶Heongseong Rest Area (in the direction of Gangneung): Anheung-myeon, Hoengseong-gun, Gangwon-do / +82-33-342-4231 (Korean) / Hanu beefsteak 10,000 won, Hanu bulgogi jeongsik 7,500 won.
▶Munmak Rest Area (in the direction of Gangneung): Munmak-eup, Wonju-si, Gangwon-do / +82-33-731-8481 (Korean) / Hanu gukbap 7,000 won
▶Deokpyeong Rest Area (in the direction of Incheon): Majang-myeon, Icheon-si, Gyeonggi-do / +82-31-634-9200 (Korean) / www.dpecoland.com/ Sogogi-gukbap 6,000 won
Jungang, Namhae, Tongyeong Daejeon Expressway
▲ Andong gan-godeungeo & Geumsan ginseng
Except for the ones on the Gyeongbu, Seohaean, and Yeongdong Expressways, the rest areas along expressways mentioned above are also noted for regional specialty foods. For example, at the Andong Rest Area on the Jungang Expressway (288.87 kilometers), the Andong gan-godeungeo (salted mackerel), which is a local specialty of Andong, is very popular. Andong is an inland region, so mackerels had to be shipped from other coastal areas afar. In the past, it took up to two days to transport mackerels from the nearest coastal area so mackerels had to be salted in order to prevent them from going bad. Over time, salted mackerel became a signature regional specialty of Andong.
Along the Namhae Expressway (273.1 kilometers), the Seomjingang Rest Area is popular for its Cheongmaesil jecheop bibimbap, a dish made by combining two of Seomjingang's specialty products — cheongmaesil (Japanese apricot) and jecheop (small corbicula shellfish). Along the Tongyeong Daejeon Expressway (228.84 kilometers), the insam maneul seolleongtang (seolleongtang beef soup featuring ginseng and garlic) at the Ginseng Land Rest Area and the baegyeon bapsang (white lotus leaf set meal) at the Hamyang Rest Area are also popular among travelers.
▶Andong Rest Area (in the direction of Busan): Pungsan-eup, Andong-si, Gyeongsangbuk-do / +82-54-853-4370 (Korean)/ Andong gan-godeungeo jeongsik 7,000 won
▶Seomjingang Rest Area (in the direction of Busan): Jinwol-myeon, Gwangyang-si, Jeollanam-do / +82-61-772-7986 (Korean)/ www.hugeso.x-y.net / Cheongmaesil jecheop bibimbap 7,000 won
▶Ginseng Land Rest Area (in the direction of Hanam): Gunbuk-myeon, Geumsan-gun, Chungcheongnam-do / +82-41-754-9200 (Korean) / Insam maneul seolleongtang 8,000 won
▶Hanyang Rest Area (in the direction of Tongyeong): Jigok-myeon, Hamyang-gun, Gyeongsangnam-do / +82-55-963-9546 (Korean) / Baegyeon bapsang 6,000 won
☞ Korea Tourism Organization homepage: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Russian)
☞ Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
※ The above is the English version of part of a Korean article, which was modified and edited.
※ Source: KTO Korean website