Danyang is not a big town. It's almost "sneeze and you miss it," driving through. But it does have a number of interesting amenities for someone looking to explore a bit of Korea. It's a convenient base for tourism sites in eastern Chungcheongbuk-do. You can go paragliding, hike the mountains, explore some nearby caves, or just check out some of the fantastic restaurants. Erin and I are food maniacs, so of course we did the latter. We also did a little hiking, but I'll get to that later.
Anyway, this is Danyang.
It's cradled in a little curve in the river, with rugged hills poking up all around. The bus depot sits just before the bridge across the river. There are a number of little motels right around it, if you're looking for somewhere cheap to stay. Otherwise, if money isn't an object, there's a massive resort just up the hill.
Erin decided she wanted to check out a restaurant she'd heard about that served (supposedly) amazing maneul galbi. That's meat seasoned with garlic. Danyang is famous for its garlic, and we weren't overly worried about having fresh breath since we planned to spend the next day putting miles on our hiking boots. The restaurant was called Dawon Danyang Maneul Galbi, and it even has a website. We consulted our directions and the map on their site, and then we set off.
On foot, the restaurant is about twenty minutes from the bus station (or right around the corner if you're staying at the resort). When we got there, the lobby was packed with people waiting for seats. Erin and I took this as a good sign.
Forty-five torturous minutes passed, as our noses made us keenly aware of the paradise waiting for us. The atmosphere inside marinated in a cloud of delicious, barbecued meat smell. From where we sat, we could see families and friends stuffing themselves. Our stomachs rumbled impatiently.
When we finally got a seat, we ordered the house special (maneul galbi) for two. The waitstaff set up our table with brightly colored side-dishes of radish, salad, acorn jelly, roasted squash, and other vegetable delights.
Then at last, came the galbi. It looked a little like a pair of flattened meatloafs, or maybe elongated, super thick hamburger patties. The waitress sliced them into bite-sized chunks and slid them onto the grill in the center of our table.
We basked in the heart-stopping aroma for a moment, before I grabbed the meat tongs and started flipping. Erin tossed a couple heads of garlic on for good measure.
And then it was ready. And we ate. And, without hyperbole, it was some of the best food we've had in Korea. We stuffed ourselves. We ate like heroes. And then we waddled back to our hotel in a happy daze of gastronomic joy.
The next day, in payment for our sins, we climbed up into the Sobaek Mountains and did our level best to break our legs.
All in all, it was a fantastic time.