Like most of South Korea's coastal towns, hwae restaurants are omnipresent, but it's especially fresh and tasty here. A restaurant that serves good Japanese-style sushi and bokeo maeuntang (spicy hot pot made with swellfish) is the Tongyeong Daeoe Chobap, 1158-48 Jeongryang-dong (tel. 055/641-5176).
Another dish not unique to Tongyeong, but equally delicious is the junbok jook (abalone porridge). Although not cheap (usually about W15,000), a bowl is great to warm you up on a cold winter day and is supposed to be healthy for you. Namgyeong Hwaet Jib, 357-5 Misu-dong (tel. 055/643-3030), serves a hearty bowl of the porridge. Located on the water near the underwater tunnel, they have a nice array of hwae as well.
From Tongyeong's old name, "Chungmu," comes Chungmu gimbap, a dish named after the Chungmu haelmae (the Chungmu grandma), a legendary fictional figure. This local specialty is rice rolled in seaweed just like any other gimbap, except that there are no fillings and it's served with kkakdugi (radish kimchi) and boiled squid seasoned with vinegar and chile paste. A couple of dozen restaurants specializing in the dish line the city's pier. Most places charge about W3,000 for this local "fast food," but the restaurant that originated the dish is the Chungmu Halmae Gimbap, 129-1 Jung-ang-dong (tel. 055/643-3105), just about a 5-minute walk from the bus stop. About 70% of their business is takeout and you may want to pack some to go for an island excursion.
The Tongyeong bibimbap is prepared the regular Korean way, but their variation is the accompanying soup, which is made with sea mustard and sea lettuce cooked in water in which the rice was washed.
There are plenty of other good seafood restaurants in town. A couple of places that specialize in oysters is the Hyangto Jip (tel. 055/645-4808) and the Tongyeong Gul Madang, 647 Donam-dong (tel. 055/644-7891), located on the first floor of the Marina Condo sports center. Hodong Shikdang (tel. 055/645-3138) specializes in swellfish, which is supposed to be a good hangover cure. A place for generally fresh seafood is Jinmi Shikdang (tel. 055/643-0240), behind the Jeokshipja (Red Cross) Hospital.
Those with a sweet tooth can get Korean "donuts" from Omisa Ggul Bbang, 498-1 Donam-dong (tel. 055/646-3230; www.omisa.co.kr), located near the Seong-u apartment complex. Their fried dough balls (made with rice flour and covered in honey) are so popular that they close shop whenever they run out, which can be as early as 11am, only an hour after they open at 10am.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.