Friday, August 28, 2009

Rose-coloured Reviews T&T Supermarket

I was tired and overstimulated from an afternoon gathering featuring no fewer than 7 children under 3, but when my friend Z asked if I would mind stopping at a Chinese supermarket in Markham, I felt my energy returning.

Markham contains Chinatown North for Toronto, and Chinatown North contains wonders of new (to me) restaurants, groceries, and other things that I know nothing about that are not contained in the older, bigger, wonderful but different Toronto Chinatown south. And carless me does not get to go to Markham very often--this would only be my third trip, which is why I don't know much about what's on offer there.

I had never, for example, heard of our destination, T&T Supermarket, even though it apparently has some TTC-able branches, and is wonderful. WONDERFUL.

It's a grocery store--big parking lot, buggies, checkout lanes, etc. But it's also a market--various stands of prepared foods, pushing crowds and entire families shopping together, and the free samples are distributed far and wide by cheerful hawkers who yell at you (well, me) to come over to try some soy milk/dumplings/fried scallops. I was excited about the prepared food section because it reminded of Japan, with all the cute complete cheap dinners in plastic boxes. I think it was a pan-Asian market even though it was in a Chinese area, too, because I recognized some salmon teryaki and those triangular nori-wrapped rice cakes I forget the name of. Yum, everything.

Too bad I didn't really need any of that stuff and was full of cake, but even the stuff I wasn't buying was fun to look at: Chinese baked goods, aka, manna; giant rice-cakes that *popped* out of a rice-cake making machine (tragically, the picture didn't turn out); kimchee in tetra paks, and all kinds of vegetables I don't know how to cook with:

This would be intrepid M, with duriands. The sign, if you can't read it, says, "Handle duriands carefully to avoid injury."

Since I didn't need so many things and was feeling somewhat restrained for once (could be all the cake), I didn't buy much. But the Chinese eggplants I bought were excellent in stirfry, the lettuce was...well, standard lettuce, that apples were huge and tasty (though I dropped one on the floor and it got all bruised...we can't really blame the apple, can we?); the dried mushrooms I haven't tried yet and the sweet potato candy that I ripped into in the parking lot was...odd. But I eventually found someone who did like them to give the rest of the package to (I have another, unopened package--coming soon to a household near you!)

Also, all the little samples I tried were awesome, except the soy milk (I don't like soy milk, but it's so healthy that I keep trying). And the prices were super cheap and if you were more ambitious and organized like my shopping companion Z, you could get the makings of some truly fantastic food. And no one gave me a hard time for bouncing off people in the aisles, or clogging the produce section taking pictures, or not knowing which line to stand in. It was a friendly happy place full of delicious.

I later heard this place has been bought by Metro a chain that had a little cred in Quebec, but quickly spent it all in Ontario and now just annoys me (crunchy bitter raspberries the other day!!) So that can't be good. I'm going to try to find the local one before all the awesome falls apart.

And if we're lost together


Da Ferdbird said...

No, not Metro, Loblaws. Home of the President's Choice!!!

I badly want one to open in Ottawa !

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Oh, well that's ok then--I like Loblaws. I must stop listening to these grocery rumours--thanks for setting me straight!!

AMT said...

i love the T&T. there is one in ... of course! the west edmonton mall! at the end of the Chinatown corridor! it is huge. when you come to visit, we will go together.