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Paradise in the Promenade


Think Toronto's Northern suburbs offer nothing but the odd IKEA and bland shopping malls? Think again. There are surprises to be found in areas such as Vaughn, where a brilliant grocery experience is hiding within the Promenade mall.

The Promenade looks like any other suburban mall, and for the most part, it is. But wander into T&T Supermarket, and you're in a different world. This huge Asian superstore, which specializes in its seafood department, has the size, cleanliness, and appearance of a typical big-box Loblaws store, but with the food selection and prices of Chinatown.

To boot, their prepared food counters rival pricy restuarants - from huge, fresh sushi plates for a shockingly low price to moist and tasty barbecued duck and pork to dozens of side dishes, salads, and an incredible mix of other, interesting tid-bits, including chicken feet and pork tongue. Welcome, shoppers!

I feel a bit like a kid in a candy store as I enter - I want to see (and, if possible, taste) everything! At the seafood counter there are huge aquariams filled with live lobsters, fish, and crabs of all sizes. Customers can pick out unrestrained (no elastics!) crabs with their bare hands, and the man working the counter will pop them - live - into a paper bag for you. And this is just the beginning: there is live eel, fresh flounder, miles of oysters, mussels, clams, and conch, and a really rare edition: geoduck clam. To top it all off, the prices are as much fun to look at as the seafood: you have to see them to believe them, they're so low!

And still, there's more: piled-high meat counters, aisles devoted to noodle soups, hot sauces, and so much more. Plus, there's always free samples of goodies like steamed buns or fried dumplings (That's my kind of free sample!)

But of course, the excursion isn't complete without a snack. One look at the sushi selection (with an unusually large variety - all for just 75cents a piece!) and my mouth starts to water. . .

In order to end this piece, I'd better just leave the rest to your imagination. Or better yet, see for yourself: it's worth leaving downtown for.


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