This semi-hidden food court might be Toronto's most delicious
The food court at North York's The Galleria at Emerald Park is what you might call a hidden gem. Located at street level of the twin residential towers' commercial space, it's a go-to for the building's residents and those in the know for an exciting array of international flavours.
It's true that Toronto has a plethora of food courts, but The Galleria at Emerald Park doesn't only have a multicultural lineup, it's also composed solely of individual mom-and-pop shops.
First, there's the challenge of finding this somewhat hidden food haven.
While multiple routes exist, the most direct for TTC takers is through Sheppard-Yonge Station itself. Simply follow the signs for the Emerald Park exit, head up the stairs into the building and then walk past the escalators in the atrium. There's no need to even head outside.
Second, it's the hard decision of what to feast on. Will it be a hearty curry-filled roti or supple grilled meats on aromatic and fluffy rice? Perhaps it's chili oil-slicked fresh noodles washed down with a simple but savoury lamb broth.
Here's everything to eat and drink that might make those decisions easier or unapologetically harder.
This humble-looking counter has been a staple of the food court for seven years and is best known for the excellent kebabs and meat platters that are made using proprietary family recipes.
The substantial platter features a skewer of koobideh (veal and onion) and joojeh (boneless chicken breast or leg) kebab on a bed of fluffy saffron rice. The plate is sided with half a grilled tomato and whole green chili.
No FOMO is needed because this option features both of Toranj's best-selling kebabs. Juicy tender and full of flavour, the skewers are accompanied by blistered vegetables on its signature twice-cooked basmati rice and saffron rice to make a delicious and satisfying meal.
The northern outpost of PanPan on Baldwin Street is best known for chili oil-slicked dry noodle dishes that might be tossed with sesame paste.
This iteration of the nutty and creamy dish features wide vermicelli (versus regularly available egg and rice noodles) that are brightened up by a toss of fresh chopped cilantro and green onions.
It's a mouth full of unctuous flavour, however, the pro-tip is to ask for the flat rice noodles (also known as ho fan) that are delightfully slippery, silky and light bouncy chewy.
For dainty and delicate Napoleon pastries that are inspired by the Parisian classic but injected with Asian flavours, look no further than the Instagrammable offerings here. They're also great washed down with one of the De Mello Coffee-based lattes.
It's an East meets West combination that pairs mildly sweet peach with aromatic and malty oolong tea pastry cream that's artfully pipped into a toasty, shattering crisp pastry boat.
No cutlery is needed. Instead of sandwiching pastry cream between sheets of puff pastry, these U-shaped pastry boats aren't only easy to pick up for one-handed eating but also designed to ensure that every bite has an even ratio of crust to filling.
With a humble start as a small takeout space in North York back in 1994, this known Toronto brand has blossomed into six locations across the GTA. It's also considered by many to be the go-to spot for jerk chicken and other Caribbean classics.
The Stuffed Sandwich has pretty much got all the essential food groups covered: a beef patty, jerk meat (pork or chicken), and coleslaw all piled in coco bread.
Move over patty on coco bun, and say hello to this filling beast that was created based on a suggestion from a loyal customer of the local chain.
This essentially amalgamates all the recipes second-generation proprietor, Patricia Li, inherited from her father-in-law (who opened the first Allwyn's in Scarborough) in one glorious handheld meal.
Head here to savour hyper-regional Chinese food from China's east coast. The Li siblings operating this takeaway counter use recipes that have been passed down through the generations for their menu.
Marinated bone-in or boneless chicken is pressure cooked with an assortment of aromatics and topped with fresh sliced chili peppers. The dish is sided with steamed rice and is available in customizable spice levels.
There's a reason why this recipe has been passed down in the family and a bite into the dish releases an explosion of bright peppery and savoury flavours. Steamed rice acts as a perfect foil to the heat in the dish; it also sops up the delicious sauce.
For tasty and spicy food, this corner stall offers a small selection of Szechuan (Sichuan) favourites that range from mild to extremely hot, plus dishes that are delightfully sour-spiced.
This takeaway feast features basa fish slices swimming in Eupin's signature spicy and sour broth. It brims with suan cai (sauerkraut), wood ear fungus, and cellophane noodles (aka bean threads).
This classic Szechuan dish is equal parts spicy and sour, with punchy flavours that are punctuated by tender basa fish and slightly chewy cellophane noodles. Paired with a bowl of steamed rice, the signature dish is comfort driven and laced with a touch of heat that makes you sniffle just a little bit.
Some traditionalists might consider this heaty, so consider pairing the meal with a can of five flower tea or plum juice for that ying yang balance.
Quite possibly the only establishment in the city that focuses strictly on making a flavourful and simple lamb broth.
This 9-hour simmered broth is made from lamb bones and a proprietary combination of 20 Chinese herbs and spices.
Deceptively simple looking, the slightly milky broth tastes clean and nourishing with a kiss of herbal savoury notes. Available plain with a few slices of lightly seasoned lamb or with noodles, this comfort food is so popular that it often sells out before closing.
It's handmade dumplings and buns that run the gamut from pan-fried to steamed, with a spotlight specifically on Shanghainese-style fare. Made fresh daily, fillings range from conventional pork to salted egg yolk.
According to one of the stall's staff, the pairing of pan-fried buns with wonton soup is a quintessential Shanghainese meal.
Made with both shrimp and pork, the shrimp pan-fried buns are both hefty and flavourful, and have an almost soup dumpling-like with a slightly charred crisped bottom.
The buns are contrasted by the lighter wontons that have silky wrappers and swim in a clear broth that's garnished with thinly sliced omelette, nori, Shanghai bok choy, and a tonne of cilantro and green onions for good measure.
Serving filling twists on east Indian cuisine, these are delightful flatbread pockets packed full of flavourful curries and familiar dishes. Note: The vendor is closed daily from 3-4 pm.
It's a blistered flatbread wrap that hides a generous portion of boneless chicken breast that's been cooked in a signature spiced tomato-cream sauce.
Few things please the way crowd favourite dishes like butter chicken do especially when it's served inside a tender and flaky roti wrap. The latter maintains its integrity despite the hefty and saucy deliciousness tucked inside.
One of the food court's first wave of merchants, this stall is equipped with a tandoor oven that cooks meats and bakes naan bread to order. At the helm of the kitchen is their head chef who comes with over 35 years of cooking experience in Kolkata, India.
The modest business served full-sized portions for takeaway, but this special combo gives you a generous choice of a meat dish (the butter chicken is a crowd favourite), a vegetable dish such as chana masala, plus fragrant basmati rice, naan, and a small appetizer.
Talk about value for your buck, this is arguably the best-valued combo in the city.
The Galleria at Emerald Park food court can be found at 4750 Yonge St.
Fareen Karim. With files from DKLo.
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