Seafood City is a Filipino mega-market that encompasses produce, dry staples, a food court and of course, plenty of fresh seafood.
Seafood City has come to embody what’s known in Filipino culture as “sariling atin” or “truly ours,” a community hub for families to get the staples that are merely approximated at other grocers, do the weekly shopping and gather over a meal.
That meal is shared in the busy dining room, a buzzing nexus in the middle of the mini food court with three Filipino restaurants that correspond roughly to different cooking styles.
Orders are taken food court style, an assembly line of people swelling at rushes.
First, literally, there’s Grill City: this market wastes no time in getting you to their main attraction, a squadron of employees saucing, flipping and grilling skewers right near the entrance.
“Value packs” of grilled meats without any rice include pork skewers ($13.99 for 4) presented in a foil bag or on a banana leaf, succulent and doused in a BBQ sauce with a bit of a sweet and sour edge.
Or, opt for two grilled squid stuffed with a potent mix of onion, tomato, and chili ($19.99, awesome deal).
A unique savoury, cheesy rice cake dessert called bibingka is made with rice flour, cheese, butter and milk studded with salted egg and cheese cubes cooked in a banana leaf.
Noodle Street specializes more in what non-Filipinos might call “Asian” food, steaming, boiling and pan-frying.
Here, find satisfying chicken, beef or wonton noodle soups for around $10.
They also do hefty pork asado and bola bola chicken siopao, or steamed buns ($14.95 for 6).
Crispy Town fries up most everything, like honking crispy pata pork hocks ($16.99 for one)
Bagnet ($15.99 a pound) is similarly substantial, basically deep-fried lechon that must be eaten with special lechon sauce available at a central condiment station.
Slush beverages come in flavours like ube, coconutty buko pandan, mango and melon.
Halo halo is obligatory anywhere that calls itself Filipino, a dessert bursting with colour, refreshment, and the texture of ice, flan, ube ice cream, beans and jelly candies.
Find familiar Filipino products like banana ketchup such as this spicy version from big brand Jufran (89 cents).
There’s also ice cream in Filipino flavours like halo halo, buko pandan, ube, avocado and mango (around $13).
On the opposite side of store from the food court lies a veritable fresh fish emporium with options like Pangasinan bangus, herring, mackerel, tilapia and clams.
The first of its kind in Canada, the supermarket has origins in California that stretch back to 1989.