Inside T&T Supermarket’s new downtown store at College and Spadina
Name: T&T Supermarket
Contact: 297 College Street, tntsupermarket.com, @tt_supermarket
Covid-19: Mandatory masking policy. Current capacity is limited to 316 with a one-in, one-out system. Shopping baskets are sanitized between uses. Hand sanitizer provided at entrance and throughout store.
Accessibility: Elevators and escalators both reach the second-floor store.
When T&T Supermarket announced the closure of its Cherry Street location in 2019, the downtown community collectively lamented the loss of the landmark Asian grocer. So there was much rejoicing—and long lines—when the Loblaw-owned chain opened its new downtown location last week. The 27,000-square-foot store near College and Spadina is stocked with thousands of the imported goods that T&T is known for, plus a live seafood counter, fresh meats and poultry, daily baked treats and plenty of prepared foods for the to-go crowd. We took a tour of the new store with CEO Tina Lee—one of the Ts in T&T.
Like most supermarkets, the store’s large produce section is found near the entrance.
But unlike most supermarkets, this one sources rare, premium items like these enormous Korean shine muscat grapes, which are each about the size of a toonie. (And you’ll need more than a few toonies to pay for them…)
But there are also lots of daily staples. Like cabbage!
These refrigerator cases are filled with fresh Asian greens of practically every variety.
T&T brings in seasonal specialties including fresh durian—ripe and wafting with its distinct aroma—and less polarizing jackfruit.
In addition to fresh seafood displayed on ice beds, there are tanks of live shellfish and crustaceans like Atlantic lobsters, west-coast Dungeness crab, and live spot sprawns—even though their season is short.
Poultry, pork and beef are sourced from Canadian producers.
For red-meat lovers, the butcher counter is always stocked with premium Angus beef, including these AA tomahawk steaks.
There’s also specialty beef, including highly marbled Japanese wagyu.
And a whole section devoted to cuts for specific types of cooking, like Korean barbecue.
Past the produce section, there are freezer cases full of frozen dumplings, seafood and other goods like these hotpot-ready beef, chicken, pork and lamb roll-ups.
Fish balls. So many fish balls.
These Taiwanese-style mini garlic pork sausages trump any cocktail weiner.
You’ll also find seasonal products, like a variety of mooncakes for Mid-Autumn Festival in September.
Tapping into the unboxing trend, these T&T mystery snack boxes are stuffed with more than 16 popular snack brands and include cookies, chips and other sweets.
The downtown location goes deep on the snacks, including this shelf dedicated almost exclusively to seafood nibbles, including salted duck-egg fish skin chips.
And more nosherai, including a wide assortment of seaweed snacks that are fried, dried and available in organic and low-sodium forms.
There’s a whole section dedicated to Japanese snacks, including Pretz and Pocky in all their seasonal flavours, like this almond milk “luxury” Pocky.
There are also nostalgic snacks like chewy White Rabbit candy—available here as ice pops.
This wall is lined with freezer cases filled with frozen treats, like mochi ice cream, bubble milk tea ice cream bars and green tea ice cream.
These T&T green onion pancakes, loaded with scallions, are one of the brand’s top selling items.
The middle aisles have all your pantry staples from sauces, seasonings, and a large selection of rice, noodles, and flours. In all, there are more than 10,000 different items on the shelves.
T&T’s bakery area offers fresh breads, filled buns, and layered cakes. Their fresh mango cake layers Alphonso mango between airy chiffon cake and whipped cream, while custom cakes can be made into everything from animal faces to showy tiered cakes.
Here’s a closer look at that mango cake.
There’s also a stall for Cantonese barbecue dishes such as roast duck, chicken and pork, all sliced to order.
At the gua bao station, fluffy steamed buns are filled to order with things like 24-hour marinated and braised pork belly, pickled mustard, cilantro and peanut powder. It’s like a Taiwanese street food version of an open-faced sandwich.
Catering to both area condo dwellers and students, the front end of the store is lined with hot stations filled with pre-wrapped hot foods and dim sum; refrigerator cases of cold marinated appetizers; and freshly prepared sushi for grab-and-go meals.
The ultimate portable food, onigiri are rice balls wrapped in nori that may contain a filling. This version is in a special package that separates the nori from the rice until it’s unwrapped in order to maintain crispiness.
These posters at the new store are scrawled with heartfelt farewell messages from customers of T&T’s former Cherry Street location, written during its last week of operation back in 2019.