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Food & Drink

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well’s fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

The space hosts a mix of indie food darlings and international brands with cult followings

By Caroline Aksich| Photography by Derek Shapton
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Name: Wellington Market Food Hall Contact: 486 Front St. W., 416-306-8306, thewelltoronto.com/eat
Neighbourhood: Wellington Place Owners: RioCan and Allied Properties Accessibility: Fully accessible

It’s the summer of fancy food courts. The newest one, on the lower ground level of the Well, sets itself apart with an event space, a dog-friendly policy, board game rentals (run by Snakes and Lattes), free-flowing booze (every inch of its sprawling 70,000 square feet is licensed), a grocery store and Friday DJ nights. 

Designed by GPA Architects (the Toronto-based firm responsible for Eataly), the 1,000-seat space centres around the Pier, a cocktail bar run by Scale Hospitality (Chica, AP, Toronto Beach Club). Playing on the littoral motif, salvaged wood has been used to create the illusion of a boardwalk suspended above the food court. 

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Here’s the event space. Programming slated for this room includes comedy nights, book readings in partnership with Indigo and movie screenings. It’s also available for rent for $5,000 a day (8 a.m. to 11 p.m.).

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Right now, the food hall comprises three dozen vendors, mostly indie darlings like La Cubana, Hooky’s, Gus Tacos, Rosie’s and Samosarie, all known for their brick-and-mortar spots. A few food court favourites, such as Big Fat Cookies and Mado Café, join the mix, plus international brands with cult followings like Uncle Tetsu. The roster is set to eventually grow to 50 merchants, and there’s still an unopened section of the hall, so prepare yourself—this cornucopia of food choices is only going to get more overwhelming.

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

According to the Well’s general manager, Anthony Casalanguida, the list of vendors was whittled down from more than 650 contenders. Those that made the cut “are a reflection of Toronto’s unique cultural diversity,” he says. Currently, more than a dozen cuisines are represented, including Jamaican, Turkish, Japanese, Korean, French, Cuban and Chinese

We chatted with a few of the vendors to get the inside scoop on what they’re serving, what’s selling out and which dishes are the owners’ favourites. 


Japadog

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Japadog, a BC-based chain that gained international fame during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics for its hot dogs topped with Japanese ingredients, has finally landed in Toronto. Its first Eastern Canadian foray brings the entirety of its West Coast menu—including the Wagyu terimayo, pictured here—plus some additional menu items not available on the other side of the Rockies. “Because the culture of poutine is more popular in Toronto, we added sauce fries to the menu,” says manager Kenshiro Kaneda. The fries here are slathered in a Japanese tartare made with eggs, pickled daikon and kewpie mayonnaise. 

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Bestseller: Terimayo, an all-beef link topped with seaweed, teriyaki sauce, kewpie mayo and caramelized onions. $13.99

Owner’s favourite: Love Meat, an arabiki pork sausage topped with a beefy tomato sauce and grated cheese. $8.98

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

The Islands Caribbean Cookshop

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Bradley Chin, co-founder of the Islands Caribbean Cookshop, is no stranger to food courts. His 12-year-old Jamaican chain, now with four locations, got its start at York University’s student centre. While the Well is much fancier than the restaurant’s original campus digs, Chin says the recipes remain soulful. “It may be quick service, but everything here takes time—the jerk chicken, for example, gets marinated for at least 36 hours.”

Bestseller: The jerk chicken, marinated with a blend of scotch bonnet and allspice and finished on the grill. $13 for a three-piece meal

Owner’s favourite: The fried chicken, which takes 48 hours to prep, including a two-night marination and a spice-infused breading. $13 for a three-piece meal

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Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Blue Claw Lobster Shack

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

After a successful launch of its first location earlier this year, Blue Claw Lobster Shack has quickly opened a second outpost at the Well. Featuring sustainably fished lobster flown in from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and PEI, its menu also includes classic New England–style rolls, pescatarian-friendly burgers and upscale sides such as seafood chowder, lobster tots, and smoked gouda mac and cheese. “We try to make as much as we can in house, even the brioche, which lasts only three days before going rock hard,” says general manager Chris Chan. “Avoiding preservatives can be a logistical challenge, but we think it’s worth it.” 

Bestseller: The Halifax Combo, a burger patty made from lobster and shrimp; topped with bib lettuce, pickles, tomato, chipotle aioli, tartar sauce and cheddar cheese; and served on a brioche bun with beef tallow–fried french fries. $16.95

Owner’s favourite: The Barrington Spicy Roll, which, unlike trad lobster rolls, is served hot, with hunks of lobster cooked to order with onion and celery, deglazed with white wine and tossed in a sriracha aioli. $17.95

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall


Ryu’s Noodle Bar

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

This will be Ryuichiro “Roy” Takahashi’s second time operating in a food hall setting. Back in 2018, Ryu’s Noodle Bar was invited to sling soup at the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum, which features a selection of the best ramen in the world—snagging one of only two stalls allowed for international vendors. So, if the museum’s endorsement is anything to go by, Takahashi’s ramen is among the world’s best—and definitely one of the top bowls in Toronto.

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Instead of duplicating his Danforth menu, here Takahashi is focusing on an entirely different style of ramen broth: iekei. This ramen is characterized by a rich, thick broth with a base of pork, chicken and soy sauce. It’s often described as the love child of tonkotsu (pork bone) and shoyu (soy sauce) ramen. “It’s very rich, which is why we give people the choice to order it with different amounts of oil: light, regular and rich,” says Takahashi. For those wanting an even lighter option, there’s a choice of veggie or dashi-shoyu broth.

Bestseller: Original iekei, served with nori, seaweed, spinach and naruto. $17

Owner’s favourite: Signature iekei, which comes with all of the above plus cha-shu and an egg. $25

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

The Samosarie

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Inspired by Parisian macaron displays, the Samosarie is serving up a rainbow of handheld pastries in a kaleidoscope of flavours—minus the allergens. “My kids have nut allergies, so we said, Let’s get rid of the nuts so they can eat safely,” says owner Ashvin Gehani. “Then we took it further and eliminated fish, soy and sesame. Making it halal didn’t cost extra, so we did that too.” What started as a samosa-focused business has grown to include globally inspired Jamaican patties, panzerotti and empanadas. East Indian (butter chicken, vegan saag paneer, masala dosa) and West Indian (jerk chicken and kale, Caribbean sweet potato) fillings make up the bulk of the menu, but Italian, Mexican and Polish options are available too. 

Bestseller: The dairy-free but still somehow very creamy butter chicken samosa. $1.15

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Owner’s favourite: The truffle mushroom panzo, inspired by Gusto 101’s mafalde ai funghi pasta, is packed with mozzarella, truffle paste and cremini mushrooms. $1.15

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Big Fat Cookies

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Rayn Mansoor, owner of Big Fat Cookies, made a hard decision last week. “I closed my beloved Marylebone Café, in Oakville, because my cookie business has been growing so much and I just couldn’t do both,” she says. All the cookie dough at Big Fat Cookies is made by hand, most of it by Mansoor, who uses only real butter, the best cocoa and high-quality candy for her small-batch cookies. Here, different days of the week see different assortments of cookies. Mondays and Tuesdays have a smaller selection of mostly traditional cookies (chocolate chip, birthday cake, snickerdoodle), with the window display growing as the week progresses. By the weekend, the traditional cookies are on offer alongside creative concoctions like ube coconut white chocolate or blueberry white chocolate. For those in search of extra indulgence, try the OGG—it’s kind of like an open-faced stuffed cookie, with the centres pressed down to create a well that’s filled with things like Nutella. 

Bestseller: Red velvet. $5.25

Owner’s favourite: Pistachio walnut. $6.99

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Doraji

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Doraji is a mom-and-pop operation from the family behind the Nook in King West. After running a panini shop for almost a decade, the Kim family wanted to share their South Korean heritage through food. The menu is straightforward, with only two options—either bibimbap or dupbap. Both dishes are customizable: bibimbap lets you choose your protein (bulgogi, soy sauce chicken, pork or fried tofu), and dupbap comes with the same proteins minus tofu, which is substituted with japchae and veggies. For those unfamiliar with Korean food, dupbap features a main protein with rice and toppings, typically served without mixing, and bibimbap includes a variety of vegetables and protein mixed with spicy gochujang sauce.

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Bestseller: The bibimbap with bulgogi, which comes with seven types of vegetables (including shiitakes, pickled radish, bellflower root and spinach), an egg and lashing of house-made gochujang sauce. $14.99

Owner’s favourite: The spicy pork dupbap, which comes with cabbage, japchae noodles and housemade pan-fried kimchi. $14.99

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Isabella’s Mochi Doughnuts

Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

Not much good came out of the pandemic, but Isabella’s Mochi Doughnuts is one sweet exception. Cecilia and David Noon were running a Japanese restaurant in the Beaches when indoor dining got the axe. So they decided to test the waters with various weekend pop-ups to see what would tickle their neighbourhood’s taste buds. “On mochi doughnut weekends, the line wrapped around the block twice,” says Cecilia. With their sixth location, the Noons are staying true to their roots: refusing to use premixed batter (everything is made in-house) and continually innovating funky flavour combinations that change weekly. The roster of 500 flavours includes both Asian (calamansi vanilla bean, mango sticky rice, Vietnamese coffee) and North American (strawberry cheesecake, funfetti) influences.

Bestseller: Matcha. $4.50

Owner’s favourite: Mango crème brûlée. $4.50

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Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall
Everything to eat at Wellington Market, the Well's fancy new 70,000-square-foot food hall

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