Journalist Sarah Efron explores strip malls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants in search of the city's best ethnic food

Friday, July 1, 2011

A new food market is born on Dundas

Contain yourself! A new market has opened up at Dundas and Bathurst (707 Dundas Street West) made up of businesses operating inside refurbished shipping containers. The market has promise as a place of interest for foodies and lovers of creative cheap eats.

The Scadding Court Community Centre first launched the Live Local Marketplace last fall with hopes of revitalizing this sombre corner, which is dominated by Toronto Western Hospital. They brought in surplus shipping containers from China that have been subdivided into tiny shops.

With the rent at just $350 a month, the containers have been quickly filling up with a wide variety of merchants hawking everything from handmade crafts to long distance calling cards. In the weeks to come, all the containers will likely be open for business. 

Tony Sabherwal (above), the founder and owner of the organic pizza place Magic Oven, noticed the booths recently when he was driving by. "I saw the booths and they spoke to me somehow," he says. "I parked and walked in and said I'll take one."

For $3, he sells "sloppy bunjo," a dish he describes as a vegan version of a sloppy joe. It's a bun filled with masala yellow peas cooked with tamarind sauce. "This is street food from the town I grew up in, in northeast India," he says. "There it's called 'bun mutter.'" He also serves samosas, corn on the cob and Japanese genmaicha ice tea made with brown rice and mint. 

Tony says his wife takes care of the day-to-day operations of Magic Oven, allowing him to have a little holiday running the Scadding Court stall. "I'm doing it for fun and to feel connected to people who live in city," he says. "It's fun because on the street, people come from all over and ask all kinds of questions."

Montforte Dairy, a Guelph-based business that is a staple of local farmer's markets, also has a booth here. You can pick up tasty treats such as goat gouda and Swiss-style cheddar. "It's a bit of an experiment, working out of a metal box at a community centre, but we're really excited about it," says Monteforte's Ben Szoller (above).

Ben will serve you a grilled cheese sandwich with the cheese of your choice for $5. It's made with homemade butter and served on bread baked at the community centre. You can also get some top quality ice cream made from water buffalo milk. 

A few stalls down Leon serves fruit shakes and bubble tea at his stall, The Original One. Leon has rented a second stall and plans to expand into dim sum soon. Other new businesses that are set to open include a bakery and a deli selling Montreal-style smoked and cured meats. There's even talk of bringing a proper farmer's market to the site next year. Check back at Spice City Toronto for further developments.

The hours for each business vary, but they are generally are open Tuesday to Friday 11am—6pm, Saturday noon—6pm. In the summer, the market is open on Friday until 10pm.

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  1. Thanks for this! I had no idea it was as extensive as you describe. What a great community-building idea, and so close to Alexandria park, one of my faves in the city. Will check it out for sure later this eve...

  2. There's a TEDx talk there tonight, so it's a perfect night to check it out.

  3. Just ate a Samosa Bunjo there and it was divine. What a fantastic idea!

  4. I was just down and Scadding Court and had some wonderful Korean food: beef dumplings, rice cake and squid balls. Everything was wonderful and the snack food is only a couple bucks each.

  5. Had some pupusas, they were great! Sloppy Bunjo was really tasty, and a lot of food for the price. Looking forward to trying Casbah, the new Tunisian stall, for merguez sandwich. The people running these stalls are really friendly!

    1. Thanks for mentioning Casbah and looking forward to meet you and enjoying the Merguez sandwich
      see you soon

  6. Want to try something different? Taste of Tunisia serves the beast of the Tunisian Authentic Dishes. Come try the salad mechouia, the Brik, couscous with Lamb, chicken or Merguez or our Popular Merguez Platter...