SpiceCityTo

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

Monday, September 24, 2012

Great Caribbean eats at the Weston Flea Market

***Note of Aug 2014: See update in comments at end of story.

Some of the best international food Toronto has to offer is served at city's flea markets. The cheap rents on stalls and weekend-only hours make them a great place for aspiring chefs to test out their home cooked favourites on a diverse crowd. 

After discovering an unmatched selection of Latin American and Caribbean food stalls last year at Downsview Park Merchants Market, I decided to hunt for cheap ethnic eats at the Toronto Weston Flea Market at 404 Old Weston Road just north of St. Clair Ave.

 


Outside the market, fruit and veg vendors holler to try to attract customers. "ONE-DOLLAR-PINEAPPLE-ONE-DOLLAR-PINEAPPLE!" repeats one strong lunged vendor. Another chants, "HONEY-HONEY-HONEY DEW! HONEY-HONEY-HONEY DEW!"  

There's no charge to enter the bleak-looking concrete building. Head past the stalls hawking dollar store surplus and low-rent antique junk and go to the food court in the back. The Chinese place looked like your standard mall outlet and the Caribbean joint was serving dried up chunks of mystery meat, but a Guyanese food stall caught my eye. 

Nadira & Family Halal Cuisine is run by Nadira Khan (below left). Her daughter Nafeeza (below right) drums up business by handing out flyers to the flea market shoppers. "I love to be in the kitchen," says Nadira, who is paying $500 a month to rent the stall each Saturday and Sunday. "I want to open up a restaurant that would be open every day, so I'm here to build up my clientele." 


The menu reflects the diversity of the South American country of Guyana. Vegetable fried rice and chow mein dishes are variations on Chinese recipes, while the channa curry and roti have Indian roots. The prices are super cheap: A curry and roti is just five bucks. 

The potato balls ($1) are a Guyanese snack that sound like a novelty item you'd get at the CNE. It's basically a deep fried and battered ball of mashed potatoes. Similarly, the egg ball ($3) is a hefty lump of dough with a whole hard boiled egg inside of it. They were served with a tangy chutney. 



Nadira also sells traditional Guyanese sweets: The round 'chinee' cake probably also has a Chinese origin, as its black eyed pea filling tastes like the sweet bean paste you get in Asian desserts. Red cake (salara) has layers of shredded coconut in it. My favourite of the bunch is the pine tart: It's triangular shape reminds me of the Jewish hamentashen, but it's filled with tangy, stringy pineapple.



Check back with Spice City Toronto next week for more discoveries from the Toronto Weston Flea Market.

Photos by Molly Crealock

Toronto Weston Flea Market is located at 404 Old Weston Road, just north of St. Clair Ave West. Admission is free. It's open Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 6pm. Tel: 416 654 6455.

  • Share your own thoughts on the Toronto Weston Flea Market in the comments field below.
  • Follow Spice City Toronto on Twitter and like it on Facebook.
  • Recommend a place for Spice City to visit at SpiceCityTO at gmail dot com.
  • Sample the best food from around the world without leaving the GTA with the Spice City Toronto world food map.



View Larger Map

3 comments:

  1. Is this place still at the Weston Flea Market? I wasn't able to find them there the other day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't been back recently but it wouldn't surprise me if these stalls have changed. If anyone could provide an update it would be appreciated.

      Delete
  2. Apparently they're no longer at the Weston market and instead are only doing home orders. They have a facebook page where you can find their phone number. On their facebook page though Halal is (mis)spelled as Halah.

    ReplyDelete