At a midtown flea market, Guyanese cuisine awaits hungry customers.
Some of the best international food Toronto has to offer is served at the 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 the 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 Avenue West.
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 and Family Halal Cuisine is run by Nadira Khan. Her daughter Nafeeza 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 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.
Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.