Ghetto Foodies

Join us on a journey to the most ghetto eateries in the GTA. We get food poisoning, so you don't have to! Live vicariously through us. Welcome.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

a mini-ghetto foodies moment

wow, it's been so long since we've blogged here. ever since dave got his new place, we've cut back on eating out, opting more for the cheaper and healthier (but no less saltier!) home-cooking.

anyway, i've been reminded of this site a few times since last summer, and last friday was one of those times. i was out with my pharmie friends for lunch that day, and one of my friends suggested eating at a $3.75 fried rice place with generous servings down on spadina. when we got there, it was none other than the "slaughterhouse" bathroom place mentioned back in july.

"ok... sure, we can eat here if you want. i don't think i got sick from their food."

i said it in earnest, but my friends opted to eat somewhere else. (ka chi by kensington, mmm!)

btw, the other times i thought ghettofoodies was when dave and i were visiting mary's place and we walked by that chinese restaurant that we were convinced was just a front for an illegitimate drug business. "i'll take two pounds of cha siew, wink wink."

also, tomlin, i'm still waiting for your report on pho places. feel free to contribute from vancouver!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

rock on, oscar, rock on!

well, folks, it's been awhile since i've last blogged on this site. frankly, dave and i haven't "eadden" at too many dodgy places lately.

this ghetto foodies account comes from the e-on restaurant a couple of steps from the chestnut. dave had eaten there before with some delta ppl last year and assured me that the food was pretty good. i, on the other hand, was a little skeptical as i am of all basement chinese restaurants... but hey, you've gotta to give that place it's due when it remains unfazed and still open minutes after having a car crash through it's window. overheard by dave at the scene:

car: CRASH!!
window: SMASH!!
customer: hey, are you still open?
waiter: uhh, yeah, why wouldn't it be?

anyway, back to the story... alright, so we went to this restaurant and we ordered snails in e-on black bean sauce (there were no more clams), oysters in scrambled eggs, and beef noodles -- all of it was sufficiently tasty. then, two-thirds through the meal:

dave: {thinks to self: this snail feels heavy. it's dense as a rock - it's like some kind of weird calcified snail.}
dave: hey tiff? this snail is like a rock! it doesn't have any openings or anything!
me: what? lemme see... {visually examines the object in question; raps the plate with it and then compares its timbre with that of a confirmed snail shell.}
me: uhhh, are you sure this isn't just a rock?

i don't think we stopped laughing the rest of the evening. we found the whole incident so hilarious that we didn't even remember to complain to the waiter! can't you just imagine the waiter and the chef laughing at us and going, "you mean they ate the rock? AHAHAHAHA! what idiots!!"? honestly, this incident really goes to show how closely restaurants inspect and clean their food. but it's kinda strange, i'm not even grossed out.

anyhow, we washed the rock off with tea and then named him oscar. he currently resides on dave's desk beside "ho fo'sho" tammy.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Street meat

So, you probably thought this blog had fallen into a state of disrepair, didn't you? Frankly, I can't blame you for thinking so, since there hasn't been an update here since July. I am, however, quite disappointed that you would think Tiff and I were this fickle with our enterprises, starting but never finishing that which we so eagerly begin. Okay, I can't speak for Tiff--not everyone has a Kevlar-lined stomach (see the post about her misadventures at the Dragon City Foodcourt)--but I, for one, am committed to carrying the vision of this blog to fruition. So without further ado, and to make up for lost time, let us talk about today's ghetto foodie establishment, the hotdog stand on the south side of College St, just outside Queen's Park Station.

I haven't bought a hotdog from a street vendor for some time now. It's not because I am uncomfortable with their food handling--I have not once gotten ill from patronizing these roadside establishments, and I don't anticipate I will--but rather, it's because I have been plagued by a psychological unease about the physical appearance of hotdog-stand sausages. Perhaps I should explain. You may remember that a while back I was employed as a part-time proctor in the 27th floor study room of my residence. One evening, I had the misfortune of having to proctor the students while they had their public-service-announcement style course about sex and sexually transmitted diseases. For the most part, I paid no heed to the discussions about crabs and the clap, but I was captivated by a question posed at the end of the lecture by a young man, who seemed rather anxious about the possibility of catching what he referred to as "this exotic disease I'd heard about". In essence--and here I am giving you a highly Disney-fied version of his graphic account--said disease causes that particular member of the male anatomy which the fairer sex does not possess to bloom like a flower, rendering it similar in appearance to (and this is his analogy) a fully cooked hotdog that's been slit in the trademarked criss-cross pattern of the streetside hotdog vendor. Needless to say, I haven't been fond of streetside hotdogs since then.

But dire hunger cures many phobias--starving people, even those who are arachnophobic, would probably eat a giant African tarantula if given the chance. Once I blocked out all mental pictures of things unsavory, I found the hotdog to be exceptionally tasty. The sausage was plump and juicy, and the honey mustard provided just the right amount of zest to an otherwise plain meal. Of course, the best of the meal was that it cost only $3.00. The only thing that would have prevented me from eating that hotdog was if in lieu of Polish Sausage, the street vendor had chosen a more exotic name for her specialty hotdog, like say...Thai Flower Wiener.

Your Favorite Jerk

Thursday, July 21, 2005

welcome to the chafing dish!

please enter...
Originally uploaded by quitesleepy.

here is the infamous "m.y chafing dish" restaurant. isn't it deliciously tacky? for more chafing dish pics, look them up on my flickr page... :)

Friday, July 08, 2005

stop chafing me!

one evening last week, dave and i were walking up spadina looking for ghetto foodies fodder when we came across the promisingly titled establishment, "m.y chafing dish" (it's bugging me, but i'm pretty sure there's no '.' after the 'y'). after arguing over the proper usage of the word "chafe" (to which i stand corrected), we both resolved to return to the chafin' dish when the weather would be more conducive to hot pot... as this was one of those sliiiiightly sketchy-looking basement restaurants, we felt that this would be an auspicious place to eat for our second foodies offering.

to tell you the truth, when we came back a few days later, i was a little disappointed that the place actually looked respectable in proper daylight... but hey, they can't all be winners, right? :p ever the gentleman, dave "held open" the "door", and with the gentle swishing and clattering of the beaded curtain, we were ushered into the restaurant.

i can't really say anything bad about the chafin' dish... the proprietors were nice, the drinks cold, there was no disease or death lurking around the corner, and the food was pretty decent. [even the washrooms were pretty clean - a huge improvement last wednesday's bathroom where the big heavy door to the downstairs bathrooms reminded me of the entranceway to a slaughterhouse... an image that was somewhat reinforced when i saw the stairs were literally bathed in a red glow... :S trust me, it was freaky, yo.] in general, it was a nice, slightly tackily decorated place with a random elevated VIP table at the back - why we weren't seated at that table, i still don't know... :p decor-wise, i especially liked the gold and silver gift-wrap paper they put up on the walls, though i think it would have been even more awesome if the gift-wrap had "happy birthday" or "merry christmas" printed all over it. :) [pics, dave?]

with regards to the food, it was buffet-style hotpot (like when you go for kbbq) and we decided to try a whole bunch of stuff on the menu. for stock, we tried consomme and thai stone(d) soup (which made for some pretty trippy meal-time conversation, let me tell you...) for foodstuffs, we had a whole buncha meat (lamb, chicken, beef, etc), "spinage", tofu, "waxed gourd", vermicelli, etc. etc. 'twas quite good, although we had some false starts after *somebody* kept kicking the heating element's plug out of the socket... my only complaint was that after the stock had boiled down, the owners refilled the pot with more stock instead of water... by the end of the evening, everything we cooked - EVERYTHING! - tasted like pure salt. i think we got 600% of our daily dosage of sodium in that meal... when you looked at our table afterwards, we had like 5 cans of drinks (and i would've drank more if i didn't want to spend the $$$). blech.

so after our meal, we were really, really thirsty, but i think that it was a positive experience overall... and the best part? no stomach pains! great success! :) anyhow, the food was tasty, but just remember to replenish the base with lots and lots of water (instead of stock) unless you want to end up with hypertension.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

the special ingredient is... death!

how far would you go for a cheap meal?

well, in my case, i suppose that answer would be 222 spadina ave, just south of dundas... last night, dave, brandon, and i went to eat at the dragon city centre food court (against my will, might i add). and yes, i am quite aware that this is the same food court that was closed down last year due to various health code violations, such as rats and other contagion. ames had enough sense to bail on us once she realised that dave's obsession with the ghetto food court would continue unabated, but i was foolhardy enough to remain with the guys. so despite my protests that we'd end up with salmonella, we ended up in the most ghetto food court that you'd have ever seen - seriously, half the kiosks were closed down, the lights were off (no doubt for energy efficiency), and there was only a smattering of people actually eating there. how i wish that i'd brought my camera so you could all see the sad, sorry sight. once we arrived (and, you know, stopped laughing), the guys were immediately drawn to this one stand that had these proud words emblazoned across a banner "pick any 4 items for $3.50" - from those words alone, they were sold. nevermind that everybody else in the food court was avoiding this one establishment, they stepped right up to the counter, and there was suddenly a flurry of activity behind it as the little chinese ladies served them their food ("you sir... what else you want?"). i was still hovering a step or two behind them and rather appalled that they were actually going through with it, when one of the ladies turns to me and says "ok, lady? how about you? noodles or rice?"

i was later told by dave that, despite my valiant efforts to smile and be polite, they thinly veiled the look of unadulterated fear on my face.

anyway, i tried to choose the safest items on the menu - in other words, i tried to stay away from the meats of unknown origin - and, i swear, the whole encounter for all three of us combined ( the ordering, paying and receipt of food) took less than 2 minutes total. so how was the food, you ask? the noodles were bland, the sweet and sour pork had bones in it, the fried chicken (oh chicken therapy, why did you forsake me?) was dry but ok, and there was a marked lack of grubs found in the broccoli, so at that point, it's already a step above the sodexho food at queen's. all in all, the food wasn't that bad, but i don't think i fully got rid of that grossed out look that was registered on my face until after the meal.

so, i didn't wake up this morning bleeding from my intestines or anything (which i suppose is a definite good sign), but i swear, last night? i was not feeling so good. i had a pain in my stomach and was just feeling a general malaise. nothing definitive, but i just didn't feel (or look) so good.

and i think i freaked out a couple of people with my crazed outbursts too. ooops.


I love dining out at famous establishments, but this sort of experience is often beyond the reach of my grad student budget. On these occasions, I ditch the 'famous' qualifier and settle for the much cheaper 'infamous' one. Such was the case today when I went to the infamous food court at Chinatown Centre on Spadina with Tiffy and Brandon. For those with a decent memory, this is the food court that was shut down by Toronto Public Health about a year ago for flagrant health code violations. According to inspectors, the place was overrun with cockroaches, mice, and other rodents--basically the typical menagerie that can be found at the back of a Chinese restaurant--and over 500lbs of food were destroyed for being unsanitary and hazardous to human health. The closing of the food court last June was unprecedented and made the issue of unsanitary eateries a hot topic for the ensuing months. I remember watching the Chinese TV news when I was still in Vancouver and hearing about this story. I've always wanted to see just how bad a food court has to be to get shut down, so I made a stand today and demanded that we go there for dinner before fellowship.

Before I describe our dining experience tonight, let me first give props to Tiffy and Brandon for their admirable bravery (or foolhardiness, depending on how you look at it). As for Ames, who chose to bail and get BBQ pork on rice elsewhere, the less said the better. You disappoint me, Ames.

The food court is the most ghetto looking eating establishment I've seen in North America. In an effort to save electricity, every other light was turned off, giving the place a 28 Days Later sort of feel; I was half expecting zombies to attack us as we made our way past the early-90s arcade consoles at the entrance. Even Brandon, who has seen his share of "ghetto", admitted that this food court was something else in terms of sheer ghettoness. But I was filled with unspeakable excitment because this was the place I had seen on TV and read about in newspapers, and now it was real to me! It gave me goosebumps to realize that the very ground I was walking on was once traversed by countless others who would go on to get food poisoning. This was history come alive for me. Some people go to Civil War monuments and imagine the battles that took place on now quiet fields; I go to previously shut down food courts and imagine the hurling that took place on now (moderatly) clean floors.

Brandon and I were immediately drawn to the $3.50-for-four-items shop, but Tiffy was less than enthusiastic. Come to think of it, the whole experience was torture for her--before and, unfortunately, after the meal. Still, I give Tiffy much credit for being a soldier and eating with us :)

I don't remember--or rather, I can't really identify--what meats I had, but that's just as well because I don't need to know if I was the first person who was not a Fear Factor participant to eat rat. To be honest, I don't think I'd ever go back there again. The food was really bland and my stomach isn't doing so well with the digestion process right now--and it's 2:00AM, more than seven hours since the meal.

Your Favorite Jerk