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Saturday, June 25, 2005


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


At Saturday, June 25, 2005 11:06:00 AM, Blogger Ames said...

Low blow! I *would* have gone except that I had an appointment with Lyds and didn't want her to see the contents of my stomach after such a questionable meal. And after seeing poor Tiffy suffering all the way home in the car makes me glad I went for the tasty BBQ pork on rice. YUM!

At Sunday, June 26, 2005 12:27:00 AM, Blogger tiffany said...

you're right, our blogs really do say the exact same things (same phrasing, even). the conclusion? never listen to dave EVER! :p after all your bravado and posturing friday night, atleast you've finally conceded that the special item on the menu was death!

but you're right, once the stomach pains pass, i'll still fondly remember the ghettoness of the food court... "you sir, you sir, what you want?"

At Sunday, June 26, 2005 12:33:00 AM, Blogger tiffany said...

just another thought: so i'm guessing that the chinatown centre food court probably isn't on that "toronto foodies" blog that you were writing about earlier, eh?

At Monday, June 27, 2005 2:27:00 PM, Blogger Reformed Jerk said...

Tiffy, you've just given me a GREAT idea: why not start a ghetto-foodie blog? We can document the most disgusting eateries in Toronto and dare our readers to challenge us in food poisoning one-upsmanship :) Of course, in a game like that, there really are no winners.


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