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Meat at T&T, Your Comments?

I've been really impressed with T&T at Cherry Street and never get out of the place without spending at least $50. I'm not that old, but when I see the huge variety of Asian goods that are available and compare that to how I grew up, it amazes me...

Anyhow, some question about meat available at T&T: anyone know where they source it, or have comments on the quality? I was amazed to see whole beef tenderloins (vaccum packed) at $4.98/lb! But what would I be getting myself into?

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  1. I actually just stop in there for meat and fish, for the most part. So incredibly cheap. Obviously it's not Cumbrae quality, but I've had the beef tenderloins from there and it certainly stacks up to anything one would buy from Loblaws, and at half the price. The AAA flank stank is fabulous.

    1. I've seen very well conformed, well marbled beef there. The major catch seems to be little or no aging, which would partially explain the price points.

      Cuts used for slow cooking and in Asian recipes generally have been successful. Things like short ribs and flank steaks were good. Thinly sliced ribeye for hotpot would likely be fine, but I've had beautiful, thick, well marbled ribeye steaks that were tough and tasteless.

      No experience with tenderloins but if they are AA or AAA, it would probably be worth the risk.

      7 Replies
      1. re: embee

        I had a close look at the prime rib at the Warden/Steeles T&T meat counter on Monday which were indicated as AAA grade. They had large areas of solid fat, but the meat itself was not well marbled....don't believe it could be AAA.

        1. re: T Long

          AAA need only have small marbling. If you want a guaranteed well-marbled cut , you will have to pay the price for Canada prime, and it is hard to find. Your experience is normal, and not a reflection on T&T.


          ed. to change slightly to small, and add a link

          1. re: jayt90

            Maybe...but compared to the AAA from Dominion's (Red Grill brand) and Costco's...T & T's were significantly less marbled. I've had good luck eye-balling rib roasts, and would definitely pass on the meat I saw at T & T...if I wanted AAA.

            1. re: T Long

              Thing is, there is a spectrum of marbling that qualifies for various beef grades. Not all AAAs are created equal.

              1. re: T Long

                I have not checked out T&T because I have had good luck with the sources you mention. Have a look at the inspection agency link, which I added while you were posting.

          2. re: embee

            The current meat grading system was put in place to promote feed lots and the consumption of cheap corn. Well marbled beef is not always a good thing. With Kobe beef, okay, but I'll take a lean bison steak, perfectly cooked, over a well-marbled beef steak any day. Since this is a T&T thread, I will say that I find the quality of their meat to be exceptional, considering the price point.

          3. I don't know where their meat comes from, but of all the bigger asian groceries stores we have access to, T&T is the only one my wife trusts. The only trouble we get is trying to get them to grind up the on-sale meats for us. She targets the younger guys working behind the counter and has to sweet talk them into doing it for free.

            1. I have a question/comment on some tuna sashimi I picked up from their sushi department at the Mississauga location...when I opened the container the sashimi was sitting in a pool of blood..I was disgusted! Is this normal?

              3 Replies
              1. re: burlgurl

                I usually buy my meats at Loblaws or Dominions. T&T is the only Chinese supermarket where I pick up meat. I like their striploin for $4.99/lb. And their flank steak. I worry about meat at other chinese markets where they have been sitting uncovered all day.

                1. re: caitlink

                  I am sure the other chinese markets for meat are ok, as the gov't health departments have guidelines.

                2. re: burlgurl

                  Hmmm, I haven't noticed that at the Cherry St. location. I just bought a pound of tuna sashimi (frozen) from them. I'll let you know if it looks strange.

                3. Gee, my local Price Chopper has vacuum packed tenderloins for less than $4.00/lb. Rib eyes are generally between $3.29 and 3.49. I think it's AA grade, which certainly isn't the best, but I generally get about 10 steaks for a $20 investment. You do have to do a little trimming on some of the cuts, because the silverskin is still on, but I still figure it's worth it to get a $2 8oz. steak. Luckily, my stomach seems to have shrunk as I slouch towards senility, so I can't finish anything bigger!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: KevinB

                    Thx KevinB: I followed your tip about Price Chopper meats from an earlier post and have enjoyed the steaks. I recollect seeing a "USDA" stamp...so likely meat is from a US source?

                    1. re: T Long

                      USDA Select last time I looked. Same low grade that Loblaws sells when they have "bargain" whole sections. It can be good, but often isn't. But if you are looking for cheap protein, it does the job.

                      I don't belong to Costco. My understanding is that they carry much better quality meats of this type.

                      1. re: embee

                        I'm sure you are correct...it would be too much of a bargain if it was rated any higher. But the 2 packs I've gotten so far have resulted in steaks better (more tender) than Dominion's...."AA or better" cuts. I will not expect them to be consistently better in the future though.

                        1. re: T Long

                          My friend, I'm glad you have enjoyed them as I have; I completely agree they are not the best steaks I've ever had, but I think as value for money, on everyday meals, they make a great deal. Who eats USDA Prime 4 nights a week, except business people on expense accounts?

                  2. They have a nice variety of meats and seafood and often have sales on certain things. I got a duck for $6 there around a month ago and last week I got some nice oxtail for $3 a pound. Today I got beef short ribs for $1.88 a pound. I quite like the place.

                    1. I've found their meat great all around.

                      Bought some very tasty steaks for a lot less money than regular supermarkets. Rock Cornish Hens are a real bargoon, unless they've put up their prices this year. Frozen fish is also very reasonable.

                      1. For the steak cuts I've found they carry very lean, pretty well unaged beef. For my taste the tenderloin/filet is edible but not good; the ribeye is unacceptable, even for the price.

                        Now, if I put the ribeye in a paper bag and let it age on a rack in my fridge for maybe 4-5 days (sounds crazy but it works) maybe it would change to being decent.

                        As it stands I stay away from T&T for beef unless it's a cut that's going to be stewed or marinated.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: herbs go karts

                          Yesterday, I just had a Rib Eye from T&T Cherry St. - $5 for about 300 grams of steak. It was a little fatty, but fairly tasty and tender.

                          Preparation for the ribeye: simple rub-on marinade (a teaspoon of vinegar, a little Bourbon, some spices, and some olive oil), rested meat after rubbing the marinade on to just under room temperature, seared at max temperature on grill-pan, and finished it in oven (broiled, ~4min/side to medium rare).

                          Two days ago, I also had a 45-day aged angus striploin from Fresh&Wild, cooked in a similar manner (except I used a dry-rub). The aged striploin was excellent, but cost about 36.99/kg. I would say the T&T steak was definitely worth the money.

                          1. re: Westfalen

                            Sobey's rib eye steak is actually a better deal this week: $5.99 for 456 g., boneless, AAA grade, wet aged 14 days (Sterling Silver top 12% spec.)
                            I haven't been in yet, but when I go I'll ask for thick cuts, and marbled. I hope they can deliver.

                        2. We have on occasion purchased the striploin & other cuts of meat (sliced meats for hot pot are fantastic) - we have not bought tenderloin because I have found that there is a bit too much silverskin left on the meat which is chewy and curls the meat when cooked so you be sure to have it all removed before cooking.

                          1. Thanks for the feedback everyone, I appreciate it.

                            I gave in and bought a beef tenderloin the other day, for $15, partially froze it, and sliced it thin for shabu shabu. Probably not the best tenderloin, but tender and perfectly fine for the hot pot. As for the silverskin, it was pretty easy to remove, so that was not an influencing factor. Would not hesitate to buy it again for the same purpose. Not sure about straight steaks, however. Will set some aside next time and try just grilling it.

                            1. T&T is filthy, I would not trust the meat from here at all.

                              13 Replies
                              1. re: duckdown

                                Are you kidding me? T&T is as clean as Loblaws or Dominion and WAY cleaner than No Frills/Food Basics/etc...

                                1. re: duckdown

                                  i agree. maybe it was just the time i went, but it was really awful. the meat counter specifically. have never been back, but after the great reviews i may give them a second shot.

                                  1. re: duckdown

                                    What is your definition of filthy?

                                    A lot of Chinese shoppers are raised in the days of open/wet markets, where chickens are slaughtered on the spot. In general, people having problems w/ hygiene in Asian markets tend to be westernized (white/2nd generation asians, etc).


                                    The success of T&T is mainly due to their westernization of the typical Chinese supermarket. So for sure cleanliness is one of their strong points. I personally trust their meat/seafood departments much more than I would for a Loblaws or Dominion.

                                    1. re: aser

                                      "In general, people having problems w/ hygiene in Asian markets tend to be westernized (white/2nd generation asians, etc)."

                                      I think that statement is a generalization, both unfair and untrue. dirty, unhygienic, is just that. my idea of filthy may not be your idea of filthy but hey, my family and I are asian, not 2nd generation asians, with plenty of family that visit us from the other side of the globe -- all of us are disgusted by dirty, unhygienic places, no matter where we find it. I'd agree that T&T is cleaner than many places along spadina/broadview but just bc a place disgusts me, doesnt mean i don't go there: we just know what to look for in terms of quality in seafood, meats, veggies, etc. ....

                                      just my 1.5 cents...

                                      1. re: berbere

                                        that's why I said "in general", which clearly states it's a generalization. Of course there are exceptions to the rule. I still think it's true the majority of the time.

                                        The issue of "filth" was brought up by a few posters specific to T&T, which I disagree with strongly. That is why I am questioning their definition of filthy.

                                        1. re: aser

                                          The T&T's I've been to are quite clean...on par with the better Dominions, Loblaws, etc., other asian supermarkets are acceptable, on par with some Food Basics, Price Chopper, etc., but some asian markets can be quite terrible....can't think of a "western" equivalent for those. Yet they are patronized, so some people find them acceptable.

                                    2. re: duckdown

                                      "T&T is filthy, I would not trust the meat from here at all."

                                      Could you give me an example of a cleaner Asian supermarket?

                                      1. re: baby_tran

                                        dont want to turn this into a battle of the asian supermarkets but since you ask....i think the Galleria (Yonge/Steeles) and H-Mart (Yonge/16) are pretty clean; course their meats are much more expensive than at T&T

                                        1. re: berbere

                                          The Galleria is a great store and is eminently clean, but their meat is very expensive. I've never bought a North American style steak there, so I can't really compare these with the very cheap steaks at T&T.

                                          1. re: embee

                                            And let's face it, the "filthy" comment is raising eyebrows for a reason. I don't know about the suburban outlets but the Cherry St. T&T is incredibly clean.

                                            If I want a bone-in aged locavore-style rib-eye I'll go to Cumbrae or Lady & Son (my new fave, Lady Voula is the best), but for dirt cheap and tasty flank steak or braising cuts (not to mention seafood), T&T is a godsend.

                                            1. re: embee

                                              Yeah, I was absolutely shocked at the Galleria's meat prices - although the quality of their meat seems to be pretty good, it's twice as much as anywhere else! Anybody know why this is?

                                              1. re: redearth

                                                I know Galleria is pricier, but didn't think they are twice as much. I find their meat is very flavourful compared to most other Asian markets. For hot pot or grilling, I would choose Galleria meat over T&T.

                                                I usually got to Asian supermarket for meat because of the cuts they offer. It's hard to find beef briskets or pork shanks at regular supermarkets. And thin slices for hot pot & the Korean cuts of table top BBQ are unique to Asian markets. The price is good & I find the quality on par with any major supermarket chains.

                                                The trick to getting steaks (for grilling / BBQ) from Asian places is to let it cook a tad more. I find the striploins & sirloins usually quite flavourful, but not tender if it's too raw. (I'm not a big fan of tenderloin so haven't tried it.)

                                                And if I really want to slab of raw steak, I will for sure get some from Cumbrae or Healthy Butcher. Doesn't hurt that their cattles are naturally raised, so even though it costs more, it's worth it.

                                      2. Shhh, don't tell anyone. I was hoping I was the only one who knew. If word gets back to them, I'm afraid they'll raise the prices.

                                        p.s. I'm fanatical about their beef tenderloin and chicken breasts. The prices are outstanding, and you've got to know that their volume and turnover is high, so it's got to be fresh. Watch out for the live crustaceans though... I once watched one of their fish guys on a ladder checking out the fish tanks. He reached in a tank and pulled out a gigantic "sleeping" king crab, gave it a few good shakes, a little mouth to mouth, and then hurled it from the top of the ladder to the tile floor. Thunk!! I almost gasped.