Supermarket comparison: T&T vs. others
The subject is pretty clear. For produce, meat and chicken and fish, and other goods, how would you compare T&T to NO Frills, Loblaws, and the likes? For produce and meat, please compare both price wise and quality wise. This is because when buying something like ketchup or canned goods, I only compare prices. But for meats and some produce, I look at both price and quality. I don't mind paying a few extra $$$ if it gets me a much better striploin, for example.
So one particular question I want to have an answer to is whether the meat and chicken quality at T&T is good compared to loblaws and sobeys and longos.
We live very close to T&T Warden so we buy most of our groceries there, except for staples for the kids' lunch like bread, snack packs etc. For fresh fruit, veggie and other Western products, we like No Frills.
No Frills is clean, has great prices and the one by our house is exceptionally big compared to the other ones I have been to.
Of course, we also like The Oriental Supermarket for extreeeeeme cheap buys.
I went to T&T (Milliken) today for the first time. It was a a pleasant experience; I even liked the Chinese muzak they played!
I looked for things I would not find elsewhere, and I picked up Golden Boy fish sauce, black vinegar, breast of veal, and sea cucumber, all at low prices. The fresh lobster special may be over, but they still had a lively tankful of 2 pounders at $8/lb, plus a lot of fresh looking fish, many of them in tanks. The seafood area does not smell, at all; that's a sign that it get pressure-washed at night.
I still get my steaks at Sobeys or A&P, because the marbling is better (Sterling Silver or Angus), but really, the old line chain stores have a lot to fear from T&T.
I agree with all the others have said, except for the fact that I find T & T more expensive than the other chinese - as opposed to asian - supermarkets in my area (East York / Scar). This is not for all goods, but seems to be true in terms of vegetables and fish.
However, shopping at TAT is a much more pleasant experience than most chinese supermarkets as it is not a struggle trying to squeeze your trolley through a narrow aisle that is full of cardboard boxes of stuff waiting to be stacked, or trying to avoid kamikaze shelf fillers pushing dollies filled to over-capacity.
As an aside - the cashiers at the chinese markets are about three times as fast as a Loblaws checker.
I live within a block of a No Frills store, but that store & Lowblaws (although better than NF) does not compare with the wonderful shopping experience i've had at T&T on Cherry Street.
Not only do they have just about everything your little heart desires, but at reasonable prices.
I shop at T&T once a week, and come home with lovely goodies for under $20.
My only complaint is that if i have to ask the floor staff a question, not too many of them speak English well or at all.
For fresh seafood, there is no real comparison. T&T has a much larger variety of fish and shellfish, of consistently higher quality, often live, and at much lower (often breathtakingly lower) prices than the other stores you mention.
For chicken, T&T carries pretty much the same range of chicken products as the mainstream chains, including the air chilled Maple Leaf Prime chickens. They also offer chickens with heads, blue chickens, and chicken feet that are never found in the mainstream stores. They do not carry the relatively new "traditionally raised" (Dominion) or "free from" (Loblaws) birds that, while making no "natural" or "organic" claims, do cook up and taste better. If you are looking for mainstream chickens, there's no special reason to shop at T&T unless it is especially convenient.
Asian cuts of beef are better at T&T, but I've found the Galleria's beef vastly superior to the beef at T&T (and also much more expensive). I've found North American cuts (e.g., steaks and roasts) at T&T that appear to be of superior quality (AA and AAA), but seem to have no aging. They have lacked both flavour and tenderness, making their generally lower prices a dubious buy. By contrast, I often, though not always, find exceptional Certified Angus rib steaks and roasts at Loblaws.
For produce, T&T carries a wider variety of items, but prices on mainstream produce are not particularly cheap. They carry very few organics. The Asian stores along Gerrard tend to have lower produce prices, though quality is often lower. Places like No Frills and Price Chopper seem to have lower produce prices across the board on mainstream produce.
For non-Asian groceries, you are likely better off at No Frills or Price Chopper. (The Food Basics in my area is to awful to patronize.)
My questions is that how does a free range chicken from an Asian market hold up to the 'free from' birds from Loblaws? When T&T has 2 FR chickens for sale for $7, you have to wonder how special they are. I think they are mass produced and can still be pumped full of chemicals, thus I am not so keen on trying many of the chinese restaurant FR chicken specials either.
If you look up the definition of "free range", you will find that it doesn't mean very much. The chicken must have a certain amount of outdoor access.
Just because a chicken has access to the outdoors doesn't mean it will go out. Imagine any self respecting chicken lolling around and pecking for grubs during a Canadian winter :-)
So think of free range as better than not free range, but not hugely meaningful unless you personally know about the farm's living conditions.
Free ranging does not imply the presence or absence of mass production methods and is not related to "natural" or "organic" feeding.
Technically, all kosher chickens are free range. However, the points noted above still apply.
I thought of writing a much longer post, but it comes down to a couple things:
- T&T is better for Asian cuts of meat than most other grocers, both in terms of quality and price (for instance, there is a PAT nearby, but T&T generally has better meats).
- T&T has larger buying power and will offer reduced prices for Asian goods over smaller markets, though there are some things that you can get cheaper at the generic markets.
- T&T often has really great sales, especially on seafood items.
- T&T, in my area, has much fresher seafood than the local Loblaw's, Dominion, etc.
- Western grocers are usually cheaper for Western products, especially canned. Produce varies; sometimes T&T will have a good sale on produce, or No Frills, or Dominion, etc.
- T&T does not have very much local or organic products, at least at my location.
- I buy all of my Western cuts of meat at my butcher, or Cumbrae, and I find T&T does not, say, have excellent rib steaks (though they can look fairly good).
T&T is great for Asian items, and because of their larger buying power, they are usually much cheaper than specialty Asian stores (though this is not always the case). I don't buy steaks at Loblaw's, and I wouldn't buy them at T&T either. For things like chicken or pork, etc. it is really a toss-up depending on what I am looking for, and what I need it for.
For mr T&T has better quality meat than No-frills,and equal to less than equal than Loblaws on some of their meats,as Loblaws has different cuts of meats than T&T.Now for produce I would say T&T has better and cheaper asian produce ans dry goods that Loblaws.If your buying western ingredients like sugar,coffee,ketchup,I would buy them mostly at nofrills and Loblaws when they are on special,as T&T's western products are more expensive.If you are buying asian dry goods like chilly,spices,mushrooms,I would them in a generic chinese supermarket.
Hope this helps.