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My new favourite Asian supermarket

Total accident. I was coming off HWY. 407 at Kennedy Rd., heading to the Pacific Mall. On the west side of Kennedy, just south of the 407 there's this blocky, slightly ambiguous building with a sign on it identifying it as First Choice Supermarket. Could I resist? No. In I go. The place is unbelievable. It is, in many ways, similar to so many other Asian grocery stores, but it's ultra cheap and overflowing with stuff. Most of the produce (not all, but most) is beautiful and inexpensive; the fish department looks like the Miami Seaquarium, with clean tanks in front of the windows so the light comes through; the meat was, well, riduculously cheap. I had been on a quest for a large pork shoulder and they had them for .79 or .99/lb, depending on the cut. I bought two 10-pounders and for some reason they charged me 79 a lb. for on and 99 a lb. for the other, but I think they're the same. But who's going to quibble at that price? I got a huge tray of jalapenos for $1, a gigantic bag of pea sprouts for about $2, Fuji apples, baby bok choy, and who knows what else. There's a BBQ counter and a bakery also. This place is going into my regular rotation. I'll take it over T+T any day.

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  1. Good find! I'll visit instead of T&T this weekend.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jayt90

      Slight warning. It's not all shiny pretty like T+T. There's an edge to the place. But in a good way, for me anyhow. I like that kind of thing.

      1. re: Nyleve

        Good find Nyleve. You can't cook the million $ makeovers most of the national chains spend every 5 years on their stores.

    2. if i remember conversations correctly.... i believe first choice is the new incarnation of big land or in the former big land spot. a great great store.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pinstripeprincess

        Yes, I think it used to be a Big Land Farm. I had seen it but never got in that one, although I've been into other Big Land stores. This place, in my opinion, is much better. One 10 lb. pork shoulder is in the oven as I type this.

        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          yes, it was a big land farm to start off... after it changed to something else i believe, before FCS...

        2. Actually funny you mention this - We have been going to a new Asian supermarket lately at Leslie and Finch, such a great variety to choose from, always super busy, and their meat and seafood area are always so much fun for me as you get so many live varieties of fish to choose from!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sadistick

            I know the one. It's in that crazy complex that includes restaurants, bakery, etc. I was just there a couple of weeks ago - this First Choice is even better. I swear I'm not related to the owner.

            1. re: Nyleve

              Yes, crazy complex, lots of people - and one of the best Chinese BBQ places I have found ($3.50 for a 1/2 lb of BBQ pork mmmmmmmmmm)

              What makes the FC place you go to better?

            2. re: Sadistick

              Are we talking about Sunny Supermarket here?.....I think they are OK but nothing great to make them standout from other Asian Supermarkets.....just a peronal opinion

              1. re: warlock

                The one I originally posted about is called First Choice Supermarket. Look, it's not life-changing, but I found a lot of good stuff there the other day.

            3. Have not been there in forever. Thanks for the reminder. I'll forward on the rec to some friends and family.

              1. With FCS and T&T - pay close attention when purchasing produce that is labeled product of Canada or Product of Ontario - I witnessed "Local Ontario Hothouse Tomatoes" that had product of US stickers on them and Product of Canada Spinach that was actually from Texas...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Captain Maplesyrup

                  Right. Maybe worse at a place like that, but I've seen such mis-labelling at No Frills and IGA also. Vigilance always.

                  1. re: Captain Maplesyrup

                    And I've seen organic oranges dumped into the non-organic box at T&T (for the same price). You win some, you lose some, I guess!

                  2. I went today and found First Choice superior to T&T in many respects. Prices are the same or lower, perhaps because they don't advertise as much. Some areas clearly had more choice: fresh fish, Asian canned goods, even eggs (12 quail eggs at $2, a 2.5 dozen tray small eggs for $2.50). There were many other instore specials. Housewares, such as woks and clay pots, are very inexpensive, and more of them. The lobsters, even in the low priced tank ($7.99/lb) were larger than T&T, and not self serve.

                    The aisles are spacious and less crowded. Outside at the loading docks, there was a steady progression of trucks, all with Asian and Scarborough or Markham names on the sides.

                    There is one caveat, for the super-fastidious among us: A slightly dinghy smell when you enter, but quickly get used to. T&T does not have this, but many Asian markets do.

                    First Choice represents a growing trend of a modern aggressively priced supermarket combined with the feel and ambience of small Chinatown shops. The main line supermarket chains are missing out completely on this burgeoning new market.

                    1. My new favourite Asian supermarket now is Foody Mart inside the strip plaza around Bamburgh Circle (Warden and Steeles). It's very similar to T&T and very clean. The line ups are not as crazy as T&T for sure. Prices in general is lower too. Apparently the people who operate the bakery there were all former employees of the T&T at Warden and Steeles.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: dayna.e

                        I was there on Saturday afternoon....hard to imagine that the line-ups could be any crazier at T&T. I think they are giving serious competition to the nearby T&T at Warden/Steeles

                        1. re: dayna.e

                          We went there yesterday and was pretty impressed. Lots of different Taiwanese as well as Japanese products. Prices were in general cheaper than T&T. Also, much cleaner and brighter than First Choice, IMO.

                            1. re: Paulustrious

                              parking in bamburgh circle is like hell now w/ that new supermarket.

                              1. re: aser

                                Totally agree! T&T just up the road is not much better.

                              2. re: Paulustrious

                                Wow that video is long and boring! Exciting to the owners, though, I'm sure.

                                1. re: redearth

                                  I enjoyed it. I'll bet Loblaws and Metro are wondering what's happening to their eroding market.

                                  1. re: jayt90

                                    Yeah, Loblaws really does need to get with the program, especially considering the current economic climate. Whenever I happen to walk into a Loblaws (usually in search of something I can't get at my local No Frills), I inevitably gasp in shock at the prices, turn around and walk out.

                                    1. re: redearth

                                      Other than going on a bad day when the produce looks disgusting, or finding rotten fruit regularly, my local Loblaws is fairly well-stocked. I was at a bigger one the other day and the shelves were bare, even of items that should really be in stock.

                                      Has anyone else noticed that there's no Certified Angus wrapped on the shelves in the meat section at theirs? Other than the butcher counter, the meat section carries lean ground Angus and what appears to be a new "grilling" Canadian AAA (or higher) label with various cuts. So far they haven't really looked very appealing, and I noticed much of the stock of these products had discoloured (not that it's a big deal to me, but it was strange because I'm not used to seeing that at my local).

                                  2. re: redearth

                                    Sorry, I didn't realise it was that long. I fell asleep during it.

                              3. re: dayna.e

                                I was gonna recommend this one but I saw that it was already... which is good! Yes, this one is one of my favourites now too. Very clean, well-lit, non-fishy smelling, and lots of food samples on the weekends! Last weekend, by the entrance, they set up this Taiwanese food festival thingy, promoting all things Taiwanese... tonnes to eat. But yeah, con is parking. The last 2 times, I parked literally right beside the McDonalds there, which is like the farthest from the supermarket. In any case, good produce, cheap stuff, nice place to shop in the weekend, after visiting T&T to see how expensive prices are. :)

                              4. Do you think I can find spring roll wraps there??

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Maxiemfrost

                                  Yes, of course you can. You can find spring roll wraps at any supermarket, Asian or otherwise. Unless you mean rice paper wraps, which I'm sure you can find there, but not at every other grocery store, to be sure. Any sizable Asian grocery store will have all manner of wraps for fresh or fried spring rolls, egg rolls, etc.

                                2. If it's new, don't be surprised when they raise their prices. I have a funny feeling that everytime I find a great new asian supermarket, within a few months their prices start approaching normal again. Maybe it's just me, I can't PROVE anything... ;) But mark my words...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: SocksManly

                                    I was in the area and wanted to find a supermarket. Big Land Farm came up on my GPS. I was not in the least disappointed to find it was an Asian place. This was almost three years ago. So it's not exactly new.

                                    It is easy to miss if you don't know it's there.


                                  2. t and t market is the bessst