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TNT Prepared Foods

For something different this weekend we decided to pick up some prepared chinese food from TNT on Cherry Street. As we all know, shopping when hungry is never a good thing, so we bought quite a few things to try. Among them:

bbq duck
chinese noodles
spicy chicken
lemon chicken
a variety of dim sum items - wontons, spring rolls, turnip cake, sticky rice, and a
shrimp and leek dumpling type thing

I have to say none of it was really any good. Most of it lacked any real flavour. The lemon chicken was particularly bad. It was one gluey mess of tasteless yuck. So was the sticky rice. The only thing that we really enjoyed was the spring rolls and wonton. The spicy chicken was just okay - nothing special but not as bad as the other items. The duck, well let's just say that after 2 bites we tossed the rest.

This was our second time trying the food and both times we were disappointed. The first time was when they opened the cherry street location and even then, we found the food lacking.

I just wondered if others feel the same way. I recall reading such good things about TNT when they first opened, no?

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  1. You are not imagining it millygirl. It's not very good at all. I've tried it a few times just because I wanted something very quickly, and have never been happy with it. Mrs foodyDudey won't even eat it, when I last bought some in early December (when our kitchen was still under renovation) she said I could eat it all because it was just bad Chinese food. I'm not sure why so many people are all over it like flies on... whatever flies eat.

    1. The prepared hot foods at T&T are not very good and never have been in my experience. They are always drowning in oil. I've had better luck with some of the dim sum -- the char siu bao, har gow, pretty much anything steamed is decent and cheap. A couple of the fried dim sum or ok, but once again you risk drowning in oil if you pick wrong. Obviously, this is not destination dim sum, but when I'm in the store shopping, I like picking up a few items to take home. The whole fried fish with ginger and garlic aren't bad either.

      On the other hand, some of the prepared "kits" they have are great. My mom flipped over soup kits, as they have all the ingredients you need to make some authentic home-cooked Chinese soups without having to go to the trouble of tracking all the separate ingredients down. I also like their soy sauce eggs and the Chinese brisket (I'm blanking on the correct name). Slice the brisket thin, drizzle with some sesame oil and eat with a bowl of rice. Yum! Total comfort food and memories of mom's cooking.

      And I think the raves about T&T have to do more with the groceries in general than with the prepared foods.

      1. I agree. T+T has a great selection of Asian groceries but their take out food is rather bland and tastes like it has been sitting in a steaming tray for hours. Most of the time not even as good as typical buffet fare. It is-however- very cheap and can tide you over in a pinch when you need some chow fast.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Eddy4444

          I was wondering about those soup kits. thanks for mentioning them TorontoJo. Based on that I think we'll try one. Any recommendations? or are they all different at differnt locations?

          1. re: lyndak

            Sorry, soup is my mom's domain. And you really do have to like Chinese soups, with all the "weird" herbs and such. And the quality of the final product will likely have much to do with whether you start with water, boxed broth or homemade stock. But the kits aren't expensive, so it can't hurt to try a couple!

        2. My friend with a sensitive stomach ate there a few times and suffered almost every time, so he's avoiding it. The only hot food I get there these days is the sticky rice roll "chi faan", made on the spot and eaten immediately.

          Soup kits - it's hard to say which are "good"; frequently they come with herbal ingredients and you may either love or dislike the taste.

          1. T&T prepared food is good if you go later in the evening when they mark everything down to get rid of it. Even with that, I stick to roast and bbq pork. It's inexpensive, feeds a bunch of people, and you can always add sauce if you need to kick up the flavor.

            3 Replies
            1. re: GoodGravy

              Hmmm...Bad food is somehow "better" if it's marked down? If anything, T&T's already tasteless, greasy fare is actually worse for wear after languishing all day. The Mississauga store's grub is ghastly. No telling why people scramble for it when there are a half dozen good Chinese lunch spots only minutes away.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                Yes, somehow the thought of discounted TNT prepared food is making me gag. I was disappointed when it was fresh, never mind stale.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  I didn't say it was bad. Other people said what they get is bad. The two things I mentioned aren't bad, but that's also a matter of preference and taste. And yes, there's a correlation between what you pay and how you rank it simply because you have to compare it relative to what you can get at the same price. Your options for food at $3 is more limited than they are at $10. Thus, ranking it as good at $3 is relative to what's available at the same price.

              2. The prepared food at T&T isn't THAT bad. It's ok for WHAT IT IS. Let's not forgot this is hot takeout food from a grocery store. Comparing to what you get at an actual restaurant is totally unfair. You wouldn't compare the fried chicken and coleslaw at the deli from Loblaws with what you'd get at Stockyards would you? It's cheap and a quick meal when you don't have time to cook.

                5 Replies
                1. re: sbug206

                  Point is, though, that the Mississauga T&T is surrounded by quick, affordable Chinese restos that can crank out a vastly better meal at almost anytime. I'll take fresh over steam tabled-to-death for the same money, often in less time, any day, sbug206. Why line up at lunch for bland glop?

                  1. re: Kagemusha

                    The original post was about the downtown T&T which is in a literal wasteland. If I'm down there buying groceries I have no problem picking up something from the hot food area for dinner. I'm not expecting restaurant grade food by any means.

                  2. re: sbug206

                    I did not compare TNT to anywhere else. It was simply bad food.

                    And if I were to discuss comparisons, I would suggest something like Manchu Wok, or similar food court chinese, except that Manchu is much, much better.

                    Cherry Street may be a wasteland but it should be noted that we went there specifically to purchase prepared food. Next time I will drive in a different direction.

                    1. re: sbug206

                      It is possible to do takeout well, though: Summerhill Market does excellent takeout. Whole Foods has some pretty good stuff. And Loblaws ain't too bad, either. People are saying that T&T is downright awful, from the sounds of it. I haven't tried it enough to make a strong judgment, but let's just say that I haven't been entirely impressed.

                      1. re: sbug206

                        Actually you can compare T&T prepared food to some other asian grocery stores. For example foodymart in bamburgh circle. The prepared food is much better than the food at T&T.

                      2. I'd go to T&T Milliken for sashimi to take home, and serve with Calrose rice and a few dips.
                        The other take out items seem bland.

                        Of the items listed by OP, I'd definitely prefer BBQ duck,
                        lemon chicken, and some other items such as crispy pork at
                        Ho Ho BBQ

                        Ho Ho Bbq
                        3833 Midland Ave, Toronto, ON M1V5L6, CA

                        1. Hear, hear, millygirl. This is definitely no Summerhill Market in terms of prepared convenience foods.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: vorpal

                            Hey vorpal, good to hear from you. How right you are. It wasn't Summerhill, not by any stretch of the imagination. But as you say, it can be done.

                            What's the point of selling food if it's not any good? So maybe they have to raise the price in order to do so. For me, I'd prefer to spend a few more dollars and enjoy it, rather than get a bargain only to toss it.

                            Speaking of Summerhill, you must miss that place since you moved from T.O.?

                            1. re: millygirl

                              I agree, why serve prepared food if it's junk?

                              There is a Price Chopper with a take-out Chinese section in the back corner where I got some food one night. Not awful, but not very good either. Even getting a discount because I bought it near their closing hour didn't make it any better food. (But, they did have a really good Chinese bakery right beside them to which I have made repeat visits so it wasn't all bad.)

                              Bad food is bad food. You might not feel as cheated if you get it for a lower price, but that doesn't change its freshness or quality.

                              1. re: Pincus

                                Indeed, these days if I'm able to find preprepared food that isn't junk, I'm utterly shocked. For example, when I first tastes President Choice's frozen red curry with chicken, being a Thai snob, I was utterly amazed at how wonderfully light and complex the sauce was. Very impressive for a frozen entree, and indeed, better than most red curry that I've had in Toronto, even in restaurants. I also find their Indian line of frozem entrees to be surprisigly good if jazzed up ever so slightly.

                                Most of the time, though, I just don't bother. What's the point of a dumpling or steamed meat bun with virtually no filling in it? Where is any joy to be found in a spring roll or egg roll who's contents consist of nothing more than shredded carrot and cabbage. Fortunately, again, I've found a few exceptions, but the hunt o=--------------------------------

                              2. re: millygirl

                                You're preaching to the choir, millygirl. I've never understood why so many establishments offer so much ultra-low-quality food for low prices, and it runs in both quality and quantity.

                                As a quality example, I am so frustrated of not being able to buy a decent quality pie at a grocery store instead of getting (especially when it comes to berry pies) a cheap, gluey mess that feels like I'm eating cornstarchy jam wedged between pie crusts. (Thank goodness, in Toronto, for Altitude Bakery's blueberry pies... they were costly but worth it!)

                                As a quantity example, I remember working for McDonald's as a teenager, and being told that for their 25c ice cream cone, we were to put one and a half turns of ice cream on an empty cone: no ice cream was permitted inside the cone itself,and if we were caught using more ice cream, we would be documented. I used to think that it was so silly, because we received a high volume of customer complaints (I think at one point, it was 10%, and given how many people don't feel comfortable complaining, I'm sure that the dissatisfaction rate must have been quite high). Really, I felt that you needed to buy four of the suckers in order to approach enough ice cream to feel satisfied, and I couldn't understand why McDonald's didn't just charge a bit more and deliver an actual cone that satisfied and that wasn't an embarrassment as an employee to serve.

                                I want good food, and I certainly don't mind paying good food prices to get it@

                                I sure do miss Summerhill Markets up here in Ottawa... indeed, it's one of the things about Toronto ahat I miss the most. That place was a godsend, especially when I was ill and unable to do a lot of my own cooking. Fortunately, I've discovered a similar (although not quite as extensive) Ottawa place called Thyme and Again, which has the most fabulous bread, cakes and other pastries, and a variety of frozen things like delightful meat pies (even lovely varieties like elk) that fill the role that Summerhill played in my life:


                                Great to run into you on here again! I hope that all's well with you!

                                1. re: vorpal

                                  I'd appreciate some recommendations for good prepped foods at Summerhill Market - about to start another thread on this...now!

                                2. re: millygirl

                                  Why sell food if it's not any good? If people don't buy it, they'd stop making it. So the answer is obvious. Because it sells.

                                  1. re: syoung

                                    Exactly. Not everyone visits CH to find out if they should buy BOGO food at T&T. Most people that buy it don't want to cook and just want a cheap dinner before they hit the sack.

                                    1. re: syoung

                                      It sells to people who wouldn't set foot in the place if they couldn't scarf a bargain.I can't tell if the Miss. T&T clientele are really penurous or just cheap but the store doesn't load up food much past 6pm because it doesn't sell later--whatever the price. Nearby Chinese take-outs appear far busier. I wonder why?

                                3. i'd agree with everyone above about the general poor quality of the hot foods.

                                  Like Aser, I like the tea eggs, and the beef shank (cold items).
                                  My bf liked the bbq wings so much so he'd go there just for that.
                                  The sticky rice (joong) in the leaf was alright too.

                                  The soup kits that I like is the pork and kimfa.

                                  1. Like most people here, I absolutely agree. I really only go to the store to get my Asian groceries, mostly the non-perishables and imported. I was at the Cherry Street location two days ago, and the only prepared items I got were the frozen dimsum and ramen kit, not from their kitchens. By the way if you look carefully there are some reasonable options for dimsum and prepared meals in the freezer sections.

                                    On the rare occasion when I do get their in-house prepared foods, I usually take the barberqued pork or the pork hocks, either smoked or marinated. They are not bad, especially when at home I tend to spruce up the barberqued pork with a spritz of rose flavoured cooking wine when reheating. As for all the rest of the items, I find it so wrong to have pre-steamed or pre-deep-fried entries sitting around. There is really no good or easy way to restore them back to how they are supposed to be.

                                    But times are hard. I can see why there are still enough people who enjoy the satisfaction of getting a "bargain" despite the lack of quality.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: tarteaucitron

                                      I visit the T&T at the Promenade mall quite often for groceries and pick up the takeout from time to time. While it's definately not top of the line Chinese food, my husand and I like some of the dishes. He especially likes the breaded fish in corn sauce which is great since he hates fish. I think he likes it because it's not a strong fishy taste. I like the veggie dishes. Lots of variety. What I really like the best is that you get a lot of food for the 6 or 7 bucks a meal costs. For people like us who don't have a lot of money to throw around on eating out, this works. If our finances were different, we'd indulge at better places but you do what you can within your means and T&T fits a lot of people's means these day..

                                    2. Oddly enough TNT makes a really good Challah. And their banana bread is pretty decent.

                                      I also like their BBQ pork pastries. They are really good.

                                      Also good are their steamed milk cakes (not sure what they are called or if they've been mentioned yet).

                                      Their sushi and almost all of the hot items I've tried are pretty godawful.

                                      Some of their prepared stuff is good, I guess it's just a matter of trying different things out and seeing what you like.