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Jan 8, 2012 06:27 PM

Shopping Mall Food Court Favourites

I occasionally find myself famished in the middle of my shopping trips. My go-to establishment at most food courts is Villa Madina where I order the chicken shawarma sandwich with extra garlic sauce and pickles and side of tabbouli. Does anybody else have a tried, tested and true meal that they order at the mall?

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  1. Easy. Just stay away from Bourbon St. Grill (junk Chinese passed off as Cajun) and Caribbean Queen (junk Chinese passed off as Jamaican).

    9 Replies
    1. re: TexSquared

      You might as well include Manchu Wok and it's cousins (junk Chinese passed off as Chinese).

      1. re: Wandering Foodie

        And if you had to eat a meal in the mall, what would it be? We can bash a lot more than the ones you two listed, but would you go hungry rather than eat a meal at the mall? Perhaps some people on the board enjoy food from Manchu Wok or Bourbon St. Grill as a secret guilty pleasure, so I wouldn't mind hearing from them either! Speak up, you Taco Bell lovers in hiding!

        1. re: maabso

          i like the double decker taco from taco bell...and i like taco time (western canadian chain-my university days are showing though) in the atrium on bay...and i usually hate myself after but i've been known to dip into the manchu wok every now and again.

          food court fare for me is usually a&w (or some burger chain) or subway.

          back in my university days we had a mall on campus that was all independents that included a kick-ass korean place (before there were korean places) and a great health food place with carrot and egg salad sandwiches with sprouts...lots of vegetarian options takes me back....

          1. re: ingloriouseater

            That Korean place sounds delicious! My campus food was limited to poutine, pizza and all-day breakfast!

            I'm glad you had the courage to admit to enjoying something from Taco Bell and Manchu Wok (lemon chicken, spicy beef and noodles). I also have cravings for their food once in a while and I too hate myself afterwards haha

            1. re: maabso

              the korean place was my 'go to' place on campus....bibimbap back then really influenced me heavily-this was at the same time that schezuan was just becoming popular-so that will take you back a few years.

              taco time is more about the tater tots they serve...the tacos are better than taco bell but not by much...the only thing at taco bell is the double taco because i like the crunch of the hard taco shell but like that it is wrapped in a soft taco shell to catch everything.

          2. re: maabso

            OK, I'll bite (bad pun...) Most food court stuff are in the realm of "snack" or as you said, "guilty pleasure" as opposed to full meal material. I'd rather hold out and have lunch/dinner somewhere else (or at home).

            That being said, here's my list of likes. Note that I do NOT get these things regularly, maybe each item at most 4 times a year (otherwise I wouldn't be alive right now!). And I prepare to duck the flames expected to come flying... maybe the mods should move this thread to "Chains"!

            Caramel Pecanbon at Cinnabon
            Kernels popcorn (especially if the flavor I want is being made fresh as I walk by)
            Peanut buster parfait at Dairy Queen
            Caramel/chocolate apples at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
            Broccoli and spinach stuffed pizza at Sbarro
            Smoothies at Jamba Juice (Freshly Squeezed if JJ isn't available)
            Krispy Kreme doughnuts
            Big Mac meal at McDonalds (they keep adding new things but I always go back to the classic, and their fries still rule)
            Ted's Hot Dogs (Buffalo)
            Mighty Taco (Buffalo)


            Tim Horton's (on principle)
            Any non-Chinese food outlet with an all-Chinese staff and ownership (Bourbon St. Grill, Caribbean Queen, Thai Express, et al)
            Mrs. Vanelli's (the worst-tasting pizza dough...yuck)
            A&W (overpriced for what you get, and to add insult to injury they no longer ice the drinks, not good at mall food courts with the temp approaching 25C in winter)
            Arby's (also overpriced for what you get)
            KFC and Popeye's (these I only get in the U.S., here the chicken is tiny and the recipes/sides have been changed for the worst)
            Taco Villa
            any sushi place (it can't be good if it's in a food court...)

            1. re: TexSquared

              i forgot about cinnabon....although way too big-i indulge maybe once every couple of years....and i will always have the 'free' kk when i can. dq is a fave too....sundaes and the old brazier burgers...

              i still like the whistle dog at 'the dub' and i too boycot tim horton's....kfc (regardless of the country) is a once a year thing just to remember why i don't eat it. and i still remember the 5 for $5 arby's deals....

              1. re: ingloriouseater

                You could always get the smaller Cinnabons, but I figure if I'm only getting it 4 times a year if that, go big or go home*, so I get the Caramel Pecanbon... and wash it down with strong black coffee to rinse the excess sugar from my taste buds!!

                Arby's used to have good deals but not anymore. Last time I went I had a Groupon (might have been a WagJag) and I still felt ripped off. They put half as much beef in the sandwiches (that and/or the buns look downsized) as they did 10 years ago.

                * that was in my original post that was deleted. I said I only have each of these things on my list, at most 4 times a year. Otherwise I wouldn't still be alive....

              2. re: TexSquared

                I agree with 99% of what you listed, but call me crazy, I sort of like Popeye`s chicken once in a while! It satisfies my fried chicken cravings when I`m feeling too lazy to make it myself and I don`t feel as gross afterwards like I do with KFC.

                I haven`t had a peanut buster parfait in ages and I think I might have to take a stroll down memory lane very soon!

        2. I haven't been in quite a few years, but I remember Koya making very nice chicken stir fries.

          Also, big snaps to the Urban Eatery at the Eaton Centre. What they're doing there is great.

          2 Replies
          1. re: magic

            It's one of the only food courts I'll eat at, mostly for Urban Herbivore. I like the OCAD food court too, for Manpuku, Karine's and that Chinese place that does good stir-fries for $5 or so.

            1. re: piccola

              Oh yes, the OCAD/Village By The Grange food court has always been special.

              Also, the BBQ Beef Flamers at Koryo are fantastic! I also like the chicken at Sammy's Gourmet locations along the PATH.

          2. Easily the best food court food I've had is in Gerard Square. A Jamaican guy at work told me the best jerk in the city is at Tropical Joe's in that mall. Sure enough he was right. Well, maybe. It may be, it may not but I would put it in the conversation.


            11 Replies
            1. re: Davwud

              I was at the Home Depot in that mall last week, and something from the food court smelled pretty good! It was some sort of Indian / West Indian aroma. I'll have to check it out.

              1. re: foodyDudey

                It's called Tropical Joe's. Not the best, but definitely good. The rotis are large and the hot sauce (ask for it) is very tasty. The oxtail stew I'd had from them was also pretty good.

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  I'll have to try it next time I'm in that mall! There aren't as many food court options here in Hamilton but I do visit other malls once in a while and usually end up shopping myself hungry.

              2. re: Davwud

                I wouldn't call it the best, and it is more the baked style (not grilled, all the fat remaining). But the jerk itself is very flavourful and it is great for a food court and really, for that area in general. For about $3 you can get just chicken, a leg & thigh cut up, which makes a great snack if it isn't meal time :)

                1. re: julesrules

                  I like the baked style better. I usually make it at home in a slow cooker.
                  THE best jerk chicken I've had was baked as well.


                  1. re: Davwud

                    I just bought a slow cooker. So you just slather your meat with jerk paste and go? Bet that would work great with pork shoulder.

                    1. re: julesrules

                      I usually add a bit of fruit juice as well. I like a lot of gravy for the rice, etc. Add some sprigs of time and garlic cloves as well if you want.


                        1. re: julesrules


                          BTW, by fruit juice I'm talking a tropical type. Not apple or something like that. Usually I find some sort of orange, pinaple mango concoction.

                          Also, when you make the rice, use coconut milk and add some thyme to that too.


                        2. re: Davwud

                          What an interesting way to spell Thyme (time)??


                          1. re: Davwud

                            Also an interesting measure of time, ``just a sprig of time!``

                2. I'd agree with you that Villa Madina is one of the best choices. I usually order the same thing, the kofta, along with whatever salads appeal to me at the moment.

                  I also like the salads at Cultures, but I avoid their quiches or other hot dishes unless it's the middle of a lunch rush, as they sit around and get kinda leathery at other times a day.

                  1. I like the veggie platter at Shawarma's King in the Eaton Centre.

                    Some Chowhounds like the food at Milo's, but it was closed when I visited that particular food court on a Sunday, even though its neighbours were open.

                    Milo's Pita
                    10 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON M5B, CA

                    Shawarma's King
                    220 Yonge St, Toronto, ON , CA

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: prima

                      prima is Shawarma's King the place on the bottom level of the EC (close to the Bay end) near McDonalds? Last time I was there, sadly it was gone. I LOVED that place if we're talking about the same one. They'd been there for such a long time.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Yes that Shawarmas King is gone. It closed along with all the other South food court shops when the Urban Eatery opened last September. Too bad, I too loved Shawarmas King.

                        They were supposed to reopen in the Bay/Adelaide Centre food court nearby but that was 4 months ago. Not holding my breath anymore. Although there is still a location at Yonge/Eg.

                        1. re: magic

                          Have you ever tried that Yonge & Eg location, magic? Is the food equivalent to the food at the Food Court?

                          1. re: prima

                            It's fairly similar yes. At the Eaton Centre they weren't as heavy handed with the sauce on my shawarmas, which I prefer to Y/E's more liberal dousing.

                            Otherwise, pretty identical. At least for shawarmas. Can't really speak for anything else sadly. But all the greens are super fresh, which is usually a good sign.

                          2. re: magic

                            Thanks magic. I wish they would open in that Bay-Adelaide food court but I can't even think of a vacant spot there... what a shame. Next time I'm up at Yonge & Eg I'll be sure to check them out though, thanks so much for that tip.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Just noticed that there is now a vacant spot in the Bay-Adelaide food court - Grill it Up is closed, I didn't notice a sign saying what was replacing it.

                                1. re: apple_pie

                                  Reeeeallly. Hmm, ok, will have to keep my eye on that. Thanks for the info!

                                  I actually liked that Grill It Up location. They had good chicken pitas. If Shawarmas King goes in there (and they certainly might) that will be great though.

                                  1. re: apple_pie

                                    They closed?! I was there just a week ago. Damn, I actually liked Grill It Up and I think that's the only one in downtown TO....

                              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                Oh, too bad. Thanks for letting me know. I remember them being there in the early 90s. Hopefully they'll resurface.