Monday, March 18, 2013

Yes Even T&T Can Be Overpriced

T&T Supermarket on Urbanspoon Sunday afternoon my wife and I were in the mood for a little adventure, to find the T&T Supermarket (224 Hunt Club Road, Ottawa) have lunch  at their food court and to resupply on dumplings.

We first took the OC Transpo's Route 98 down to South Keys Shopping Centre to take a look around to kill time in order to board the Route 116 that runs westwards along Hunt Club Road every half hour.

Easy peasy to kill time at South Keys Shopping with a Wal-Mart, Chapters, Loblaws and other stores strung out between OC Transpo's South Keys and Greenboro Transitway Stations.  We merely returned for the bottom of the hour to grab route 116 to head westwards along Hunt Club.

We arrived at 1:46 P.M., after OC Transpo's Route 116 was late picking us and dropping us off.  The schedule does need some refinement, but more on that later.

I've been to T&T Supermarkets in Richmond Hill (Weldrick & Yonge Street store), Thornhill (Promenade Mall) and in Vancouver (Metrotown store) with layouts being very similar in all of them.  The service is usually quite good with multilingual servers (English, Cantonese, Mandarin, etc.) available.

We walked across the parking lot to the large sprawling Asian food store and walked inside.  On the right side of the large store is the ready to eat area to pick up Asian style foods including sushi, BBQ Duck, and other items.  As well, just beyond a dedicated check out is a food court seating area.  

I joined the line at the Hot Food section where several Asian hot food dishes are laid out in cafeteria style display with usually a couple of T&T workers more than willing to serve you.  However, the 3 workers seemed preoccupied.  Sure the first worker was serving the family of three ahead of me, but the other two were more interested in resupplying the different dishes rather than serving the growing line behind me.  The family ahead of me was of course attempting to feed an army as rice was flying into various plastic take out containers along with various other Asian inspired goulashes.   Was about 5 minutes in line before one of the other workers started moving us.  By that time the line had grown to about twenty people.  I eventually placed my order.

The Order: 2 Item Combo: Beef Brisket with Chinese Radish, Rice and some chicken dish.

Some chicken dish? Yes another issue at this T&T, the lack of labelling.  At the Richmond Hill T&T store each dish is labelled with what is in it (i.e. beef brisket and radish) so that it is both easier for the customer to know what is in said dish as well as order it with the T&T employee.  To rub salt in the wound, the prices are higher at the Ottawa store than the Richmond Hill store.   The Ottawa store, for example, charges $6.49 for a two item combo whereas the Richmond Hill store for the same dish would charge $5.99.  But yet the Ottawa store can not label their dishes for the life of them?

We proceeded back to the store aisles to find a bottle of water to drink with our warm Asian goulash and came back to the check out near the food court.  Upon exiting the check out we noticed the food court was pretty busy and not very clean.  Yes, Asian places are a little questionable for cleanliness sometimes, but at T&T nothing more than a cloth is usually needed.  Compared to the Richmond Hill T&T the Ottawa one was a well travelled dump.  There was garbage left behind on trays and questionable sauce left on tabletops along with misdirected noodles.  The employee responsible for the food court? I found him later when we were leaving, he was more interested in playing with his IPhone than doing the job he was hopefully being paid only minimum wage for.

The food tasted subpar.  The beef brisket with radish was just a little above room temperature.  The beef tasted lower in quality than at the Richmond Hill T&T store.  Basically it was just satisfactory and nothing special.  The chicken whatever, I have no idea what it was supposed to taste like due to the aforementioned  lack of labeling.

Not a great visit to T&T as it is more expensive and the food is subpar, but the fun was about to happen, the return home.

We went out to the OC Transpo bus stop and waited 40 minutes for a bus to arrive.  Yes it turns our Route 116 only operates hourly eastbound to Greenboro and South Keys stations on Saturdays and Sundays.  Not sure where the rest of the buses are going westward operating half hour service, but they certainly are not returning Eastward on the same route.  Thus, getting back into town from the busy intersection of Riverside Drive and Hunt Club Road is pathetic.  There is definitely demand there with three lanes of constant traffic crossing Riverside Drive heading eastward and another 3 heading westward.  Really it is quite odd more service isn't added so there is at least 30 minutes between buses.

Overall the T&T hot food section in Ottawa needs help.  Perhaps it is the lack of competition that has allowed things to slip at the Ottawa store.  Really there is not much competition in the Asian grocery store section compared to Toronto or Vancouver.  Added to poor food quality and higher prices, the store is hard to get home from via transit on weekends due to OC Transpo's ridiculous scheduling of one bus an hour on a major arterial road. If your looking for Asian food, better to head to Ottawa's Chinatown where at least there is better food and a more frequent bus that can return you from whence you came.
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