condoronto

Once upon a time there was a place, a kind of delightfully welcoming hole in the wall across the street from the ROM, where you could get a couple of spring rolls, the best BBQ pork, greens, a bowl of soup and an endless pot of tea for not much money. So you’d leave a huge tip because the owners were so amazing and lovely and even though the place was always crowded with regulars, and you only went in a few times a year, they knew you, remembered what you liked, were all smiles as you walked in. As if it hadn’t been half a year.

The decor was mostly red with magic marker specials that never seemed to change on sheets of bristol board stapled to panelling. There were jars of soy sauce and chili flakes and plastic roses on the tables, the kind that look wet—the first time I saw them, fifteen years ago, I thought they were real. That was before I had a good look around.

We were there a few weeks ago and found a handwritten sign in very bad English taped to the door. The place had closed. The sign said they hoped to re-open sometime. Somewhere. They didn’t yet know where. (Have since googled them and found they’ve moved to a whole different part of the city, a whole different city in fact… )

So sad to lose places that give character and sweetness to a neighbourhood. And how ironic that it’s precisely these places that are part of what draws people to wanting to move there, yet the very act of moving more people in forces the charming places to move out.

Oh Condoronto, whatever are you doing?? (Fun fact: there are more high rises/condos being built in Toronto than anywhere else in North America.)

I’d be surprised if a year from now there’s even one restaurant left in this neck of the woods (or many others) that has anything resembling plastic roses with fake water droplets and people who shout Hello! and remember, even after six months, that you like the pork lean and always with baby bok choy.

Whatever they build, they can’t build that.

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6 thoughts on “condoronto

  1. I remember that place, but I only ate there a once or twice. Quite good as I recall. Hope they are thriving wherever they are now.

    Our new favourite restaurant is Kings Barbecue and Chinese Restaurant in Ch/Town. The owner previously had a restaurant in Stouffeville but moved to PEI for the quality of life. She is very friendly and her parents work in the kitchen. There’s also a Chinese grocery store in the back. So far we’ve been there a couple of times. Fantastic hot and sour soup, singapore noodles and very fresh and tender BBQ pork. We’re planning to eventually make our way through the whole menu.

    1. The food was simple and cheap and good. But it was the staff that madeit special. And so nice to have a little mom and pot place like that at Bloor/Avenue Road. I guess they were lucky to last as long as they did.

      You must be over the moon to have found some local BBQ! Sounds brilliant, especially with a shop as well. Does Thelma cook Chinese? (Why do I even ask… I’m sure there’s little she can’t do!)

      The quality of life in PEI…. yeah, I get why she moved. :)

    1. True enough. Though I’m always a little sad whenever we lose a “mom and pop”. You just know a Quiznos or something horribly upscale is going to take its place… :(

      I’ll console myself by believing they weren’t shoved out, that they moved of their own accord… to open an even redder place, closer to home…and it’s wildly popular… and they don’t have to drive in this weather… and they’re happy as clams…. yeah, that’s the ticket!

      I’m feeling better already. ;)

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