A culinary tour of the local marketplace at Bathurst and Dundas, where street food meets farmers' market

A hot, used shipping-container-turned-street-food-stall at the corner of Bathurst and Dundas might not be where one would expect to find Tony Sabherwal, owner of the successful Magic Oven organic pizza chain. And yet, there he is, selling street food on a completely pizza-free menu at Scadding Court Community Centre’s Live Local Marketplace.

So why is Sabherwal there?

“I grew up in a small town in India called Lucknow… and this was the street food. It gives me an opportunity to find myself,” Sabherwal says. “Everyone who has had our sandwiches has come back.”

It’s not hard to believe. The sandwiches are an Indian-infused — and much improved — take on the sloppy joe. Sabherwal puts yellow masala peas cooked with tamarind on “the softest bun” he could find, and adds either a veggie samosa ($4) or tandoori chicken ($5) to top it off. The result is a surprisingly soft, flavourful, and totally original bite.

Magic Oven’s Tony Sabherwal

Sabherwal’s “sloppy bunjo” creation happens to go very well with fresh watermelon juice ($4.49) available from the bubble tea vendor nearby.

The Original One’s owner, Hong Jin, has been at the market for about one month, and like the most of the vendors, has yet to make money from the opportunity. That’s despite the affordable $10-a-day rent that Scadding Court charges; although the marketplace has been around for about a year, it seems to have remained a little too under the radar.

And yet, like the rest of the vendors, Jin looks happy, and is eager to talk about his drinks.

“The people like mango, and kiwi,” Hin says. Even on its own, the watermelon juice is refreshing on a summer afternoon, like a mini-detox from the smog on Dundas Street. Hin also gives free top-ups from what’s left over in the blender.

Hong Jin at his juice stand

The Live Local Market is like a street food festival meets farmers’ market. Around 10 vendors are set up in used shipping containers, out on the sidewalk. It’s open every day, throughout the year, and on Friday nights in the summer there’s a night market, from 6-10 p.m., featuring additional vendors, performers, discussions and extra activities, like a doggie pool and a craft area for kids.

Then there’s the cheese.

Farmers’ market regular Montefort Dairy has set up here, with a menu by the dairy owner’s son, Ben Szoller.

“We’ll always try to have a cold soup, either gazpacho or … cucumber and watermelon soup,” Szoller said. “We know we want it to be simple, so definitely cheese, ice cream, I’ll make a soda pop float and then maybe one or two other things.” Monforte’s buffalo milk ice cream ($4) is not to be missed.

All of the way out from Markham, customer Chris Penrose is enjoying a cheese plate with watermelon juice, faithfully topped by Hin.

“The cheese place is awesome,” Penrose says. “You’d pay $20 for the same thing [somewhere else], and this is $6.”

The Monforte team

Live Local Marketplace, Scadding Court Community Centre, 416-392-0335

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