New food options available for commuters as Union Food Court opens

By Severina Chu

Commuters now have a variety of new and tasty meal options with the opening of the Union Food Court at Toronto’s Union Station.

Part of the Union Station revitalization project, construction for the food court was first approved in 2009 and originally scheduled to be completed by 2015. Several delays later, the food court finally opened in late November of 2018.

It is located on the lower level of the GO York Concourse and offers 10 new food retailers and seating for up to 600 people. Many of the food vendors offer meals that cost $15 or less which allows students to grab a bite to eat before class, work, or on their way home.

The Union Food Court offers food from local vendors around the city. While commuters can still buy from familiar chains like McDonald’s, Tim Hortons, and Pizza Pizza, they now have the option of choosing healthier and more culturally diverse meals. Here’s a closer look at what’s on the menu.

Loaded Pierogi

In its newest Toronto location, this retailer serves the traditional Polish dumpling dish with a twist. Customers can get pierogies, either fried or boiled, loaded with various meat and vegetable toppings.

One of Loaded Pierogi's vegetarian options, Baba's Classic ($9) is topped with caramelized onions, sour cream, and green onions. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

One of Loaded Pierogi's vegetarian options, Baba's Classic ($9) is topped with caramelized onions, sour cream, and green onions. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

Bangkok Buri

Inspired by the street food served in Bangkok, Bangkok Buri serves traditional Thai cuisine with a modern influence. The menu includes noodles, rice, and salad dishes, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian choices.

Roywoods

Known for being an authentic taste of the Caribbean, this established Toronto business has now made its way to Union Station. They are well-known for their jerk chicken, which they offer either in a platter meal or on a sandwich with Jamaican coco bread.

The jerk chicken sandwich ($10) is served on Jamaican coco bread and comes with a beverage. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

The jerk chicken sandwich ($10) is served on Jamaican coco bread and comes with a beverage. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

Paramount Fine Foods

Paramount Fine Foods is serving up authentic Lebanese cuisine, including classics like shawarma and falafel served in a wrap, on rice, or on salad. The Union Station location also offers fresh bread and house-made sweets.

Scaccia

A family-owned and operated Italian restaurant in Toronto, Scaccia has expanded its brand to a quick service location. The scaccia, a stuffed flat bread from Sicily, is made with various combinations of meats, vegetables, and cheeses that makes for the perfect meal on-the-go.

Scaccia has a wide range of good eats, from hearty meat and cheese sandwiches to lighter vegetarian options. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

Scaccia has a wide range of good eats, from hearty meat and cheese sandwiches to lighter vegetarian options. (CanCulture/Severina Chu)

Shanghai 360°

Shanghai 360° serves dishes typical of northern Chinese cuisine. With familiar Chinese takeout favourites such as fried rice and dumplings, the Union Station location also offers a noodle bar with your choice of noodle and soup base.

Sushi Shop

Despite the simple name, Sushi Shop is not your traditional Japanese menu. Here you can get sushi in creative forms, such as burgers, tacos, and burritos, along with unique flavour combinations.

The Union Food Court is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends.

Here's How to Order Vegan at Your Fave Fast Food Restaurants

By: Natalie Michie

Many vegans might agree that fast food restaurants aren’t their first choice when it comes to getting a proper meal. However, sometimes these pit stops are unavoidable. My shift to a vegan lifestyle has certainly not stepped in the way of my love for junk food, so I can relate first-hand to having moments when you just want to go to your favourite drive-thru, burger joint or sandwich shop and pig out.

If you’re vegan and are at a loss at the fast food counter (because let’s face it - it’s a stereotype that all vegans are healthy), go ahead and try out some, or all, of the items listed below!

Taco Bell

The Crunchwrap Supreme made vegan (PopSugar)

The Crunchwrap Supreme made vegan (PopSugar)

Taco Bell has a wide range of vegan options. If you’re looking for a quick bite, they do a great job of accommodating plant-based diets. Although there aren’t many meals on the Taco Bell menu that are originally made vegan, it is very easy to “veganize” most items.

For any items with beef or chicken, you can easily swap out the meat for hardy black or refried beans. Plus, for any meal that has cheese or a dairy-based sauce, you can ask for it to be made “fresco-style,” and Taco Bell will replace the dairy with guacamole or pico de gallo.  Add to this any of their salsas and their vegan seasoned rice, and you’re good to go. This method will allow you to stay ethical without feeling like you are losing out on the substance of the meal.

Along with swapping out animal products for vegan substitutes, Taco Bell also has some delicious items that are accidentally vegan, such as the chips, fries and cinnamon twists! The Mexican restaurant chain also added a “How to eat vegan at Taco Bell” section to their website, so props to you for thinking of us, Taco Bell.

Starbucks

Starbucks Green Tea Soy Frappuccino (Urban Tastebud)

Starbucks Green Tea Soy Frappuccino (Urban Tastebud)

As a frequent consumer of overpriced specialty coffee drinks, the vegan options offered at Starbucks are of great importance to me. Not only do they offer dairy-free milk alternatives like soy, almond and coconut, as well as vegan syrups like vanilla, caramel, hazelnut and mocha,, but if you’re looking to grab a snack or even a quick meal, they’ve got you covered.

Most bagels at Starbucks are vegan, like multigrain, plain and cinnamon raisin. My all-time favourite snack to get when I’m on the go is a multigrain bagel with a packet of the organic jalapeno avocado spread. It’s delicious!

If you’re looking for a hot breakfast to go with your coffee, you can also opt for their whole grain oatmeal with any of the topping choices. One of my favourite treats from the coffee company are Justin’s Peanut Butter Cups. Don’t let the “contains milk” message on the back of the package steer you away - the company added that to their packaging a few years ago because they process their chocolate in a facility that processes products with dairy as well. Although the peanut butter cups are dairy-free, the company included this as a precautionary message to help customers who are severely allergic to dairy.

In August 2017, Starbucks came out with a more substantial meal option for vegans, which was a welcome change. The baby greens and brown rice protein bowl has 15 grams of protein, and I can assure you that it will fill you up.

Tim Hortons

Tim Horton's Harvest Vegetable Soup (Tim Hortons) 

Tim Horton's Harvest Vegetable Soup (Tim Hortons) 

Being that Tim Hortons is the staple fast food restaurant in Canada, they’ve got to have some vegan options, right? Fortunately, the renowned doughnut chain has a vast selection of vegan-friendly items! Although they have not yet hopped on the dairy-free milk bandwagon for their coffee and teas, they do have a pretty good selection of vegan food options if you’re looking for something to eat with your (black) drink.

Similar to Starbucks, Timmies offers some helpful breakfast options for those who follow a plant-based diet. Their menu offers oatmeal with two different flavours to pick from, maple or mixed berry. Plus, most of their bagels are vegan, including plain, blueberry, everything, cinnamon raisin, sesame seed, poppy seed, and pretzel. For spreads, you can opt for jam or peanut butter. I recommend trying the cinnamon raisin bagel with peanut butter, it’s amazing!

If you want to get some in your five a day, the harvest vegetable soup is a warm, hearty option that is perfect for a cold Canadian winter day.day. They also have a vegan garden salad, which you can eat on its own or on a roll for a makeshift sandwich. Just make sure you steer clear of the specialty bagels, 12 grain bagel and any croissants, as they have animal products in them, according to the company’s Ingredient Information guide.

If you’re a carb addict like me, you’ll be pleased to know that both the savoury potato wedges and the hash browns made at Tims are vegan-friendly. This is ideal when paired with a salad or coffee, or even juston their own. And for those who argue that a meal can’t solely consist of potatoes, to that I say, who hurt you?

Subway

Subway's Veggie Delite (Subway) 

Subway's Veggie Delite (Subway) 

Subway is definitely my favourite fast-food restaurant if I’m looking for a satisfying quick meal. With the bread options ranging from hearty Italian bread to wraps and ciabatta, stopping at Subway for a veggie sub is always a good option when you’re on the go.

Go ahead and pile on any of the vegetable toppings, and then top it with your choice of sauces. Options include yellow mustard, oil, vinegar, sweet onion sauce, Italian dressing and Buffalo sauce. You want to avoid any dairy-based sauces, so just keep an eye out for sauces that look creamy. Don’t be afraid to clarify with employees which sauces have dairy and which don’t. You also want to avoid sauces that have animal products other than dairy, such as the honey mustard sauce.

My favourite is a veggie sub on toasted Italian bread with sub sauce and salt and pepper, simple but so tasty!. If you’re a first-time Subway visitor and you don’t know what veggies you want, you can make it easy by ordering the Veggie Delite, which is just an assortment of vegetables with your choice of sauce.

Specific options vary per location, so feel free to visit your favourite fast food restaurant and ask what options they have that suit your diet. Most places have vegan bread and non-dairy spreads that you can order if you’re in a pinch. No matter how meat-based a restaurant seems, there is almost always something you can find to eat, even if it’s just grabbing a salad and some bread and passing it off as a sandwich.

Point is, it’s not as hard as you might think to find vegan options at any food joint. I hope you found this helpful, and I encourage you to go out and try "veganizing" menu items at a fast food franchise near you!

At the end of the day, despite our differences, junk food holds a special place in all of our hearts!

This piece was edited by Sukaina Jamil. 

Two restaurants in Toronto are great for students on a budget

Finding great food at a reasonable price doesn’t come easily when you are a university student on a budget. It can be challenging to treat yourself to something nice, preferably something that isn’t greasy or sloppily put together, without spending a fortune. There are two spots near campus that are great for students to indulge but not break the bank. Kyoto House and Tacos 101 are just right for any financially struggling student who wants a delicious meal. Kyoto House Japanese Restaurant

Photo taken by Sophie Diego.
Photo taken by Sophie Diego.

Kyoto House is neither a top sushi experience, nor the worst of the worst. 

It is a small but cozy place to eat. Also, the restaurant provides a more authentic Japanese eating experience, as the waiters and chefs dress in authentic kimonos and traditional clothing.

Kyoto House is an extremely popular all-you-can-eat sushi place, so there is constantly a line, especially during peak hours. However, the long lines portray the reason why one needs to eat at this restaurant. 

The menu is essentially a check list that you can fill out. It is comprised of all the items to choose from, and it asks you how many pieces of it would you like. By having this menu, it generates faster service and a lack of miscommunication with the waiters.

Traditional foods, such as sashimi, tempura, sushi rolls, cooked items like teriyaki, and soups are all present within the menu. However the quality of some of the food are questionable. For instance, the rice from the salmon sushi seemed to fall apart quite quickly.  If you wanted to get the entire piece in your mouth, you would have to act fast if you don’t want the entire sushi piece to disintegrate into your soya sauce

Adequately priced for a couple pieces of sushi, and just a few minutes away from the Ryerson campus, it’s a place to be considered, but not an everyday type of restaurant.

Photo taken by Sophie Diego.
Photo taken by Sophie Diego.

TACOS 101

Photo taken by Sophie Diego.
Photo taken by Sophie Diego.

Tacos 101 is a completely different experience in comparison to Kyoto House. Not in food, obviously, but in terms of atmosphere all together. It has a steady stream of customers coming in, but it is not too crowded. It is a tighter space, probably half the size of an elementary school classroom. However, it compensates for its lack of space with the vibe it emits. The turquoise walls bring light into the restaurant, and hanging light bulbs with banners painted of each colour of the rainbow decorate the eating area. There’s about seven chairs to accommodate customers, but don’t worry if you don’t find a seat, they do take out. The interior is modern yet traditionally Mexican at the same time.

Tacos 101 sets the cost of their tacos at an incredibly good price. If you’re tight with money, the most expensive item on their menu is the fish taco at $4.50. When you do get your food, which doesn’t take long at all because of the excellent service, the tacos are quite small. If you’re a person with a large apetite, you might want to order two. They’re comfortable to hold, and they fit in your mouth, although it does have the potential to create quite a mess.

Photo taken by Sophie Diego.
Photo taken by Sophie Diego.

This piece was edited by Maha Syeda, food editor of CanCulture.