It has been quite a journey for Liu and thankfully, all that is now in the past. With co-owners Anton Potvin (who owned The Niagara Street Café), Jen Grant and David Dattel, Liu's much anticipated Asian fine dining restaurant is once and for all, a reality.
DaiLo (Twitter: @DaiLoTO, Facebook: DaiLo) is open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday, 5:30 PM to 2:00 AM. DaiLo is the 80-seat, main floor restaurant while LoPan is the casual, 55-seat cocktail and dim-sum snack bar on the second floor (and it's certainly not your everyday dim sum like "har gow" and "siu mai"...think Big Mac Bao). My four friends and I had dinner at DaiLo a few Fridays ago so all the photos here are of DaiLo, not LoPan.
The room is distinctively Chinoiserie with a mixture of European and Chinese artistic styles and design.
Hand-painted murals feature vivid colors paired with gold accents, Asian florals and "Oriental" landscapes.
This large bar area was once an outdoor courtyard patio.
On the wall are old black and white photos of Liu’s family.
The cocktail list is curated by mixologist Shane Mulvany. By the way I'm loving these cheeky cocktail names at DaiLo: Tom Yum Booze and Kung Fu Fizz :)
TOM YUM BOOZE ($14)
Tanqueray Rangpur Gin, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, galangal syrup and coconut water
5 SPICE DARK 'N STORMY ($12)
Chinese 5 spice infused Gosling's Rum, lime and ginger beer
Here's a look at what we had:
SICHUAN PEPPER TROUT LIVER (amuse)
Onion jam, rice wafer, Chinkiang vinegar gastrique
ROAST DUCK AND SCALLION TACO - 2PC ($5)
Peking duck jam, pickled asian pear, cucumber
BIG MAC BAO - 1PC ($5)
Lettuce, special sauce, crispy potato
BLACK BEAN CHILI BRUSSELS SPROUTS ($5)
CRISPY PIG CHEEK (amuse)
Butter poached lobster, tom yum beurre blanc, pomelo Thai salad
HAKKA BROWN WONTONS ($9)
Toasted sesame oil, house XO sauce
FRIED SILKEN TOFU ($11)
Smokey miso sauce, seaweed salad, honey mushrooms
SWEET AND SOUR PORK HOCK ($13)
Po Po’s original sauce, crispy shallot, garlic, almonds
KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN FEET (amuse)
Green slaw, BBQ sauce
WHOLE FRIED GIGGI TROUT ($30)
Nahm jim, green curry aioli, soy glaze
TRUFFLE FRIED RICE ($19)
Black truffle, egg, heirloom carrots, edamame, XO sauce
The bill came in a red envelope, traditionally used as a monetary gift given during holidays or special occasions.
It's indisputable that not many chefs in Toronto can do Chinese cuisine like how Liu (@Ninjachefnick) does at DaiLo; it's Asian cuisine reinvigorated. His cooking reflects Liu as a classically trained chef and his food showcases an organic extension of his own heritage, background and experience. At times Liu blends French techniques with flavour profiles from Asian cuisine (i.e. Chinkiang Vinegar Gastrique, Tom Yum Beurre Blanc), at other times dishes are a straight mash-up of east and west (i.e. Big Mac Bao, Roast Duck and Scallion Taco, Black Bean Chili Brussels Sprouts). Traditional Asian flavours are prominent and bold all-around, yet dishes are executed with finesse. Highlights were the Sweet and Sour Pork Hock, the Big Mac Bao (also available upstairs at LoPan), the Black Bean Chili Brussels Sprouts, and of course, the Whole Fried Trout. It was just as tasty as I remembered it to be! A spin on the classic fish and chips, the fried trout comes with three dipping sauces: Liu's version of nahm jim, a green curry based mayonnaise and a caramelized soy glaze. This is a must-try. The three amuses were also excellent, with my favourites being the Crispy Pig Cheek with Butter Poached Lobster (the sauce is out of this world and I want to drink a bowl of it) and the Kentucky Fried Chicken Feet (yes it's deboned!) I'm really hoping these two amuses will make it on DaiLo's menu some day. I want to mention that portion size at DaiLo is a bit on the small side but it does make it easy to try a lot of dishes (which you are encouraged to do) and it's especially fun with a larger group.