Monday, November 12, 2012

Fried Chicken at Daishō

190 University Avenue, 3rd Floor
Toronto, ON M5H 0A3

At last, the highly anticipated wait is now over, Momofuku is in Toronto! The city didn't just get one, but four clearly defined establishments. If you've been to the ones in New York City, you'll recognize that the only overlap is the Noodle Bar. And we don't have any Momofuku Milk Bars here ... yet?

So here's the quick overview: Noodle Bar serves the ramen, Nikai is a bar and lounge, Daishō serves the large format meals, and Shōtō is for the tasting menu.

When we were in New York, Howard and I never had the chance to try the large format meals, so we were very excited for Daishō to open here. This is probably the first of many meals there.
For any of the large format meals, you have to make reservations in advance. This wasn't too difficult with their online reservation system. We managed to book a Saturday for our group of six to have the fried chicken dinner.

Friendly hostesses greeted us and we were led to our seats at the bar. We were a little disappointed we didn't get a table, as the stools don't make for comfortable seating for a family style meal (especially for those of us who are a foot shorter than the guys, it was harder to reach the foot rest). Immediately, we were all given glasses of water (nice!) and two plates of pickled cucumbers to start.

Howard's parents actually make great pickled cucumber, so we had that to compare it with. Because Daishō didn't peel some of the cucumber skin off, there were parts that were really bitter. Overall they were good, we always enjoy cucumbers with sesame oil, vinegar, and red chili flakes, but if I had to choose, I'd pick the ones Howard's parents make.

The fried chicken meal includes two whole fried chickens. I'm telling you, it is quite impressive when they bring it out. The size of the pile of wings and drumsticks is enough to make you start salivating. The skin of the chicken is crispy and nicely seasoned. However, if you want flavour for the meat, you'll need to dip it in the ginger scallion sauce or jalapeño garlic sauce.

We are also given thin scallion pancakes, shaved radishes, herbs, and a jar of pickled vegetables.
Our server had recommended we order some dishes to go with the chicken. His personal favourite were the brussels sprouts, but no one in our party was a fan of them! Instead we decided to order the carrots with birch syrup, malt, and black almond; cabbage with pork, pine nuts, and pok pok vinegar; and the nugget potatoes with fermented black bean, chili, and orange.

Unlike the large portions of chicken, the vegetables came in a smaller portion. The carrots were plated beautifully, everyone got a taste of it since there were so few. The cabbages received split reviews from our table. Some didn't like it, others found it interesting, and I, rather enjoyed the flavour from the charred cabbages. The nugget potatoes were good, but not rave worthy.

Service at Daishō is ... efficient. Our glasses of water were always refilled, plates and cutlery were swiftly collected. Even though we were still working on the pickled cucumbers, they were also suddenly taken away. While we appreciated the fact that they kept the tables tidy and made room for all our dishes and plates, it was disheartening to have unfinished food thrown away.
We ordered two of the three desserts on the menu. While the Sugar Pie sounds amazing, we were warned that it was a big pie. Instead, we tried Apples with cedar, miellat, and cashew (pictured above) and Chocolate with five different textures (pictured below).

The group consensus favoured the chocolate dessert. The chocolate cubes were surprisingly light, cold, and had quite a unique texture. Paired with a spoonful of everything else on the plate, it was delicious.
Would we go back for the fried chicken meal? Probably not. Would we go back to Daishō? Yes, we still want to try the other large format dinners like the bo ssäm, porchetta, beef short rib, and if we save up for it, the beef ribeye.

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