*I received financial compensation for this post.
To my mind, there are few things more disparate than Chinese food and a Big Mac and, if you were able to somehow bring these items together in one dish, my first guess wouldn’t be that it would end up as much more than a mess.
But that was before I had dinner at DaiLo.
Located in the former home of Grace at 503 College, an area which now boasts La Carnita, Snakes and Lagers, and Bar Negroni and will likewise soon welcome Grant Van Gameren–the guy behind Bar Isabel–right next door at 505 College, DaiLo reunites sommelier/front of house manager Anton Potvin and Chef Nick Liu, a duo that formerly found success together at Niagara Street Café.
The cuisine, including the aforementioned Big Mac hybrid that comes to life in the form of a Big Mac Bao, springs from the mind of Liu, whose culturally diverse background has inspired him to bring east to west in a signature fast-food, comfort-food, french-cuisine, Frankenstein style that earned him notice the past few years when he cooked at a series of pop ups then known as GwaiLo.
The venue features both a main dining room and an upstairs bar called LoPan where the menu showcases oh-my-god-I-want-to-eat-that-everyday dim sum items like the Big Mac Bao, pastrami spring rolls, and ridiculously succulent Asian confit duck wings with nut crumble.
When I visited, my party sampled the menu that is available upstairs at LoPan (featured in the first two images above) and, with snack-sized and sharing-friendly items items that effortlessly bring together the familiar and the exotic, the venue seems uniquely-suited to being a place I would really really like to get thoroughly drunk at again very often.
To that end, DaiLo has the ubiquitous supercool cocktail menu and was indeed even hosting a sponsored cocktail competition on the night we dined (read: tattoos and moustaches galore) and, as you’d expect from Anton Potvin, the wine list is well thought-out. But this isn’t Wendy’s Wine Blog and I wasn’t invited to eat there because I like sour mix and elderflower liqueur, so we were drinking beer. Specifically beer from Samuel Adams, which is on tap at DaiLo.
While I’m inherently biased about the ability to pair a good beer with pretty much anything (e.g. cereal, candy, church communion wafers), the beverages of the Boston Beer Company seemed to fare pretty well when pitted with Chef Liu’s innovative menu. Boston Lager, for example seemed well paired with Liu’s KFC popcorn tofu, as, aside from the fail-safe “salty-ish food with lager” match, the sweetness of Sam Adams Lager held up to the freshness of the green slaw and slight bite of that dish’s barbecue sauce.
So too did I enjoy the pairing of Samuel Adams Latitude 48 IPA with the aforementioned duck wings and some excellent Korean BBQ short ribs, not only because I generally suck down IPAs like it’s my job, but because the beer’s bright, citrus notes and mild bitterness did well to cut those two dishes’ richness and fat.
I wasn’t a huge fan of DaiLo’s fried smelts, which seemed largely lost in their fried batter, but the truffle-fried rice paired with Samuel Adams Octoberfest Lager during that same middle course was a revelation such that one of my dining guests uttered the phrase “Holy fuck, truffle my life,” with no degree of facetiousness. That is to say, one “meh” dish didn’t do much to dampen our enthusiasm for the meal.
DaiLo–and its boozier upstairs venue, LoPan–is a tough place to classify given the diverse and unique menu (a dining experience they seem content to dub simply #SickAsianFood), but it seems to me that the front and back of house talent is strong enough to bring people in to check the place out and, once they do, it’s tough to see how they won’t get on board with the concept (did I mention the Big Mac Bao yet?).
Pictures by Renée S. Suen