When unique food, good service, and great company come together, it’s going to be a good night — DaiLo delivers effortlessly.
This quasi-Cantonese-European place sits amongst a trifecta of delicious hotspots on College Street between La Carnita and Bar Raval on the corner of Palmerston. Last week, my friend Erin and I decided to take a chance on getting a table at this place once we decided standing around a barrel at Bar Raval was just too tiring, no matter how good the food and drinks are.
DaiLo is number four on enRoute Magazine’s Best New Restaurants 2015, and has been on my radar for a while. Luckily, we were able to snag a table in the bar area; the place was packed and reservations full, pretty impressive for a Tuesday evening.
The decor is a comfortable eclectic mix of Chinoiserie like golden screens, antique posters and wallpaper, balanced with modern leather furniture and industrial lighting. Upstairs, LoPan, DaiLo’s sister cocktail bar, has crazy high ceilings and beautifully atristic light fixtures with golden Chinese decoration stenciled on the turquoise walls.
First up, drinks. The Atlantic Marriage ($12) never stopped giving. The showmanship alone would be enough to make me order this drink again — contained inside a chilled metal pineapple, the drink was fruity, rummy and delicious. It lasted the whole meal, and trust me, I was trying hard to get through it to try another tasty imbibe.
Erin chose the Markham Sour ($12); its dwarfed appearance compared to mine was a little sad, but it was delicious none the less.
The first dish comes out on a pretty china plate. The Smoked Trout Betel Leaf ($4) had salty trout roe that popped in my mouth, mixing perfectly with the freshness of the betel leaf. I flew solo on the first bite of the evening, but the brightness of the dish increased the anticipation for the next one.
The Pork Belly ($14) was one of the specials for the evening and it had been braised for eight hours and fried for eight minutes — beyond delicious. Crunchy on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside, I can’t even tell you how good it was.
Fried Watermelon ($9) came out next, piping hot, and was easily the prettiest plate of the night. The savoury-barely-there-breading encased the juices of the watermelon: When you bit into the carefully cut cubes they burst violently (but delightfully) in your mouth. The dish was balanced with salty pork floss and fresh pickled watermelon rind, and upon the suggestion of our server extraordinaire, Turi, we made sure to have a little bit of everything in every bite to fully enjoy the dish.
The Pumpkin Dumplings ($10) were the star of the evening. Light wrappers that protected the creamy pumpkin filling came out swimming in beurre blanc. Oh my, that beurre blanc was freaking delightful. Made with White Rabbit Creamy Candy, I had no shame licking the plate long after the dumplings were gone. And let’s not forgot the black truffle shavings that were beyond the icing on the cake; it was like the cake on the cake.
The Hakka Brown Wontons ($9) with pork and shrimp were small but mighty. Their sharp flavour wasn’t to Erin’s taste, but I had no problem finishing them off.
There wasn’t any bit of room for dessert.
503 COLLEGE ST. | Toronto, ON | (647) 341-8882 | dailoto.com
*I took all these photos with my new iPhone and I don’t quite know how to feel about them…I know the new cameras are supposed to be really good, but I am missing my NEX-6 big time — what do you think?*