Showing posts with label angry chicken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label angry chicken. Show all posts

Dasha (Toronto)

A big thank you to my friend Parv for these amazing photos. Her phone's fancy.
Chef Akira Back is steering away from his Korean upbringing and the Japanese restaurants he’s founded towards another part of the Orient: China. Dasha has an impressive dining area, the bright neon bar situated in the middle of a spacious room creates the feeling that you’re eating outdoors… just in a really comfortable environment. Opening in time for the holiday season was smart as the restaurant will undoubtly be a popular destination for holiday parties with their shareable plates and private karaoke rooms on the second floor.

If you ask for advice on the menu, you’ll probably be steered towards the standard safe options – dishes like Peking duck and salt & pepper shrimp. If you don’t normally eat Chinese food, I agree, these are tried-and-true dishes that will likely delight. But, they are also options you can get anywhere, so it’s the less known rendition of these dishes we wanted to try.

Since Dasha’s ducks are what they’re known for, we definitely had to try the fowl. Instead of Peking duck, we opted for the black truffle version ($45) instead. It was an impressive dish: the duck still roasted with that lovely crispy skin like the Peking dish, but then it’s enhanced with a black truffle duck jus poured tableside so the fowl’s richness also gets an earthy umami essence. There’s even a couple of black truffle shavings placed on top.

This was a fantastic dish that was the highlight of the meal. If only there was more of it, the small portion was best suited to be shared amongst two people. In general, Dasha’s dishes are diminutive so you’ll need at two per person with a side to satisfy.

In lieu of the salt & pepper shrimp, we went for the wasabi prawns ($14). The battered deep fried shrimp is tossed with a mild wasabi crema so there’s a faint taste of the condiment without stinging the nose. A great way to start and a tasty starter.

While the smoked ribs ($19) lacked smokiness, it’s nonetheless a decent dish. Immensely tender ribs – the meat can barely hold together on a fork – is stewed in a slightly sweet sauce and then rolled in panko crust so that it covers the sauce and gives the pork texture. The coating also helps protect your fingers a bit if you give up on cutlery all together and resort to your hands.

The nest adorning the angry chicken ($16) plate is a cute idea but the ingredients used to build up the nest isn’t necessarily the tastiest … the traditional shaved taro still does it best. I was also expecting a lot more spice for a something that’s described as being Szechuan. Instead, the heat is so subdued that the only way you get any spice is if you actually eat the bits of chili rendering the dish fairly forgettable.

To round out the meal, we added on a number of sides including green beans ($11), which is quickly stir fried with garlic and chili so that it’s flavourful without being all shriveled or too oily. I liked that it wasn’t overly cooked and added an element of freshness to the meal.

The seafood fried rice ($13) was rather disappointing, essentially plain soy sauce fried rice with bites of green onion served in a mound with dried scallop on top – it’s almost like XO sauce but less exciting and flavourful.

Go for the chow fun ($14) instead, the rice noodles well-tossed so that there’s plenty of wok hay and there’s some small sweet prawns and crunchy bean sprouts thrown in for contrast.

Dasha’s service is friendly and hospitality seemed to be top of mind for some elements – the manager came by to make sure we weren’t cold with the doors opening and closing.  At the same time, they also seem to unnecessarily rush people out of the restaurant. As soon as we sat down the two hour warning was announced, which is a well-known and understandable practice, but should also be followed only if necessary.

Two instances stood out with my experience, the first being the hyper attentiveness of clearing dishes. During the first hour, it was done as things were finished, but since the dishes were the shrimp, duck and pork ribs, these tend to be consumed at a quicker pace.

For the second half, when the sides were the main things arriving, it became annoying as people came around on a couple of occasions trying to clear plates that still had food on it. This made us stop the conversation and attempt to divvy up the rest of the food before we were ready. Chinese food is notorious for being eaten family style, so just leave the semi-finished item there and bring on the next dish… there’s no need to have things cleared away before the next plate arrives.

The second instance was at the end of dinner. Despite having over half an hour left to the two-hour window, no one came by to offer us dessert menus (turns out there isn’t one) or to see if we wanted anything else. Finally, with 20 minutes remaining, we ask our waitress if there’d be enough time for a round of cocktails. The dining room seemed to only be half occupied, so we thought we could buy ourselves an extra 15 minutes.

We’re advised that there wasn’t enough time, but that we could sit at the bar. Personally, I would have handled it differently by suggesting they could bring over the cocktails, but in the event the table was required, they would move us to the bar at that point. This ensures they get the extra margins and keeps diners happy. Really, for an establishment who just had the manager come around to make sure we were warm enough, hospitality seems to only be warm during a two hour window.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 620 King Street West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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