Friday, February 23, 2018

Momofuku Daishō: Until We Meet Again...

Located on the third floor of the grand Momofuku glass cube complex adjacent to the Shangri-La Hotel, Daishō has specialized in shared plates and large format family-style feasts since opening in 2012. Of all David Chang's Momofuku Toronto concepts — which includes the Noodle Bar, Nikai and Shōtō — Daishō has the most extensive menu which changes often, based on market availability and inspired by the diversity of Ontario's native ingredients and showcasing the best of Canadian farms from the east to west coast. Sleek and minimalist, with blond wood tables and completely encased in glass, the room’s vaulted ceiling is dominated by a grand finned structure made of white oak — suggestive of giant ramen noodles — not only brings warmth to the minimalistic space but serves as an elegant beacon along Toronto's University Avenue. Arriving for dinner before the opera, we wanted to take advantage of our last meal at Daishō before it closes on February 25 along with our beloved Shōtō, to make room for the launch of a new restaurant concept that will span the building's entire third floor. The noodle bar on the ground floor will remain intact, but the upper-level restaurants are closing before debuting the new layout and concept sometime in Spring 2018, and to be spearheaded by Executive Chef Paula Navarrete. 

Seated at a small table for two along the 3-storey bank of windows overlooking University Avenue, we began our last dinner at Daishō with cocktails: a Fitzgerald with gin, lemon and bitters, and Vespa martini along with a complimentary plate of crunchy pickled cucumbers. Featured on the evening's menu, we began with Daishō's delectable Buttermilk Biscuits served with garlic butter and a spicy chili honey, and 
Chicken Buns with ssäm sauce, pickled carrots and scallion. As entrées we shared the Grilled Miami Ribs with turnip cake, ginger scallion and pickled daikon, and Crusted Cod with caramelized onion dashi, mustard greens and wasabi peas, along with Rice Cakes with spicy pork sausage, chinese broccoli and tofu, and a complimentary bowl of Brussels Sprouts with fish sauce, puffed rice and mint. Having ordered way too much, we were then treated to impromptu glasses of French Vermouth is frosted glasses by Beverage Manager Steve Sousa from Shōtō, who recognized us from Valentine's Dinner the week before. A wonderfully kind gesture, we are always taken impressed at how friendly the staff are at these two restaurants. With its fabulous views, soft lighting, friendly professional service, creative wine and dinner menu, Daishō continues to be one of our favourite restaurants in the city, and we hope Momofuku keeps the culinary and staff magic for which both restaurants have become so well known.

Executive chef Paula Navarrete of Momofuku Daishō, will be spearheading the upcoming culinary direction of the entire third floor, which will become one unified dining space

Daishō Dinner menu

Vespa Martini with vodka, gin and vermouth, made famous from Casino Royale

Fitzgerald cocktail made with gin, lemon and bitters

Crunchy pickled cucumbers

Chicken Bun with ssäm sauce, pickled carrots and scallion

Buttermilk Biscuits with garlic butter and chili honey

2015 Loureiro, Aphros, Vinho Verde from Portugal 

2016 Malbec, Château Les Croisille ‘Le Croisillon’ from Cahors, France

Brussels Sprouts with fish sauce, puffed rice and mint 

Rice Cakes with spicy pork sausage, chinese broccoli and tofu

Grilled Miami Ribs with turnip cake, ginger scallion and pickled daikon

Crusted Cod with caramelized onion dashi, mustard greens and wasabi peas

Frosted glass of Dolin Vermouth Blanc from Steve Sousa from Shōtō, 
who remembered us from Valentine's Dinner

Honey-Soy-Glazed Vegetables with Crispy Mushrooms
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of David Chang

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp canola oil 
1 lb medium turnips, cut into 3/4-inch wedges 
1 lb medium radishes, quartered 
1/4 cup honey 
2 tbsp soy sauce 
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 
1/2 lb Swiss chard, stems discarded and leaves coarsely chopped 
2 tbsp molasses 
2 tbsp water 
6 large shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps quartered 
1/2 lb Asian rice crackers, pulverized

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the turnips and radishes and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned and crisp-tender, 10 minutes. Add the honey and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are glazed, 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and cook until syrupy, 5 minutes longer. Add the lemon juice and the Swiss chard, and cook until the chard is wilted, 2 minutes. Raise the heat to high and cook until all of the liquid has evaporated, 2 minutes longer; keep warm.

In a medium bowl, whisk the molasses with the water and season with salt. Add the shiitake and toss to coat. Drain the mushrooms, squeezing out most of the excess liquid. In a separate bowl, toss the mushrooms with the rice cracker crumbs, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil until shimmering. Add the coated mushrooms and cook over high heat, turning once, until golden and crisp, 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Top the vegetables with the mushrooms and serve immediately.

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