Dayali Peking Duck Markham - detailed review with pics and prices
20 Gibson Dr.
A few chowhounders had mentioned about the new Beijing style Roast duck restaurant up in Markham called Dayali, so we decided to have 2 meals there this past week.
This is a chain that is popular in Beijing, someone finally decided to setup a Toronto branch. We tried to go 2 weeks ago but they were booked solid on a Saturday night. Our first meal was on a monday night, without a reservation we just managed to snag a table for 4 at 6pm. It was packed shortly after with awaiting patrons spilling out to the streets.
Since we were coming back the following Saturday for their duck, we decided to try some other dishes instead. We ordered the following dishes on the first night:
Salty liver slices in dipping sauce - completely flavourless, like liver boiled in hot water and sliced up. Also didn't look anything like the menu photo (one of my pet peeves).
Aspic meat jelly cubes - room temp and dry (should be slightly cold, wet and a touch slimy), same dipping sauce as the liver. Very odd dish, would avoid.
Sweet n sour pork - more for the kids, but way too much batter, complete fail
Silky Tofu in brown sauce - hearty homey feel to this dish.
Trio of veggies/mushrooms in hot oil and soy. One of the better dishes.
Kidney in hot oil and soy. Temperature wasn't quite piping hot enough, but at least the kidneys seemed fresh and the flavour was good. A bit of pepper buzz as well.
Shredded carrots, garlic, sprouts, bamboo and fungus - standard dish
Clear noodle in brown soup - boring carbs filler
Rolled pancake with meat - one of the better ones in town, but there's many places that do this well too.
Green onion cakes - mediocre
Duck in spicy soup and noodles - the soup and spices just overwhelmed it, couldn't taste the duck flavour at all
Over all the night was borderline fail in terms of the food. We did buy the $20 VIP card, which entitled us to $1-2 off almost all the dishes. If you go 2 times, you pretty much get your $20 back and them some. Service was efficient, better than some Cantonese places I've been to in GTA. Final bill was only $66.89, quite reasonable for the amount of food ordered.
Upon our return on this past Saturday night, our reservation was for 5:15pm (yes, that early!) and we still had to wait 15 mins for our table, as they still haven't got their booking times quite right yet. This time we ordered the following (prices are after the VIP discount):
Gold Medal Peking Duck $36.88 - actually quite nice. You start with the thin duck skin only, to be dipped in sugar and eaten as is. You can really taste more of the roast flavour this way. Second was the duck thinly sliced with the meat. Again, with the delicate wrappers and thick/rich sweet sauce, it's one of the better Peking duck places in GTA. Not quite as good as the ones I had in Beijing this past June, but better than most of the other Cantonese places in GTA (Peaktop, Brilliant, Chung King, Maple Yip, etc). Extra skins are $3.99, a bit pricey.
Deep fried duck bones $2.88, you can choose 1 of 3 ways it is cooked, we chose the spicy style and again it was nice and crispy.
Peanuts and Spinach $4 - standard dish.
Skewered Bullfrog fried legs $10.50 - we choose the spicy cumin style, nicely done and well spiced. Lots of meat on the legs. Didn't taste like chicken!
Tofu with crab brain soup $8 - I wasn't crazy about this, as there was this gritty texture to it. My Beijing friends enjoyed it.
Baked Pumpkin fries coated with egg yolk batter $8 I've had a lot of egg yolk coated deep fried foods in the past, and didn't find this one was crispy enough nor had enough egg yolk flavour.
Lion's head meatballs in rich broth $4.00, one of the better dishes of the night, the soup was quite nice and meatballs were tender, flavourful and huge. Quite consistent with the Beijing chain's version, according to my BJ friends.
Fish slices with spicy & sour veggie soup $13 - pretty good soup as well, fresh fish slices, good balance with the sour and salty level.
Lotus roots slices in spicy hot pot $7 - again ingredients were fresh, lotus roots cooked just right and crispy, and spicy level was about right
Diced spicy eggplant $7 - another good dish if you like this style of eggplant
Pork Belly with sticky rice and steamed buns $11 - amazing signature dish, again well replicated from the BJ chain, lusciously rich pork belly covering the sticky rice on the bottom. One of my favourite dishes, and the kids loved it too.
Spicy Black fungus $5 - standard dish
Gold Dayali x2 $3 - looks pretty, filled with diced duck meat inside a slightly salty and sweet crispy shell (like a dim sum dish)
Pot stickers $6 - standard dish
Peking style spicy lamb $11 - another tasty dish if you love lamb, can get a bit oily though when you hit the bottom pieces.
We also ordered a bitter melon dish, but it was way too salty and we returned it, and they didn't charge us for it.
Final bill was $141.47. This second meal was much better than the monday night meal. It was almost like it was a different chef. They still do not have a liquor license as of this past weekend. They do take Visa.
I've posted all the photos here on my flickr set, as I find the chowhound resized photos are a bit small and you can't get the full appreciation of the dishes.
Our family went on the 2nd day that it opened (about 3 months ago) and found that like your experience, service and dish quality was all over the place. We tried ordering the duck but it was all sold out (at 7:30PM, seriously). The water boiled fish in oil was okay, while the tofu with crab fat was strangely almost soupy (though I did enjoy it). Service was slow but apologetic. The manager talked to us for a while about some of the issues that they were facing and apologised profusely for how slow things were (it was a 2+ hour dinner for 3 people). He also gave us a discount which was nice.
Like you, we also got the VIP card but haven't been back yet. We're giving it a bit more time to sort out all the problems before we go back.
Thanks for the comprehensive review and pictures. I agree that flickr with the descriptive comments for each pic and larger pictures allows for much better appreciation of the dishes. The Peking duck in particular looks like a winner! I was a bit puzzled by your comment about the extra skins @ $3.99 being pricey....what would you get for that price?
re: T Long
For $3.99 it's literally another 10 or so wrapper skins, that's it! I was a bit surprised by that price too. I had no choice but to order more, since my kids just swallow those things whole with the wrapped duck. I think they also charge for extra sauce and the veggie sides too. Must be how they make their money.