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Tasty bo ssam and fried chicken at Momofuku Daisho, but what's with the pie?

TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 05:27 AM

Had dinner at Daisho last night -- pre-ordered the bo ssam and the fried chicken dinners.

Both the pork shoulder and the fried chicken were cooked beautifully. Both were tender and juicy and I loved the coating on the chicken. The condiments complimented the meats nicely. The lettuce leaves were fresh and crisp. I did think the scallion pancakes were too thick and large and didn't do much for the chicken, but no matter, I just skipped the pancakes and enjoyed the chicken. The sides were tasty -- we ordered the brussels sprouts and the rice cakes. There was a bit too much fish sauce in the brussels for my taste, but they were cooked perfectly and I loved the puffed rice in them for the crunch.

The sake from the brewery in the Distillery District was quite nice and very easy drinking and went well with the food. And it came in a 1.8 litre bottle, so what's not to love?

Service was fine -- the army of support servers kept our water glasses full and the dishes cleared. Our main server was there when we needed him. No complaints there.

The evening was going great.

And then we ordered dessert. We ordered the apple dessert and the sugar pie. First of all, they might want to clarify on their menu that the pie is a whole pie, not just a slice. The $27 price tag does give it away, but for those not paying attention, it might come as a surprise. The apple dessert had some nice textural elements, but the apple filling was oversalted to the point where it wasn't balanced in flavours. It wasn't awful, just not that good.

But the sugar pie...oh, the sugar pie. It comes topped with freeze dried (or dehydrated, I'm not sure) spearmint chunks and meringue chunks. Why? Why would you put spearmint on a sugar pie? They tasted like crispy toothpaste. And given how badly toothpaste messes with flavours, why would you mix it with your dessert, especially sugar pie, which has nothing in it to suggest a mint pairing? The most telling aspect was we had 9 people at dinner, and at the end, we had 8 half (or less) eaten slices of pie on our plates and 1 totally untouched piece of pie in the pan.

OK, rant over about the pie (but it was really bad).

Overall, I had a great evening. The large format dinners are a lot of fun with a group of friends. We definitely splurged by ordering two dinners, so the price point was a bit high. But if we had just ordered the bo ssam, I probably would have walked away feeling like there was good value in the dinner.

So I do recommend having dinner there. But please, skip the desserts.

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  1. TorontoJo RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 06:03 AM

    Oh, and here's a photo of said pie:

    2 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo
      always_eating RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 07:40 AM

      Okay, that looks really gross. Almost like a feta spinach pizza except, what, it's sugar pie?! Why mess with a good thing? I haven't made it to Daisho yet but still want to. Thanks for the tip about the pies!

      1. re: TorontoJo
        prima RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 08:40 AM

        I don't know why they wouldn't just give you some famous Momofuku crack pie or candy bar pie.

        I think crack pie is probably a toothacheingly sweet disappointment to anyone who loves a good butter tart, but at least it tastes more like a butter tart than toothpaste!

      2. s
        szw RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 08:00 AM

        Bo ssam is good value for a fun night out in a swanky restaurant, but its really pretty simple food at its core. Extremly easy to replicate at home for a dinner party for like $25 total total (with lower quality pork but just as tasty IMO).

        I'd rather go back and try ala carte to see their inventiveness and technical ability.

        6 Replies
        1. re: szw
          TorontoJo RE: szw Nov 17, 2012 09:04 AM

          Yeah, I've actually done David Chang's bo ssam dinner at home, and for sure it's cheaper and just as much fun. But for those who are not cooking inclined, it's still a fun way to have dinner with friends.

          1. re: TorontoJo
            Kagemusha RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 04:41 PM

            The bo ssam recipe appeared in the NYT in January this year. All the ingredients are easily available around the GTA. Pork shoulder always seems to be on sale somewhere and, if not, it's still a very cheap cut.

            1. re: Kagemusha
              TorontoJo RE: Kagemusha Nov 18, 2012 04:48 AM

              Yes, that's the recipe I used, and I must say that I liked my home-cooked version better than Daisho's. The salt/sugar crust that is put on at the end before a final blast in a 500 degree oven seemed to be totally missing from Daisho's version, and that was one of the best parts of the one I made.

              1. re: TorontoJo
                Kagemusha RE: TorontoJo Nov 18, 2012 07:04 AM

                Can't help but think the Chang TO show is a bit of a con, especially for anyone who knows their way around a kitchen, since so much of what's on offer is from the "open source" recipes published in his cookbooks.

                1. re: Kagemusha
                  aser RE: Kagemusha Nov 18, 2012 08:53 AM

                  then again, couldn't you say that about every chef/restaurant that has put out a cookbook?

                  1. re: aser
                    Kagemusha RE: aser Nov 18, 2012 11:25 AM

                    Nope, aser. More than a few degrees of separation between Chang and , say, Keller.

        2. Jacquilynne RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 09:17 AM

          I was the slightly dissenting opinion on the apple dessert -- I think if you tasted the whole thing together, rather than eating the apple component on its own, it was actually pretty well balanced.

          But the sugar pie was nasty.

          I really liked the brussel sprouts dish, but I thought the fact that they were brussel sprouts was kind of pointless. We had a fairly long discussion with the waiter about them being the best brussel sprouts we'd ever try, which is a pretty big promise. And the dish is really good, but it's not really a brussel sprouts dish. They could have been pretty much any green vegetable covered in all that sauce and it would have tasted exactly the same.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jacquilynne
            fickle RE: Jacquilynne Nov 17, 2012 12:19 PM

            Here's a pix of the salty pumpkin flavoured apple dessert. Agreed that the sugar pie was horrible. The filling wasn't set and the spearmint & meringue chunks were too chalky.

            Loved the pickles. So good we ordered a second jar. I personally much preferred the rice cakes from the noodle bar. Found Daisho's a bit too busy for my liking and the rice cakes themselves weren't as roasted with that great chewiness as the ones downstairs. Overall a great meal despite the weak ending.

            1. re: Jacquilynne
              Degustation RE: Jacquilynne Nov 18, 2012 03:23 AM

              In the Momofuku cook book, it describes cauliflower or brussel sprouts (both fried or roasted) as the vegetables they usually use with the fish sauce vinaigrette. I wouldn't say that the dish necessarily highlighted the brussels sprouts but I did like the overall combined flavours and textures of the final dish.

            2. d
              dubchild RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 10:05 AM

              I agree that Daisho is a fun outing but given the price and quality of food I doubt I will be back. We did the beef short ribs (not my choice), along with the chicken wing buns, carrots, potato, brussel sprouts, and chocolate desserts. I drank ice tea, my friends drank beer or wine by the glass. We had enough for 5 guys but weren't stuffed and the total was $115 pp w tax and tip. The beef short rib was $220, that's $44 each, we could have had rib eye at some steak house for those prices. All of those ingredients are dirt cheap. The food was ok but nothing stood out as great. The chicken wing buns were probably the standout, but mostly because I've never had a deboned wing in a bun like that. I have to agree with Jacquilynne and others that the brussel sprout dish is basically for people who don't like brussel sprouts, it pretty much tasted of all the other ingredients.
              Service was efficient but given the amount of times we were asked if we were done with some dish which still had food on it and that our jackets were brought to the table as soon as we payed the bill, it felt as if we were being rushed.
              I was interested in Shoto, but given my experiences at the noodle bar and now Daisho, I think I'll pass. There are much better places at this price.

              12 Replies
              1. re: dubchild
                TorontoJo RE: dubchild Nov 17, 2012 11:46 AM

                Interesting on the price point! We were 9 people and with the bo ssam, fried chicken, 3 sides, a beer and a big ass bottle of sake, it came to about $85/person, all in.

                Oh, and I don't disagree on the brussels sprouts -- couldn't taste the sprouts at all. But they were cooked well and I liked the texture. And not even close to the best brussels sprouts dish ever. :)

                1. re: TorontoJo
                  dubchild RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 12:00 PM

                  That sounds about right. We had more sides per person and the chicken is $120. I don't know the price of the pork, but I would hope pork shoulder is not more than the short rib

                  1. re: TorontoJo
                    kwass RE: TorontoJo Nov 22, 2012 04:42 PM

                    $85/person is pretty reasonable. How much chicken did you get for $120?

                    1. re: kwass
                      TorontoJo RE: kwass Nov 22, 2012 09:11 PM

                      Hmmm...I'm not entirely sure. There's a picture of the platter a few posts up. There were 9 of us, and I'm pretty sure everyone had at least one piece, then there were 3 or 4 pieces left over. I'm not sure if anyone had a second piece. So at least a dozen pieces, possibly 14.

                      1. re: TorontoJo
                        pinstripeprincess RE: TorontoJo Nov 23, 2012 05:37 AM

                        I suspect that they probably do it by weight more than number of pieces as well. though the pieces are quite large. im not sure if it was mentioned earlier but a "piece" was either the size of about a thigh, a drumstick or half a very large breast. majority of it was breast meat.

                        1. re: pinstripeprincess
                          childofthestorm RE: pinstripeprincess Nov 23, 2012 06:33 AM

                          When I had it, it was two whole chickens...

                          1. re: childofthestorm
                            pinstripeprincess RE: childofthestorm Nov 23, 2012 07:14 AM

                            that's what i thought, but we barely found any thigh pieces and i don't remember more than 2 drumsticks...

                            1. re: pinstripeprincess
                              Jacquilynne RE: pinstripeprincess Nov 23, 2012 07:18 AM

                              I was kinda bummed about that, actually -- the butchery on that bird was really weird, and everything ended up looking like drumsticks but little of it actually ended up being drumsticks. As someone who vastly prefers dark meat chicken, the fact that both my drumstick looking pieces of chicken turned out to be breasts was just aggravating.

                              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                                aser RE: pinstripeprincess Nov 24, 2012 08:42 AM

                                Generally 16 pieces, 4 drumsticks.

                                1. re: aser
                                  kwass RE: aser Nov 24, 2012 09:20 PM

                                  So I guess a party of 2 can't go and order the chicken. Darn!!

                          2. re: TorontoJo
                            kwass RE: TorontoJo Nov 23, 2012 07:20 AM

                            So, is that the standard order or do they adjust it based on the # of people in your party?

                            1. re: TorontoJo
                              kwass RE: TorontoJo Nov 25, 2012 09:23 AM

                              Just saw a picture of the chicken on the Toronto Life Website. OMG...it looks scrumptious!!

                      2. jlunar RE: TorontoJo Nov 17, 2012 02:50 PM

                        Good to know the fried chicken is worths. It's something I'd never make at home. How is it compared to say, Stockyards?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: jlunar
                          aser RE: jlunar Nov 18, 2012 08:57 AM

                          Stockyards has a lighter crisp to it but lacks the flavour that is in momo's crust. More umami happening there.

                          I love stockyard's fried chicken but it tastes really bland w/o the hot sauce.

                          1. re: aser
                            deabot RE: aser Nov 18, 2012 09:22 AM

                            Agreed. Love Stockyard's crust but man, is it underseasoned!

                            1. re: deabot
                              childofthestorm RE: deabot Nov 18, 2012 09:42 AM

                              Also the quality of the chicken...Daisho blows the fried chicken competition out of the water on that front.

                              1. re: childofthestorm
                                szw RE: childofthestorm Nov 18, 2012 10:01 AM

                                I really did not like their bun. chicken wing idea was neat but it was almost empty inside the bun and the bun itself had horrible texture compared to other buns in the city.

                        2. d
                          dubchild RE: TorontoJo Nov 22, 2012 01:15 PM

                          Has anyone seen a menu online which list the prices. Mostly I would like to be reminded how much they charge for carrots, brussel sprout etc..

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: dubchild
                            childofthestorm RE: dubchild Nov 22, 2012 01:39 PM

                            I was there last night, think the vegetable dishes average around $10. The carrots for sure were $10.

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