I have always loved fried chicken. It was that rare Sunday night treat when I was growing up - when a bucket of chicken and free beach ball would show up next to a styrofoam container of neon green coleslaw. Luckily, I've grown out of my 'dirty bird' phase and moved on to fancier fare. My sister, also a super-organized foodie, booked my family into Momofuku Daisho's large format Fried Chicken Dinner ($125, serves 4-6 people) two weeks beforehand and left her credit card number for the booking. There's a $100 no-show/cancellation fee that goes on if you miss your dinner or cancel less that 48 hours before.
Now the fried chicken dinner is a little different in Toronto, where they serve the chicken in one style, which I'm told may change seasonally. The chicken we had was very crispy with a slight smokey flavour and the meat is cooked sous vide and is incredibly moist because of it. I was expecting the NYC style, where they serve the chicken two ways - southern-style and Korean-style. I was a little disappointed that the format is different in Toronto becuase I was really keen on trying Korean-style fried chicken for the first time. So just a heads-up if this is what you're expecting.
The Scallion Pancakes come with the dinner - which is a seriously great value and we brought six people for $125! You can make a chicken wrap with the pancakes, but I liked eating the on its own - all crispy & chewy. I also couldn't get enough of the Homemade Sauces & Pickled Carrots and Radishes. All of them complimented the chicken nicely, including the Tabasco Salt that I sprinkled all over the juicy chicken meat.
The Back Bacon Steamed Buns were my least favourite of the night, only because I'm so partial to the pork and chicken ones that they make. It's a cool nod to Toronto from Chef David Chang but I didn't find them as special as the other steamed bun variations that Momofuku offers.
You have to order The Rice Cakes - they are absolutely not-to-be-missed! And no, this no frisbee disc of styrofoam, in case that's what you were thinking. Soft Korean rice cake is sliced up and fried in a spicy sauce with chopped green onions on top. Why have I not been eating rice cakes my whole life??? Now I know exactly what I was missing. We were all fighting over the last bite.
All in all, I had a really great time with my family and friends that night. I love communal family-style eating and it was great to catch up over a fun meal like this one - not too fussy and relaxed. The chicken, pancakes and rice cakes will leave you feeling a little greasy and we were all in a bit of a fried chicken coma after dinner.
My only complaint about the dinner is that our reservation was at 8 PM and we weren't seated until 8:45 PM because the party ahead of us were late or really slow eaters. Which didn't feel entirely fair, since we all rushed downtown to make sure we were on-time. I would only recommend they gently keep all the parties on schedule, so no one is left waiting and hangry when they arrive. Reservations are available two weeks in advance of the date you would like to dine.
Momofuku Daisho - 190 University Avenue, Toronto (inside the Shangri-La Hotel)
Read our review of Momofuku Noodle Bar Toronto here: