Trendy restaurants come and go at 503 College Street — and so if you have a memory for such things, you cannot help but assess the latest tenant, DaiLo, with mild suspicion.
But closer inspection reveals unfamiliar signs of long-term thinking. For starters, DaiLo chef Nick Liu is a partner in this enterprise and thus far less likely than his predecessors to pack up his knives and go on a whim, or just because of an inconvenient hangover. What’s more, Liu, front-of-house partner Anton Potvin and their backers have invested impressive scads of cash and great taste in the new restaurant.
And it’s a keeper. In previous iterations, space was invariably pleasant – but crippled by the intrusion of an inconvenient courtyard. Now, that’s been filled in, covered, and – better yet – converted to a lovely, dimly lit bar, that anchors the restaurant in both style and spirit. Décor throughout is stunning – vintage Chinoiserie with a contemporary accent. The food by contrast is completely and assertively modern. Watermelon is rendered nearly unrecognizable with a Liu makeover that begins with compression, then batter and a deep-fryer, and ends with being served hot and crisp with its pickled rind and a scattering of shredded pork. A fantastic new-Asian pseudo taco features crisp-fried octopus and braised pork in a crunchy and refreshing shell of paper-thin jicama. Whole fried trout is crisp and succulent. The menu is long and entirely worth exploring. Just remember: everything goes with truffle fried rice.