Category Archives: Asian

Guksu and Noodle

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Address: 7771 Yonge St, Thornhill, ON L3T 2C4
Phone: (905) 771-7777

Something different is Guksu and Noodle, specializes in Korean noodles, served in both hot and cold.  We see many ramen joints popping up across the GTA, so I was very eager to try the Korean noodles to compare and contrast with Japanese ramen.

Service was slow, due to lack of helpers.  Priorities were wrong and noticed a lack of coordination.  Tables could not be cleaned right away, so guests were served late, which could be a turn down.  Taking orders could not be done together with cashing a table out.  Everything had to be done one at a time.  So, getting someone to take my order HAD to be done after they get someone else’s bill, take the money and bring the change back to them.  I was not impressed by the service because getting the helpers’ attention was longer than anticipated.  Waiting for food to arrive was another agony.  My order took one hour to be served, even when the restaurant was just barely full.  This is something they also need to reflect on.

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The side dishes were quite astonishingly limited and small.  They only served tart kimchi and sweet pumpkin puree.  Be prepared to empty stomachs because these snacks were not enough to make the wait satisfying.  I did not want to refill much because what if I got full from eating too much side dishes and could not enjoy the main dishes?!?!

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Fruit Bimbim Guksu ($10.50) is cold wheat noodles with spicy fruit sauce topped with seasonal fruits and fresh vegetables.  I felt like I was sitting in a lush green garden while eating the noodle salad.  Fruits and vegetables comprised of radish, tomato, watercress, Korean turnip, carrot, blueberry, pineapple and apple.  Everything was so crunchy and fresh to the bite.  I loved the mixture of flavours, though distinct, yet very clean and clear.  The sauce was mild spicy and when mixed with the sweet fresh toppings, the al dente noodles came to life, offering a sweet zesty taste, which was very appetizing and enjoyable.  This was a refreshing and creative option, and the best to have it in the summer.

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Chicken Guksu ($11) is handmade wheat noodle in homemade chicken broth, topped with marinated thin sliced chicken breast and various vegetables.  This noodle soup felt so homey, very hearty.  The broth was just amazing, a simple, yet strong chicken flavour and not as oily as one would assume, nor salty.  I like how they put the hot sauce on the side instead of inside the broth, so you can try a bit of different flavours and not everything likes their noodles spicy.  The chicken breast was so tender and juicy, while the vegetables were crunchy.  The chives acted like a spice, adding new levels of flavours to the soup.  Everything tasted very organic, just so fresh and with plentiful ingredients to make you full.  Noodles were obviously homemade, as you can see the different thicknesses in the strands.  They were done just al dente, and maintained the the same texture and springiness after soaking in the broth for some length of time.  This is a must go to noodles at the restaurant!  I actually wish I was able to pack the broth home, or wish they sold the broth separately.

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Kimchi Soo Yuk ($12) is grilled pork belly with kimchi and served on top of a salad.  This was quite oily.  You can see the oil seeping out as the dish sat longer on the tabletop, quite disgusting.  Towards the end, everything was swimming in a layer of oil.  Nonetheless, it tasted decent enough.  Though, I wish the pork belly was softer and with a melt in the mouth texture.  I thought this cooked dish was a bit salty for my liking and the kimchi became salty and tart as it cooled down, which was quite weird.  The fresh bed of salad, which the pork belly was sitting on top of, end up being cooked in a slick of oil.  It was kind of disgusting after a while.  To be honest, there is improvement to their cooked entree dishes,  nothing spectacular.

I really liked the noodles, and was definitely worth the enjoyment.  At least there is something light and different, compared to ramen.  I highly recommend trying their cold noodles.  BUT, do expect the wait time to be long.

Ratings

Food 4/5
Service 3.5/5
Ambiance 3.25/5

The Guksu and Noodle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mot Na Son Korean Restaurant

Address: 5374 Yonge St, North York, ON M2N 2N1
Phone: (416) 222-1170

North York Yonge Street is the concentrated Koreatown of North Toronto.  Korean restaurants are lined on both sides of Yonge Street, from Finch Avenue to Sheppard Avenue.  The district does not lack restaurant choices and has a lot of competition.

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What attracted me into the bustling small restaurant was the cottage look with whole wood structure.  Personally, I thought it has a quaint earthen touch but it made the restaurant look down-to-earth and more traditional in essence.  After all, houses were originally made of wood or marble or stone in the ancient times.  The family like restaurant decorations were very simple, just photos hanging on the wall.  Due to the poor ventilation system, the room was quite stuffy and greasy from the table top cooking.

Service was slow.  The owner was quite condescending because I wanted to order the traditional fermented homemade soy bean stew instead of the soup, but he right literally said “NO, you would not like it because it had a thick texture and acquired taste”.  It was my first time seeing it, hence, I wanted to know the difference between a soup and stew, just for comparison.  I was disappointed and was shocked to have the male owner reject a customer’s request because he thought someone would not appreciate it or not accustomed to it or how it would not match with the food we will order.  Why would someone be so opinionated on a customer!  I was truthfully upset.  Then why would that stew be on the menu if people were not allowed to order it or if it would not match in flavour to the other foods on the menu.  Quite lame.

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In the end, I ordered the Traditional Fermented Homemade Soy Bean Soup ($9.99), which to my surprise, tasted different, extremely rich and flavourful that other restaurants never provided.  The soup was not salty nor full of monosodium glutamate (msg).  I do not know if the homemade fermented soy bean made a difference or not, but the soup was sweet and you can really taste the soy bean and you see bits and pieces of it floating in the bubbling soup.  On top, some alcohol essence was tasted in the bubbling liquid too, which could be developed during the fermentation process.  With the owner’s insistence, recommendation and rejection, the soup did taste pretty decent.

Spicy Stir Fry Pork Combo ($19.99) came with a soup of your choice, which we chose Pork Tofu Soup.  The combo was a good deal because individually, the soup would have costed $8.99.  Pork was fat, kind of like pork belly, therefore, each bite was really tender and soft, with oil oozing from your mouth.  Pork was stir fried with onions, carrots, and peppers.  Portion was big, which was also enough for a third person.  Too bad it was not as spicy as I hopped.  The dish was more like sweet and “weak” spicy.  Cooking oil was really not needed because the natural fat from the pork was more than enough to fulfill the cooking purpose.  Just unfortunate, they added too much oil to make the dish a bit too greasy.  The soup that was included in the combo was just a typical kimchi based soup, so nothing special or worth noting.

The soy bean stew is still on my mind.  I desperately want to try it still but I would not be surprised to be rejected by the owner again.  Overall, I did find the food quality acceptable and typical of Korean cuisines.  The menu was just too vast, too many options and kind of confusing in a way.  Most of the menu was combo-related.  A big group of friends is ideal to visit and try an assortment of the food.

Ratings

Food 3.5/5
Service 2.5/5
Ambiance 3/5

Mot Na Son Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NEW Pho Bo Ga La

Address: 761-763 Somerset St. West.  Ottawa, ON. K1R 6R1
Phone: (613) 233-2222
Website: https://newphobogala.ca/

What happen when you do a spontaneous one day trip to Ottawa, the capitol of Canada?  The drive from Toronto is 5 hours, so when you arrive past noon, you realistically have a few hours to speed visit everything before your return trip back home.  As a given, you visit the touristy places, like everything around the Parliament Hill perimeter.  With a lack of plan and research, you also end up eating at the most random restaurant ever that is along the way back home.

With Chinatown Ottawa being around the corner, you just make that rash deicion of parking your car and eating at the first restaurant on the strip with fast service.  Obviously, we chose the one that was busier and has more seats occupied.  The more traffic, the fresher the food and better reviewed or liked.  It was hard to not notice NEW Pho Ba Ga La!  So, I assume there was a “not-so-new” Pho Bo Ga La or this was a relocated version of the original Pho Bo Ga La.  What was with the NEW?

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The decor was very practical, just wooden tables paired with black chairs lined on both sides of the restaurant.  The furniture is quite worn out and sticky, like some major scrubbing is required.  Pho Bo Ga La was never meant to be a high end gathering or chilling place.  Evidently, they positioned themselves to be a budgetized fast food restaurant.

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Well Done Beef, Slightly Fat Beef and Beel Ball Rice Noodles in Soup – Phở Chín Nạm Bò Viên (small, $9.00) is made as the name described.  Pho, a simple stapled street food option in Vietnam, has gained a tonne of popularity internationally.  Not only is it easy to cook, but also, with a lot of variations to differentiate it from one another.  For a small size, they offered a generous amount of ingredients, making the bowl of pho filling, very tasty and satisfying.  The broth was aromatic and sweet.  Bonus to not being salty and thirsty after the meal.  The beef was thinly sliced and had a thick layer of fat stuck to the surface, hence, it was very soft, but too well-done tough.  Meanwhile, the meatballs were quite tough, and chewy.  I felt like I was eating a rubber ball.  The noodles was al dente but a few strands that was undercooked.

The meal was quite decent and was more than I expected, though, I did not know if I had any expectations.  It was either overcooked or undercooked, but overall, it was decent enough for a fast meal.

Ratings

Food 3.25/5
Service 2.5/5
Ambiance 2.5/5

New Pho Bo Ga La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jim Chai Kee 沾仔記麵食

Address: 270 West Beaver Creek Rd, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3Z1
Phone: (905) 881-8778

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Found in the Jubilee Plaza on Highway 7 and West Beaver Creek is the two decade old Hong Kong style noodle shop, Jim Chai Kee Noodle Shop.  They have attracted many oriental clientele from the surrounding diverse neighbourhoods.  I was introduced to this eatery through a family friend twenty years ago.  Whenever I have a crave, you will find me slurping on the noodles from this noodle house.

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Even the interior is quite Hong Kong street food style, very simple and with hand written menu items taped on all the surrounding walls.  They do not have the grandest decor, but like a traditional Asian, the interior is rather practical and comfortable.  All of this is reflected on the pricing of the food, the amount of selection on the menu, self-serve service, and the length of time each customer spends.  As stated, everyone here speed eats and leave, or share tables with others for their meals and leave.  Practical!

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Classic Shrimp Wonton Egg Noodles 云吞面 ($5) was ordered.  The wontons were HUGE, packed with 2 shrimps and pork in a thin flour skin.  You have to take at least two bites to devour the beast.  I would like it if the wonton was a bit smaller because smaller portions make it more memorable and less hassle.  Nonetheless, the wonton was very tasty or flavourful and the meat was springy, not mushy nor lumpy nor overcooked hard.  Meanwhile, the noodles were al dente.  The noodles is well complimented by the red vinegar and the house-made chili oil, making the egg flavour in the noodles more rich.  Overall, an amazing bowl of wonton noodles.  My only complaint is the lack of the chive topping, which was substituted by green onion, making it less traditional.

Simple dish takes you a long way and brings many memories.  It may look simple, but making it is not.  The egg noodles are really made of a combination of duck eggs and flour, where you sit on the bamboo and “pat” the dough flat to incorporate the ingredients and rid of air pockets till it becomes thin strands.  In this day and age, the noodles are probably machine made.  Traditionally, wontons always paired with thin egg noodles.  However, you can switch the noodle to rice noodles, vermicelli or thick egg noodles, etc.  In fact, you can eat the wonton noodles with broth or without broth (usually a larger portion).  This is such a versatile stapled HK style food.  Customize it your own way!

Ratings

Food 3.5/5
Service 2.5/5
Ambiance 3.5/5

Jim Chai Kee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linda Modern Thai

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Address: 11 Karl Fraser Road.  North York, ON.  M3C 0E7 (Shops On Don Mills)
Phone: (416) 642-3866
Website: http://www.lindamodernthai.com/

The open shopping area of Shop on don Mills do not lack any forms of entertainment, high end shops, markets, cafes and restaurants.  There is always something for everyone.  Tucked within the multicultural shopping district is Linda Modern Thai, specializing in southeast Asian cuisine.

A very decorative front entrance already gives a strong cultural vibe and bond.  It was truly beautiful, as if I was walking down streets in Thailand or entering a temple.  This first impression allows the restaurant to develop like a shrine for food.

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Sure enough, as I was walking towawrds the table, I noticed an intricate Buddhist stupa in gold situated right in the center of the whole restaurant.  It was a beautiful ornate detailed attention grabbing artpiece.  All tables were arranged around the stupa, and every guest can view it at all angles.

Buddhism focuses on happiness at all times, wisdom, kindness, compassion towards every living being and the world.  Humble!  This centrepiece, though, is perceived as a blessing for continuous business growth, symbol of success.  A buddha’s existence, however, made me feel that everyone were at ease and behaved down to earth, polite, passionate and respectful.  It was a very easy going and comfortable atmosphere, filled with loud laughter and big grins on everyone’s faces.

Service was standard.  They did not do anything that was way out of their way to assist me.  I had to keep reminding them about my empty glass.  But all workers always had a humble, gratitude and happy expression.

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Royal Pad Thai with Shrimp ($18.00) is rice noodles stir fried with tamarind, fish sauce, wrapped in egg and topped with peanuts.  I have never seen a pad thai wrapped in egg, so this is a first and interests me.  You would have to slice up the egg into small strips to fully incorporate it within the noodles to fully enjoy it.  Otherwise, you would have to eat it like we did, egg sheet noodles, defeating the purpose.   A pad thai is a pad thai, even if the chef tried to spruce it up with egg coolness.  There really was nothing special about this dish.  I like how clean and dry the outcome was, but the noodles were on the salty side and interestingly, had some ketchup like flavour too, when it was not mentioned on the menu.  The pad thai does not seem as authentic and has more of a westernized twist.

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Green Curry Chicken aka Gaeng Klow Wahn ($18.00) was very aromatic.  The chicken was juicy and tender, but I wish they steamed it instead of grilling because grilling adds some charcoal flavour to the final result, making the curry not as pure or clean.  The green curry was still as fragrant and pungent.  It was spicy that my tongue was on partly fire.  The lemongrass and basil offset the hotness, and gave the curry a tart and sweet taste too.  Finally, the curry was very creamy from the rich coconut cream and milk.  I wish i had a second bowl of rice to soak up the essence of the sauce.  Green pepper and brocoli were used in the sauce, definitely compliments the green theme, but adding some other colour, like carrot, eggplant, or substitute yellow pepper, makes the dish look more colourful and cheerful.  However, the colour and appearance do not affect the taste and flavour of the dish.

The menu was reasonably priced, but I have seen cheaper and portions were very generous.  I would go back to try the curries and to experience the comfort, soft and meditating atmosphere.  The aromatic meal is having my stomach growl once again for more Thai food.  Almost time for a big shopping season! 😉

Ratings

Food 3.5/5
Service 3.5/5
Ambiance 4/5

Linda Modern Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sushitto On the Road (Food Truck)

Address: Downtown Toronto, commonly found on University Ave & College Street, Dundas St & University Ave, Royal Alexandra Theatre, Mel Lastman Square *Check their instagram for daily updates of location and time*  They will serve till Oct 31, 2016.

Email: sushittontheroad@gmail.com

Website: http://torontofoodtrucks.ca/sushitto-on-the-road-food-truck-toronto

**updates*  They have a permanent store now named Rollipub!**

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I finally got my hands on these sushi burritos, the first and original creative mobile makers of this snack in Toronto, before they wrap up and disappear for the winter.  After trying Rolltation, I really wanted to taste the founding fathers for comparison and ofcourse, to follow the trend.

Food trucks are short lived, finding its popularity throughout late spring, summer and early fall.  Once the weather starts dropping in temperature, turns cold and muggy to snowfall, these trucks find it hard to make business.  In fact, in the cold seasons, Torontonians like hearty hot foods to keep warm.  Hence, it is especially short lived with the cool sushi burritos.  Also, the expense in the long run to maintain the truck in the winter can not be covered by selling sushi burritos.

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They have a wide selection of burritos and sizes.  The cheaper prices reflect the half burrito size, approximately 6 inches.  Meanwhile, the higher prices reflect the full burrito size, approximately 12 inches.  Order appropriately.  There is always something for everyone.

On the left, lobster sushi burrito ($9) was made of tempura lobster, crab meat, cucumbers, lettuce, egg, avocado, fish roe and topped with a creamy mayo soy sauce.  On the right, spicy salmon sushi burrito ($10) was packed with cucumbers, lettuce, avocado and copious amount of salmon mixed in with a spicy mayo sauce.  They were packed with ingredients and were generous in size.  The seaweed nori was barely large enough to pack the ingredients.  If they were not held by the cup to keep its shape, they would have exploded and became a big mess.

Lobster Sushi Burrito: The lobster tempura was probably made before hand because it was a bit soggy from age and mosture of the ingredients, but, it had a flavourful salty tempura batter.  The crab meat was sweet, balancing the salty lobster and neutral flavours of the vegetables.  The roe, cucumbers and lettuce added a lot of crunch to each bite, quite captivating.  The avocado made the roll very creamy, a melt in mouth sensation.

Spicy Salmon Burrito: The salmon was very fresh and a nice grade of salmon sashimi, very smooth and soft; no tendon like bits to the body, making every bite very easy to digest.  This burrrito only had cucumber and lettuce, nonetheless, added a lot of crunch.  While the avocado complimented the spicy mayo, making the burrito very creamy and neutralized the spiciness a bit.

The flavours and texture of the sushi burritos were definitely better than Rolltation’s.  *Sorry!!*  The selection of burritos were better.  The flavours were far more distinct, rich or diverse and true to taste, also, had a much better texture.  The burritos were very clean to eat because the sauces were mixed into the ingredients.  By having the sauce mixed into the ingredients beforehand, made the flavours spread evenly across the burrito.  Out of the two ordered, lobster burrito won.

I thoroughly enjoyed eating them, to a point that, they were not enough to satisfy my taste buds.  Stay in tune because the owners announced a permanent store location.  For those who lucked out on the truck, the store will definitely fulfill your desire.

These sushi burritos, in reality, is a ginormous sushi roll.  There is still a lot of room for improvements and room for more creation.  A lot of variations can make this concept succeed.

On the side, because the idea should be a fusion between sushi and burrito, the appearance defintiely looks like a packed burrito but the ingredients do not.  This will be time consuming, but in my mind, maybe the rice can be ground finely to flour and make flat breads out of it, to give an appearance of a true burrito.  OR, the outer layer should be rice instead of seaweed.  For structural purposes, the cooked rice can be pan fried to give a crispy outer layer to keep the roll intact.  These are just some suggestions, if plausible.

Ratings

Food 4/5
Servicce 3.5/5
Ambiance – nothing to rate because it is a truck

Dayali 大鸭梨

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Address: 160 York Blvd.  Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3J6
Phone: (905) 886 – 9592

Dayali does not sell the typical Guang Dong type of Chinese cuisine.  Instead, they focus on the northwestern Chinese food, where more emphasis is put on meat, noodles, spices and crops that require less water to grow.  A corporate restaurant originated from Beijing decided to branch out internationally and Toronto was their first city opened outside of China.  There are two Dayali restaurants in Toronto, in Richmond Hill and in Markham.  Please be aware, this post is strictly on Richmond Hill branch.

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The restaurant has the grandeur of a typical Chinese restaurant, with hanging chandeliers and crystal ornaments, producing glistening effects on the walls and pillars.  It has a happy tacky appearance.  The white walls, beige faux wood porcelain tiles had a luminous effect on the space, while contrasting the shelves and chairs, making the outlook comfortable.

The brightness of the restaurant does not reflect the cleanliness nor service.  Feels like there is oil slick on every surface that my shoes stick to the ground whenever I walk, making squeaky sound.  The ventilation system is not strong enough, that I was inhaling the oils, air felt quite murky.

For twenty dollars, you can sign up for a VIP card to enjoy the cheaper prices on the menu, which is highlighted in red.  If you do not eat there often, then this VIP status is not worth it.  We did not get the VIP card, therefore, the prices reflect the original price, without discounts.

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Steamed Lotus Root Stuffed with Sweet Sticky Rice ($6.99) 桂糯米藕 is a warm appetizer that was sticky and sweet.  Glutenous rice is a very starchy rice that gives a thick gluey texture.  The rice was stuffed and filled the holes of the lotus root, thinly cut to give a moisturized chip thickness.  I can only imagine this dish is tedious and time consuming to make.  The lotus root was cooked until softened, then cooked briefly with the sauce.  The flavour was nothing spectacular, a bit sweet and somewhat conflicting, had a mixture of lotus extract, sugar and cooking wine.   The finished product was on the hard side.

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Hand Made Noodle ($6.99) 金牌手工粉 is sweet potato glass noodles in broth.  This was ordered because northern Chinese cuisine do not specialize in rice, since the environment is too dry and cold to cultivate rice, hence, they grow barley and crops to make noodles out of its extracts.  The noodles were al dente and was served in a MSG soy sauce flavoured broth, which was really salty.  The broth gave it a golden appearance, making the overall dish look appetizing.  The goji berries and chives topping acted like as a finishing touch to a painting, but sadly enough, did not do anything to the noodles.

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Sauteed Shelled Shrimp with Pear ($19.99) 虾 was a sweet and sour shrimp.  This was an extremely disappointing dish because frying the shrimp took all fresh flavours and bouncy texture from the shrimp, destroying the main ingredient in general.  In fact, deep frying the shrimps can disguise any lifelessness of the crustaceans.   The shrimps had a soggy texture.  The pears bits were also deep fried too, which tasted funny and weird, but the chefs hoped it can lock the sweetness.  In reality, the pears had no taste.  The sweet and sour sauce took over the whole dish’s flavour, lacking authenticity.  I would probably admire it more, IF, the shrimps were marinated in the pear’s puree juices.  How the dish was named did not justify what was served.

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Stewed Beef Brisket and Potato ($11.99) 土豆牛腩 was really fat.  The fat tissues were not properly skimmed off from the beef.  There was a shiny layer of fatty oil resting on the surface of the liquid and wrapped the potatoes, quite disgusting.  The beef was a low grade beef, as there was no meat flavour to it.  The sauce was a combination of minced garlic, cooking wine, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, MSG and water.  It was tasty overall, but really salty and thirst clinching.   For the individuals who like the salt will thoroughly enjoy the dish.  I can only say, I have had better.  

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Sauteed Home-Style Shredded Potato ($7.99) 土豆丝 was disappointing.  Though, I did like how the potatoes were thinly cut, which were obviously done by a machine to keep the consistency, but soy sauce being the main condiment made the dish very bland and lifeless and lacked character.  This is a dish that has many possibilities and yet, they chose a boring combination.  The potatoes did not feel starchy, and was very crunchy.

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Spicy Hot Pot ($11.99) 麻辣锅 had a lot of ingredients – shrimp, fishball, luncheon meat, sausage, lotus root, potato, bean curd, cauliflower, black fungus.  Basically, this is a randomly put together stir fry, where the food was sitting on a bed of oil, which was quite disgusting.  We wanted a spice or chili challenge amongst one another, and it was highlighted with a lot of chilies on the menu.  BUT, it was not spicy at all, that even the intolerable individuals were able to consume the dish.  The dish was heavily spiced with garlic and dried chili.  No other flavours were tasted, lacked dimension.

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Peking Style Roast Duck ($31.88) 北京烤鸭 had to be ordered because this is what the restaurant was known for.  The peking duck was the only thing that I thought tasted the best out of all that was ordered.  The meat was tender and each slice was evenly cut, with a bit of fat under the crunchy skin.  But, it was not worth the price.  Peking Duck was the last to arrive.  I had to remind the kitchen a few times that it was missing, and when they did serve it, they just brought a small dish of sliced duck to feed ten guests.  The proportion of the peking duck did not match the group size.  In general, there was no wow effect nor any bells and whistles to the dish.

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Duck Bones in soup (+$2.88 to the cost of roasted peking duck) was poorly made.  The soup was very salty and had no flavour.  The carcass of the duck was visibly there, but did not provide any fresh meat taste to the soup.  This was just a lazy water downed soup, where when the liquid runs low, pour in more water and vegetables to bring to a boil.  Besides, I felt like we got the bottom leftovers of the pot, because the ingredients appear aged.

In general, I was quite disappointed with the quality and service of the restaurant.  I definitely would not recommend the restaurant to anyone.  It was just not worth it.  There is better Chinese food around.  Quite a shame, that this is a chain store from Beijing, but lacked quality control.  I truly hope the restaurants in Beijing taste much better.

Ratings:

Food 2.75/5
Service 2/5
Ambiance 3/5

Dayali Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato