A product of yet another culinary styling of Chef Nick Liu, DaiLo has earned its stripes as a Toronto crowd favorite. The restaurant’s menu has departed from the notion of courses for a focus on single, small, and large plates – perfect for sharing.
These shareables aren’t just tasty, they’re historic; while DaiLo’s offerings have been enhanced by Liu’s signature flair, they are dishes his Hakka ancestors have been eating for hundreds of years.
I had the chance to sit down with the Toronto hotspot’s manager, Trevor Chen. Responsible for staffing, events, billing, and spearheading the restaurant’s sake program – on top of his daily floor responsibilities – who better to give us a look behind the (delicious) scenes?
Jackie: How long has DaiLo been delighting the tastebuds of Torontonians for? What did you set out to achieve?
Trevor: We’ve been open for three years now. Our goal was to establish ourselves as a welcoming place. The way we’ve succeeded at this is by treating everyone like family – not just with our staff, but also extending this to our guests.
Jackie: It sounds like DaiLo is your home!
Trevor: Exactly. We want the dining experience at DaiLo to feel like you’re going to a friends or familys house for dinner. What would you expect? What would you want to do for your guests when they arrive? What comes to mind for us is genuine service and amazing food, gathering everyone together, so they can enjoy their night. Our guests get a huge kick out of it.
Jackie: And it sounds like you’ve succeeded with those goals – but the definition of success is different for every restaurant. What does restaurant success mean to the team at DaiLo?
Trevor: For us restaurant success is a product of our guests and our staff. Our staff really take the time to explain each dish, and our guests welcome that interaction. Guests light up when their orders are dropped off, and they take a vested interest in our food – from how it’s made to where the ingredients come from. This level of interaction and its result of both happy guests and staff are what define restaurant success for us.
Jackie: That’s awesome! No wonder DaiLo has become such a hotspot in Toronto. Obviously this success didn’t happen overnight – so on that note, what would you say was your biggest challenge when opening? What would you suggest to someone who’s about to open their first restaurant?
Trevor: Finding staff who believe in a project that hasn’t materialized yet. Before even opening, we needed a solid and educated team to help launch our business. They needed to take the restaurants ideas and concepts and make it a reality. Our opening team had so many passionate and smart individuals who all had a part in what we are today.
Jackie: Awesome advice. Thanks, Trevor!