During my travels in Beijing I ate Peking duck pretty much every other day. We visited fancy restaurants specializing in the dish as well as run of the mill ones. When the BF’s mom made reservations to Dayali, a restaurant chain from Beijing known for their Peking duck, I had high hopes.

Atmosphere: The plaza where the restaurant is housed has limited parking. It was a little challenging to find a spot but I find that’s a common issue in Markham. The white walls, chandeliers and vases does provide an elegant backdrop. The decor felt like the owners were aiming for a clean look but the room is overcrowded with tables. With so many chairs, it was hard to get out of your seat. People were also crowded at the front of the restaurant waiting so it was a bit of a fire hazard trying to leave.

Service: Service at the restaurant was fine, nothing to write home about either which way. We did have the VIP card, which for $20, saves you about $2 – $3/dish. This meal alone we saved about $10 so just one or two visits makes the card worthwhile. Each dish arrived quickly, tea was refilled and we got the bill when we were ready. No real fuss. The servers did start clearing the table the second we stood up and reached for our jackets. I understand there’s a line but waiting a minute until we had walked away wouldn’t have hurt.

Food: For starters, we ordered the minced pork and scallion stuffed Chinese pancake and deep fried pumpkin battered with salted egg yolk. The pancake had a flavourful filling and was crispy when it was first served but did get soggy after a while from all the oil. The pumpkin was cut like fries and so sweet. It tasted more like sweet potato and the batter was dusted with sugar as well. It was still a good dish and a great serving size. I preferred the same dish from Chili Secrets, which was richer and thinner slices of pumpkin.

Of course we had to order a Peking duck. On this visit we went with the “normal” roast duck, which was served pre-cut with wrappers, julienned scallions, cucumbers and sauce. Next time, I’d like to try their “gold medal” roast duck, which comes with more  toppings, and is said to be a better duck. I wish they were clearer on what makes a “better” duck, guess we’ll just have to try it ourselves. The duck was good with a crispy skin and the wrappers were nice and thin. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever had but a solid plate.

Additionally for proteins we had the Szechuan style lamb and leek sizzling plate, and “Shui Zhu Yu” (water boiled fish). I loved the lamb. The meat was tender, gamey and was perfect with the leek flavour. Again the dish was heavy on the oil but that’s what made the lamb so flavourful. The lamb was my favourite dish of the night and with the VIP discount is priced at <$10.  At Dayali, the style of “Shui Zhu Yu” is with a clear oil bath, which looked far spicier than it actually was. Each piece of fish (I think they were basa fillets) was tender and I liked the plentiful bean sprouts at the bottom of the pot. Personally, I would’ve enjoyed the dish spicier but this version is more tastebud friendly.

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