Canadian Chef Nick Liu on Making a World of Difference

By Stella Yu

Making a world of difference for Chef Nick Liu, Executive Chef and Partner of DaiLo in Toronto, involves bringing to the forefront untraditional wine and food pairings, specifically Asian food. Nick looks to change the world by pairing exquisite wines, such as Portuguese wines, and successfully matching them with the bold and complex flavours of Chinese cuisine.


Nick prepared one of DaiLo’s most popular dishes, the Mongolian Grilled Lamb Neck. Served with sambal pickle cucumber celery, chili, chive pancake, and hoisin, Nick paired the dish with a 2010 Douro.  Although he admits to be more of “a Vinho verde type of guy”, Nick explained that the bold, bright, and fruity characteristics of the Douro perfectly complement the grilled and caramelized flavour profiles of the braised lamb neck.

DaiLo is a restaurant that specializes in New Asian Cuisine and in its sixth month of being open has gained critical acclaim within the restaurant industry such as the top ten best restaurants in Toronto list, the top 100 best restaurant in Canada list and the top 10 new restaurants list by En Route Magazine.

Read all about Chef Nick Liu here!

What’s on the menu, chef?

I’m making one of DaiLo’s most popular dishes, the Mongolian Grilled Lamb Neck.


Which Portuguese wine or style of wine would you pair with the dish?

I’m pairing it with the Douro because the full-bodied wine has bright and fruity notes which I think would go really well with the grilled and caramelized flavours of this dish. This well-structured wine has a dense structure, a lot of juicy flavors and is made with one of my favorite grape variety: Touriga National.

 What’s your favourite childhood food memory?

My favourite childhood food memory would be making dumplings and noodles at my grandparents’ place. I would watch The Young & the Restless with my grandmother while making siu mai and wontons.

 What do you like to eat on your day off?

On my days off I really like to eat whatever my dad is making. If I’m not visiting my folks then it’s usually pho.


What is your favourite ingredient to cook with?

My favourite ingredient to cook with is probably fish sauce. I use fish sauce in almost everything! I use it as my main seasoning for roasting meats; what I would do is toss the meat in fish sauce and then deep fry it to seal in the fish umami inside the meat.


What is the one ingredient you can’t stand?

My least favourite ingredient would be dill.  I don’t mind dill when it’s with pickles but otherwise it’s too grassy.


What would be the one thing you would change about the way we eat in Canada today?

I think the thing I would change the most is to have more people eat Asian food. My goal as a chef is to have every single person in Canada eat more Asian food.


What does A World of Difference mean to you?

A world of difference means how I can change the world drinking a really great wine, such as a Portuguese wine, and matching it with something that is completely out of its element.  For example, it is very untraditional to be pairing a Douro with a Chinese dish but mixing it with all these Asian flavours end up working really well.


Are you more rosé, vinho verde, white, red, Madeira or port?

I’m more of a Vinho verde type of guy. It’s nice, crisp and refreshing, and I really think it goes well with everything.


Interview by Stella Yu

Stella Yu is a passionate food blogger based in Toronto. She describes herself as a food junkie with an insatiable interest and devotion to food. She shares her experiences with food on her blog, whether it be my dining out restaurant experiences in Toronto or abroad, or just her random thoughts about food in general.

Blog: Food Junkie Chronicles






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