Not long after the successful openings of Fish & Meat and Stockton, Maximal Concepts has brought us yet another impressive restaurant. Mott 32, an enormous space in the basement of Standard Chartered Bank is Maximal’s first foray into Chinese cuisine…and they seem to have hit the nail on the head first time round!
The restaurant is named after 32 Mott Street, New York’s first Chinese convenience store, which opened in 1851 and marked the start of what soon after became New York’s vibrant Chinatown as we know it today. The restaurant itself encapsulates this blend of east and west with its industrial New York loft-style space decked out with traditional Chinese touches.
Even before you enter the restaurant, you’ll be impressed by the bold mirrored spiral staircase and industrial-style lights hanging from thick metal chains. Once you’re down in the basement and take a look around the 7,500 square foot venue, complete with a semi-open kitchen, custom-built duck oven and air-drying duck fridge, you will no doubt continue to be amazed. The room itself is beautiful and elegant, with tables spaced comfortably apart, whilst five private rooms, each more beautiful than the next, are tucked away in the corners.
The vast menu includes traditional Cantonese, Sichuan and Beijing dishes. What makes Mott 32 special, however, is that the ingredients are sourced from around the world, including nothing but the highest quality meat and seafood. There is inevitably therefore a modern twist amongst the classic dishes, once again blending that gap between eastern and western culture.
At lunchtime, Mott 32 offers a wide range of dim sum dishes. As these are ridiculously delicious, it is only right that four of them remain on the dinner menu. We began with the signature crispy sugar-coated BBQ pork bun, made with Spanish Teruel pork. The bun was everything a bun should be and more, filled with the most succulent, tender and deliciously sweet pork you could ever imagine.
Why order regular siu mei when you can have Kurobuta pork, quail egg and black truffle siu mei? I was advised to eat this as quickly as possible (it’s a good job I’m an amateur food photographer who takes only seconds to take a photo!), as the teeny tiny quail egg would continue to cook. It was, however, perfectly runny, bursting in the mouth and creating a medley of flavours that were at once both rich and delicate.
The South Australian lobster har gao with Yunnan ham was another fun take on the traditional version, the ham bringing its unique rich and savoury flavour to this luxury dumpling.
I tried one piece of the BBQ prime Iberico char siu at Mott 32’s opening party and I was immediately hooked. I knew I had to have it when I returned for a proper meal, and I was reminded of just how fantastic this char siu truly is. The slight char around the edges, the heavenly sweet, sticky yellow mountain honey glaze and, most importantly, the tenderness of this decadent cut of pork makes this easily the best char siu I have ever tasted.
I’m not normally a big sweet and sour pork fan, given that it is often unnaturally fluorescent and contains more fat and gristle than meat. I was told that this one would convert me, and I must say I was impressed. Since the quality of the pork gives it a strong enough flavour, doused in Aged black vinegar, instead of pineapple, this one is served with dragonfruit, giving it a lovely subtle finish.
The Australian Wagyu beef with Shitake mushrooms, Szechuan potatoes and baby leeks was fantastic. I loved the array of textures that worked together well, making this yet another standout dish.
The deep-fried prawns, pumpkin and salty egg was also impressive. Both the prawns and the pumpkin were cooked to tender perfection and were light and fluffy in spite of the batter, whilst the salty egg yolk gave the dish another dimension that deemed any form of soy sauce entirely unnecessary.
When eating Chinese food, I have not one, not two, but three stomachs; one is reserved for rice. Mott 32’s fried rice with pork belly is both decadent and delicious, meaning we ate almost every last grain despite the feast that had preceded it.
For dessert, there are classic Chinese options, or more modern ones, both prepared by different pastry chefs. We tried the green tea-coated chocolate mousse. I would never normally choose a green tea-based dessert, yet here the flavour was fairly mild, so it didn’t overpower the wonderful, rich, fluffy dark chocolate within.
Service-wise, there are still a few tweaks to be ironed out, but staff are attentive and friendly enough. Prices certainly aren’t cheap – you can expect to pay around $600 to $1000 per head, depending what you order. Take in the setting, the sheer quality of the ingredients, not to mention the skill in which they are prepared, however, and these will outweigh the cost of the bill. My only issue is the allocated seating times, meaning you are kicked out at a certain time to make room for the next batch of diners; but then again, everyone should get the chance to try this delicious food, so if they can get more people in on one night, then so be it. I’ll definitely be back to try the roast duck.
Standard Chartered Bank Building
4-4A Des Voeux Road Central
Tel: +852 2885 8688