Sherman's Food Adventures: Mott 32 (Dinner Service)

Mott 32 (Dinner Service)

It took me quite a long time before I went for Dim Sum at Mott 32, for a variety of reasons.  Then the pandemic hit and Mott 32 stopped operating.  That is why it took me until now to have dinner there (in addition to it not being the most cost-efficient place to eat).  I met up with the foodie fam to celebrate my birthday and why not go big?  In actuality, my birthday was 6 months prior, but due to Omnicron, things were postponed.  For those unfamiliar, Mott 32 is a high-end Cantonese restaurant that first opened up in Hong Kong in 2014.  Now they have locations in Vegas as well as the one here in Vancouver.

One of the things to have here is actually not on the dinner menu at all.  I've had the Hot & Sour Iberico Pork Shanghainese Soup Dumplings at their Dim Sum service before and indeed they are worth ordering.  Much like everything here at Mott 32, they are pricey, yet they are delicious.  Boasting a beautiful reddish orange colour, the dumpling skin was thin and delicate.  There was a slight elasticity which held them together when picked up; good mouth feel too.  Inside, the pork filling was tender and had a nice rebound texture.  The best part was the soup as it was classic hot and sour with an appetizing tanginess complimented by just enough kick.  Delicious.

So the real reason we were here is due to the Applewood Roasted Peking Duck.  Much like the versions found at Quan Ju De and Chang'An, it is priced around the $100.00 mark.  Unlike the ones we are familiar with at typical Chinese restaurants in town, there is only one course included (other courses are extra).  That one course is actually split into 2 with one portion consisting of some skin-only pieces with a side of sugar.   These pieces were crispy and the sugar accented the aromatic fattiness of the crispy skin.

The bulk of the Peking Duck was hand-carved into slices of meat with the skin attached.  There was more than enough for the amount of steamed crepes provided.  All the usual condiments were provided including scallions, cucumber and a slurry of hoisin and sesame sauces.  If I had to compare, I thought this was good but lagged behind the versions I've had at Quan Ju De and Chang'an.  The skin on the meat-attached pieces were not as crispy as the aforementioned spots.  On the other hand, the meat was succulent and delicious.  Loved how they added a piece of parchment in between each crepe.  This meant nothing stuck together.  The crepes were moist and had good elasticity.

Originally, we wanted to order their famous BBQ pork, but it was sold out.  As an alternative, we had the Crispy Triple Cooked US Black Angus Short Rib.  This was really good where the meat was flawlessly prepared.  All the best things about short rib were present in this dish including the butteriness of the meat and all the strong natural flavours as well.  As much as the meat was succulent and tender, it still retained a meatiness which had a nice mouth-feel.  The exterior sported a nice bark which was both flavourful and had a beautiful contrasting texture.  I found the meat itself to be mildly seasoned, but the residual sauce did add a good balance of tang, sweetness, pepperiness and saltiness.

My favourite dish of the meal was the Signature Maine Lobster "Ma Po Tofu".  One wouldn't think lobster and ma po tofu would necessarily belong in the same sentence, but somehow, this worked.  Normally, ma po tofu employs ground pork, but in this case, it was buttery bouncy lobster meat.  Now this dish can be as spicy as one desires, but they nailed the heat level here so that the lobster could still stand out.  As for the tofu, it was silky and soft.  The skill of the chef ensured that each cube was still intact despite the cooking process.  I definitely got the spice and aroma from this dish without having my taste buds blasted with one note.

Here we are again, going for the classic Sweet & Sour Pork with aged black vinegar.  Now I said classic, yet there was nothing classic about this dish.  With the addition of aged black vinegar, there was much more depth to the dish.  Moreover, the tanginess was less sharp having a smoother finish.  There was enough of that sauce clinging onto each piece of pork which kept the dish from being too wet.  The pork itself was juicy and tender with a light crispy coating.  Interesting the the fresh pineapple was served raw on the dish.  I enjoyed it, yet would've preferred it cooked with the pork.

We needed to get some veggies into the meal and therefore, we ordered another table favourite - Braised Eggplant with minced pork & chili peppers.   This couldn't have been prepared any better.  Although some pieces were on the mushier side, the eggplant still had texture and most pieces were mostly discernible.  It was the flavours that really stood out.  There was such an intensity to the sweetness without being sugary and the dish was bordering on being salty without being salty.  That requires precision and skill which was on display in this dish.  In addition, the spice was on point giving the dish a bite without being overwhelming.  So much balance here.

Now we also ordered the 2nd course for the Peking Duck which was the Fried Duck Rice.  Somehow there was a mixup because we waited about 20 minutes from the last dish. We had to finally ask where our rice was.  Now for a restaurant of Mott32's class and especially at their price point, we expected a bit more made of the wait/lost order.  To be fair, the service was excellent up until that point.  So I have no complaints about that.   The rice itself was rather bland and in need of more seasoning.  However, the textures were all there.  It benefited from good wok hei where the rice was nutty and chewy where the grains were completely discernible.  Wished there was more duck in it though.

Not sure if the comped dessert was an apology of sorts for the rice (or because we were celebrating my birthday) as we were presented with the Steamed Sau Bao (aka Birthday Lotus Buns).  Very traditional dessert that features steamed white bun with a sweetened lotus paste filling.  The bun itself was fluffy and light while the filling was sweet and almost creamy.  It wasn't overly sweet though.  Overall, the meal was pleasant with a few outstanding dishes.  Considering the high cost of eating here, I'm not sure if it was necessarily worth it.  Service was pretty on point (except for the rice mixup) and the decor is modern. Yet, if I was spending that coin again, I'd go back to iDen & Quan Ju De instead.

The Good:
- Some standout dishes
- Attentive service
- Modern decor

The Bad:
- That rice thing was not acceptable in a restaurant like this
- For this price, there is better



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