“A restaurant is a thousand small elements that must come together in harmony to create a gastronomic experience that is unique to the restaurant and unlike anything previously known by the guest.” This is the ethos that inspires every dish, every detail, and every decision at North America’s first Mott 32 restaurant.
Like its predecessors in Hong Kong, Dubai, and Bangkok, the Vancouver Mott 32 is a fusion of ancient Chinese tradition and contemporary Western industrialism. Here, antique birdcages and genuine, iron mailboxes from an 1800s apartment rub shoulders with floor-to-ceiling stylized abacuses that create the ambiance of a corridor from the entry into the main dining area — an eye-catching, modernist visual to fulfill the feng shui requirement that requires a line of sight from front door into eating area. There’s an undeniable mystique to the ambiance, a sense of ancient magic connecting physical and spiritual.
Like everyone who is part of Mott 32, general manager Eric Yang is driven by a lifelong passion for fine cuisine that brings something fresh and hitherto undiscovered to the dining experience. As the first of 13 dishes that comprise this evening’s tasting menu arrive at the table, he explains how the restaurant focuses on farm-to-table ingredients that draw inspiration primarily from Cantonese, Sichuan and Beijing fare. The full menu offers 128 items, and over 60 percent of the wine on Mott 32’s extensive wine list is exclusive to the restaurant.
The presentation is flawless — artistry on a plate. This course includes Iberico pork finished three ways — as black truffle Sui Mai, in a hot-and-sour soup dumpling, and as melt-in-your mouth slices that have been marinated and glazed with yellow mountain honey and Hoisin sauce. The accompanying cold salad fans across a plate, paper-thin slices of translucent jellyfish marinated in black vinegar, spicy chicken seasoning, sesame oil, sugar and raw garlic — each bite yielding a tangy sensation with an intriguing crunch.
Six mains showcase the true depth of knowledge that resides in the almost 2,000-square-foot kitchen — a pristine area divided into dedicated Dim Sum, wok, and barbecue kitchens. Scallops, Maine lobster, an exquisite New Zealand lamb shank, dragon fruit, wok-fried broccoli with ginkgo and bean curd… every platter is an innovation, one that sommelier Robert Stelmachuk meticulously pairs with a wine that will bring out the full richness and flavour profiles.
Halfway through this course, a plate covered with a glass dome arrives tableside. Our ever-attentive server lifts the dome about an inch then drops it back three-quarters, and repeats the motion three times. A delicate cloud of white, fragrant smoke billows out around the plate until the dome is removed with a gentle flourish, revealing a tower of black cod encrusted with dark spices and meticulously stacked so the smoke swirls around and under as if it were clouds embracing a mystical mountaintop. This, Yang explains, is a Mott 32 signature dish that uses smoke from the osmanthus flower to give the fish its unique flavour.
The star of the three-way dessert course is two quenelles of soya sauce ice cream… a light taffy-coloured confection with a taste reminiscent of sweet caramel and sea salt. The sensation as much as the taste lingers on the palate.
As the remains of tonight’s feast are cleared away, one final experience awaits… a Hanami. One of the Mott 32 signature drinks, the Hanami blends Buffalo Trace Whisky, Tanqueray Gin, Yuzu liquor, and ginger beer into a sparkling cocktail with a dried chrysanthemum blossom reposing on a floating shiso leaf like a princess. It’s a regal ending to a magical evening — an event that perfectly achieved the goal of experiencing culinary elegance and grace that hints of the mystique, which will surely bring any who dine here back to discover new sensory experiences again and again.
Chinese Text by Zhao Wen English Text by Susan M Boyce Photos Courtesy of Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver