Innovative Dim Sum at Mott 32 Hong Kong
Exceptional design, fascinating heritage-inspired theme and remarkable cuisine—describes the experience one will encounter at fine dining restaurant Mott 32. The contemporary Chinese hotspot is situated in the heart of Hong Kong’s Central and celebrates an enticing selection of delicacies from Peking duck to dim sum in an aesthetically-pleasing setting of symmetrical interiors and old-school décor. We visited the restaurant to try the dim sum dishes for a decadent meal out.
Behind The Name
Mott 32 is named after New York City’s 32 Mott Street, where the first Chinese convenience store (which opened in 1851) was situated—in what’s now known as the Big Apple’s Chinatown. Since its 2014 debut (by parent company Maximal Concepts), the restaurant has extended its outlets to Las Vegas, Vancouver, Singapore and soon Bangkok due to its invigorating success in its Hong Kong flagship.
A Dramatic Entrance
One of the most memorable takeaways from dining at Mott 32 is the exquisite interiors and the restaurant design, designed by renowned Hong Kong-based interior designer Joyce Wang. Nestled away in a generous space in the Standard Chartered Building, guests can expect a theatrical entrance to embark on. Walk down the striking, heavy-chained staircase as a prerequisite of what’s to come next, following through with its high-end, unique dining experience.
The restaurant prides itself on an east-meets-west concept which is so telling by its New York-style tall loft ceilings to the artistic graffiti-covered walls, showcasing icons like Anna May Wong—the first Chinese-American actress and a shifting nod to local pride and success. The more closely you peer around the décor, the more you notice, from the abacus on the ceilings to the traditional Chinese round tables, contrasting against some of the almost Gatsby features.
The lighting is dim yet ambient, which I prefer over some restaurants which overwhelm the setting with too-bright lights. Sounds of smooth jazz and Afro-soul fills the room to accompany the trendy, upscale vibe here.
It’s no question that Mott 32 never fails to surprise and delight one’s palette and knowledge in Cantonese cuisine. When done right, contemporary Chinese dishes can excel in taste using innovative techniques fused with traditional mastered recipes, for a cultural twist—without compromising authentic flavours. The restaurant invigorates in the realm of Chinese delicacies in a high-end setting, with the expertise of well-respected Chef Lee Man Sing (who used to helm Mandarin Oriental’s Man Wah kitchen and earned it two Michelin stars) and Maximal Concepts Director Malcolm Wood.
The menu is influenced by cooking techniques from around the world, but primarily focuses on Cantonese, Beijing and Szechuan cuisine in the signature dishes, using time-honoured recipes passed down from generations, mixed with modern inventions. Ingredients are sourced ethically and the restaurant uses organic and sustainable ingredients where possible, working closely with farms to ensure high-quality produce for its customers and ethical treatment at each stage of the cooking process. Another noteworthy feature— besides the top-notch service and unexpected flavour fusions—each dish is presented beautifully to further enhance the dining experience at this elegant eatery.
The Dim Sum Dishes
I had previously tried the Peking duck here, an immaculate shared dish, marinated for 48 hours before being brick oven smoked with Applewood and served with steamed pancakes and hoisin sauce (must be pre-ordered). As you can probably imagine, it was absolutely delicious and definitely one of the best I’ve tried.
This time we tried the dim sum selection, an indulgent assortment of some of the most iconic Cantonese specialities. We were greeted by our server for the seating and ordered Tie Guan Yin tea ($25HKD per person)—my usual order at yum cha restaurants. We started with some of the classics, first, the xiao long bao, reimagined slightly from its predecessor replaced with Iberico pork ($95HKD for four pieces), a hot soup dumpling boasting traditional Shanghainese flavours using higher grade meat. The Soft Quail Egg, Iberico Pork, Black Truffle Siu Mai ($70HKD for two pieces) was divine—the truffle flavour worked so well with the Cantonese fare and the melting quail egg yolk (when you bite into the siu mai) was a delightful surprise.
Deep-fried dim sum dishes can sometimes be a bit greasy—the Australian Wagyu Beef Puff ($78HKD for three pieces), however, was not. It was just the right amount of a crispy outer layer before munching into the soft Wagyu beef for a meat-lovers’ treat, and a slight east-meets-west touch.
Cheung fun is one of my favourites and a must for every dim sum order I make—we got the Matsutake Mushroom, Shredded Turnip, Bonito Flakes cheung fun ($118HKD), a vegetarian (except the Bonito Flakes on the top) steamed rice roll dish which offered the perfect combination of flavours for a contemporary twist on its original.
Our server recommended that we ordered the limited daily Barbecue Pluma Iberico Pork, Yellow Mountain Honey ($325HKD), a succulent and tender slab of pure traditional cha siu with a modern update.
The Pan Fried Turnip Cake, Dried Scallops and Japanese Sakura Shrimp, Dong Guan Sausage ($75HKD for four pieces) was probably my least favourite as I’m not such a big fan of seafood, yet it boasted authentic relishes from Chinese techniques.
For dessert, we ordered the Flaky Egg Tart ($65HKD for three pieces), which took twenty minutes to prepare, and understandably so—the tart was piping fresh from the oven and crust mastered. We also devoured the Fresh Mango, Coconut and Glutinous Rice Roll ($80HKD for four pieces) which had a Thai-meets-Chinese flavour.
It’s hard to find the right cocktail sometimes when you’re in a restaurant wanting to try something new—when it turns up too strong, sugary or has some liquor you’re unfamiliar with.
Fine dining restaurants usually combat this by providing quality drinks that leave you feeling satisfied with your choice.
I always like to try signature cocktails or restaurant specialties made in-house by the bartenders who know best. Here, we tried some of the Mott Signature cocktails which, no surprise, did not disappoint. I’m a big gin fan so I opted for the Joe’s Elixir, made from Tanqueray Gin, Chartreuse, Blackberries, Passion Fruit, Ginseng and Shiso—pretty much what I’d like to put in a drink if I were to be behind the bar. I also tried the Anna Wong, a cocktail of Tangerine Peel Infused Gin, Osmanthus Honey, Lemon, Egg White. It had a lovely sweet (but not too sweet) tang to it and was aesthetically very pleasing.
Memorable Classy Chinese Cuisine
Decadent dining at its finest, Mott 32 is a sophisticated restaurant worth the buzz since its debut. Dim sum and Peking duck are its signature and most popular orders, yet everything we’ve tried on the menu has actually been exquisite. The fine-dining property strays from some (arguably) predictable luxury hotel restaurants and instead leans towards a more cool atmosphere, concentrating on artistic flair and traditional-meets-modern interiors, marrying Eastern and Western influences effectively—a concept derived from New York’s surge of Chinese citizens moving into the city back in the 1800s. Expect top-quality, attentive service and delicious dishes in an innovative environment, one which will leave you wanting to come back time and time again.