21st Century Hong Kong Cuisine
Billed as a careful fusion of New York industrialism and Hong Kong imperialism, the eagerly awaited and highly anticipated Mott 32 has recently opened in Hong Kong.
This exciting new pan-Chinese fine dining restaurant and bar is located in the basement of the Standard Chartered Building on Des Voeux Road. Underground and accessed via an escalator or stairs, with a huge waterfall cascading down the side wall, the first thing you notice about this groovy downtown restaurant is the fabulous décor. It’s a place where 1920s art deco styling tastefully collides with ancient and modern Chinese sophistication.
This nouveau blend seems to work incredibly well, and sitting at the bar with a signature cocktail or bourbon on the rocks, it’s easy to close your eyes and ease back in time to imagine Mustache Pete or PG Wodehouse strutting down the stairs for pre-dinner drinks. With your eyes open, you see Hong Kong’s finest kicking back or dining in style after a day in the city.
The key designer, Joyce Wong, has created an airy central dining space centred on a custom-built architectural skylight inspired by the building it sits beneath. Radiating from the central core is the bar and five semi-private rooms, all designed and themed to reflect Hong Kong’s turbulent history.
Our favourite theme is the Tangerine Room with its symmetrical, almost metro station-like appearance. The relaxed ambience is created by lines of mounted Chinese paintbrushes, gorgeous low burnt umber lighting and a long narrow design. The large and comfortable coordinated cushioned seats are certainly a plus for a leisurely and long evening dining with friends. It is relaxed, easy on the eye and, like the rest of the restaurant, the service is tremendous.
As Joyce Wong says about the concept and design path, “We imagined its former life as a storage facility for family heirlooms forgotten by wealthy Chinese immigrants, and later as staff quarters for bank employees and guards. We imagined pieces of history left behind organically… The process of design was to unearth these clues layer by layer to expose an authentic narrative, so the final tableau tells a compelling story that’s not overly styled. The objects are clues to the larger political and social history of Hong Kong.”
If you are not sure what Joyce is referring to, then check out those propaganda scripts on the columns. Mott 32 is not just an elegant and stylishly fashionable Chinese restaurant, it is an education.
The pan-Chinese menu is a fusion of Cantonese, Szechuan and Beijing styles, ingredients and techniques. The restaurant boasts an extensive menu created by Executive Chef Mr. Fung, the former head of the two Michelin-starred Dynasty restaurant, along with Malcolm Wood.
Fung, regarded as one of Hong Kong’s most innovative chefs, says about the menu, “I aim to enhance the traditional flavours of Chinese cuisine with new pairings and by using only the finest ingredients.”
The portions are happily generous and the anticipated creativity and fusion experience is certainly there. The signature dishes of any chef of this standing are always going to be popular, and the Kurobuta pork sui mai with succulent quail egg centre, topped off with black truffle, was particularly so. But the impressive duck oven really grabbed our attention.
The custom-made oven and special air-drying duck fridge that accompanies it are central features within the restaurant and turn out delicious traditional Cantonese style and classic Beijing style duck cooked to perfection. If you want to eat this spectacular Beijing dish, please note it needs to be pre-ordered at least 24 hours earlier.
There is also a huge Dim Sum menu from which the Kurobuta Pork, Crab and Caviar looked exceedingly nice – oh and don’t forget that Black Sesame ice cream. Pure joy!
Unsurprisingly Mott 32 boasts an extensive range of new and old world fine wines ensuring a perfect pairing with whatever you might choose to dine on. The range of spirits too, gathered from all around the globe, is quite spectacular. As for cocktails, Mott 32’s mixologists have created an inspired and punchy menu featuring many traditional Chinese ingredients not usually associated with traditional cocktails. Ingredients such as osmanthus honey, jasmine tea, Szechuan pepper, five spices and goji berries are typical of the innovative approach.
The newly opened Mott 32 is currently, without doubt, one of the spots to be seen eating at in Hong Kong and is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.