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Mott 32: modern Chinese in downtown Vancouver with a knock-out wine list

September 20, 2018

The main dining area at Mott 32 Vancouver. 

 

I just had my first dining experience at Mott 32 Vancouver.

 

I know… It took a while. It opened in early 2017.

 

I admit it: I couldn’t bear the thought of stepping foot inside Trump tower, the building out of which Mott 32 operates. Aside from the lease, however, the restaurant is completely independent from the business that bears the 45th’s name, and deserves to be treated as such.

 

I have to say I was pretty darn impressed.

 

Owned by a restaurant group called Maximal Concepts, Mott 32 first started in Hong Kong and is soon opening locations in Bangkok and Las Vegas. It's named after 32 Mott St., New York City’s first Chinese convenience store, which opened in 1891.

 

It’s a gorgeous space, with several smaller rooms for private dining, designed by Joyce Wang. Metal, wood, woven cane, rattan, leather, and fabrics are used in bespoke chairs; coins embedded in the floor are a symbol of good luck; and there are references to Chinese imperial era and industrial New York. Then there are opium pipes, calligraphy brushes, and vintage bird cages.

 

The menu, with close to 140 items, is contemporary Chinese, mainly Cantonese but with some Beijing and Szechuan influences. The restaurant offers all-day dim sum, all of it made fresh by hand a la minute.

 

Just as the restaurant is upscale, so are the ingredients: Ocean Wise seafood, organic beef, Iberico pork... Its signature dish, applewood-roasted Peking duck, is prepared in a special oven that was brought in from Germany, air-dried, brined, and finally fan-dried to shrink the skin so it gets extra-crispy. The duck comes from Quebec; B.C. birds were considered too lean.

 

I was there to experience Mott 32’s new Express Lunch, a prix-fixe three-course meal for $29.

 Shredded Peking-duck salad, pumpkin soup with scallops, and hot-and-sour seafood soup.

 

Selections range from a rousing hot-and-sour seafood soup to wok-fried bean curd wrapped around carrot, baby corn, and wild mushroom. You can add two pieces of freshly made dim sum, like dumplings with Iberico pork and a spicy Shanghainese soup (that might squirt out when you bite in), for $6.

 

 Freshly made Iberico pork and Shagnhainese-soup dumpling.

 

What was especially interesting about this recent media visit was hearing about the wine program from Robert Stelmachuk, Mott 32’s accomplished wine director.

 

Formerly of Cibo Trattoria & Uva Wine Bar, Liberty Wine Merchants, Chambar, Market by Jean-Georges at the Shangri-La Hotel, and Le Crocodile, among other places, the advanced sommelier is breaking new ground and quashing perceptions. While it’s common to hear people don’t order wine at Chinese restaurants, he says that’s because people typically haven’t been offered wine at Chinese restaurants—until now.

 

The wine list has more than 450 bottles to choose from. Glasses start at $12, while three- or four-litre bottles are not uncommon for larger parties.

 

Stelmachuk likes including an educational component to his wine service, introducing people to dry rosés, not-too-sweet Rieslings, unoaked Chardonnays, and obscure, hard-to-find wines, like those form Uruguay and Turkey.

 

Pairing wines with modern Chinese fare is an adventure. Some of the beverages that go well with the food, Stelmachuk says, are Chianti, Champagne or anything sparkling, Syrah, beer (especially sour beer), apple cider, and sake.  

 

Beer here runs the gamut too, ranging in price from $9 to $88 per bottle (the latter being extremely rare finds).

 

“Mottails” can also paired with food; I love the growing trend of interesting zero-proof drinks, especially when they contain ingredients like yuzu, lychee, and Jasmine tea.

 

And at lunch, you can get Mimosa cart service and have the oranges juiced and the sparkling sipper made right in front of you.

 

Mott 32 is at 1161 West Georgia Street, in the you-know-what hotel.

 

PS: Check out this latte I had there!

 

 

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           Gail Johnson
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