At Mott 32, it's all Instagram-worthy
Entering the expansive Mott 32 space at The Palazzo is a transportive experience, one that whisks you away to the bustle of illustrious Hong Kong. A mural of Anna May Wong, widely considered to be the first Hong Kong-Chinese American actress, adorns the main restaurant wall and overlooks diners partaking of the upscale-yet-approachable cuisine at the first Mott 32 location in the United States.
The menu at the Palazzo restaurant is a mixture of traditional Cantonese offerings and riffs on classic presentation. Garlicky, salty marinated cucumber awash in soy sauce and lightly fried crispy squid dusted with salt and pepper squarely represent the former, while wok-fried sliced scallops adorned with black truffle and the inexplicably airy-yet-hearty Australian wagyu beef puff are the latter. All are worth trying in your trip through this cuisine.
But a visit to Mott 32 is incomplete without sampling its famous applewood-roasted 42-day Peking duck. Preparation begins with the brick-oven smoked duck being carted to the table prior to surgeon-like tableside carving. In the meanwhile, with a flick of the wrist, hoisin entrancingly swirls with peanut and sesame sauces. The sauces, along with cucumber and scallion, garnish the steamed pancakes with which you wrap the fowl.
Nosh Mott 32
The crispy skin is served first, intended to be finished with a sprinkle of brown palm sugar, while the remainder of the fowl is thinly sliced, awaiting assembly in a manner reminiscent of tacos. But these are unlike any tacos you’ve ever had, crispy skin affording a contrast in textures with the hoisin providing a foil to the rich meat. It is a delectable destination dish.
While sights shift to the ornate procession associated with the Peking duck presentation, the opening of a signature smoked black cod beckons another of the diners’ senses: their smell. The fatty fish arrives underneath a smoking dome from which, upon opening, the fragrance of hickory wafts into the room. The cod itself is lightly battered and fried, sauced with a hint of sweetness contrasting the smokiness. If there is another must-order dish at Mott 32, it’s this.
Prized Ibérico pork, widely recognized as some of the best-tasting swine in existence, is given its rightful spotlight. The barbecue pluma Ibérico pork, a highly marbled cut from the end of the loin, is fatty with crispy skin, the perfect outcome for any good barbecue. It is finished with a drizzle of Yellow Mountain honey, providing a foil to the pork’s richness.
Ibérico also takes a starring role in a pair of Shanghainese soup dumpling presentations: a traditional and the hot and sour rendition. The former is a straightforward, savory presentation of the soup dumpling, better known as xiao long bao, while the orange-tinged latter delivers a satisfying hint of heat. But take heed when eating either, as you don’t want to lose a drop of the flavorful broth encased within the tender dumpling skin.
Wash it all down with The Hanami cocktail. Citrusy yet boozy, it is served in oversized stemware apropos of the drink’s flavor-forward complexion, consisting of a melding of Asian ingredients such as umeshu (plum wine), yuzu and shiso. One can imagine Wong herself having one while enjoying the Mott 32 experience, dining on the food of her heritage in the country of her upbringing.