“I lived and breathed noodles and wontons, duck, all the traditions, sat down with Chinese chefs; I Google translated things,” says Nathan Grates, general manager for Mott 32 at The Palazzo. Grates spent seven weeks in Hong Kong immersing himself in Chinese culture and cuisine, in order to bring that knowledge back to Las Vegas to help launch Mott 32 a year ago. “I fell in love with the culture and I fell in love with the food—it was a beautiful experience,” he says. “And I came back and started doing what I love to do best, which is building a team.”

This isn’t the first restaurant Grates has helped open. The Michigan native has quite the impressive resume since moving to Las Vegas nearly nine years ago. He’s either launched or managed spots including Sage and Bardot Brasserie at Aria and Primrose at Park MGM. Along with two partners Grates has also contributed to the local Vegas industry by purchasing and resurrecting a classic city haunt, The Sand Dollar Lounge. “The Sand Dollar was my chance to help build Las Vegas culture … bring a sense of community,” he says. When Grates isn’t at Mott 32, you’ll find him enjoying a Miller High Life at his lounge.

But when at Mott 32, “I’m very hands on,” he says. “Last night I was washing dishes because we were busy.” As a manager he’s firm but friendly and stresses the importance of having a positive attitude. “There’s still so much opportunity to grow and learn,” Grates says. “I will never be complacent. … I’m still learning something new every day working at Mott. It’s not your typical fine dining—all the dishes are elegantly done but we create an environment to enjoy them that’s approachable to both Westerners and Easterners.”

Libation: Hanami

Besides enjoying a world-class menu in the opulent dining room, stop by Mott 32 for a hang in the swank lounge and bar area. You can order some tasty, handcrafted cocktails like the Hanami. The popular cocktail is a mix of whiskey, gin, Umeshu and yuzu liqueurs, lime juice and sugar syrup, all topped off with ginger beer and a garnish of shiso leaf and a chrysanthemum.