When you arrive at Mott 32, you may be hard put to conceal the squeal of delight that threatens to break out. The bar area here is pretty darned cool, with a design incorporating custom wallpaper, ropes, chains and nets hanging from the ceiling for larger parties, with tables surrounding the room in front of the large bar. It’s fabulous for getting a handcrafted cocktail with top-shelf ingredients, or a tasty beer, like the Hitachino Nest espresso stout out of Japan, prior to dinner.
That awed feeling continues through to the dining room, where the dark woods and Chinese-inspired décor make it seem you might be stepping into the set of an old movie. It’s a feeling that’s helped along by black-and-white movies starring the celebrated actress and fashion icon Anna May Wong, playing on several screens around the room. Several windows allow a peek into the kitchen.
But Mott 32 is far from a glimpse into the past; it is an energetic spot that draws diners for its mix of traditional and modern Chinese cuisine. From appetizers to desserts, you may recognize the names of the dishes, but the flavors and textures may be more nuanced than you have experienced elsewhere. Take, for example, the lettuce cup, something ubiquitous on Chinese menus, but available here on baby gem lettuce with black truffle and almonds, suitable for vegans and meat eaters.
Dim sum selections include Shanghainese soup dumplings, perched on small, lovely silver baskets, filled with trendy Iberico pork. Crispy, sugar-coated baked buns are also filled with barbecue Iberico pork. It’s not necessary to choose between them; get both or choose pork and black truffle siu mai.
The duck here is a signature item and is found throughout the menu, including in applewood-roasted 42 Days Peking Duck “Signature Mott 32 Cut,” on a Peking-style spicy crispy duck rack and in a shredded duck salad. But if duck isn’t your thing, no worries, try Wok-fried Maine lobster; the signature smoked black cod, which is covered in a rich sauce that will have you repeatedly dipping just one more piece; or the Black Angus beef short rib.
Vegetarians and vegans can indulge in numerous offerings as well, from the aforementioned lettuce cups to stir-fried Shanghainese noodles with vegetables, a dish that elevates the typical chow mein. Braised eggplant also finds itself in that elevated status and is silky-smooth, without the overwhelming oiliness you might find in similar dishes.
Although it is tempting to skip dessert after such a fulfilling meal, that would be a travesty. The Double Boiled Imperial Bird’s Nest Soup, with rock sugar or apricot seed juice, will fulfill your dessert desires for at least a year. But if you want to go for something a little less high-powered, order the coconut ice cream with pomelo and grapefruit, with honeycomb all around the edges. Oh, so delicious.
The Palazzo, 702.607.3232
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