Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

A Hong Kong iced tea. Cute!

High end Cantonese cuisine is a perennial favourite for Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband. They happily toddle off to Melbourne’s Flower Drum twice a year to eat imaginative cooking that showcases some of the best produce Australia has to offer.

Hong Kong, of course, is the epicentre of Cantonese cooking. Diners are spoiled for choice but many of the more upmarket establishments considered among the best restaurants in Hong Kong looked a bit, well, stuffy. Greedy Girl had almost given up on the idea of a big night out when friend FullAsAGoog suggested Mott 32.

This restaurant can be readily and succinctly summarised. Wow.

In the basement of the Standard Chartered Building in Central, the restaurant isn’t particularly easy to find. To gain access, one needs to head up the stairs from street level to the main reception area of the building and then head down various escalators to this huge, dramatic and moody cavern.

The atmosphere is lively, fun and energetic. Despite the sheer size of the restaurant, the floorplan has been skilfully executed to divide the room into several zones.

After failing to secure a booking on the first attempt, we rang and asked to be put on the waitlist. Huzzah! A table was available, provided we could eat and run. Not a problem; we were still jetlagged so if we lingered anywhere too long there was a very good chance of falling asleep on our feet. And, of course, the nature of the cuisine is such that it comes to the table with breathtaking speed and efficiency.

Not having enough time to savour a bottle of champagne, we ordered cocktails. Gluttonous husband took a ‘Joe’s Elixer’ (their spelling) which appeared at the table in a heavy pewter frosted tankard, bedecked with blackberries. It was a very refreshing mix of gin, chartreuse, passionfruit, ginseng and shiso. Greedy Girl took the Hong Kong iced tea, presented whimsically in the cup with lid (see the picture above left). This was a rather addictive little mix of tequila, lillet blanc, blackcurrant and Jasmine tea – the sort of beverage that could seriously change my mind about iced tea if it was always as, ahem, potent as this.

But we were there to eat. There was a moment’s disappointment when we realised the suckling pig and Peking duck would not be available to us. We lived vicariously through the groups next to us and watched, salivating, as both dishes were skilfully dismembered and portioned out to the diners. We probably could have polished off a full portion between the two of us but there would have been no room to sample the other delights – and there were plenty of those.

Mott 32 is named after 32 Mott Street in New York City which, apparently, was the first Chinese convenience store in that fair city, opening in the late 1800s. The restaurant espouses a ‘farm to table’ ethos and the cuisine is overwhelmingly Cantonese with a few Beijing dishes and some Sichuan influences. The kitchen is headed by Michelin-starred Chef Fung and their extraordinary touch is evident with every dish.

The dinner menu is divided into various sections – barbecue, evening dim sum, bird’s nest, to name just a few. Like any sensible diner, we decided to start at the front and work through as much as we could. Who knows when we’d get back?

Our first request was for the crispy pork belly but there was a slight mishap; it wasn’t available so we decided we’d have the fire-roasted suckling pig with a delightfully crispy skin. Our waiter got a little confused; he instead brought us the barbecued Iberico pork with yellow mountain honey. The meat was beautifully flavoured and very soft but, of course, there was no crispy skin. When we queried the order, there was absolutely no fuss. They cheerfully replaced the dish. Greedy Girl only wishes she’d eaten more of the Iberico pork before the plate was whisked away. The replacement dish, however, was outstanding. It was worth waiting for that intensely satisfying crunch in the mouth. Delish.

Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

Barbecued Iberico pork

Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

Fire-roasted suckling pig

Next up was one of the ‘evening dim sum’ steamers – Kurobuta pork, soft quail egg and black truffle siu mai. OMG. Biting into these delectable little morsels revealed the rich and runny egg yolk and it was a sublime combination. The temptation would be to keep ordering these, but we managed to sustain a moment’s discipline to try other dishes instead.
Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

Kurobuta pork sui mai

Given we got our booking at the very last minute, we were too late to pre-order the apple wood roasted Peking Duck. We made do with a light and refreshing Peking duck salad with crispy chicken and almonds. After the richness of the previous dishes, this was a great foil for the tastebuds. The different coloured tomatoes exploded with flavour in the mouth and it was nice to have a touch of greenery.
Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

Peking duck salad

It was time for some seafood. First up was the dish pictured at the top of this blog, sizzling king prawns with black pepper and a garlic and soya sauce. You know you’re in expert hands when such simple ingredients combine perfectly in a dish like this. It was, possibly, the best prawn dish Greedy Girl has ever tasted. The smoothness of the garlic, the slight hit of salt from the soy, the touch of spice with the pepper and the satisfying crunch from a few spring onions thrown in for good measure all enhanced the delights of these plump, perfectly-cooked prawns. Hop a plane immediately to Hong Kong for this dish.

Whatever followed was always going to pale by comparison, but the wok-tossed rice noodles with Black Angus beef and wild mushrooms was also a very, very good dish, perfectly balanced with great textures.

Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

Wok tossed rice noodles with beef and mushrooms

We’d also ordered a scallop dish; when the beef came out first we thought they’d forgotten. It was, however, brought as our final savoury course. These were pan-fried South Australian scallops coated with minced prawns. The flavours were good, but it was probably a dish too far; it felt a bit heavy and the scallops were a little overwhelmed by the prawn coating.
Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

South Australian scallops coated in minced prawns

Done. Greedy Girl had moved on to a glass of champagne to help wash things down and was prepared to drain the last drops and give up our lease on the table. But, then again, when were we likely to get back here? We couldn’t go without at least looking at the dessert menu. And there we spied chocolate mousse coated in green tea. Greedy Girl has long enjoyed a cup of green tea to aid digestion but its use in desserts (the green tea waffles with black sesame ice cream at Nobu in Melbourne deserve an honourable mention here) is a fairly recent revelation for her. This was just spectacular. The coating was thin and crunchy and the addition of the sesame seeds was inspired. Inside, the chocolate mousse was dark, luscious and not too sweet. A perfect way to end our night.
Best restaurants Hong Kong: Mott 32

Green tea coated chocolate mousse

Mott 32 was arguably one of the best experiences Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband have ever enjoyed in a Chinese restaurant. The quality of the ingredients is obvious; the passion and flair of the chefs likewise. Who knows when we’ll be back again in this amazing city, but we’ll certainly be making a beeline to try more here.

Mott 32

  The Foodie World star rating

Standard Chartered Bank Building, 4-4a Des Voeux Road, Central

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