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Mott32, La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs

Tonight we were gathered for the latest La Chaine meet up. The Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is the oldest and largest food and wine society in the world, and I just happen to be a member of the Vancouver chapter.

I have been to Mott32 recently, the visit was with a group of fellow, long standing food bloggers and writers, and the majority of us walked away from the experience with a sour impression. I myself, declared that I would not be returning to the Chinese fine dining restaurant, deeming it on the unnecessarily expensive side for what we had. But here I was tonight, eating my words. Although if I had to return, I am glad it is with this group, as I found the experience more enjoyable given the service the staff bestowed on us and the time they took to explain each dish: what went into it and how you would eat it. This made a difference to the meal and my perception of it.

Similarly, we had our meal with drink pairings today, and good wine usually improves my mood. Whereas previously I did not want to indulge past $150 per person for a shared banquet meal, so had a dry dinner. And this made all the difference. The restaurant’s wine directory took an active role, personally curating tonight’s wine selection. He was proud to state that this dinner would feature a very a different kind of wine pairing with dinner. That there are rules to drinking, like white before red, but that only gets you to a certain point, and he is taking us on a journey, to the next level. He did not exaggerate on this promise.

Due to space limitations, we forgo-ed the typical La Chaine sparkling wine and hors d’oeuvres reception with our inability to be seated privately in a room. So, our meal began with the sparkling we would have but as a lambrusco. Medici Ernete ‘Quercioli Reggiano’ Lambrusco NV -Emilia Romagna. It was a great way to have your red, but more effervescent and lighter. A perfect pairing for our first course of small bite, meaty, dim sum appetizers.

We were assigned seating and our table was luckily enough to have its own lazy-Susan build right into the table. A metal round that you could spin in order to easily access dishes and sauces without the need to reach over someone else. A very helpful fact in that all the dishes to come were served to the group family-style for sharing.

The Pork Belly Roll was a nice, all-encompassing one biter. Fresh and salty with Cucumber, Spring Onion, Garlic, and Soy Sauce. The fattiness of the pork coupled with the sweet soy was tasty and balanced by the fresh vegetable for a great mouthfeel.

The dumplings are a couple of the priciest I have tried. But both are admittedly delicious, and you can taste the quality of the ingredients used. But on the steep side for a small plate. This is definitely something you order when you want to indulge. The Soft Quail Egg and Iberico Pork Black Truffle Siu Mai was an elevated take on a classic dim sum staple. It had more of the same tender fatty pork meat as above, but with the hidden surprise of a melty quail’s egg at its core. Thankfully we were given a warning before biting in as it was hot to the centre.

And if you are going to have dim sum at Mott32, you cannot walk away without trying their signature Hot & Sour Iberico Pork Shanghainese Soup Dumplings. Each dyed orange dumpling is served on its own bamboo carrier for easy serving, and to ensure that none of that zesty soup filling goes to waste. This is a different kind of XLB with a more explosive filling, bold with spicy and tangy seasoning. Once again, it is questionable if you want to spend this much for a small plate, but it is worth trying to say that you have. Having tried it twice now, it is nothing I crave. I prefer the regular XLB and to be able to order a whole serving to myself without breaking the bank.

Our next course/round was paired with the Trimbach Weinbaum Sylvaner 2021 – Alsace wine, which delivered on our wine director’s promise that it would work well across all their food. A sweeter, juicier white with floral undertones.

The Signature Smoked Black Cod was served in a cloche-d clay pot and came with a smoke show. The lid was removed ceremoniously with flair as the smoke wafted and dissipated into the air. The smoke gave the dish a burnt scent, but the deep-fried pieces of cod were prepared perfectly firm and crispy. It is not often or at all do you see black cod prepared this way. Chewy and tender with crispy edges and a caramelized coating. Here, the wine helped to open and balance out the dish. As is and as a single serving I would have found it too starchy, rich and overwhelming without the wine to wash.

The King Prawn with Black Pepper, Garlic, and Soya Sauce was a nice dish. I did not know King prawn was a thing and how big and juicy they could get. The dish tasted as expected until you hit a green peppercorn and it changed the flavours on the plate and the experience of your mouth.

The Whole Leopard Coral Garoupa was an impressive dish, traditionally steamed and dressed in Red Dates, Mushroom, and Pork. This was a sweet and salty soy-based sauce I was familiar with and a preparation of fish I am used to. However, here it felt dressed up. Refined and neat on the palate, it ate clean. And in dining with non-Asians, it meant I was able to eat the prestigious eyeball and graze the tender cheek meat of the fish without issue or the need to bow out for the more senior members of family.

For our meat course we were given a look at Mott’s large format bottled wine program. I was not aware that they specialized in this, until today. The Casteilodi Querceto Chianti Classico 2015 from Tuscany was poured from a 5 litre bottle. And this is not even the largest that they have in stock. Eight levels underground, in a temperature-controlled cellar lives a 12 litre bottle of wine that requires a dolly to move about. Unfortunately, they do not give tours of this space as it is not adequately insured. But to be able to now imagine it in my dreams is something else. As for what was poured out before us. This was a warming red with little tannis and a tart finish.

And you cannot have a feast at Mott32 without ordering their signature Peking Duck. As described on their website “Mott 32 “Signature Apple Wood Roasted Peking Duck” smoked with sweet aromas of dried Apple Wood… We carve using a unique technique that locks in all the juices developed by our founders making it a true feast fit for royalty as it was intended.” Due to the time it takes to prepared, it is only available with advance notice when you make your reservation. It promises to feed 3–4 guests, where your ordered duck is freshly roasted upon your arrival.

From our table we were able to steal a look at the roasted ducks in wait within the fire roasted oven. They were left hanging with their jus dripping ever so succulently off their evenly golden browned skin.

Each whole duck is then carved table side as a show of skill and a way to prove that you are getting everything from off of it, starting with the skin. Duck skin sliced thin, with the layer of fat skimmed off is a delicacy. It is eaten as is with a dip into sugar. This practice originated from a Chinese opera singer who was worried about the heat of the meat ruining her vocal cords, so hoped to dull any negative effects it would have with a gentle coating of sugar. The result, a sweet and crispy, fatty and sweet start to our meat course. I have had this a couple of times now and have yet to enjoy the taste or the texture of it. However, I continue to consume it as to not waste the amount I spent on the experience.

I prefer the classic duck breast self-wrapped into a pancake with the provided steamed to order rice paper wraps, thinly sliced cucumber and scallions, raw cane sugar, and house-made special hoisin sauce. The breast meat was sliced so uniformly thin, I found the need to have 2 pieces per wrap to note any flavour from it. Other than that, this is a fan favourite dish for a reason.

The Triple Cooked Black Angus Short Rib was just as I remembered it. It was just as good today as when we had it before. Fatty and tender with a stunning presentation of evenly sliced meat, balancing on bone. I just would have liked a side or starchy base to enjoy with it, to make it more into a meal.

The Sweet & Sour Pork with Tropical Fruit and Aged Black Vinegar was a lot tougher than I remembered it. Hard and chewy, more fibrous bites than the fatty ones that I regularly associate with sweet and sour pork. Even the pineapple chunks was hard in this. At Mott they typically use dragon fruit, but we were informed that the season was not great this year so pineapple was the fall back.

For our vegetable course the wine pairing was the Boyer de Bar Sauvignon Blanc 2022 – Languedoc. Like the food, we would lighten up with white to end on. The white’s sweet and fresh nature helped to balance out the savoury and peppery greens, bringing us right to dessert.

The Pea Tips, Fish Broth, Goji Berry, and Lily Bulb dish was not my cup of tea. A soupy mix of wilted greens, with a slightly acrid bitter vegetable taste. This is not something I would normally pay $42 for.

I preferred the gai lan for their firm and crunchy texture instead. Wok Fried Gai Lan with Shrimp Paste & Pork. Crunchy green vegetable stems flavoured heavily in garlic. Not something I would have as is, and better suited as the side I wanted with the meat course above.

And in case you were still hungry, the Mixed Seafood Fried Rice was the last dish of the night and a fulsome one to ensure each guest left feeling full. Crispy fried rice with a Golden Canopy of fragrant scallions and black garlic. The dish had a great char and is flavourful on its own, but would have been better served as a base for some of the tastier marinaded meats above.

I expected more pageantry from the dessert, as this was something you could get from a local tea or bubble tea shop. This was the common and simpler Mango Soup with Pomelo and Grapefruit. It was classic and traditional but lack lustre by comparison to everything else. Although in retrospect the entire dinner felt like a downward transition where you got the greatest hits to start and the rest blurs together.

In closing, without the reception component and the restrictions placed on drink refills, I continue to feel that I am not getting my full monies worth with Mott32 tonight. However, at least today the experience and service were more in line with what I expected from such a fine dining restaurant. I will continue to only indulge in my fine dining impulses with la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Vancouver, as the cost is more in level when I do.

Mott 32 Vancouver
1161 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 0C6, Canada
+1 604-861-0032

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