For those not familiar with Mott 32, it is a renowned name in Hong Kong, specialising in modern Chinese cuisine. Slated to take over Nostra Cucina’s spot in Marina Bay Sands, be prepared for an unforgettable feast when it opens in January 2020.
Malcolm Wood, one of the three founders behind Mott 32 and restaurant group Maximal Concepts, shares that the restaurant is meant to be different. Mott 32 aimed to serve authentic Chinese fare together with impeccable design — radically different from what every other Chinese restaurant has to offer.
It’s a crucial detail that has led to Mott 32’s success in Hong Kong. Since its 2014 debut, the restaurant has expanded to outposts in Vancouver, Las Vegas, Seoul and soon Singapore and Bangkok.
Beyond the surface, the restaurant’s kitchen team is also working on new ways to invigorate Chinese cuisine. Wood, also an environmentalist and entrepreneur, is determined to merge sustainable practices with authentic recipes. Signature dishes, like Peking duck, smoked black cod and dim sum selections remain highlights here.
Details are still in the works, and Wood promises exciting things to look forward to. As Wood gets busy with the build-up to Mott 32 Singapore, we take some time to ask him about the Mott 32’s evolution and his plans for sustainable fine-dining.
What’s the thinking behind the concept?
We wanted to open a restaurant that served authentic Chinese food in a high-end setting, but that was also beautifully designed and boasted a world-class drinks programme. That was the gap that we identified in the realm of Chinese food and sought to fill it with what became Mott 32.
With all of our restaurants, we like to have a deep story around the brand and design. Mott 32’s name was inspired by the first Chinese grocery store opened in New York, in 1851 at 32 Mott Street. This street became the nucleus for what is considered Chinatown in Manhattan today.
How does Mott 32 rethink and modernise Chinese fine-dining?
There’s nothing like Mott 32 out there in terms of Chinese cuisine – we believe the combination and quality of our food, drink and wine programme, doesn’t exist elsewhere. We take our food and our wine list really seriously, too. That’s why we’re bringing this restaurant to different cities around the world.
At the time, it had never been done before – classic Chinese cuisine served in an environment that is a dramatic departure from the usual banquet-style settings, with white-gloved, white table cloth-style service. Great design combined with excellent Chinese food and a stellar mixology program – this combination is what makes Mott 32 unusual.
We were awarded the World Interior of the Year award at the Inside Festival in Singapore when we opened Mott 32 Hong Kong (in 2014). Design is a super important feature for the brand. We try to tell a new story with each Mott 32 and come up with a narrative – we like our concepts to be in-depth.
How are you planning to spruce up this dining environment in Singapore and Bangkok?
We are opening a Mott 32 branch in Bangkok just after Singapore and the colour palette of the restaurant is inspired by the natural landscapes of Thailand. We use a lot of natural wood and evoke a tropical, colonial vibe and also took inspiration from the local Chinese wet markets in Bangkok.
For Mott 32 Singapore, we drew a lot of our inspiration from the city’s botanicals elements of rich foliage and flora inside the restaurant, via illustrations on the chinoiserie backdrop, black and green terrazzo lining the floors, and hand-painted lanterns suspended along the perimeter of the bar amidst a green wall elevation. We have partnered with Joyce Wang again and are super excited to share the concept with Singapore.
You’re also quite a proponent of the sustainability movement. How do you try to tie in sustainability and fine-dining at Mott 32 together?
Sustainability is hugely important to us as a company. We try to look at sustainability as a whole, in the design, the materials we were using to the products that we are cooking with.
Localisation is key to the restaurant industry and we try our best to source as many ingredients as possible locally, but equally do a lot of research into finding suppliers who have above-board ethical and sustainable practices.
It’s very important to us to not only source quality ingredients, but also to secure suppliers who share the same ideals as us when it comes to ethical practices, sustainability and animal welfare. For example, you will never, ever see shark fin on any of our menus. We have never served it and never will.
Can you share with us a little teaser of the Singapore menu?
We’re currently in the development phase of the menu, which we’ll carry on with all the way up until opening. We’re testing dishes using local ingredients. As a sneak-peek into our Singapore menu, you can definitely expect to see a lot more seafood compared to our other venues, as we took into consideration the fact that Singaporeans really love seafood. We’ll also be adding some spicier dishes, and have a really exciting dim sum menu available at lunchtime. And of course, we’ll have a stellar wine list and mixology programme, as we do at all of our venues. I am personally really excited by what we have been testing out! We can’t wait to share what we’ve created with Singapore.
Mott 32 Singapore is set to open January 2020 in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
This story was first published in Lifestyle Asia Singapore