The much-anticipated Chinese fine-dining concept Mott 32 Singapore launched early this year at Marina Bay Sands. It is the first Asian outpost since the original opened in Hong Kong in 2014, and the latest in a series of launches in Las Vegas, Seoul, Vancouver and soon Bangkok.
Mott 32 Singapore offers refined regional Chinese cuisine paired with a bar programme which boasts innovative cocktails and an extensive wine collection. The suitably dim-lit space offers an intimate dining setting while simultaneously being vibrant and energetic, with wafts of mysterious smoky aromas which permeate the restaurant from time to time as well as various table-side food presentations which invite photographic activity and pique interest from nearby tables. Joyce Wang Studio, who designed the Hong Kong location, retained the Oriental DNA and spirit of the original restaurant (think apothecary drawers, hand-painted Chinese lanterns and a pagoda-esque canopy above the main dining area) while also creating a botanical landscape – comprising floral centrepieces, planted walls and pale mint sofas – which pays tribute to Singapore’s reputation as a garden city.
The restaurant offers a bar and lounge area near the entrance for those seeking casual light bites and tipples as well as various types of booth seat arrangements alongside communal and private dining options catering to your specific needs.
From the Evening Dim Sum section, my favourite was the South Australian Scallop, Prawn, Hot & Sour Shanghainese Soup Dumplings, which managed to encapsulate the ubiquitous hot and sour soup experience in an unexpected fashion. While the filling of the Signature Crispy Sugar Coated Peking Duck Bun was a mere doppelgänger of its porcine contemporaries, the bun itself was delectably crusty and marvellously fluffy. I would not return for the Soft Quail Egg, Iberico Pork, Black Truffle Siu Mai, which seems to have neglected its marquee star in favour of showcasing the celebrity cameo.
The Lunch Dim Sum menu is significantly more extensive, featuring options such as Traditional Iberico Pork Shanghainese Soup Dumpling, Spot Prawn with Iberico Pork and Flying Fish Roe Siu Mai, Lobster Har Gow with Yunnan Ham, Garoupa Dumpling with Chopped Chili and Pea Sprouts as well as Australian Wagyu Beef Puff.
One of Mott 32’s most fabled dishes is their Apple Wood Roasted 42 Days Peking Duck “Signature Mott 32 Cut” which headlines their BBQ section. Part of the dish’s preparation process is the placing of a 42-day-old duck in a refrigeration system custom designed to recreate Beijing’s climate for the fat layer within the duck skin to develop a crystal-like consistency, after which the duck undergoes a unique marinading technique before being roasted for 24 hours using apple wood. The titular “cut” refers to an age-old cutting technique which is said to ensure the duck’s natural juices remain locked in.
The duck meat performed its expected duties with a certain routine professionalism, albeit lacking the delectable oily lushness of those at places such as Imperial Treasure Super Peking Duck. However, there are commendable aspects, one of which being the thin and supple pancake crepes which exhibited a remarkable resilience throughout the self-packing process. The duck skin itself possessed a distinctly fattier underside than usual, going wonderfully well with the accompanying brown palm sugar and hoisin peanut sauce, the latter being served by way of a hypnotic and masterful swirling table-side presentation.
Another Mott 32 signature is the Signature Smoked Black Cod, which played it all fish bak kwa in its brand of deeply smoky sticky sweetness.
In terms of meats, the stickily sweet Crispy Free-Range Chicken, Moutai was essentially a smokier Three Cup Chicken, while the indulgently rich Crispy Pork Rib, Red Beancurd clung onto its smoky inner heat with a certain hawker uncle stubbornness. The Barbecue Pluma Iberico Pork, Yellow Mountain Honey is recommended, being a sweet, luscious blend of moist, meaty chewiness and squiggly fattiness. Those seeking an elevated dose of bovine pleasure can go for the Japanese Wagyu A5+, Grilled Leeks, Homemade Black Bean Paste, Garlic Chips and the Stir-Fried Australian M9 Wagyu, Baby Leeks, Chili.
Given Hong Kong-born chef Chan Wai Keung has a reputation for excelling in Sichuan cuisine, it was natural that several of the menu highlights possess a strong Sichuan influence. The Signature Lobster “Ma Po Tofu” gives the humble tofu classic dish a Crazy Rich Asians twist, substituting minced meat with diced mushroom and succulent lobster chunks which artfully straddle the line between teeth-pleasing buoyancy of crunch and seductive mushy softness. The Poached Garoupa Fillet, Szechuan Pepper Broth channels rich, collagen-laden fish soup in its tantalisingly numbing and peppery agenda, with the garoupa fillet slices being large enough to completely obscure the contents of my bowl of rice. Even appetiser staple Cold Free-Range Chicken, Szechuan Peppercorns, Chilli Sauce was a winner, with the aromatic and teasingly numbing chilli oil giving a richness of life to the cool, tender chicken slices.
Spice phobics will be pleased to learn that the Sichuan leanings in play are tempered for an international audience, so no scalp itching and sweat beads are in the cards.
Those seeking a carbohydrate centrepiece have options such as Signature Lobster Fried Rice, King Oyster Mushrooms and Edamame, Fried Rice with Diced Prawn, Iberico Pork and Asparagus in Yeung Chow Style as well as Shanghainese Noodles with Dried Shrimp Tossed with Scallion Oil and Inaniwa Udon with Fish Maw and Shredded Free Range Chicken to choose from. The claypot-based and feel-good greasy Alaskan King Crab Casserole with Crab Roe and Vermicelli provided a textural playfulness courtesy of the crab roe while the robust Scallops, Prawns and Crispy Rice in Fish Soup offered the wholesome comfort of a loving grandmother’s warm embrace.
Both Western-style and classic Chinese desserts are available (sample: Rose & Valrhona White Chocolate Pannacotta, Lychee Sorbet, Raspberries and Double Boiled Imperial Bird’s Nest Soup, Rock Sugar). While the Bamboo Green Forest from the Western side of things (yuzu cream, yoghurt and lime sorbet, matcha sponge cake, crispy yoghurt and white chocolate bamboo) ended the meal on a visually arresting note, I much preferred the Sweetened Guava Soup, Sago, Pomelo, wherein the cool, creamy guava fleetingly makes you forget your life-long memories of its mango predecessor.
In terms of the bar programme, the restaurant menu comprises innovative cocktails inspired by Asian ingredients and culture. Many of the Hong Kong restaurant’s signature cocktails such as the Hanami (rye whiskey, gin, umeshu, yuzu, shiso, ginger beer, chrysanthemum) and Forbidden Rose (vanilla infused pisco, passionfruit, lychee, chilli, lemon, egg white) make an appearance, while also introducing Singapore exclusives such as the easy-drinking Velvet Crane (gin, rose, pistachio, yellow chartreuse, egg white) and the Harbour Dawn (butter washed vanilla rum, coconut, pandan, almond, verjus, champagne), which plays it all lollipop sugariness meets Singapore tropical fantasy. Lovers of savoury cocktails will enjoy the refreshing Secrets of Xi’an (Scotch whisky, Hong Kong Baijiu, green apple, miso honey, cucumber, plum salt), while the most adventurous of cocktail drinkers can experience the mushroom-laden Oak & Ash (bourbon, shiitake maple syrup, sesame butter, walnut).
My favourite was easily the smooth Fujian Negroni (amaro, Aperol, ginseng, Lapsang Souchong tea, Sichuan pepper), which reels in the sweetness and injects a husky tea-driven bitterness to the proceedings.
While the pricing of some of the dishes here would likely make them one-time extravagances (ordering the S$106 Lobster Mapo Tofu and S$98 Poached Garoupa Fillet, Szechuan Pepper Broth required the gathering and assistance of three other friends who could help shoulder the costs involved), the overall Mott 32 Singapore experience was undeniably memorable and enjoyable, and I would certainly be back for their more affordable dishes such as the Cold Free-Range Chicken, Szechuan Peppercorns, Chilli Sauce and Barbecue Pluma Iberico Pork, Yellow Mountain Honey as well as to try their extensive daytime dim sum experience and affordable lunch set menus ($32++ and $38++ options are currently available).
Mott 32 Singapore
2 Bayfront Avenue, B1-42-44
Galleria Level The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands