Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mott Street

I previously mentioned Ruxbin, the tiny and much lauded BYOB that serves upscale American food with an Asian spin.  The people behind Ruxbin decided to open another restaurant nearby that focuses on Asian street food and has a full bar.  Unlike Ruxbin, it does take reservations, although they are limited to allow for more walk-ins.  Having really enjoyed Ruxbin, I was eager to try out the proprietors newest incarnation, Mott Street, and decided to go for dinner recently.  I went during a peak period without a reservation and while it was pretty busy, there was a seat available at the bar which was where I sat.  The restaurant is a stand alone building on a busy street.  By the shape of it, I would guess that it originally started out as a Pizza Hut.  It has a large patio off to one side and you have to enter the patio to enter the restaurant.  Inside the restaurant is a short hall leading to the hostess' station with the tables and bar off to the left.  The bar is long and on the left with tables along the windows to the right.  Past the bar, there is some booth seating on the left.  The ceiling is unfinished with exposed supports under what appears to be a tin roof.  All of this is painted white.  The lighting is hanging and appear to be Chinese lanterns.  The seating for the bar is tall metal-framed chairs painted white and the bar itself is light colored, finished wood.  I actually like sitting at the bar (if the bar offers all of the service and the full menu of the restaurant) because I get to see the restaurants liquor collection and also see what they use in their cocktails.  Mott Street has a pretty extensive selection of top shelf liquors and they also use Jeppson's Malort in a couple of their cocktails.  For their food menu, Mott Street does a spin on Asian street food and provide you with chopsticks with which to eat.  They will provide regular silverware if asked or if they notice someone having trouble.  I am not an expert with chopsticks but will try to use them if they are provided to me and the chopsticks provided seemed to be easier to use than others that I have used in the past.  For my first course, I had a Chicken and Candied Shrimp Salad with Peanuts, Thai Basil, and Bean Sprouts.  The chicken was shredded but not pulled and the pieces were big enough to be easily handled with chopsticks.  The candied shrimp were very small and were candied with the shell on.  As the shrimp were very small, they would have been very difficult to peel but the shrimp were meant to be eaten whole.  They were sweet and spicy (they were also cooked in a red pepper oil) and were so mild in "shrimp" flavor that I ate a few before I even realized that they were shrimp.  The peanuts, basil, and bean sprouts provided complementing flavors and textures.  Everything tasted very good and went together well.  The first dish boded well for the rest of the meal.

For my next course, while I was tempted by the crab brain fried rice, I noticed while I was looking at the menu that most of the main courses either featured chicken, seafood, or pork.  I had already had the chicken and the seafood with my first dish so I decided to go with the pork which I also knew wasn't going to be a challenge for me because I like pork.  I ordered the Chili Marinated and Grilled Pork Jowl with Sesame Leaf and Tofu.  A small salad of Radishes and Asian Pear was served on the side.  The jowl was sweet, spicy, and fatty.  It had a flavor similar to spicy bacon but it wasn't quite as "bacony".  The radishes and Asian pear provided a contrasting crisp texture to the dish and the tofu was fried crunchy.  I really enjoyed this as I kind of expected to.

For the most part, while I like Asian appetizers and entrees, desserts really don't do it for me.  Luckily the desserts offered weren't really Asian and the dessert that I ordered was definitely not Asian (although it did use Thai basil as a garnish).  I ordered a Tres Leches cake (Spanish for three milks) and while I expected it to be a bit decadent, I did not expect what I got.  The dense and wet cake was covered in whipped cream and berries with some Thai basil and crispy rice as a garnish.  It actually reminded me of the dessert I had at St. John Restaurant in London called the Eton Mess.  This was also very definitely a mess, but it was not served in a bowl but on plate.  It used cake instead of meringue and it was very good.

I really enjoyed my meal here and will surely go back.  The decor of the space is rather spartan but the front of the house people were very friendly.  The food, while at times, seems to be a stretch for some people is also very accessible and I would easily bring several of my more timid friends to try to expand their culinary horizons.

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