Our meal at Mott Street might be best characterized as a bit of a Pan-Asian street food feast from the folks that brought you Ruxbin. Our meal included nine courses, some of which were absolutely flawless from a technical perspective. Among the highlights were the pork jowl, marinated in garlic and chili oil, grilled and served with cilantro oil, fried tofu and bean sprouts. The spicy egg drop soup was served with a Japanese-Korean style chili broth,chunks of beef brisket and beautifully braised mussels. Finally the halibut collar was absolute perfection: The skin was crispy perfection, pan seared and seasoned simply with soy sauce and citrus.
A Crispin cider, brewed with sake yeast and organic rice syrup, was another highlight of the meal. Among the most unusual and delicious ciders I’ve had the pleasure of drinking, it’s too bad it’s so rare that I’ll never get the opportunity again.
From there, the dishes were more or less mixed. Harry’s butter thighs (I’d like to get a good look at the gentleman who inspired the dish) was supposedly a confit of chicken leg and thigh, but was served undercooked by at least 15 degrees, while the “tomato Punjabi curry” was completely and curiously influenced by dreadful Malaysian cuisine. The “crab brain” fried rice was light on crab innards (the crab brain itself is not much larger than a pea) and heavy on butter. The fact that brown rice was used strikes me as somewhat uncouth as well. The delicate flavor of crab brains are lost with heavy handed, flavorful rice.
Mentaiko kimchi udon and gai lan were competent, but a bit dull.
We tried two desserts. The first, a take on a tres leche cake was not overly sweet and well balanced in its richness, but was something of a letdown. Asian cakes are light and airy while this one was much more French in consistency and texture. The frozen banana was savory, herbaceous, under ripe and just bizarre.
Despite some softness, a delightful dining experience with some absolutely not-to-be-missed treat.
1401 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622