The most difficult task of any restaurant is to make something great, and then make it again, and again, and again. Consistency is the real magic trick, and it takes a lot to be able to pull the same, delicious dishes out of a restaurant’s hat each night.
It’s a challenge that can be multiplied to infinity when thinking of the difficulties associated with opening up a restaurant’s second location. Things should be the same, and yet somehow be different; those signature dishes should be expertly disseminated and re-created, but new favourites should comprise the bulk of the menu. Each setting should feel cohesive to the rest, yet still entirely linked to its unique surroundings. The team behind hospitality group Maximal Concepts has taken on this particular challenge with the planned opening of their Hong Kong restaurant Mott 32 in the upcoming Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver.
Maximal Concepts, which was founded in Hong Kong by Malcom Wood, Xuan Mu, and Matt Reid, has already been privy to a crash course in restaurant openings. “Five years ago we opened up a restaurant called Blue Butcher, and since then, every six months we’ve doubled the size of the company,” Wood says, seated at the Trump Vancouver office located next to the construction site. “We’ve got 18 different brands, 23 restaurants, of which three are being built, and then another six to seven planned in the next 12 months.”
With restaurant concepts located in Hong Kong, Bangkok, and, soon, Dubai, the company’s first venture into North America will come to life with Mott 32 in Vancouver. “It’s specially designed to what we relate to in the city,” says Wood, who lived briefly in Vancouver and has family ties here. “We don’t like doing anything too cookie-cutter and too similar, so our first challenge in building 18 restaurants was building 18 completely different restaurants.” For Vancouver’s location, Mott 32 remains true to its roots: traditional but updated Chinese fare served within lush, intricate interiors full of character. The decor, with a focus on uniquely themed private dining rooms, is to be done by Joyce Wang, who also designed the Hong Kong location. “It’s about the journey of discovering different aspects of it and coming back to the restaurant and discovering something new each time,” Wood says of the design. “That’s really important to us: having that narrative and depth.”
Though the building is still under construction, Wood and his partners have already begun planning the menu—an involved and lengthy process. “We have our signature dishes—an amazing Iberico pork dish which is being used in a char siu recipe, which is a traditional way of barbecuing pork. And we’ve got it so it just melts in your mouth.” For Vancouver, Mott 32 is dedicated to looking for local ingredients and producers, staying true to its farm-to-table commitment—an undertaking not always logistically possible in many parts of Asia. “Here in Vancouver the produce is amazing, the vegetables taste good, and you have seasonality which adds a variety,” Wood explains. “And the sustainability practices are really good out here—people care if something goes wrong.” On the plate, green methods translate into well-thought out, carefully selected items—some of which will be created specifically for the restaurant. “We’re going to be using a duck producer in the Fraser Valley,” Wood says. “A small producer who we’ve contacted, and he’s going to bring the ducks up in a certain way so that we’ve gone through the whole process from farm to table.” Drawing from an already tried and true recipe, the still-to-be-built Mott 32 is already miles ahead of schedule. The real feat now is to finish the trick, say “ta da”, and bow at curtain close.
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