photo credit: Christina Slaton
First impressions mean a lot. Remember the kid you met in kindergarten who picked his nose and ate it the first day of class? Nobody wanted to be friends with that weirdo. Same goes for the smelly kid. So when we went to Mott Street for the first time a few years ago and didn’t love it, it became kind of an afterthought for us. But things change. We’re adults(?) these days and recognize everyone, especially restaurants, deserve a few chances. And after circling back to Mott Street, it turns out this is one of our favorite places to eat.
Mott Street wasn’t just good for one meal - we’ve been back several times and it keeps getting better and better. At this point, we’re convinced the first experience we had there was somehow our own fault.
The menu at Mott Street is Korean street food at its core, but with Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and even Mexican flavors in the mix. What does that look like? Dishes like kimchi Oaxacan empanadas, General Tso’s lamb sweetbreads, and a kimchi-stuffed cabbage with pork butt and sticky rice that’s better than any Eastern European grandmother makes. Sorry, grandma.
A majority of the seating is communal and everything is meant to be shared. It’s a lively place serving fun yet sophisticated food, and the price point falls somewhere just above casual. These factors make Mott Street great for a date, gathering with friends, or even Sunday brunch. Keep it in mind especially when it’s nice outside, because the outdoor patio is great.
Mott Street is a prime example of why first impressions aren’t everything. We wonder what that smelly kid from elementary school is up to these days.
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Kimchi & Oaxaca Empanadas
A masa shell stuffed with oaxaca cheese, covered in chimicurri and crème fraiche. Like a fancy Korean-Mexican hot pocket.
We only ordered this crispy tofu the first time because we felt like we needed one more dish, and everything else we had coming was really heavy. But as it turns out, this is really good. Think agedashi tofu if you’re familiar with that - which is a tofu lightly fried in a ponzu sauce. This version comes with some vegetables and a ponzu and sherry vinaigrette sauce, which makes it a nice ligther dish to have on the table.
We’re not normally quick to jump on the brussels sprouts train, but our waiter convinced us, and we’re glad he did. They’re wok fried with lamb pancetta and maple brown butter, and the little bit of sweetness makes them a standout.
The must-order item on the menu. It’s really a noodle soup, with beef shank broth, chicken, and pickled serrano peppers, and it’s excellent.
But the wings are pretty damn good too. Crispy chicken wings in a soy, sesame, and chili sauce.
Kimchi Fried Rice
Simple, but good, particularly for brunch. A good-sized bowl of fried rice with some kimchi and an egg on top. Make some yolk porn and get on with your bad self.
The most surprising dish on the menu in the best kind of way. Kimchi is stuffed with pork butt and sticky rice and then pan seared. More of an entree size and great for sharing.
Bowl of Awesome
You kind of have to order anything called a Bowl of Awesome. And luckily, it lives up to its promise, and is something you should strongly consider ordering at brunch. It’s a light yogurt dish with raw honey, bee pollen, and some other plants that look pretty and taste great all mixed together.
Black Bean Shrimp & Grits
If you’re not trying to keep it healthy, go for the more decadent shrimp and grits. Cheese grits, shrimp, andouille, and pickled onions are covered in a bit of a black bean sauce. A quality Chinese x Southern combo.