On the table: Mott Street, the new restaurant from the Ruxbin team
Thu Feb 28 2013
Last summer, TOC and Ruxbin collaborated on a dinner for our DLS series. The dinner started with small, street-food-inspired bites (lumpia; aqua frescas) and culminated with a big, spicy crab boil, dumped from a bucket right onto the table and eaten with our bare hands (pictured above). Like all DLS events, it was designed as a one-night-only affair. But as Chicago Magazine reported, we now know it was all just a test-run for Ruxbin's forthcoming restaurant, Mott Street.
The name of the restaurant, which I'm told will likely open in the spring, comes from two places: First and foremost it is an homage to New York's Mott Street, a place two of Ruxbin's partners—chef Edward Kim and his sister Vicki Kim—frequently visited to eat when Edward was studying at NYU. But, serendipitously, the Korean word for "taste" is pronounced "mott," giving the name an added layer of meaning.
Not that Mott Street will be a Korean restaurant. Like Ruxbin, the influences will come from everywhere, making the genre of the restaurant almost impossible to peg. If there's a through-line to Edward's menu, it'll be food that you might find at a night market—that is, snacky foods that quell that specific brand of late-night hunger; hyperflavorful, sometimes-spicy dishes that set off the release of endorphins. "It's food that won't bog you down," Vicki says. (No draft of the menu is available yet, but the menu of the DLS event is indicative of what will be served. For another preview, pay attention to what's happening with Fête—Mott Street will preview its food at the market on April 4.)
It's not only the food that will be night-market-esque. The space, 1401 N Ashland Ave (formerly MC Bistro), will also have that vibe. While the room will be bright and have a "West Coast aesthetic," according to partner Nate Chung, it will also be, as Vicki says, fairly "utilitarian." (David Nanni, who designed Ruxbin, is not involved in the project.) The space fits about 65 people inside and 40 on an outdoor patio, and the Mott Street team has come up with all sorts of plans for the parking lot and surrounding outdoor space: A farmers' market, a vegetable garden, a place to host picnics and movies (though they admit many of these things will happen down the line, not right away).
Despite the bigger space, perhaps the most major difference between Mott Street and Ruxbin is alcohol: Mott Street will sell it. Right now Chung sees the beverage program as being centered around cocktails and beers and "possibly wine." Right. Who drinks wine at a night market?