Mott St.

Restaurants, Pan-Asian River West/West Town
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(2user reviews)
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsCo-owner Vicki Kim describes Mott St's design as "utilitarian."
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St is located in what was most recently MC Bistro, at 1401 N Ashland Ave.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's menu includes a few noodle dishes, such as ice-cold buckwheat noodles with turnip-top kimchi broth.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsChef Edward Kim made a name for himself at Ruxbin, his three-year-old BYOB down the block from Mott St.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsBecause the Mott St space lacks a basement, the partners needed to devise storage solutions in the dining room itself, such as these shelves with screens.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's food aims to be more "visceral" than Ruxbin's.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's menu includes a "Pickle Plate" with seasonal pickles.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsUnlike the appetizer-entr�e-dessert format at Ruxbin, the dishes at Mott St (such as this pickle plate) are meant to be shared.
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Photograph: Martha Williams"Pickle Plate" at Mott St
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St is inspired in part by Asian night markets.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsThe Mott St crew sourced materials for the space from everywhere from Salvage One to Craigslist.
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Photograph: Martha Williams"Friends and Family" of the Mott St staff get a first taste of the restaurant on June 11, 2013.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsThe kitchen prepares for a "Friends and Family" meal at Mott St on June 11, 2013.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's menu features a ton of seafood, from calamari wok-fried with Korean chili paste to crab-brain fried rice to grilled pike mackerel.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St opens to the public tonight.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsShelves in the Mott St dining room house ingredients.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's bartenders prepare for the restaurant's opening.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsThe list of cocktails at Mott St is overseen by Chad Hauge.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's edited cocktail menu is divided into "Daily," "Seasonal" and "Year Round" offerings.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsThe "Storms In Spring" cocktail at Mott St is an homage to this season's funky weather in Chicago.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsFresh citrus at Mott St
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Photograph: Martha Williams"Everything" wings (which were also featured at the TOC Dining & Libation Society Ruxbin Night Market) are tossed with sesame and poppy seeds at Mott St.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's cocktails incorporate ingredients like water kimchi, shochu and grapefruit tapioca.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsSome of the first guests arrive at Mott St's preview.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsBehind Mott St are four partners: Edward Kim, Vicki Kim, Jenny Kim and Nate Chung.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsThe dining room at Mott St beings to fill up.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St's menu includes a selection of "Rolled & Steamed" dishes, such as steamed dumplings stuffed with pork, ginger and green onion.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsA couple gets a lucky sneak preview of Mott St.
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Photograph: Martha Williams"Pickle Plate" at Mott St
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsAs at Ruxbin, chef Edward Kim pulls from multiple cuisines.
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Photograph: Martha WilliamsMott St is located at 1401 N Ashland Ave.

If you sit in the back half of Mott St, you’ll be dining next to shelves stocked with Cholula hot sauce, jars of beans, tea…and a box of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch. Is that a dessert ingredient?

Nope, it’s breakfast for “the early crew,” our server told us.

With little storage space in the kitchen, Mott St has constructed a pantry within the dining room. The front half of the restaurant features a bar and two- and four-top tables, and there’s a communal table in back. Add in huge windows, materials sourced from Craigslist and pulsing music, and the room has an energy that makes you want to stay all night.

Everyone—the enthusiastic and knowledgeable servers, the kitchen staff, the twenty- and thirtysomething diners, apparently even that early crew—is having a ball at chef Edward Kim’s playful new Asian restaurant, which opened a month ago not far from his much-lauded Ruxbin. But while the vibe may be relaxed, the level of cooking is anything but casual. 

The Asian night market–inspired menu feels overwhelming at first. There are about two-dozen dishes, many of which require peppering your server with questions. What’s the forcemeat of the day? On my visit, it was a mild but flavorful Chinese sausage that’s fried like a spring roll. You fold it into a lettuce leaf with sprouts and basil, then dip it in a tangy fish sauce. What’s the collar of the day? Yep, Mott St has a daily fish collar preparation. We had halibut, pan-fried and served on the bone. (While the cut is rich, the vinegary sauce is delicate, so eat this before the other flavorful dishes overwhelm it.) Is there really boba (chewy tapioca pearls) in the tequila cocktail? There is, and they’re flavored with ginger and served with ginger beer and cucumber. Does that say crab brains? Uh-huh. At Mott St, they’re turned into a creamy sauce that’s served with sausage- and coconut-fried rice. 

Once you’ve ordered, the stress of dining at Mott St is over and a parade of dishes starts to arrive. Make sure it includes the oyster mushrooms, an umami bomb drenched with miso butter and thyme. The pork butt–stuffed cabbage, made with sticky rice and kimchi broth, gives the Eastern European staple a brilliant Asian twist. The multitextural udon is a tangle of al dente noodles tossed with bonito flakes, kimchi and spicy cod roe that pop when you bite into them. I’m still cursing myself for leaving my leftover udon in the car overnight.

But not every dish at Mott St is a great success. The aforementioned crab-brain sauce is merely swiped on a plate of unremarkable fried rice. While the sesame-poppy-fried-shallot everything wings strike a balance between sweet and spicy, the chicken is dry. The cocktail list includes a bourbon and Malört concoction that overpowers the food, and the boba cocktail is strange—I adore bubble tea, but boba should not be used in a fizzy drink. Stick to the edited wine, beer and sake selections. But by dessert, when I bit into a whimsical mini-banana dipped in chocolate and coated with peanuts, Szechuan peppercorns and salt, I nearly forgot about any quibbles I had with the meal.

Mott St has a chill patio and a sliding window hints at future take-out service. When we asked our server about the restaurant’s “late” closing time listed on its website, she said they’re hoping to extend dinner service past 10pm, in part so chefs can hang out there after work. I can’t blame them—with food this good and an atmosphere this cool, everyone wants to hang out at Mott St. I'd even eat a morning bowl of cereal there.

Mott St (1401 N Ashland Ave, 773-687-9977, mottstreetchicago.com) is open Tuesday–Saturday from 5:30–10pm.

By: Amy Cavanaugh

Posted:

Venue name: Mott St.
Contact:
Address: 1401 N Ashland Ave
Chicago

Cross street: at Blackhawk St
Opening hours: Dinner (Closed Sun, Mon)
Transport: El stop: Blue to Division. Bus: 9, 56, 70, 72.
Price: Average plate: $13
Do you own this business?
Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:0
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tastemaker

I've been here so many times, and every single time has been an absolute pleasure. If you have a large group I highly recommending opting for the whole fish - when i was there it was stuffed with an entire stalk of lemongrass and topped with the most amazing sauce. This place is awesome for sharing unique, innovative dishes with your adventurous foodie friends. In the summer, the outdoor patio is pure magic. Love love love this spot!

tastemaker

I was so impressed with the charming Mott St! The Asian night market theme is so creative and the patio space is absolutely gorgeous. The cocktails were all complex and flavorful and complimented our food well. I absolutely loved the crispy tofu with ponzu and shaved vegetables that had a great crunch texture. The udon noodles with roe were savory and filling and my friend loved the mussels hot pot! Service was also prompt and helpful even though the place was packed by 8pm! I will definitely be back to get the kimchi empanadas again and bring a seafood-loving friend!