Moto is found in the meat packing district of Chicago. Unlike other cities where the meat packing district has now been overrun, this meat packing district is still full of butchers and trucks carrying carcasses and their processed goods to their destinations. It seems to definitely stand out on its own.
Moto is much smaller than I thought it was going to be with room for probably no more than 50 or 60 covers. The greeting area is just as small and there is only one set of toilets available for each gender. Décor is understated with only a curtain hanging from one side of the room and a mirror with wooden panels on the other.
This restaurant is yet another one of those that specialise in using modern cooking techniques, ala Fat Duck and Il Bulli with this chef’s speciality known as creating edible paper creations jam packed with printed flavours. They offer a 20 course tasting menu and a 10 course tasting menu and we were pretty happy with the latter one.
Our first dish was an assortment of small flavours, served complete with the menu printed onto edible paper and then propped up against a thin slice of garlic toast.
I can’t really remember all the little flavours but you can see the toast sitting atop some whipped butter, a poached garlic bulb with some toasted sesame seeds. And I think the black dots were balsamic but can’t really remember what the green sauce was.
The next dish was a trio of dishes made to look like a breakfast, yet cleverly made with savoury flavours. On the left was a shrimp cake, a breakfast “gazpacho” made with, what looked like, tiny scrambled eggs and then the item to the right what looks like an egg is actually a puffed garlic, deliciously light and delicate dotted with a yolk that was made out of corn reduction. The shrimp cake was firm and crisp, the gazpacho packed full of summery tomato flavours.
Our next dish, the “instant risotto” was made out of puffed rice, topped with a roasted piece of flaky piece of fish and made with some English peas and micro grains. They had already poured a soup into it, and we were asked to mix it together until it really became the consistency of risotto.
Here’s the result:
Whilst not working perfectly (I think there was too much soup) we all agreed it was a tasty dish. The puffed grains of rice gave that crisp contrast to the dish, almost giving it the firmness you’d expect from properly cooked arborio rice.
The next dish was a baguette and gruyere cheese whipped together, pasted to the side and then brûléed to give it some additional caramel notes. The spoon sitting on the centre had brown onions that had been cooked on the spoon itself, with an onion broth being poured at the table. On top of all this sat a home made, dehydrated and then puffed onion ring towering magnificently above the entire dish.
Our next dish was the pequin capon (a variant of some sort of chicken). I can’t really remembering the details of what this dish was served with but I do remembering thinking how tasty it all was. One of my fellow diners commented on the excellent plating (which I thought looked like a fish) but him noticing the tiny sliver of celery leaf on the sauce used to offset the entire look.
It also came served with an edible paper in a small plastic bag, brushed the flavour of buffalo chicken wings. It had some great kick to it.
The next dish definitely wowed us all, presented as the cuban pork sandwich and presented as if it were a cuban cigar sitting inside an ashtray. Cleverly made with vine leaves wrapping a cuban pork mixture inside, with a ring of edible paper acting as the cigar paper) and then sitting in a pile of, what looked like, ashes. These ashes, of course, weren’t like any other, made with a combination of black and white sesame seeds and then a cuban spice mixture. Absolutely delicious and something that was definitely memorable.
Our “reuben lasagna” was made with a crisp flake soaked in dill sauce, topped with home made thousand island sauce, and then layered with different items. It was also dished up with some dill pollen which had a surprisingly strong flavour. I can’t remember exactly what was in the middle of this as well.
Our next dish, made to look like an Italian cannoli was yet another sweet looking dish made out of savoury items. The wrapper, a fried tortilla holding a deliciously divine duck mixture, came served served with jalapeno powder and a deep, complex mole sauce.
I’d never had mole sauce before, and if this was anything to go by, I’d definitely order some more again. The jalepeno powder had that delicate, melting in the mouth flavour leaving just enough kick to tell you of its origins.
The happy face was a combination of passionfruit and raspberry sorbets, sitting atop a mint pesto and served with fresh raspberries, a raspberry sauce and coconut ice. Although I thought it would have been too many flavours yet it turned out to work perfectly, making it an excellent palette cleanser and a lovely tropical theme.
This corn cake was steamed and served with some candied corn and a rich brown butter sauce. It was surprisingly light and airy.
Our final trio of desserts was amazing starting with a “bomb”, filled with liquid graham cracker, covered in chocolate, with a sugar “wick” that they actually set on fire.
The next was a mini hamburger, this time sweet acting like savoury with the bread made out of sweet brioche, topped with sesame seeds, the burger patty being a peanut butter mixture, and the cheese (a banana purée), the tomato ketchup (maraschino purée) and the only real thing in there being a real piece of iceberg lettuce. The trio was finished off with a chocolate mousse log (picture not shown), light and delicate but definitely out-wowed by the other two dishes.
It was so impressive that we asked to see if we could have another of the diabetes-inducing yet spectacular bomb. Surprisingly, our waitress said she’d see the kitchen would try and so we ended up with five more sparkling bombs at our table. Yay!
I had a wonderful time dining with my four other guests (Ron, Ajit, Alistair and Tom) experiencing the delicious and complex flavours all presented in an inspiring environment. Whilst not cheap (USD200 including a starting cocktail, a bottle of wine and a large bottle of beer) it was definitely a great experience.
Name: Moto Restuarant
Found at: 945 W Fulton, Chicago, IL, USA