Ma Peche, aka Momofuku Midtown
We'd follow chefs David Chang, Christina Tosi and the rest of the Momofuku crew just about anywhere… even, as it turns out, to the lobby of a Midtown hotel. Yes, as we're sure you've heard by now, after opening FOUR game-changers in the East Village over the past six years–in order of appearance: Momofukus Noodle Bar, Ssam, Ko, and Milk–David Chang is taking his loud, meaty flavors and rock-and-roll sensibility to the heart of touristy, safe, corporate Midtown with the recent opening of Ma Peche, in the lobby of the Chambers Hotel on 56th Street, just off Fifth Avenue. Although Chef Tien Ho is still only serving breakfast, lunch, and a bar menu at night (which is, we were assured, "70% of the lunch menu"), we couldn't wait until dinner service commences "sometime soon", and so went to Ma Peche twice last week to see how well Momofuku speaks Midtown. The answer, for the most part: so far, so very good.
We tried five things off the bar menu at Ma Peche, and were rewarded with four winners. Our favorite dish was probably the Xa Lach Frisee, a big bowl of that spiky, bitter green covering soft, perfectly cooked pieces of tripe; chewy chunks of sweet "jowl croutons"; a rich, runny poached egg just to muck it all up; and a beautifully spicy dressing for bite. This is excellent stuff. Also really good at Ma Peche is the Chou-fleur Chien, which is a plate of remarkably light–almost airy–fried cauliflower, sourced, apparently, from Satur Farm on Long Island, punched up with curry, mint, and fish sauce. Salty, sweet and addicting.
The Cotelletes de Porc, or pork ribs, were fatty and tender, made special and sticky by a terrific lemongrass caramel sauce, the only flaw in the dish was the surprising lack of deep piggy flavor in the meat, sent in from Newman?s Farm, Missouri. The Momofuku NYC Bahn Mi Maison is one of our favorite snacks at Ssam, and it has made the transition to its Midtown digs in style, the funky three terrine sandwich brightened by pickled daikon and a handful of cilantro, all wedged into a seriously crunchy roll. Finally, the only plate that didn't do much for us was the Goi Calamar, a squid salad tossed with cilantro and peanuts. This wasn't bad by any means–and the squid was almost melty-tender–it just didn't really sing. All in all, though, we will definitely be back… once dinner is served.
Ma Peche Details
Ma Peche is located in the lobby of the Chambers Hotel, on 56th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Midtown Manhattan. The cool-looking, slightly womb-y dining room is only open for lunch as of right now; we ate once in the mezzanine, which, perhaps inescapably, felt like a hotel mezzanine, but was comfortable enough; and once in the bar, which is isolated enough to make you forget your location. The music–old-school rock–is classic Momofuku NYC fare, but turned down considerably as compared to Chang's East Village spots. Huge bonus: at the restaurant's entrance is an outpost of Milk Bar, featuring all four of chef Christina Tosi's amazing cookie creations, as well as her cakes (try the Chocolate Malt), pies (including her mad-genius Crack Pie), and a couple of rotating soft-serve ice cream flavors. For more information about hours and complete menus, please visit the Momofuku NYC / Ma Peche website.