Má Pêche, NYC

February 14, 2011

Má Pêche is an unusual creation by the celebrity chef, David Chang. His other restaurants have a definite aura of the East Village. This is the restaurant of a mid-town hotel. But some of the regular Chang characteristics are there: spare ambience, loud music, barbecue sauce and chopsticks on the table etc. Although it has been open for dinner since last May, Linda and I went for the first time on February 1, 2011. 

The spare basement dining room has a combination of separate tables and tables to share arranged in a cross in the middle. We were at the end of one, but did not have immediate neighbors. There is a small raw bar at the bottom of the staircase. The $150 large plateau – oysters, fluke, squid salad, king crab, which nearby diners were sharing, is assembled there.

We ordered glasses of the house Champagne, De Meric “Grande Réserve Sous Bois” Brut 1er Cru (Ay.)  The limited menu is printed on a small sheet of paper each day as some of the dishes change. We discussed it in detail with our knowledgeable and helpful server, Aaron, and made our choices. The cuisine is vaguely French-Vietnamese fusion as reflected in the restaurant’s name, the Vietnamese word for mother and the French word for Chang’s peach symbol. We ordered a bottle of 2009 Melville “Estate” Pinot Noir (Santa Rita Hills.) It went well with the varied cuisine to follow.

Although we ordered separate dishes, their style is to put both for each course in the middle of the table and so we ended up sharing everything as if it were a tasting menu.

The first course was
mackerel –
horseradish, black garlic, apple

The mackerel had a good, strong, fresh flavor. The powder is deep-fried grated horseradish, which was not as strong as you would think. The dark dabs are apple cider reduction. Very good course.

ôc sên sauvage –
wild burgundy snails, pork sausage, garlic, tarragon

There were some nice flavors, but they had no evident reason to be together.
Bread was served with this, but is not served otherwise unless you ask.

striped bass (montauk, ny) –
black bean bbq, celery, shallot

This was dominated by the good black bean sauce with a celery accent. The fish was fresh and good, but overwhelmed.

duck  (jurgielewicz farm, pa) –
sausage, spaetzle, scallions

The slices of duck breast and the duck sausage round had good flavor. The dish was nice, but nothing special.

We did not have cheese or dessert, which is only served at the milk bar outside the entrance.

The meal was interesting, but quite disappointing when compared to the basic Chang formula at the Momofuku Ssäm Bar or the brilliance of his Momofuku Ko cuisine. At least the ambience is better than at Ko. It is not clear why anyone would choose Má Pêche a second time with all the other options in midtown.


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