Restaurant: Má Pêche
Last visited: September 2, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (Midtown West)
Address: 15 W. 56th St.
Nearby subway stop: 5 Av/59St
Price Range: $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 4 (based on what I tried)
- Chef/Owner David Chang
- Award winning restaurant brand
- Modern fusion/Euro-Asian Menu
- Asian food/menu
- French technique
- Seasonal menu
- Famous Steamed Pork Buns
- Posh atmosphere, modern feel
- Local favourite
- Small portions
- Moderately priced
- $25 lunch price fixe menu available
- Breakfast Mon-Sat 7am-11:30am
- Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm
- Dinner Mon-Sat 5:30pm-12am
- Sunday 7am-11am, 5:30pm-10pm
- My post for Momofuku Noodle Bar
**Recommendations: The food is very good, but the value isn’t. The Steamed Pork Buns are the “must try” item, but I found them better at Momofuku Noodle Bar.
Don’t be confused. You are at Má Pêche, however you have to walk through Milk Bar first. The outside was discrete enough already and I actually missed it the first time around. This seems to be a characteristic of the Momofuku restaurants, so just beware the signage and restaurants are all quite subtle.
Má Pêche is located behind Milk Bar, and both are the latest New York additions to the Momofuku restaurant empire. Created and owned by world renowned chef, David Chang, who is Korean American, it is influenced by Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, but executed with French flair.
With 5 restaurants in New York, and next year one in Sydney and Toronto, I can just feel an eventual location popping up in Vancouver, BC. All of these cities have a strong Asian presence, on the other hand I found it catered to a non-Asian clientele. I guess it is similar in theory to Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie in Vancouver (which I do enjoy), but they are different in style.
Fusion Asian food, or modern Asian food. It’s a tricky concept to appreciate especially if you’re Asian or familiar with Asian cuisine. Usually you can’t help but to think there is better for cheaper, but you almost have to turn off that attitude or you won’t enjoy this. My experiences have generally led me to enjoy fusion Asian food only when it comes to Japanese cuisine, so I was hoping this would convince me otherwise.
Next to introducing ramen to New York through Momofuku Noodle Bar, these infamous pork buns are what launched the brand to its success. These Steamed Pork Buns are offered at all of his restaurants in New York and it is the signature David Chang item.
The philosophy is Asian food made with French technique, which tends to translate to nicer looking Asian food at double the price. The portions are smaller than expected, so it takes a few dishes to get full. It’s not fine dining, but the portions and price almost speak of it, so I thought it was pushing it a bit. The food was great, but the value wasn’t, so the experience wasn’t as satisfying as I had hoped.
The Momofuku restaurants were on my itinerary from the start. I had to see what the hype was all about so I put them as priority, and eventually they started to move down the list. I even got my reservations for the 2 Michelin Star “impossible to get reservations for” Ko, but I ended up canceling that too. I did end up trying Momofuku Noodle Bar, and it’s not that any of the three I tried were bad, but it gave me enough of an idea that I didn’t feel the need to try them all in the two weeks I had in New York.
On the table:
- Hoisin, Cucumber, Scallion $10
- This is the signature Chef David Chang “must try” item.
- It’s a modern version of a traditional Chinese dish that has existed for centuries.
- These are really small, but very rich so I would only want one, but I wouldn’t be full.
- The first bite was excellent, and then the hype kind of faded.
- The bun was super soft, pillowy light and moist.
- The pork belly was incredibly buttery and creamy and it literally melted in my mouth, but probably because it was so fatty.
- It was actually too fatty for my liking, and I did want more meat. Yes, fat makes it tender and delicious, but I don’t want so much of it.
- The pork was savoury, super oily and almost dripping with oily juices, I barely had to chew it. Calling it “tender” would be an understatement.
- It was very good, but there wasn’t enough of the other ingredients.
- I wanted more hoisin, cucumber and scallion. I actually couldn’t taste the scallion at all.
- It was missing crunchy texture, especially since the bun and meat were so soft.
- It didn’t have enough sweet Hoisin either and overall I just wanted more balance, texture and flavours instead of just bun and fat.
- I ordered these Steamed Pork Buns again at Momofuku Noodle Bar and I liked them better at that location.
- To see an authentic version of it see Taiwanese Steamed Sandwich (Koah-Pau) at Delicious Cuisine in Richmond, BC.
- Apple, fish sauce, crispy shallots $10
- I actually liked this one more because it wasn’t as rich and fatty as the pork buns and it had more dynamic texture and flavour.
- The beef was tender and quite fatty, but not juicy and surprisingly a bit on the dry side.
- It was a bit oily, but not saucy, and I think I would have preferred braised beef brisket.
- The crispy shallots are always a great addition to anything, and the pickled green apples were juicy with a nice tang and sweetness.
- It was sweet, salty, tangy and crispy and the fish sauce gave it a bright savoury flavour without taking away from the beef flavour.
- Yogurt, lime, jicama $14
- This was considered a main but it was the size of an appetizer.
- The pork shank was about the size of a hockey puck, but it was rich and delicious.
- The pork shank (leg) was shredded into bits and pieces and it was very well disguised especially with all the tendons and muscles chopped up and mixed.
- The meat was formed into a patty with minced, carrots, celery, onions, and garlic, and lightly breaded in Panko and deep fried until crispy.
- The meat was moist, tender and savoury with a bit of heat from I think Japanese chili powder.
- It was also a bit chewy and sticky from all the tendons gelled throughout the filling, so the texture was a bit acquired.
- I could have used a little more meat and a bit less tendon for more balance in texture.
- The thin crunchy crust was a great contrast to break things up though.
- The yogurt was under the spicy and zesty jicama root salad and it was a thick tangy Greek yogurt.
- The spice, tang, and refreshing crunch of the salad was a great contrast to the richer pork shank.
- The pork shank wasn’t hot, but mildly spicy and the yogurt made it a bit more mild.
- It was pricey, but at least it was something new, different and creative, and it was well executed.
Here’s a teaser of one of the desserts I ordered.
The famous “Crack Pie” – see my full post here.