OK, we'll admit it. We were a little hard on Má Pêche the first time around. At first, it was a let down. David Chang opening up a Midtown restaurant in our daytime backyard was a little too exciting. When it didn't live up to our sky high expectations immediately, we were quick to judge. More than anything, it was a testament to how strongly we feel about the downtown Momofuku establishments. Clearly, Má Pêche is a different kind of restaurant, one that's grown on us a lot over time.
Lukewarm review or not, Má Pêche has stayed in regular lunch rotation since the day it opened. The more we go back, the more we like it. The food seems to keep getting better and just now, a year in, Má Pêche appears to be hitting its stride and finding its own identity. Now our go-to lunch spot in the area, you'd be hard pressed to find a better unstuffy option for a lunch meeting.
Originally, we were dissapointed that Má Pêche didn't have all the same qualities as its downtown counterparts. Chang compromised, as one must to appeal to the Midtown crowd. Once you accept the fact that this is a different restaurant than Ssam or Noodle, you can start appreciating how good Má Pêche really is. Still, no pork buns is bullsh*t.
Before we get into the rest of the menu, we need to discuss Beef 7 Ways. It's ridiculous in the best possible way and a great excuse to get your 10 best friends together to collectively gain 30 pounds in one sitting. Just be sure you're cool w/dropping over $100 a person, just on beef. It's worth it; we were eating leftovers for three days. This was our menu when we went: Seafood Plateau of oysters, shrimp, fluke, squid salad, king crab. Tongue with basil and spinach. Wagyu with ginger, scallion and radish. Cote de Boeuf with butter, thyme and garlic and Sausage with lemongrass, thai basil, and shallots. Check it out, insanity. Oxtail in soy, sherry and apple juice. A huge beef Shank that no photo can really do justice. Consomme with cilantro, basil and line and finally, Epoisses, cow's milk cheese and baguettes. Now that's a meal.
A nice selection of selection of fresh oysters from New Brunswick, Washington, Massachusetts and wherever else they're coming in off the boat. For a midtown oyster fix, Má Pêche is the place to be.
One of the stars of the raw bar menu, you get a whole leg and claw (a quarter pound) for thirteen dollars. That's actually a decent deal. Served cold, the presentation was cool and the accompanying calamari mayo is really good.
One of our favorite items on the menu. A cube of raw, Niman Ranch beef with soy, scallion and mint. The beef/soy/scallion combo is awesome.
Always on the menu, these nice sized chunks of fluke sashimi are served in a pineapple and herb glaze. It's an enjoyable flavor combination. Prepare yourself to eat fish, not not just pork, at this uptown momofuku.
Diced asparagus, crab and egg yolk, topped off with some salty little potato chips. A cool creation that's worth trying if its on the menu.
One of our new favorites, sauteed carrots with bone marrow, chili and lime. Amazing.
Deep down, I was hoping that this was going to be THE reason to come to Má Pêche. Chang was going to invent the most delicious and unhealthy mussel I've ever had. He would maybe steam them, then bake them, then deep fry them and serve them with a crazy combination of pork belly, cornflakes, peppers and hot sauce. He didn't. These mussels are good, but totally standard and run-of-the-mill, even with the presence of crab paste and beer batter.
A staple on the menu, we started out on the wrong foot with the ribs. Expecting greatness, the first couple batches we had were decent, but again, not the kind we expected by the swine master himself. Over time, they've only gotten better though. Where at first these ribs were overly wet and a bit gooey, they're better composed these days and the flavor is spot on. They're still not our favorite, but they're definitely worth an order.
This is the most "Momofuku" dish on the menu. It's similar to the spicy pork sausage and rice cakes entree at Ssam, but slightly less satisfying. Those rice cakes are truly special, and while these rice noodles might wow virgin palates, they won't overly excite us Momofuku veterans.
Initially I was bummed when these dishes were just served with chopsticks. How is one to sop up all the goodness without a spoon or fork? Then I got over it, and just started asking for utensils. It seems like either the short rib or the brisket is on the menu at all times. The savory, soft, tasty short ribs comes in a thin stew of carrots and spaetzle and is definitely worth ordering. The brisket is a winner too, pan asian style, with noodles and cabbage.