Má Pêche – Another one from the David Chang stable

Má Pêche is another spawn from the Momofuku stable and it’s conveniently located in Midtown in the Chambers Hotel of 56th Street. Má Pêche meaning “mother peach” in French-Vietnamese serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Despite the windowless, high ceiling room the design of the venue is really elegant and clean with not a single white table cloth in sight. Unlike David Chang’s Ssäm Bar there is no flatware (that would be paper wrapped disposable bamboo chopsticks to me and you) but of course the food comes with an Asian agenda. I visited during March 2013.

Oysters from the raw bar is an elemental thing to have – it’s rude not. To e fair they were scrawny little things that didn’t even touch the sides.

Spanish mackerel, romaine, tofu, brown butter $14. The mackerel tasted cured, gravlax style – not a bad thing at all with the slithers of perhaps candied romaine slotted in. The nutty brown butter added the richness but I wasn’t sure where the tofu was? Maybe it was the smear on the side. All in all it was just a bit meh for me.

Sweet breads – (Provitello Farms, NY), almond, egg yolk, anchovy $16. You really can’t go wrong with nuggets of deep fried sweet breads and an egg yolk to burst which enriches everything. With the textural almonds, crunchy daikon and a drizzle of yogurt it all seemed to work.

Pork buns – hoisin, cucumbers, scallion $10. Gorgeous pillowy buns sandwiching buttery soft pork belly and seasoned with tangy-umami hoisin along with those pickled cucumbers? Please hide as many as you can in your mouth.

Cod (Chatham, MA) – Brussels sprouts, chowder, malt vinegar $31. Lots of technique in this one with the siphoned (?) creamy chowder and roasted brussels sprouts. The cod was cooked beautifully too but really under seasoned.

Scallop (Barnegat Light, NJ) – plantain, yuzu, sesame $16. The sweet on sweet combination of scallops and shards of sesame snaps are a no brainer marriage – however in my humble experience sweet scallops tend to work better with earthy vegetables of pork of some variety. I probably wouldn’t order this again if it were available – the portion is fit for a mouse too.

Foie Grois (Hudson Valley, NY) – sarsaparilla, malt, brioche $18. Sarsaparilla is a soft drink apparently, made from the Smilax regelii plant. I had no idea before I looked it up but it explained the sweet flavour I got from this dish. The rectangular brioche croutons were nice but the malt encrusted foie didn’t excite me. Pass next time!

Apple – celery, date, peanut $15. This epitomises freshness and there are welcoming nuggets of textural toasted puffed rice. At $15 a hit it’s not strong enough to be a stand alone dish.

Cavolo Nero – chorizo, cranberry bean, beer $14. Last but not least this was the most hearty plate, the deep slow cooked richness of the sauce worked well with the earthy cavolo. Delicious work.

The verdict:

When did I go? June 2012
The damage: Expect to pay $60-$100 per head with drinks.
The good: David Chang is famous for his pork buns and it was that very dish that excelled here, no wonder it features on the menu. There were also some well executed techniques with unique ingredient combinations in the cooking that you’d often find in a rigid white table clothed establishment which was good to see.
The bad: There were some good dishes but most were mediocre or duds and bloody expensive for what they were. It felt like Ssäm Bar’s older untrendy brother in a ill-fitting suit – a little bit too try hard if you know what I mean.
Rating: 2.5/5
Would I go again? No
Address: Chambers New York Hotel 15 W 56th Street, New York, NY 10019.

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