Ohhh David Chang. You just keep on getting better and better! I actually had no intention of visiting Ma Peche until my colleague proposed it as an idea for a client dinner. The fact that we didn’t have a reservation made me nervous, but we were pleasantly surprised by the exceptionally accommodating host upon arrival. We put in our name, requested a table for 8pm, and they eagerly put us in their book, happy to make it happen. Sure enough, we came back at 8pm after getting manicures, and were seated after 5 minutes. From the beginning Ma Peche impressed.
The vibe at Ma Peche is very laid back, but in a modern way. Light wooden tables, stiff, uncomfortable chairs, high, white-walled ceilings, and bright lighting give it a very sophisticated, classiroomy feel. The waiters are all very young, chummy, and evidently passionate about the food they’re serving. You can tell that everyone there, waitstaff and customers alike, all feel privileged to be a part of the Ma Peche experience.
Considering we were taking out clients, the sky was the limit with our menu choices – my favorite type of dining experience! We literally picked everything that caught our eyes on the menu, and it ended up being a complete success. And for this reason (and because I’m lazy), I’m going to describe everything we ordered in list form:
1. Squid salad with scallions, peanuts – light with bright, citrus-y flavors
2. Beef tartare, soy, scallions, mint – not my typical appetizer choice, but the accompanying shrimp chips were tasty
3. Asparagus salad with crab and egg yolk – perfectly al dente aspargus with a creamy yet delicate crab dressing
4. Pork ribs with lemongrass caramel – one of my favorites, crispy fried pork that falls off the bone
5. Huge scallops, seared with brown butter, lime, pea shoots – gigantic scallops, perfectly cooked and buttery
6. Rice noodles, spicy pork, sawleaf herb – the oddly shaped noodles, crispy on the inside, were not at all what I expected but a nice surprise. The fleks of pork added great flavor and texture to the dish
7. Short ribs with carrots and spaetzle – another hit – melt in your mouth cubes of short rib with a light yet flavorful broth
8. Fried calamari with scallions and fish sauce – a vinagary delicacy, I could eat a whole bowl!
Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of the food, but I did get a chance to take photos of two equally stellar sightings: Neal Patrick Harris and Mark Summers, who were dining together amongst a large group of young men and one woman. After a cocktail and a glass of wine, I couldn’t resist asking for a photo upon their exit. Success! They were both incredibly nice, and pleased to take a photo with their fans (especially Marc Summers, Double Dare blast from the past). If you are dying to see food photos, though, don’t fret – about every blog out there is filled with Ma Peche slide shows – check out Grub Street for a sneak peek.
The experience didn’t end with dinner, of course, though for the unmotivated it normally would. Ma Peche doesn’t serve dessert in the main dining room. This, to me, is a huge setback. I don’t want to get out of my chair to get dessert, because that’s when I realize I’m too full to actually eat it. Ma Peche gives you two options – take dessert to-go from the Milk Bar that welcomes you upon entering with bright neon lights, or sit in the quiet upstairs lounge and order. We opted for the latter and pre-ordered four of the famous freshly baked Milk Bar Chocolate Chip Cookies, which take 10 minutes to bake. These were absolutely incredible, and washed down with a cold glass of milk, brought me more back to my childhood than Marc Summers and the classroom like setting did combined. Pure bliss. Warm, doughy, chocolatey, chewy cookies. We also ordered the Candy Bar pie, which is the perfect combo of salty and sweet, chocolate and caramel, hard and smooth textures.
Overall, Ma Peche was awesome and scored especially high on food and service. The host even left us with his card so we could give him a heads up on our future visits. He may regret that, because I will definitely be making this place a stop when visitors come to town!
Address: Mezzanine of Chambers Hotel, 15 W 56th St between 5th and 6th