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Pre-Gaming for 93 Plates at Ma Pêche
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Pre-Gaming for 93 Plates at Ma Pêche

Guests: Zach Cohen and Christine Kim

The Order: Three Terrine Bahn Mi, Rice Noodles, Chicken Soup, Brussel Sprouts, Sweet and Sour Pork, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk

The Verdict: Bahn Mi – so-so, Rice Noodles – Frickin’ Wonderous, Chicken Soup – Zach (cold) Me (one bite was better than the other), Brussel Sprouts – needed more brussel sprouty taste, Sweet and Sour Pork – I ate most of them, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk – highlight of the meal

4226068019_90ae391571If I was prepared to pay $10 to be full after lunch and all I had was the Three Terrine Bahn Mi, I would be peeking into the kitchen to see if Jared was back there controlling my portions. It is TINY (see the irony of the caps – oh for shame!). I’ve paid more for less before, and I already knew what I was getting after reading Zach Brooks’ article in Midtown Lunch. It should also be noted that this was my first Bahn Mi experience, and as such, I had high hopes seeing as “Bahn Mi” seemed second only to “bacon” in foodie search traffic of 2009. The bread was crisp, I would have liked 1 out of 3 of the terrines to be more firm, but I could taste the quality of the vegetables and immediately knew where my $10 went. They set it off. My companions let me know that better bahn mi sandwiches were found elsewhere in the city, but until I try them, the benchmark is set by Ma Pêche.

I only had a few bites of the chicken soup and the rice noodles. I don’t feel qualified to make a judgment on these, but I did have the rest of my ex’s rice noodles after she’d eaten all the noodles (which, I am certain, were the best part). Her leftover pork was quite tasty, but the noodles were what made the dish.

Ma Peche Brussel SproutsWhen the waitress said “I don’t really like brussel sprouts but I liked these,” I didn’t know it was because you couldn’t taste the brussel sprouts. Look at the picture: you can’t even tell the dish includes brussel sprouts. Here’s the thing; It tasted great, but it just didn’t taste as I’d expected it to. Now it wasn’t to this extreme, but I think you’ll get what I mean when I say that I probably wouldn’t enjoy a spoonful of ham-flavored pudding (molecular gastronomy can only take you so far). It was a tad heavy on the cilantro, I really had to concentrate to taste the brussel sprouts, and the others weren’t keen on the fish sauce it was sauteed in (which I liked). This was our least favorite item.

The sweet and sour pork had some lemongrass that balanced the flavor nicely. The pork crackled as I bit into it. I was thoroughly surprised by the way I was able to eat the bone along with the rest of the pork and would love to know how they did that because I want to buy that machine.

ma peche cookiesI’m not usually a big sweets person, but I forever put aside that preference dining with Mr. Chang when I tried his Crack Pie. It made me a Momofuku convert. Knowing this, we were getting dessert, and for dessert, they played the old if-you-want-it-for-dessert-you-need-to-order-it-now card on us. We fell for it, and hard. The fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies with milk ruled the day. Soft and chewy and warm and sweet and orgasmic (to quote Mr. Cohen) with a buttery, crisp bottom that sank with the weight of the medium-rare cookie dough a bit in the middle as I picked up the cookie to photograph it. Tasting the cookie felt like I was getting a gold star for listening when the teacher came by and let us know what we should remember to order.

As I was leaving, I had to ask the concierge where the bathroom was. With all the construction going on, there is no room for a bathroom on the first floor, so I took an elevator to the WC. The first elevator took so long to come, I looked for an alternate way out. I hopped into a second elevator that let me out on the floor I thought I wanted to be on, but when I turned the corner in the small hallway, I was in the kitchen. Tien Ho was there to steer me in the right direction toward the exit. I didn’t know what the guy looked like until I googled him, but now I’m sure it was him. I think he asked me more questions than necessary about how I got into the kitchen, and I’m sure I won’t be the last one to wander in as the construction finishes up.

To wrap it up: Yes, the portions are small, but the taste and quality are top notch. You must save room for dessert, and if you play dumb, you might get a personal tour of the kitchen from the head chef.

Ma Pêche
15 West 56th St.
New York, NY 10019
(212) 500-0831

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Zachary Adam Cohen December 29, 2009, 7:57 pm

    thanks for having me…was good times, food was definitely a good start and I can only imagine what it will look like in a few months. Construction guys said February

    • Hagan December 30, 2009, 7:00 am

      The project . . . it’s overwhelming me already. This review was 700 words or so, took three hours; no way I’ll be able to match this for the duration. The layout of the posts will be completely set up, all I will have to do is write and paste the HTML for the pictures. Still, 700 words takes me 3 hours. Need to do more stream-of-consciousness stuff.

      Oh, and the audio is crystal. Book deal, here I come.

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