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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My My Má Pêche

David Chang’s Momofuku empire covers both the high and low ends of the price spectrum, with Má Pêche falling somewhere in the middle, at least for lunch.  In the power lunch central that is Midtown Manhattan, it can be tough to find good lunch deals that provide a creative and affordable alternative to the $11 salad bar.  Thank you, Má Pêche, for relieving us of this burden. 

The menu is not massive, but everything looked so good that we decided to go family style.  The sandwiches at Má Pêche are large and quite the steal at $10.  We tried both the banh mi maison and the beef and pork belly hero.  I’ll admit, I was not able to decipher all the individual flavors listed on the menu with the exception of the cilantro in the banh mi – yum -  but it all worked together on fresh baguette that was crusty on the outside, fluffy on the inside, as it should be.

When the waiter noticed we were looking at several appetizers, he suggested we go with the prix fixe for two of our meals (since some of the appetizers we were getting were incorporated in that menu) and then get the sandwiches and another appetizer to round out the full experience.  Gotta love a waiter who looks out for your wallet.  I shouldn’t have to tell you we ordered the pork buns (best in the city, fyi), but we also ordered both the chicken and the shrimp summer rolls and beef tartar.  The summer rolls were good but the ratio of protein to veggie was slightly off, though I did love the cracker-like thing that was rolled inside as it offered a non-veggie crunch I have never had in a summer roll.  Steak tartar is a classic, but I enjoyed this version made with soy sauce and served with rice crackers instead of garlic toast.  I couldn’t tell you what was in the trout that we ordered, but it was as weightless as the ocean it once swam in.  I’ve never seen rice noodles that weren’t wide and flat or thin and glassy, but here they were: penne shaped rice noodles.  Since they were wrapped around themselves to create the shape, they gained a bite to them that is not typically found in an Asian noodle.  They were tossed with chicken, bok choy, and jalapeno, a combo I thought I should overlook in favor of the sandwiches and summer rolls, but I found myself going back for more on several occasions.  Another great thing about Má Pêche is that it is connected to the second Milk Bar location, which means our prix fixe meals came with some of their amazing cookies. 

It may not seem like the kind of place to go with some pals from work with its sky high ceilings, bare walls (save beige canvas tarps that cover them), and dim lighting.  I don’t blame you.  I probably won’t regularly go on a two hour lunch excursion with my buddies either, but that doesn’t mean you can’t call ahead and pick up a sandwich, pork buns, or even a sweet treat from Milk Bar.  PS - sorry about the picture quality - I forgot my flash was off.  On that note, you're welcome, fellow diners, for the rare exemption of my probably annoying flash photo taking during mealtime.  

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