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Dec 25, 2011 07:20 PM

A Visit to Ma Peche on Christmas Eve

I am hesitant to create a new thread about a restaurant that's gotten quite a bit of play on this board, but I can't find one that lends itself to my piggybacking, so here goes. Our party of four had a very fine experience at Ma Peche. I was a little wary of it, because all of David Chang's places like to throw meat all over everything, and I'm a...does carn-no!-vore work for anyone? I keep trying to label myself, and I hate the word pescatarian. So when I looked at the online menu - the trout with pancetta, the striped bass with bone marrow, the halibut pot pie with chorizo - I got nervous. But not to worry! There's plenty to choose from for a gal like me. Such as:

Summer rolls with shrimp. Yes, one can get this at any number of establishments, maybe even McDonalds. But these were a kind of gold standard. The ingredients were of such good quality that the greens were almost fluffy, and each component was individually discernible. Even the hoisin sauce was notable for its excellence. I didn't quite understand the breadstick-type-thing stabbing through it, but it made a nice handle, and you could eat it.

Bay scallops with yuzu, plantain and sesame. Also a mysterious unlisted ingredient that was very spicy. There's just nothing not to like about raw scallops. Raw scallops rule. These were super-fresh, with slivers of crispy plantain atop, and a smear of sauce below. They looked a little lonely and meager all spread out on the plate, but (and I always forget this) scallops are rich. Even little bay scallops. It was plenty.

Apple salad with mushrooms, buckwheat and seaweed (and some un-advertised tatsoi). Bless their hearts, the powers that be at Ma Peche made the items on the ham-centric prix fixe menu available for a la carte. This was a wintery salad with a delicate flavor and a lot of textural contrast. And maitake mushrooms make everything better. I have a suspicion that the schmush underneath was liver-based, but I'm trying not to think about it.

Brussels sprouts with anchovy and chipotle and radishes. This was not up to the level of the other dishes, as it was too salty. One of my dining companions correctly noted that you have to make sure there's a radish piece in each bite to offset the salt, but there weren't enough radish pieces. Minor fail.

End notes: Points off for charging for bread and butter, because it's stupid. Just give us bread and butter for free. But a special shout-out to the guy whose job it is to describe the cheeses, because he was extremely specific and accurate. Huzzah, cheese guy!

Ma Peche
15 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

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  1. Enjoyed the detailed review.

    But...hoisin sauce w/ shrimp summer rolls??...really?...

    5 Replies
    1. re: Simon

      Hoisin sauce with chopped peanuts on top. Does that strike you as strange? I thought it was pretty standard.

      1. re: small h

        it strikes me as strange in a bad way...hoisin has an unsubtle heavy flavor, which clashes w/ light summer rolls...with summer rolls, especially fish or shrimp ones or veggie ones, i'd say a light fish sauce (or a bright hot sauce) is preferable...maybe hoisin sauce w/ pork summer rolls, but even there i don't think it's ideal...

        1. re: Simon

          i believe the summer rolls are served as a combo of proteins - some shrimp, some pork. i sat at the counter for lunch on Thursday and watched as the chefs rolled several orders. each plate of four rolls had two of each.

          1. re: coasts

            The dinner menu offers a choice: shrimp or tofu or pork. Two rolls per order.

          2. re: Simon

            I see what you're saying. It worked for me, but I dip lightly. If I were more of a dredger, the fish-sauce-carrot-shred thing would probably be a better way to go. There was hot sauce on the table, so you'd be free to eschew the hoisin entirely if you felt like it. And overall, the dishes at Ma Peche seem to lean toward the forceful: a lot of heat and salt and funk.