Momofuku meals: Ma Pêche vs. Ssäm Bar (December 1-2, 2012)
What hath Chang wrought?
On Saturday, December 1st, we dined at Ma Pêche; one Sunday, December 2nd, we had lunch at the Ssäm Bar. Now, this is not *exclusively* a David Chang visitation -- we dined with friends last night; are hitting Katz's Deli for lunch today, etc. -- but it did work out that our first two meals on this visit to Manhattan were to two of his restaurants.
VERY different experience from one another.
Dinner at Ma Pêche was good, perhaps on the pricey side of the equation, but while staff and service were wonderfully attentive without intruding, the meal lacked that certain "spark," that certain "je ne sais quoi" that made it rise about the ordinary. In other words, on Monday morning, I am having a hard time remembering what we ate, save for the dozen oysters and bottle of Egly Ouriet Champagne -- neither of which involved much cooking on the part of Mr. Chang's kitchen staff. (That said, the Thai basil "mignonette" sauce was delicious!)
Lunch at the Ssäm Bar, on the other hand, was delicious, wonderful, and as amazing as ever! The pork buns, the pulled duck bun, the pork sausage with rice cakes, the assorted pickles, the apple-and-kimchi salad, and the very tender, grilled Spanish octopus were -- each and every dish -- delightfully excellent, and I'd re-order them in a heart beat . . .
Lynn and I are already looking forward to our next visit to New York so we can return to the Ssäm Bar while -- needless to say -- if we don't make it back to Ma Pêche, we won't be missing much . . .