NYC: Kappō at Má Pêche (Mar. 2013)
Authors: Victor and Monte
Restaurant: Má Pêche
Owner: David Chang
Chef: Paul Carmichael
Date: March 13, 2013
Kappō at Má Pêche (aka Kappo at Ma Peche)
Má Pêche is the last NYC restaurant in the Momofuku empire that I haven’t really tried yet (and I still haven’t really eaten here yet—I don’t really think Kappō counts as eating at the restaurant). Anyway, they recently got a new chef and launched a new “secret” tasting menu called Kappō! It’s only been out for a few weeks, so I was pretty excited to try it out.
Chef Paul calls you the day before your reservation to confirm it, and he also asks you what your names are as well as your favorite cocktails. You basically get that drink, with your name on it, right when you sit down. I didn’t really want to drink much that night, so we just get non-alcoholic drinks.
There’s one seating a night for eight people, and you get to converse with the Chef and other staff about anything, such as food, life in other countries, or even sports. There was even one moment where Chef Paul called me out for preferring Minetta Tavern’s Black Label Burger over In-N-Out and Shake Shack hahaha :(.
We got non-alcoholic drink pairings to go with our meal.
Chicken skin and nori crisps with “Ghetto White Sauce”
Drink: Calamondin soda with a hint of mint
Victor: The sauce was AMAZING.
Monte: Ghetto white sauce is da bomb. We tried to figure out the herbs in it but couldn’t. It looked like dill but tasted totally different. The crispy stuff that went with the white sauce were pretty good – a little greasy but as Paul would later describe it, this meal is “fat boy food.”
Black bass with kombu and horseradish
Drink: Non-alcoholic sparkling cider
Victor: I thought that the cider overpowered the fish; it was too sweet.
Monte: This dish was really great. The black bass was sweet, the kombu had a subtle but pleasant salty brinyness to it, and the fresh horseradish brought it all together with its spicy floral aroma. The combination really worked well. The cider on the other hand didn’t pair as well with the dish, but by itself was awesome so I just saved it for after the dish.
UPDATED by Victor: The menu that they mailed to us says it was John Dory, but I specifically remember asking one of the cooks during the meal and her replying that it was black bass…
Uni with conch, surf clam, pomelo, onion, lime zest, and… some vegetables that I forgot
Drink: Horchata with a touch of cinnamon
Monte: Oh man the clam just overpowered everything in this dish. I would get a hint of the pomelo or a hint of the uni, but then the clam would just come in and wash out those flavors immediately with its saltiness. It was a little disappointing. The horchata was pretty good, it was less sweet than the horchata at most taquerias.
Seared and raw cobia belly, pear purée, and pickled jalapeno
Drink: Biodynamic non-alcoholic elderflower liqueur with bubbles.
Monte: This dish was happy noms indeed. The cobia belly was even sweeter than the blackbass, and the searing added a great smokiness to the dish. The sweetness of the pear and spiciness of the jalapeno made it all taste almost tropical. Nom nom
Lobster, cucumber, lardo, breadfruit, lime, habanero peppers, and parsley
Victor: We didn’t get a drink pairing to go with this course, and I’m guessing that they forgot…
Monte: The missing drink pairing was disappointing but I didn’t notice until afterwards because I was too busy enjoying this exquisite dish. The cucumber, lime, habanero and parsley made this dish have a ceviche-like tone to it, but the real showstopper was the breadfruit. It tasted sweet, but had the texture of the most perfectly soft potato. The soft starchiness of the breadfruit combined with the crunchy cucumber and crisp lobster to create a great contrast in textures.
Challah bread with smoked duck fat and salt
Victor: Challah is a Jewish braided bread, and it was delicious. It was just carbs and fat, so of course it’s going to be good hahaha. Admittedly, the top was a little burnt. I personally liked this, but Monty didn’t.
Monte: This was like the opposite of the usual muffin – loved the bottom, but discarded the top. I don’t like burnt bread. Charred or toasted is ok, but the top just tasted ashy.
Congee, quail egg, cuttlefish, king trumpet mushroom, and parsley-garlic olive oil
Drink: Rooibos-infused tea with rosemary and thyme
Victor: The congee was good, but I personally thought that it was something my mom could make just as well. Also, I was sort of confused as to why we were eating… congee. (Also, the parsley-garlic olive oil was pretty key to the dish!)
“Bacon and Eggs” (scrambled eggs, barbecued pig’s tail, scallions, and peanuts)
Drink: Non-alcoholic mimosa
Victor: From congee to bacon and eggs… I’m not quite sure what the theme is here hahaha. It was definitely delicious, though. The peanuts added a very nice “kick” (flavor-wise and texturally) to the dish; without the peanuts, I think the dish would’ve been pretty boring.
Mofongo (garlic, fried plantains, lobster broth, and chicharróns)
Drink: Virgin piña colada
-Chef Paul lived in Puerto Rico for a few years, and he would eat mofongos while drinking piña coladas. Our sommelier, Jordan, said that Paul wanted to share this experience with us.
-The staff brought out mortars and pestles for us to prepare the mofongos. We pretty much had to mash everything together for a few minutes. I had fun preparing it!
-The mofongo was pretty good, but it was a little too salty by itself. It was AMAZING when paired with the piña colada, though. It was a great mix of sweetness and saltiness.
-I do have to add, though, that I’m a little confused as to the direction that we were going hahaha. We went from… lobster to challah bread to congee to bacon and eggs to mofongos. What was GOING ON? Still, I have to admit that everything was well-cooked, and I kind of enjoyed the variety!
Salt-baked striped bass with herbs, dill chips, lemon, and pepper oil
Drink: Arnold Palmer
Monte: The fish was tender and the chips were fun. I don’t think the flavors in this dish were outstanding, but it was definitely cooked extremely well and the fish was allowed to stand on its own.
Grape granite and chrysanthemum tea
Victor: I could see how this served as a palate cleanser, but it wasn’t really special or anything. I could have lived without it.
Peanut Butter: green apple ice cream, elderflower, butterscotch, and meringue
Victor: The green apple ice cream was prepared using a Pacojet! Coooooooooooool.
Monte: A fun dessert. I liked the peanut butter mousse and the caramel apple theme worked well.
Victor: As a parting gift, they gave us this nice card with the recipe for that amazing sauce we had in the beginning—the “Ghetto White Sauce” hahaha.
They had us sign a guestbook at the end of the meal with our addresses (or emails so that they could email us for our address), and they mailed us the menu and a personalized note after! The personalized note was a litttttle lame, but I can appreciate that they took the time and effort to at least make it seem personalized.