Your First Look at Ma Peche’s “Midtown Lunch” Specials
Keeping in mind that I hate hyberbole… TODAY IS THE GREATEST DAY IN MIDTOWN LUNCH’ING HISTORY. If you missed the news this morning, Ma Peche (aka Momofuku Midtown) is now serving a limited Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner menu in the Mezzanine of the Chambers Hotel (on 56th btw. 5+6th.) That’s right. Momofuku has finally arrived in Midtown.
I’ll be completely honest, when Momofuku announced they’d be opening a quasi-Vietnamese Midtown restaurant helmed by Chef Tien Ho, I was ready to blow up the Midtown Lunch $10 price limit. Fuck it. I love Momofuku, and I ain’t missing out on the Midtown restaurant opening of the century just because normally, for lunch, I’m a cheap bastard. The actual restaurant will most likely take another few months to build and open, but Tien, Cory and the gang were getting antsy to start making some food. So… enter the limited menu, served in the mezzanine of the hotel. All of the dishes on the Lunch/Dinner menu look amazing (hello pork & porcini terrine!), and they’re all over $10. But I was ready to splurge.
And then… the skies parted, and the sun shown down (even on this rainy day), and the MomoGods delivered a miracle that rivals turning water into wine… MomoMidtown (aka Ma Peche) has a $10 “Midtown Lunch” specials menu.
It’s only eat in for now (no takeout), so I headed over just before the lunch rush to order the entire menu. Check out the four dishes after the jump…
For $10 you get your choice of two sandwiches, a calamari salad, or bun (a Vietnamese noodle bowl usually served with meat or shrimp, and fish sauce), plus water, coke, or diet coke.
The squid salad is more like a Momofuku appetizer than any sort of filling lunch (so don’t order this as your lunch), but it doesn’t take away from its deliciousness. It’s kind of weird to eat Vietnamese food in Midtown, that actually tastes like Vietnamese food. (You might say the secret ingredient is fish sauce and cilantro.) The perfect amount of heat too. Very refreshing… and super delicious.
The bun is far more substantial (although some lunch’ers will still find it too small), but no less surprising. Instead of vermicelli noodles, it’s actually rice noodle roll thingees that have been pan fried just a bit, mixed with pork sausage, greens, and crispy shallots. If you like Italian sausage, you will love this dish. The half-chewy/half-crispy rice noodles, with the salty pork, and crispy shallots, plus a squirt of the hot sauce = awesomeness. I thought they had brought us the rice noodle dish from the dinner menu (which is $18) but they assured me it was the same dish. (Hello lunchtime discount!)
So far so good… although most lunch’ers will probably go for the sandwiches.
The chicken banh mi was perfectly good, but is probably geared towards a more conventional eater. If you’ve never had food like this, the chicken banh mi is a great gateway sandwich. The chicken is actually a thick slice of some sort of chicken meat loaf (or chicken roll) rather than boring chicken breast, so there’s no risk of it drying out. Mild flavors, delicious baguette, and a little mint to make it different. Squirt of siracha made a big difference. A good sandwich.
But no match for the three terrine banh mi, which is out of control good. It’s been awhile since I had the original Ssam Bar banh mi (it’s been out of commission for awhile now) but this one is pretty similar. Pate + pork roll + head cheese = best sandwich of all time. Sure it’s on the small side for $10 (the sandwiches are probably around 6″ long), but consider this… at half of the sandwich spots in Midtown, any sandwich + drink will cost you $10 (sometimes even more) and I would pick this sandwich 9 times out of 10 over any one of those other sandwiches. Tie this sandwich to the back of a cab, and you would have seen me running down 5th Avenue in the rain today. It’s so good.
I knew deep down inside that a Midtown branch of Momofuku was never going to be a real Midtown Lunch. Every day, I search for those places that want to give us more for less. Finding the great values in a neighborhood that specializes in charging the shit out everything. Some will say say that even with the special ML menu, Ma Peche doesn’t *really* qualify. Some people will complain that the dishes aren’t big enough, or the sandwiches are too expensive, or that Momofuku in general is overrated (and shouldn’t be written about on Midtown Lunch). But here’s the thing…. they could have just put these sandwiches on the regular menu, charged $11. Or $12. Or even more, and most of the Momofuku fans in this city (and there are a lot of them) wouldn’t have even blinked. Rent in Midtown is freakin’ expensive, and this place is in a hotel. And the quality is unbeatable.
They could have done that, but they didn’t. They took 4 dishes from their menu, slapped a $10 price tag on it, and named it after this site. Why? Because they wanted to. They did that for us. And for that, I consider this one of the greatest days in Midtown Lunch’ing history.