Momo? No.

The Unwelcoming Momo...
I have spoken about Momofuku Ma Peche in the past... as it really used to be quite phenomenal.

The amount of Momo Empire haters that are out there, you'll love this post, because it aligns with the level of distaste you have for the restaurant model in general.

But that is not the purpose of this blog entry, to be mean or unfair.
Again, I feel like I have to note that consistency is key. It is an element so often forgotten -in many areas, not only within the service industry.
Since losing star chef Tien Ho, Ma Peche is just NOT what it once was.... The restaurant also lost some really great FOH and waitstaff in the process. The consistency that used to be spot-on has really lost its way, too.

Let me tell you a little bit about the frustration:

Yesterday, the immature hostesses that greeted me were unbelievably rude -and NOT just to me. I heard one of the teenie boppers (barely out of diapers, that's for sure) tell multiple people that "We don't seat incomplete parties." I was really taken back by the dismissive, pompous attitude. I wanted to scream, "BITE ME, witchie-poo!" Geez! But I didn't... although one UES type almost gave her a spanking on the spot for the rude response for a table for two. Good thing her husband joined her as she poised herself to give this little girl a public flogging for her bad behavior...There's just no reason or room for poor front of house staff. Ever.
And as many times as I have visited, I wasn't even aware that Ma Peche accepted reservations. It's out of the norm for the Momos to do that. Most importantly, the place was NOT full... at all. It's not like they couldn't accommodate and allow us to have the one seat open for the 3 minutes we had to additionally wait. I should have just said there were 3 and then when we had a 4-top, then the other person would just magically "show" --- but I didn't know that there was this pissy policy being enforced by prickly princesses at the hostess table.

After taking our seats .... you know, once we had a COMPLETE party, we ordered quite a spread since it was a business luncheon: shrimp curry, all 3 vegetables that were on the menu, some pork buns for the Momo virgins that accompanied me on this visit, steak tartar, the brisket and a chicken Bahn Mi sandwich.
It wasn't a long wait for the food and the fried brussel sprouts were fine... my guests thought that the curry and brisket were also decent but not remarkable. The pork buns... THE signature of any Momo: dry and falling apart with fatty meat in the middle. The Bahn Mi that I had always enjoyed didn't have its overall freshness taste either.

A lunch that used to be fantastic had fallen to hum-drum.

The wait staff in the dining area wasn't terrible, as they were responsive -but the whole mojo of the place has fallen flat on its face. That coolness feeling was just cold and blah.

Too bad, Ma Peche. You lost the best chef you'll ever have and lost a lot of business that I used to send that way, too.

They won't need to worry about seating me as a complete or incomplete party again. This is a NoNo for that Momo Ma Peche. (Insert disappointed sigh here.)

I'll wait to hear where Chef Ho turns up next. I'm sure to be a fan of his Ho House where ever it might be!

8 comments:

  1. I've been there lately myself. The only thing that could make this restaurant worse is if David Chang tried to cook himself. Not until TIen Ho get's his own restaurant will things be right in the NY food scene!

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    1. Well said. I've heard that David can't cook -but he *is* the owner, so he can pretend as long he's financing the deal.

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  2. Ate there Thursday night...food was good, service was surprisingly good, but the hostesses were very young and not too professional. With that said, they were very nice to us, but I expected a more professional staff. Experienced the same thing two nights later at The Dutch.

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    1. Appreciate the comment! Thanks!
      I've always liked the youthfulness -but I think the training element is missing. Any restaurant has the ability to choose who is the first person to interact with their guests. Its up to the management to make sure that these kids at the Front of the House know how to handle people and have good skills before letting them go in front of the public. There's nothing wrong to expect more professional, like you point out, right?

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  3. Almost every restaurant has a rule about not seating incomplete parties and almost everyone, including you, thinks that they have a scenario that trumps the policy.

    Maybe the hostess wasn't tactful, but I some how think that any outcome apart from doing exactly as you desired was going to be satisfactory anyway.

    As for the food, from what I hear Tien Ho and Sam Gelman weren't around much anyway before leaving and Paul Carmichael was left to run the lunch service that had always impressed you. Carmichael might be in over his head running the whole show, this restaurant was created as a vehicle for Ho to showcase his vision for a Vietnamese influenced menu. Chang, Carmicheal and Co will now have to collaborate to give the restaurant a new direction.

    However, I agree with you 100% that a David Chang restaurant should never produce a bad pork bun. There is no justification for botching their signature dish.

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    1. Sincerely appreciate the comment, Anthony.
      Just want to point out that I didn't *mind* waiting for everyone to get there in order to be seated. That happens everywhere. What I didn't appreciate was *how* it was handled. You're correct in pointing out that "the hostess wasn't tactful" -as this is something that shows poor training and simple immaturity. This particular girl didn't even mention going to the bar to wait for the rest of our party -nor did she offer that as an option to anyone else. It's usually policy at Ma Peche to have them go inside and have a drink upstairs while waiting (and it was open). Oh well...It's sad that this particular hostess set a bad tone for all who entered. Again, not just me!
      And as far as the menu, one would think that Chang, Carmichael and Co would get a jump on changing the menu already. Tien Ho has been gone for awhile now, more than ample time to put together something fresh and innovative. Overall, it was just very weird and disappointing - as I mentioned previously, it's the mojo that seemed to be gone.
      I will still check out the other Momos... Noodle and Ssam still have dishes that keep me returning. It might boil down to the fact that its the East Village flair that is missing in Midtown!!

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    1. [Just FYI - I am not responsible for this post. If you click, I have no clue where it goes... or if there is a virus attached.] o.O

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