Homemaking hyphenate Martha Stewart, chef Mario Batali, Esquire editor David Granger and former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl were among those previewing David Chang’s new midtown restaurant, Ma Peche, at the Chambers Hotel, in the space formerly occupied by Town, on Monday, April 5.
“I love the tables,” said Ms. Stewart, wearing billowing silk, regarding the giant, cross-shaped setup, made of unvarnished wood, in the center of the room.
She was seated in the corner and quickly started devouring some king crab.
Ma Peche (Mother Peach in Tay Boi, a Creole language of Vietnamese servants during the French colonization period) will be overseen by executive chef Tien Ho, who has been serving banh mi and hamburgers on the hotel’s mezzanine level for a few months-mere placeholders for the restaurant’s full menu, which will include oysters, squid (visibly savored by Mr. Batali), salad frisée with tripe and pork jowl croutons and pork ribs in a delectable lemon grass reduction, complemented by “weirdo wines,” as young sommelier Christina Turley put it. Indie cred is further provided by a painting by Miguel Caldéron of five shirtless Mexican men wearing monster masks, seated atop dirt bikes, on loan from film director Wes Anderson.
This is the first time a Chang enterprise involves uniforms, coffee and room service, but Ms. Turley reassured us that the signature flourishes of Mr. Chang’s renegade Momofuku empire will remain intact. “We don’t take reservations and you can’t substitute items on the menu,” she said. “We’ll be telling a lot of people ‘no’ who are used to hearing ‘yes.’”
Ms. Stewart was overheard remarking to Cory Lane, Momofuku’s service director, that perhaps the frisée was too spicy. But when the Transom approached, fortified by pork, Ms. Stewart had nothing but compliments.
“I love David Chang,” she said. “I discovered him in the East Village, like everyone else.”
And the new digs?
“Oh, the communal tables-people up here will have to get used to that.”