Bill: $95 per person
It starts with a call from Chef Paul Carmichael. He’ll ask about your day, what you like to drink. And that sets the scene for what I promise will be one of the most quality dining experiences you’ll have in Manhattan.
Kappo at Ma Peche is simply the eight barstools already embedded within the Ma Peche dining room. But Kappo is anything but another Momofuku production.
Through the photos below, you’ll witness the gradual unfolding of what a really extraordinary meal can be, not just in taste but all senses combined. From watching each of your 10-odd courses come together, to smelling the duck-fat rolls come to life, from pestling your own pork cubes and garlic, to feeling the scorching blaze used to melt your poached-egg onion soup, get ready for a full sensory experience.
You sit down to a customized concoction, literally with your name on it. This is derived from your conversation with Chef Paul and there’s no two mixers that are the same. Next to the bottles is your own bread pan with six beautiful rolls lined with duck fat. That goes into the oven after a bit of extra buttering and returns mid-meal, which I’ll come back to.
They ease you into the meal with lightly fried tempura-coated nori and pork skin. The dip is endearingly termed “ghetto white sauce” to which you’ll get a signed recipe card for at the end of the night.
As you inspect how they managed to fry the seaweed so artfully, various components to the rest of your meal are already under way. Chef Paul placed his cutting board right in front of us to slice sushi and pull apart lobster.
You’ll get the lobster a dish or two later, so succulently poached and topped with disks of fried potato.
But my favorite serving of the night came right before that–slices of sushi covered in foie gras shavings that instantly melt in your mouth. I bet you’ll be scrapping this bowl clean, not wanting any of the foie gras to melt on the side of the bowl.
As mesmerized as I was about the crazy layers of flavors that somehow came together with the foie gras, the next empty canvas is already in front of you and ready to dazzle. King oyster mushrooms have been steaming long before we even arrived, carefully sliced and set on our plates with a dollop of caviar. It challenges other parts of your taste bud with its smokiness and earthiness.
Another memorable dish was what they called a french onion soup. It starts off with a translucent poached egg, David Chang style, resting at the bottom of your bowl. They douse it in a caramelized onion puree and grate a mountain of parmesean cheese on top. The blow torch comes around and whittles the mixture into a lightly seared cheesy mixture that you use to dip your duck fat rolls into. Having six rolls all to yourself and finishing every bite would be crazy any other night. But not here.
The braised beef comes near the end, a vividly magenta block of meat with stripes of luscious fat. At this point, you’ll be full, but that won’t matter. No two dishes will have tasted remotely the same up to this point and your brain will tell you not to dare to miss out on what surprising flavors might be in store.
But it does set up the pre-dessert palate cleanser to be grandly refreshing — a chamomile tea with bits of apple. An alternating mixture of slight bitterness and slight sweetness, all with an icy crunch.
The whole experience ends with a bang. A corn-themed dessert that plays off the Milk Bar’s famous corn flake cereal milk soft-serve. It starts with a bed of frozen cubes of white chocolate, then completely covered with various forms of corn-flavors components, including popcorn in its ordinary form. How I never topped white chocolate ice cream with popcorn, I don’t know.
Having great food is one thing. But the inspiration behind its creation and gracefulness of its preparation are the often overlooked heart and soul of the cooking process. Here at Kappo, they fully expose this thought process and invite diners in, like no other restaurant I’ve seen.