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Megu


juuceman
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At dinner the other night, the topic of Megu came up.. i found one link about it's impending opening a few months ago, but nothing more..

from the hipguide (click for complete blurb):

Megu

62 Thomas Street

Restaurateur Koji Imai has 25 restaurants in the old country and we think he is going to revolutionise the way New Yorkers eat sushi. First of all his 25 chefs were culled from over 200 applicants in a process that took more than a year. . . . Not be overlooked is Yasumichi Morita's transformation of the 13,000 foot space.

anyone know anything??? 13,000 square feet?? 25 chefs??

someone here has to know something.

Edited by slkinsey (log)
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I was told that they are finally going to open Feb 16 after long delays.

Until recently, they have put classified ads for chefs and waiter/waitresses in Japanese community papers. I passed by the place few weeks ago, and they didn't seem to finish the construction of that place. But, I guess they finally are able to put everything together in last minutes and going to open the restaurant next week.

http://www.megunyc.com/top.html

Check out the latest meal!

Itadakimasu

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That's where Obeca Li was. That block of Thomas is narrow and dark, and anyplace on it is starting with several strikes.

Never take an "opening date" literally. Especially if the owner tells you. :wink: (Look at the legal battles going on now between Rocco and Jeffrey Chodorow.)

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  • 1 month later...

Moira Hodgson reviews Megu in this week's Observer. She makes it sound pretty awesome. Some quotes:

Our special order of tuna toro head, called noten top toro—along with a couple of pieces of black abalone—came on a pink-and-white porcelain platter decorated with delicate drawings of Japanese figures so exquisitely done that it could have been lifted from the Oriental collection at the Met. "They’re painted with a special brush that has 16 bristles made from the hair of a field mouse specially bred for the purpose," our waitress explained.
Fried calamari arrived on a square platter with pink Japanese lampshades the size of a child’s fingernail painted on each corner. A small hole had been bored into the plate to hold a bamboo stick topped with a tentacle flying like a banner in a Kurosawa battle scene. The calamari was tender as butter, the batter greaseless.
On the way out, pick up a toothpick. They come in holders shaped like kimono dolls—and, by the way, they’re handmade by Megu’s vice president’s mother.

"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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The place is owned by a Japanese restaurant group. I haven't been myself, but so far, reports from foodies who's been there have said that it is a beautiful place decor wise. The food, while not bad, is equivalent to Matsuri's, which I did not like.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I took a brief look at Megu about a week ago. The decor just screams "Wow!" It really is a must-see, and they don't mind at all if you come in just to sight-see. Sam Sifton's review pointed out both of the raps against Megu, already noted by others: it is very expensive, and the menu is extremely confusing.

On my visit, two drinks and two small pieces of sushi set me back about $45. The bartender offered me hand-ground wasabe, which seemed to require considerable effort. The menu goes on for pages and pages, and an awful lot of the items are unfamiliar to American diners. I pointed to a $55 item and asked the bartender whether it was an appetizer or a main course. He said that he thought it was an appetizer. On Megu's menu, you really cannot tell.

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Doesn't sound promising. Maybe one star, two at most.

Then again, I remember Ruth Reichl's $35 bowl of soup and $23 dish of spring vegetable ragout at Lespinasse, so a $25 dish of edamame isn't too far off.

Unfortunately, this isn't Lespinasse. :wink:

Soba

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Im sure there are some serious winner dishes at Megu. I certainly dont have the bankroll to find them. That said, no one will argue the place is a designer's wet dream. It is quite the spectacle. Its like Matsuri on steroids with an ex-Vegas decorator. Personally, I felt the room was stunning and the attention to detail admirable. If you decide to go, do NOT miss the small vestibule between the upstairs bathrooms...look down and try not to lose your balance.

In terms of the menu/food, there is a lot lost in translation. $25 edamame served on the branch is never going to fly. I asked my server for "one twig" and she declined. No doubt after the buzz subsides, they will need to tweak their menu, improve the food OR lower the costs. Even the sushi is expensive per piece and confusing in pricing. For example, one column will say Sushi: Fluke $5. The next column says, Sashimi: $30. Ends up the Sashimi column is for 6 pieces, but one needs to extract that info from your server...and the list goes on.

Personally, I was exhausted after reading through the entire menu. I chose the easy way out and ordered a $48 "Chef's Selection"...which consisted of Kobe Beef with garlic chips on top, Seared Ochu Toro with fresh wasabe on top, Asparagus Tips and Cherry Tomatos wrapped in bacon. Kobe is not my fave so I will reserve judgement but the garlic chips were so tough and candied that I needed to pry them from my molars after each bite. The Toro was excellent and fresh wasabe is always a treat. Both servings were about 1.5-2 Ozs. I was starved afterwards and ordered their "Flying Squid Pinchos" which had a lovely rice based coating but came out at room temperature. The 8 long wooden toothpicks vertically presented was a bit much for me. The Squid was like nothing I have tried before. Purple in color, meaty in an innards kind of way. Not my cup of tea, but definitely a subjective call, not the restaurants fault. They came with 2 japanese grapefruit jelly cubes, which were sweet and tart...they were delicious. At $14, it was one of the cheapest things on the menu.

We also had an excellent spicy Miso with fresh tofu. The soup had a nice kick and was definitely not the garden variety dehydrated miso often served throughout NY.

My girlfriend had a vegetarian sushi platter ($30) which consisted of 12 pieces with some lovely exotic selections of both fresh and pickled veggies. I particularly enjoyed my taste of the Ginger Blossom sushi. We finished with some kind of a multi-layered crepe cake layered with Rikyu (?) cream which was definitely green tea based in flavor. An excellent desert.

2 Martinis, 3 glasses of wine, veggie sushi, chef selection and the squid - $240 w/tip.

"Your girlfriend is a vegetarian, tell her she should eat rabbit...they're vegetarians too" Ali

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Some of you might have missed Julia Moskin's great article about sushi in the New York Times this week:

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/21/dining/21SUSH.html

It includes a really cool multimedia presentation and lots of pictures of the sushi at Megu.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Thanks for that, Jason. The sushi fish at Megu looks way too big for my taste, dwarfing the rice despite the ideal rice to fish mentioned in the article:

Sushi, at its most basic, consists of a finger of rice draped with a slice of raw fish, ideally in a proportion of about 4 to 1, according to Nobu Ishida, whose Apollo Fish Company, in Maspeth, N.Y., supplies top sushi chefs in New York at Nobu, Masa and Sushi Yasuda.

But this is not to say that Megu doesn't interest me.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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In today's New York Post, Steve Cuozzo gives Megu two stars.

THE cute couple next to us at Megu's sushi bar one Saturday night couldn't stop giggling. "Everything you order, they bring to us instead," the man explained.

The wayward dishes were one of many service fiascoes in what would prove to be a long night. "Are you guys from the neighborhood?" I asked.

"Yeah. At least at Nobu, we get celebrities."

That was a month ago. Today, Megu is drawing the likes of Will Smith and Martha Stewart. What hasn't changed since then is its 14-page menu with more fine print than a lease.

Maybe Martha knows the trick to ordering a meal at Megu, the oceanically scaled Japanese restaurant from "visionary food entrepreneur" Koji Imai. I'd love to enjoy it without spending $500 on a light-drinking table of four.

Mammoth Megu is fabulous, fun and full of spectacle. Its menu is rich with marvelous dishes new to New York, like tender Noto Sazae conch. But it's just as full of clunkers and muggings like $25 edamame and spice-breaded asparagus at $6 per spear.

The article is called "Megubucks." You'll find it here.

Given the number of complaints Cuozzo has, I'm surprised he awards two stars.

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I popped my head into Megu tonight. Lots of young people drinking and partying -- strange crowd for a place that expends such effort sourcing exciting fish from Japan. The bar scene might be where there profit comes from. Despite the theatrics -- um, the ice buddha -- I like the concept. At the end of the long, long menu, there is a map of Japan which shows all of the areas from which their ingredients come. And there's a comprehensive glossary. Kind of cool.

Oh, and the $25 edamame is meant to feed four.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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And they're giving out Megu DVDs at the reception desk. It's a fun ten minutes of watching fishermen drag around huge tunas and watching chefs cuts raw fish.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Megu definitely has my vote to win the most interesting ladies room in a restaurant award. To get to the bathroom from the main dining room, you have to go up a tall set of stairs, down a long corridor, past the private dining room and the tasteful flower arrangements to find a discreetly marked door. (I got lost twice trying to find it.) Once inside, you are assualted by an overpowering scent of Eucalytus, and you are in a softly lit room with large bowls of peonies, modern minimalistic sinks and faucets that you'd only seen on the cover of Architectural Digest. In the back ground, you hear the softly chirping sounds of crickets. The place takes the mutli-sensorial experience to the next level...It was almost surreal.

Now if the food was only half as exciting. JJ will have to tell you about the food he's had, but for my part, I had a conch dish that tasted like an escargot dish, which meant that there were six stuffed snails in a bed of rocks that reeked of garlic. I suspect that they chopped up the conch and cooked it in some kind of garlic butter sauce and stuffed it back into the snails shells. This is actually a little disturbing to me because I began to wonder what happened to the snails in the shells, and if they were going to simulate escargot with conch, why don't they just make an escargot dish to begin with.

Next up was a negri sushi for two, which boast fish directly fown in from Japan. May be, I don't know what the hell I'm talking about but the fish didn't taste like anything spectacular. The pieces were too large and lacked the finess that I would expect from Japanese cooking and culture. The rice was great though, a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. Those who likes big portions take note: At $120 the sushi for two consisted of 15 pieces of sushi artfully arranged on a cherry blosson plate, and I'm still trying to figure out in which country would the dish be considered sufficient for two.

We ordered a rice with kimchee and oysters after the sushi. Once again the multi-sensory experience prevails. The rice arrived at the table in a large metal bowl on top of lumps of hot coal encased in a stoneware contraption flown in from Japan. It tasted more Korean than Japanese. The kimchee was so overpowering that it defeats the purpose of oysters. The rice got boring after two bites.

Megu was everything that I had heard about. Decor wise the place is breathtakingly beautiful in a Renkoolhas meets Japan sort of way. Everything from the wood panels on the wall to the Buddah ice sculpture sitting in a pond of floating rose petals gave you an overwhelming sense of proportions. You are impressed by the sweep of space. The service was lacklustered and slow. You wait a long time for your food. Then again, can you blame them when the place is over 260 seats?

It's very loud, and gets louder each time some guests arrive as all servers shout "moshi moshi" at the top of their lungs. For wall street traders and brokers who likes to drink this is a perfect place. For anyone who likes Japanese food, save your money and go to sushi yasuda or Jewel Bako instead.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Megu definitely has my vote to win the most interesting ladies room in a restaurant award.  To get to the bathroom from the main dining room, you have to go up a tall set of stairs, down a long corridor, past the private dining room and the tasteful flower arrangements to find a discreetly marked door.  (I got lost twice trying to find it.)   Once inside, you are assualted by an overpowering scent of Eucalytus, and you are in a softly lit room with large bowls of peonies, modern minimalistic sinks and faucets that you'd only seen on the cover of Architectural Digest.  In the back ground, you hear the softly chirping sounds of crickets.  The place takes the mutli-sensorial experience to the next level...It was almost surreal.

My eyes stung from the eucalyptus when I stepped into the men's room. And it took me five minutes to figure out how to turn of the water in the sink.

We each had a glass of an excellent daiginjo -- a sake for which rice grains are polished until they're something like 40-50% of their original size. They served it in beautiful handmade glasses with big coasters that looked like thick slices of the trunk of a small tree.

The "conch" was listed on the menu as Princess sazae conch. Sazae, as I understand is a sea snail which I've also seen referred to as "top shell'. I've only seen it at one other Japanese place in the city and it was done better there. For about $20, you get 6 sazae shells, each of which, yield two tiny bites of snail overwhelmed by panko and "soy butter". And garlic, a strong taste of garlic.

I ordered two skewers of meat from the "grilled over bincho tan section", chicken with fresh wasabi and Oregon Kobe beef with miso. (Bincho tan is a type of Japanese charcoal; incidentally it is used at Sushi Yasuda to purify water.) The chicken needed salt badly and was a bit dry; the fresh wasabi tasted diluted. The beef was amazingly tender, and sweet from the miso. All it was missing was a strong beefy taste. The beef skewer -- about six small hunks -- was $15. The chicken was $4.

Sushi "for two" came next. As Bond Girl said, for $120 we got 15 pieces of somewhat sloppily-made nigiri sushi and a crispy tuna roll. The rice and some of the fish (chu toro, snapper), I thought, was very good but the fish was too large and the rice was hardly warm when our platter came to the table. The uni had the deep flavor I love but none of the sweetness. The shrimp was sweeter than most ebi at sushi bars but was a bit dry. A strange thing about the sushi: I suspect we could have ordered the same pieces of sushi a la carte and got it for the same price as the platter, or maybe less. The a la carte sushi went from about $5-10, with most items around $6. If we assume the tiny, crappy roll was an expensive $10, then the average price of each piece of fish on our platter was $7.33. The crispy tuna roll came after we had finished the nigiri and further proved to me that nothing fried should be wrapped in sushi rice and nori. The oily taste is almost always too strong for the rice.

Since we were still hungry after our sushi, we ordered the rice dish Bond Girl described. I wasn't as bored with it as she was -- I kept finding in each bite different bits of kim chee, some salty and spicy, some sweet and vinegary. Pretty good dish.

The room is beautiful and deserves a look. And the menu is so large that we didn't scratch the service. If I go again, I'd try more of the items that are explicitly sourced from Japan, like the wild Mutsu Bay scallops or the squid from Hotaru. I still love the concept of being devoted to procuring obscure ingredients from Japan -- and the US -- but I wish Megu seemed committed to this concept's execution. Instead hip-hop musak played loudly and more and more decked-out couples rolled in, and girls with $1000 handbags.

Megu seemed like it was all show. When a dish comes to your table, expect everyone at the surrounding tables to stare, partly because your dish looks wild -- like raw oysters served on a bed of crushed ice that glowed purple -- and partly because they're hungry and haven't yet gotten their food because the kitchen takes so long. I saw the famous edamame, which came attached to whatever it is edamame grows from. To me they looked like they were attached to long green stalks and they were propped up and posed until they stood high above the plate. It all looked silly. The plate, for some aesthetic purpose, sloped and resembled a ramp, albeit a ramp imported from Japan.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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i stopped by Megu last night after a quick bite at Danube. I have to be honest, I really wasnt that impressed by the space. Certainly they spent a lot of money on the place, but I found it to be way too much, especially the ice sculpture with the fire underneath. I had to check out the bathrooms after jgoodes and bond girls posts, all i can say is that for the few minutes that i was there, my sinuses were momentarily cleared, but my eyes stung like hell. Also its a bit confusing, on my way back to the exit, i ended up on the downstairs floor- oh and very loud and the people there were very um, interesting.

I personally dont think that it will do that well once the "novelty" has worn off,,,,, though some of the people that eat there, dont care about the food anyway, i guess we ll have to wait and see,,,,,,,,

"Is there anything here that wasn't brutally slaughtered" Lisa Simpson at a BBQ

"I think that the veal might have died from lonliness"

Homer

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Frank Bruni's second review as restaurant critic is for Megu. He gives it two stars.

I had a chance to see his report on NY1. Essesentially, it boils down to great food, but the menu isn't focused enough -- it's overwhelming.

THE menu at Megu begins with some counsel, or rather cheerleading, asking you to explore the 9 ensuing pages — 12 if you count the glossary of ingredients and the map of Japan — "as you would a beautiful garden."

What a lovely wish, and what a ludicrous one. Without a machete and a G.P.S. device, there is no easy way to navigate this thicket.

Towards the end of the NY1 discussion, Sam Roberts (moderator) asked Bruni why he thought so many Japanese restaurants have opened lately (Masa, Riingo, Geisha, etc). Bruni stated that part of the reason is that as past restaurants succeeded it inspired others to do the same. He also felt that the current Atkins craze has something to do with it as seafood is very Atkins friendly.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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What it sounds like to me, is that Bruni really wanted to give it 3 stars so that it would rival Nobu, and for the most part it has 3 star food and ambiance, sometimes reaching for 4, but the service issues are so screwy and that it had enough bad dishes to warrant the 2 star rating.

So it sounds like it a really good (albeit expensive) restaurant, but one must tread carefully, like a Ninja entering the warlords' castle filled with Samurai. Hopefully they will sort out some of their issues, prune the menu down to just the good stuff and a revisit will give them the 3 stars they are striving for.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Us Tokyo based egulleteers just had a dinner at Imaiya another restaurant by the Megu founder Koji Imai. pictures of the food:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=45036

I was just under the assumption that Imai-san was something of an older man, he is only 36 years old and owns about 25 restaurants.....

Koji Imai:

http://www.foodscope.co.jp/founder/

click on restaurants to see picturs of all the rest of his places

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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The glaring error Mr. Bruni makes in his descriptions of the food: "The Kobe beef, which comes from Texas.....". This is my new pet peeve. If the beef is not imported from Kobe, it is not Kobe beef. It is Wagyu. Wagyu is the breed of cattle that is pampered and massaged in Kobe to produce their famous steak. Wagyu is now bred in Australia, Texas, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other places. The clever fellows marketing Wagyu in the US are feeding this misconception: "domestic Kobe beef". Wagyu is selling in the US at around $28 a pound wholesale. These are the $37.99 a pound steaks you see at the upscale butcher. Certified Kobe beef is many times more expensive.

Rant over.

Mark

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I agree with Mark -- that really is a pet peeve of mine as well. You'd think Bruni would at least be aware of this seemingly simple designation, or surely his editor.

Maybe I should see how he likes that fabulous Iranian caviar from Ohio.

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