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Manhattan

MEGU report (come hither ye flush euro tourists)

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MEGU report (come hither ye flush euro tourists)

Skillet Licker | Jun 14, 2005 02:16 AM

I admit it -- and it doesn't happen too often -- but I was suckered. When I decided to visit Megu, I thought I was going to have a chowhoundish experience. What I found, instead, was a tourist trap, but of an astonishing new sort. While some of the food is quite good (I mean, they DO have to serve some decent food at these prices), for the most part this is one of those newfangled loungey restaurants where wealthy Europeans come to dump all the dollars they got when they exchanged their almighty euros for our lowly greenbacks. Its a money laundering pit of sorts. It attracts a crowd whose expectation of a restaurant hovers somewhere near the following: "A thrilling, super-expensive, over-decorated, high-fashion, high-concept affair that looks and functions like a nightclub". By the way, out front, Megu has club-like ropes manned by a club-like bouncer. When I saw that, I should've spun around on my heals and headed for Odeon or Petit Abeille.

The lauded decor becomes a bore even before you've issued your second "wow". And from the decadently expensive, daily-carved, ice Buddha centerpiece you can sense fumes of bad kharma rising slowly as it melts away into Megu's continental atmosphere.

The place is big and we arrived after 11:00 PM, so when we requested a spacious table, we were given a huge circular banquette in the center of the room,(right next to the Bhudda), even though we were just two.

The service was inept, but in a curious way. Our main server was a college girl who'd evidently attended Megu seminars on how to explain sohisticated Japanese cuisine to dithering fools. Which she proceeded to do for us, uninvited, even though my guest was Japanese. Ridiculous. More important, and perhaps this wasn't her fault, the dishes were brought out in the wrong order. For instance, the silver cod in yuan miso with shimeji mushrooms -- probably the richest dish I've ever had in my life -- was served at the end of the meal, rather that at the begining when the palatte is still fresh and eager and can recover from the cod's suffusing glaze. As it was, at the end of the meal, the cod was an emetic.

A selection of sushi, including unagi, kohada, and uni, and spicy salmon skin maki, were fine, with unagi being the lone stand-out. Crispy asparagus in okaki batter was a failed enterprise, with shards of batter falling helplessly off the stems.

Chu toro with wasabi and avocado, served "ravioli style" (more like a terrine), was, predictably, scrumptious (how can you go wrong with ingredients like those?)

The yuba salad was fine. Haramai kobe beef grilled on a hot stone, was wan, even with the three superfluous dipping sauces. (Kobe should speak for itself; this Kobe was mute.) A series of waiters came by to lecture us on the many complexities and intricacies of stone grilling.

Dessert was so forgettable, I've already forgotten it.
Drinks: whiskey and reisling.

There was one fantastic dish: a miso soup special, the color and consistency of butternut squash soup, of heavenly deep and complex flavor. Into the center of this little masterpiece was plopped a kind of melting tofu that I've never had before but can't wait to have again.

The tab? About twice as much as it should've been at this euro-friendly decadence parlour.

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