Megu – Tribeca

I’ve been wanting to eat at Megu for a long, long time now.  After first reading about it in an article by John Mariani in, I believe, Esquire magazine (years ago), Megu immediately made it onto my short list of must-go-to restaurants.  It just sounded cool — the kimono-clad hostesses, the unconventional path to the main dining area, the replica of that Buddhist bell, and — who could forget? — the life-sized ice carving of Buddha, surrounded by water and flower petals.

Or perhaps that’s just my imagination (or my memory) running wild?  Although dinner at Megu was fantastic tonight, the whole experience didn’t quite meet my expectations — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I’ll explain:

From the outside, you could very easily miss the 62 Thomas St. entrance to Megu.  For the most part, it’s unmarked — or at least it’s not conspicuously marked.  There is, however, a small Megu logo painted onto the door, and the menu (clearly printed “Megu”) is also on display at the window.  Also, there is a bright red awning over the door.

When you walk into the restaurant, you must walk to the left, past the columns that represent rice bowls, sake vases, and sake dishes/cups, up a few stairs, and down a narrow vase-lined corridor to the reception desk.  The hostess does not wear a kimono — and who can blame her?  It’s the middle of summer and kimonos are freaking HOT.  Instead, she wore a cute little black number and led us around the corner, down the stairs to the dining area, past the transparent statue of Buddha (which is now sadly made out of either glass or plastic.  I’m not quite sure.), and showed us to our seats while shouting something out in poorly pronounced Japanese along the way (the rest of the staff echoed her back in equally bad Japanese).

Not that I know how to speak Japanese. . . . I guess I just watch enough anime to know the difference.  My life is sad.  Stop making fun of my misfortunes.

We were seated at one of the back, left, corner tables — perfect for people watching, with plenty of privacy.  Cool.  I was finally here.

Again, I was able to drag two people along with me — a co-worker and his girlfriend.  I, unfortunately, was unable to convince anyone else to come with me.  They all cancelled on me pretty much at the last minute in some of the most lametastic ways possible.  But I didn’t care.  I was here to eat.

The three of us each ordered a different item from the Restaurant Week menu.  Again, we would pass our plates clockwise so that we could have a little bit of everything.

First Course

The salmon carpaccio I had was absolutely delicious.  Fresh, clean-tasting, with just enough acid from the dressing and the tomato, it was a perfect balance of rich, fatty fish and taste.  An excellent bite.  The only problem was that it was just that — one bite.  All right, all right. . . there were three slices of salmon on the plate, but they were paper thin and not very large otherwise.  I would have liked to see more on the plate, especially because it almost didn’t seem like a complete dish — there was just too little food on the plate.

The shrimp cocktail and Kobe beef croquettes were also delicious.  This was the most substantial of the three plates.  The Kobe beef croquettes was ridiculously tender and juicy — very, very tasty.  The two shrimp were large and delicious, although they were a bit overcooked.  The cocktail sauce that was squeezed out of a bottle across the shrimp looked conspicuously like ketchup but tasted thankfully almost entirely unlike ketchup.  What a relief.  This was probably my favorite appetizer out of the three.

Finally, there was the softshell crab salad with lime dressing — crab fried in deep fat, set on top of a sushi-style roll of bean curd and bitter greens.  In my book, softshell crab is always a winner.  This appetizer was pretty good.  My only criticism would be that I wish they used sweet salad greens to highlight the inherent sweetness of the crab, but I suppose some things must be sacrificed in the pursuit of umami and a balance of flavors.  *shrug*

Second Course

Premium Kobe sirloin beef steak served with platinum rice

Delicious.  A small portion, but what do you expect?  It tasted conspicuously like my mom’s steak — simply marinated in good soy sauce and cooked quickly over a hot flame.  Sure it may sound simple, but some times the simpler, the better — especially, I think, when it comes to good beef (sometimes).

Otherwise, the dish was garnished with a small ceramic soup spoon with some green-tinted mashed potatoes with a fried wonton skin set in it, resembling the sail of a boat.  The three of us were unsure what the color was from in the potatoes, although my co-worker declared that it was wasabi.  I got no wasabi from my potatoes — just the starchy potato flavor.  It was thoroughly uninspiring.  The plain, white rice was good, though.

Silver cod Yuan Miso served with platinum rice

This was also very nicely done.  Savory and tasty and still rare in the middle (the way a fresh piece of fish ought to be cooked), the cod was simply delicious.  Another example of how a simply prepared piece of fish or meat can yield surprisingly tasty results.  I had a couple bones in the bite that I took, which wasn’t cool, but I guess you can’t catch them (bones) all.  Luckily, I did.

The only criticism I had about this dish was that I wish the skin on the fish would have been made crispy.  Crispy skin is delicious.  Otherwise, it’s distracting, detracting, and unappetizing.  The chef should have removed it entirely.  This dish was also garnished with that flavorless green mashed potato soup spoon / boat with fried wonton skin “sail.”

Miso marinated lamb chop served with platinum rice

Everything that I said about the fish above applies here, except for the bit about the skin, of which there was none, and the bones, which were conspicuously and intentionally on display in this dish, to good effect.  Another fantastic dish.  Unfortunately, this dish was also decorated with that stupid potato wonton sailboat/spoon.  I tasted the potato from all three spoons and I swear I couldn’t taste anything besides potato.  I was frustrated.

Dessert

We didn’t have a choice in the dessert, but that was okay.  We were all presented with our own bowl of lychee sorbet and asian rice cake — like mochi, only ridiculously soft and tender.  The cubes of cake were rolled in a flavored powder — one tasted of coffee and the other tasted of green tea.  The lychee sorbet was fantastic — not too sweet, very delicious, and it even had chunks of lychee in it.  Delicious.  The dish was simply garnished with some sweetened whipped cream and some sweetened red beans.  And a sprig of mint.  Classic.

Overall, I have very few negative things to say about Restaurant Week dinner at Megu – Tribeca.  Besides the skin on the fish thing (and the bones), and the slightly overcooked shrimp cocktail, dinner was excellent.  It’s a shame that we had no choice in choosing a dessert, because I have friends that don’t like to eat sweetened red beans and absolutely hate eating rice flour cakes, like mochi.  Sweet, sweet, sticky, chewy mochi.  Obviously, I’m not one of them — I eat damn near everything.

I’d like to eat at there midtown location next time.  We’ll see.  I’m quickly running out of funds and will soon be unable to support this food habit of mine.  Luckily, there’s MasterCard.

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3 Responses to “Megu – Tribeca”

  1. nice critique. i bet shogun is better. HAHA! i think i need to go to hibachi rehab. im addicted

  2. […] is a Plate of Kielbasa and Kraut I know I talk a lot about foie gras and tasting menus and fancy dinners sometimes.  Maybe I haven’t gotten around to it yet in this blog, but it’s true that I […]

  3. […] (as far as eating in Manhattan goes, anyway).  You’re also full after your meal, unlike the time I went to eat at Megu, where I was seriously contemplating buying a dirty water hot dog after dinner.  Order one of the […]

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