Second visit. This time I’m not completely blown away.
My first visit to the Megu s probably one of my top-three restaurant experiences ever. This time I’m not completely going ooooh or aaaah over it. Still, the interior is dazzling with the 800 lbs bonshu, (yes, that’s a temple bell), hanging from the ceiling over an ice Buddah, suspended above a pool of water. The Buddah, 3 feet high, is sculptured by Coolway Ice in Queens and weighs in at about 370 lbs. It’s kept in a freezer during the day. The bell is an exact replica of one of the largest bells in Japan, which hangs in the Todaiji temple in Nara. You make your entrance through going upstairs to the bar M by Megu and then there’s a staircase leading down to the main restaurant where you sit in those round booths, (just barely visible in the pic above) near the temple bell.
The almost incomprehensible menu…
You will need help to order. There were more signature dishes and special compositions than Google could keep track of. In total, there are more than 100 different dishes and side-orders, the saké menu alone is a little hardcover book with more than 60 varieties listed, there are 6 different miso soups and no, those are not the New York Yellow Pages, that’s the wine list with more than 600 offerings. Oh, let’s not forget the 63-item glossary included in the menu, explaining different specialities like “Kanzuri” shrimp. You will need help to order if you’re not mentioning “Omakase”. That’s Japanese for “It’s up to you” and it will kickstart an 8 course set menu; a 3.5 hour culinary extravaganza.
Yeah, yeah… but is it any good?
It sure is. On my first visit I had the Omakase, this time I tried to pick a few little somethings. The “5 Kinds of Sashimi Tasting” was a nice start, in combination with the scallops being grilled on the table using binchō-tan, a very pure charcoal of oak from Wakayama, that doesn’t release smoke.
Tuna and other ingredients are flown in from Japan daily and of course it helps. The food is simply fantastic. So why wasn’t I blown away? For two reasons: 1) The volume of the music, which lead me to believe that the restaurant and the bar concepts had been confused. 2) The overzealous rookie waiter, who monitored how fast the food disappeared from the plates a tad too closely. With all the extra miles that Koji Imai and the staff at the Megu are going you’d expect your highest expectations to be met, but this time… no. So four it is.
62 Thomas Street
New York, NY 10013
What to tell your cabbie: It’s on Thomas Street between Church and West Broadway.
Dinner menu is served:
Mon – Wed 5:30 to 11:30 p.m.
Thur – Sat 5:30 to 12:30 a.m.