This is proving to be a pretty tough review to write. By many measures, Megu is absolutely stunning. Representing the first entrance to the New York dining scene by Koji Imai, a veteran of 20 odd restaurants in Japan, the attention to detail - in most areas is incredible. It's just that....hold on...let me back up and give you some of the basics first.
Megu sits behind an unassuming entrance on Thomas Street, which is actually hiding 13,000 sq feet of space. Upstairs, along with a friendly welcome at the reception area, you'll find the Kimono bar offering good service and fine cocktails. The prices give you an idea of what's to come, but it's a nice enough bar to hang out in whilst waiting for your table. You can also dine upstairs if you fancy something a little less formal, but why miss out on the main event - which is what you'll find once you head downstairs.
Occupying the bulk of the space, the downstairs dining area is vast. You can dine in booths, regular tables and chairs or at the sushi-bar: so long as you can live with the shouting. Hanging in the middle of the room, over the top of a buddha ice statue, you'll find a Bonsho (temple) bell; a theme echoed in the lighting. Quite simply, it looks stunning.
All good so far: but here's where it slipped some. Having been seated, Karim and I sat for an age waiting for anything to happen. No menus, no drinks, no 'hello my name is Tomomi and would you like brunch tomorrow'. Nada. I can take that in some places - up to a point - but to be honest, I didn't expect it in a place where we were just about to spank $200 a head. Menus sorted, edamame on stalks being quietly munched, we decided the only course of action was a bottle of sake to ease the pain. Needless to say, Megu's sake list is as extensive as most other restaurant's wine lists.
"what about the food?" I hear you cry. Well, we ordered quite a lot. Best bet here is to order to share, and - even though it's v.expensive - order quite a few dishes, as each one is pretty small. The food though was excellent. Each dish presented in a unique style, served with a flourish and an explanation by our rather cute Japanese waitress....hmm...err, sorry, where was I...oh yeah..the food. Like a lot of Japanese restaurants it comes when it's ready, and after a few sakes I kept thinking we were done, when another amazing creation arrives.
I seem to remember reading that each of the 25 chefs was meticulously selected by the man himself, as is the food - much of it imported directly from Japan. Everything was fresh, and apart from the desserts, which were merely average - although I liked the dry ice effect - really very good indeed.
Feeling happier after the bad start, Megu then managed to screw things up again, leaving us waiting for an age to get and then further, to be able to sign, the bill. Gah! To their credit, after I did a very un-British thing and complained, they did knock the desserts off the bill. Which was still $350 for two of us. Oops. I guess you could also say Megu isn't cheap.
So, is it worth it? For a destination venue, absolutely. You must experience it. Would I go again? Maybe: it would make an impressive date venue for sure, but I hope they sort the service out. They certainly have enough staff to make that happen, and with everything else done to perfection it's a shame not to fill in the gaps.
Megu should be 4/4 across the board. The venue looks incredible, the food fresh, tasty and beautifully presented: it really is a destination venue. Just misses out on top marks thanks to a few fundamental lapses in the service.
Stunning space, excellent food, incredible attention to detail..
..except for some of the service. Pricey. Very!