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A meal at MEGU: An experience for all your senses

Megha Mamgain

Updated: January 7, 2014, 6:29 AM IST
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The moment you walk into MEGU, the Japanese restaurant at the Leela Palace New Delhi, you face modernity, glamour and tradition all at the same time. Happy faces greet me, and take me at a table in the dramatic Buddha Hall. There is a lot of options in seating here actually- the chic sushi bar to enjoy their fine collection of Sakes with your Sushi and Sashimi, the private, very Japanese dining Kimono with origami walls or the outside deck, for a balmy afternoon or a springy evening. I'm sitting near the huge glass Buddha, very eager to see how an authentic Japanese restaurant has been catering to the "chatpata" Delhi palate for 2 years now.

I am looking for not just flavours that will tantalize my taste buds, but also I am interested to see if my strictly vegetarian companion leaves the table satiated. And let me tell you, MEGU does not disappoint us. In fact, some of the vegetarian dishes are so good that I would recommend you to try them even if you are a hard core non-vegetarian. The Shira Ae is one such dish that engulfs you at so many levels. The restaurant manager, Deepak Rawat, gets it to our table and then with a quick flick of expertise, unwraps the outer whorl of disked melons to reveal the tofu within. He mashes it up before serving it to you. A spoonful of this is such a myriad of textures and the flavours are clean and earnest. The crunch of the sesame comes as a surprise and breaks the consistency.

(Shira Ae)

Unlike the popular perception about Japanese cuisine, our meal is not just raw fishin fact each dish presented to us, was a work of art. Be it the crispy shrimps in pockets of crispy fried potatoes with a spicy mayonnaise dip or crispy chicken sitting on a happy bed of avocado salsa. The flavours in each dish are distinct and surprisingly, deliciously familiar. If you ever were closed about idea of Japanese cuisine because of the fear of the unknown, be assured that you will love the carefully designed menu for the Indian clientele here at the MEGU.

(The Oriental Salad: Light and crispy with a generous sprinkling of nuts)

The service is top class. I barely notice as plates are changed at regular intervals, inconspicuously, so there is always room for more food! We are given mild herbal tea to sip, during the meal that cleanses the palate and gets you ready for the next course. The servers are friendly and very well versed with the food. They offer descriptions, suggestions on what to eat and what wine goes well, also very open to response from the customers. Every little detail is taken care of- while we are still looking at the gorgeous looking sushi that has just arrived at the table, Deepak is already grating some fresh wasabi on shark skin. If you want the more pungent kick of old wasabi, you can ask for it too. A word about the sushi here- fresh, crispy, absolutely delightful! The chopsticks are around for those who can maneuver them, as for me, I'm popping one sushi piece after another digging a fork into them. The rice is perfect, the stuffing even better! This is the sort of food that brings a smile on your face and makes your heart flutter with joy! No exaggeration!

(Assorted Sushi platter)

The main course is brought out- there is the seared duck breast with balsamic soy, Grilled Chicken with Wasabi Potato Puree, and my favourite, grilled Salmon in pristine white cauliflower puree.

(Grilled Salmon resting on cauliflower puree)

I couldn't be happier because the Chef, at this point, comes and joins me at the table. Chef de Cuisine, Yutaka Saito, is the brains behind this new additions to the menu. I suspect that it is also because of his Indian wife that he understands the Indian taste bud so well.

(In conversation with Chef Yataka Saito)

I have been waiting to ask him, which Indian spices he has used in his cooking that makes the food closer home to us. Surprise surprise! There is not one Indian spice used in the cooking, rather sourced the Japanese ingredients that are closest to the taste and aroma of the popular Indian spice whose flavour he wants to introduce in his dish. Talk about being authentic! This obviously comes with high standards that MEGU and Leela Palace maintain and of course the three decades of experience that the Chef has.

No meal is complete without a desert, and there is ample to choose from here as well. I opted for Creme Brulee with wasabi ice cream. I crack the thin torched crust of the custard and relish it with the wasabi ice cream. To say 'Interesting' , would be an understatement I polish it off with a smile on my face.

(A perfect finish: Creme Brulee with Wasabi ice cream)

A meal at MEGU, at The Leela Palace New Delhi, is an experience for all your senses. It's a visual delight and your taste buds will be thanking you for quite a few days. MEGU is the kind of place you'd like to come to celebrate food with the ones you love.
First Published: January 7, 2014, 6:29 AM IST

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