MEGU New York: Friends in high places lead to magnificent spaces by Amanda Liew

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Taste: 4.5 / 5Ambience: 4 / 5 Would you want to eat there again?: Yes Was the price worth it?: No

"Do you have dinner plans for tonight?" And that was the little text I got which led to the best Friday night surprise yet. I first met my friend Amalie at Penn through Greek InterVarsity, but since moving to New York, we've become so much closer thanks to joining the same church and running in the same communities. Though she would certainly laugh that she's a "friend in high places," she does in fact hold a crazy cool job, and her boss had an unused gift certificate to Megu, an asian-fusion restaurant, that was going to expire that day. Ever so flattered I would be considered for such a cool outing, we quickly made reservations and battled the freezing cold to make it there alive. We were rather surprised by the fact that we could make a same-day reservation at the Tribeca location and by how empty it was (only half of the tables were filled), but we wondered if that was attributed to the awful weather outside. photo (29)

Because we had a restaurant voucher, the 5-courses were already pre-set. We started out with the "Crispy Okaki Aspargus" - Japanese cracker battered asparagus which was presented in such a fascinating way. The savory crackers added such an interesting (and familiar) flavor to the asparagus which we both enjoyed quite a bit. We were surprised, though, because it seemed to be quite a filling appetizer and first-course. Next, we had the Seaweed Salad which was light and surprisingly flavorful.

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Our third course was a few different components. We had goat "meatballs", roasted peppers and scallops (not pictured). The goat meatballs were rich in flavor, but not overly oily which I appreciated._DSC0099_Megu 2014

For our entrees, we were given a few choices and I selected the kobe beef with caramelized onions. Little  did I know that it would come on a lava stone and be lit on fire. Casual. I snapped as many pictures as I could and absolutely love how the photographs turned out. Fire is such an interesting subject - it's constantly moving and you can never truly capture it's essence, can you? At the same time, the blend of blinding whites, oranges, yellows, and blues is such a beauty you can't find anywhere else._DSC0100_Megu 2014 _DSC0102_Megu 2014

I was amazed at how tender the kobe beef remained - I suppose the quick sear served its purpose to caramelize the onion and the outside of the beef, leaving the inside a perfect medium-rare. It was an excellent portion size as well._DSC0105_Megu 2014

Amalie selected the pork chop with (ginger?) sauce on it. She loved it just as much, although there were no flames on this one!_DSC0106_Megu 2014

At last, the 5th course of our meal was dessert! Little did we know that we would have not one, not two, but three components to desserts. We each got a mini creme-brulee, a multi-layered green tea crepe cake, and a chocolate lava cake. The creme brulee and chocolate cake were quite standard, so I was most excited to dig into the green tea crepe cake. However, I found that the texture was a little mushier than expected. The cream, without a doubt, was phenomenal and had a subtle tea bitterness to it which I thought made it more authentic. However, I think the crepe layers were in fact too thin and therefore became soggy from the creme. The creme brulee was the winner of the trio, but then again I tend to love creme brulee more than other desserts. (Unfortunately at this point, my DSLR died and I resorted to my iPhone)photo (33) photo (34) photo (35)

And of course, who can resist a 6th course of late night lattes?photo (32)photo (31)All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed the meal. However, by the end of it we started wondering whether or not we would have found the meal worth it had we paid for it in-full. The voucher on Gilt Group was $119 total, so at roughly $60/person for a 5-course meal, it would be more than reasonable. However, at a full-price of an estimated $200 or more, we agreed that it wasn't worth $100/person. Of course, the meal was still fantastic overall and if money is not an object for you, I would recommend it. Many thanks to Amalie for bringing me along and treating me to such a wonderful spontaneous night!

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In terms of photography, I tried to use my 50mm prime lens, but with such dim lighting and social acceptable behavior severely limiting me, the photographs didn't turn out nearly as well as I had hoped. The ISO had to be blasted so high just to get some sort of focus, and even then I was too close to get the full subjects in focus. If any other photographers have some experience shooting in restaurants, I would love to learn more! Namely, how do you get a decent photo without completely embarassing the rest of your party? Haha luckily Amalie was a good sport through and through and even helped me move plates around so I could get better shots.

City Living | City Loving

I've realized that despite moving to New York City eight months ago, I still have yet to actually blog about this city. When I first moved here, I was so awe of this city. Even after two summers here, this city blows my mind time and time again with its endless beauty, mouth-watering restaurants, and a whole new breed of people. Without even realizing it, I started hashtagging my Instagram accounts with #citylivingcityloving - it just sounded so right, and I was positive I had heard it before. Soon, my friends started making fun of me with #countrylivingcountryloving and all sorts of ridiculousness. When I clicked on the hashtag itself, I realized that apparently I'm the only person in the world who uses this saying. So hey, in the spirit of that, I've started a new category on my blog to feature NYC at its finest: City Living | City Loving.