It’s nice to have friends visit from out of town that not only love sushi but love to share their enjoyment with others.
Recently, a dear friend of ours was visiting from Chicago to spend some time with his father and to pay us a visit as well. On his last full day before heading back, he and his dad invited us for an evening of sushi. After some discussion, we decided to try a place that none of us had been to before: Megu Sushi and Hibachi on Route 70 in Cherry Hill. If you ever go looking for Megu, it’s at the Tuscany Marketplace but quite hidden from the road. Venture ’round back of the plaza, walk past the rock school on your left, and there you will find Megu.
Once inside, I was struck by the matching vibrant colors on the wall and the dark wood of the tables. There was a decent-sized main dining room, an elevated tatami-like room to the left and a hibachi room further down the hall. Hibachi rooms tend to get a bit boisterous, but the set up was such that you didn’t really hear the noise from there. A big plus in my mind. We settled on the tatami room for a little privacy and sat down to plot our ordering strategy.
Chef Steven Megu Lin is clearly not afraid to mix in some non-Japanese techniques in his cooking. Our duck spring roll appetizer, served in a shallow pool of hoisin-based sauce, gave more than just a passing nod to nouvelle cuisine; and the beautifully delicate tuna dumplings – with the tuna serving as the outer wrapping around crabmeat – sat on a contrasting criss-cross of sauces that was certainly not Japanese in style. Both were excellent.
When it came time for the rolls of sushi, though, East did not meet West; East left West to go peddle its papers- the preparation of the rolls and sashimi were all Japanese. The fish used in each roll was of excellent quality and freshness. The spicy tuna (and it was nice to have a fellow fan of spicy tuna – my friend’s father – there so that I could indulge) was most certainly spicy, yet the tuna had not been beaten into submission. The tiger roll (pictured up top wrapped in the white seaweed) was a glorious mix of tuna, salmon and yellowtail along with cucumber, avocado and roe. The happy, trippy sweeheart roll gave the tastebuds a little smokiness (salmon), a little bit of crunch (shrimp tempura), and a little kiss of sweetness (hoisin sauce). And even the simpler rolls were just a joy to devour – and devour we did; those pieces didn’t stand a chance against us.
Megu Sushi and Hibachi is one of a number of places in the Cherry Hill area (and I’m including Collingswood and Haddonfield in that area) that are creating wonderful sushi. But don’t let that comment lead you to believe even for a moment that these Japanese eateries are all the same. Sagami, for instance, is straight-ahead traditional, sans bells and whistles. Oh Yoko! is lighter and more whimsical – there’s humor in the preparation. If I had to try to boil down Megu’s approach, it would be Japanese beauty mixed with a self-assured Western attitude.
Being food bloggers tends to make us more conscious of how meals are prepared, not just whether or not they taste good. But sometimes, it’s a good thing to forget about how the individual parts of the meal were put together and simply enjoy what is being presented in front of you. If the kitchen is doing its job and doing it well, it makes it oh so easy to do just that, and they are doing it well at Megu.
Megu Sushi and Hibachi – Tuscany Marketplace, 1990 Marlton Pike East (Route 70) #18, Cherry Hill. 856.489.6228.