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by Nancy Donovan; Photo by Alison Dunlap
…A Dining Review from the pages of South Jersey Magazine…

Building on Success: Megu
300 Young Ave., Moorestown
(856) 780-6327
1990 Route 70 E. , Cherry Hill
(856) 489-6228

South Jersey Magazine first stopped by Megu Sushi in 2008, dining at their Cherry Hill location tucked away in a shopping center off Route 70. Fast forward seven years later, and the family-owned spot has turned into a major name in South Jersey cuisine, with a second location in Moorestown and a year-old spot down the Shore in Ventnor.

The newer Moorestown spot is a breath of fresh air, a modern space with white leather chairs and booths, crisp and clean lines and subtle pops of color throughout. It’s a far cry from the Cherry Hill dining room—which leans towards a more traditional hibachi-sushi approach—and the sushi bar in particular seems incredibly upscale. It’s a unique and well-designed restaurant that is unlike any dining room in South Jersey; almost like an escape to the big city.

The Moorestown menu features both a sprawling list of sushi options as well as hot entrées and appetizers to pick from. A creative appetizer that fit both selections was a tuna “pizza”—fresh-sliced, sushi-grade tuna on a bed of crispy tortillas with diced avocado, greens and lump crabmeat. It was drizzled with a spicy mayonnaise and soy sauce, adding some extra heat and salt which were mellowed out by the tuna and creamy avocado. The pizza itself was playful, but the flavors were developed enough that it didn’t come across as childish or silly.

A hot eggplant and scallop appetizer was equally as creative—with pan seared scallops arranged atop Japanese eggplant with a yusu miso glaze—and plated beautifully, but the eggplant could have benefitted from additional seasoning.

The eggplant and scallop was just one on a menu of attention-grabbing dishes that I have yet to find in any other South Jersey Japanese eatery. Sure, there’s still the traditional gyoza, tempura and shumai, but then there’s the pizza and tartare, even salmon tacos. Meanwhile, sushi took a more familiar approach. The tiger roll was a particularly beautiful concoction, with fresh tuna, salmon and yellowtail combined with avocado and cucumber. The roll was delicately wrapped in almost translucent white seaweed and was packed with fresh and clean flavors that played off each other nicely.

Another classic dish, an entrée of chiriashi, was equally as exquisite. The bowl gets filled with seasoned sticky rice and topped with raw sashimi cuts like salmon, tuna, whitefish and more. It’s hard to go wrong with some really quality pieces of fish, but the flavored rice elevated each bite. It’s a dish that you can find in most Japanese restaurants around town, but it was done particularly well here.

Flavors in the nabe yaki udon, however, fell a bit flat. The giant bowl of broth came with boiled chicken, mushrooms and mixed vegetables with a poached egg on top. Had the egg been cooked properly the runny yokes could have added another element of fat and flavor, but the egg was cooked all the way through and resulted in crumbled bits of yoke falling to the bottom of the bowl. Meanwhile, an accompanying piece of shrimp tempura felt totally out of place, and the shrimp’s batter was bland and dry. There was not enough soy sauce on the table to salvage the broth, and the chicken was cooked until rubbery and chewy.

But another broth bowl, with a filet of Chilean sea bass covered in a miso glaze, had a totally inverse effect. The flaky fish was so satisfying when combined with the salty broth—which was enhanced thanks to the addition of the miso—and the dish’s accompanying baby bok choy added just the right amount of crisp, fresh flavor.

All these years later, it’s obvious Megu is still preparing the quality caliber of food that earned them a 4 Fork rating from us. Their innovative approach to Japanese food is certainly a conversation starter, but the overall flavors will make you want to eat more and talk less. After all, it’s rude to talk with your mouth full.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 1 (April, 2015).
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