Megu

Another new restaurant for the Pearl, this time serving up fantastic Japanese Reviews

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We fall in love the minute we see the private elevator to whisk us up to the dining room. Nothing screams ‘Doha Posh’ as much as a private elevator, after all.

Megu is tucked away in a corner of the Pearl-Qatar, and we’d almost miss the discreet sign if we weren’t looking for it. Once out of the lift, we’re greeted by Asian simplicity that’s done in a new and pleasingly un-tacky way. The dining room is a giant circle with two-storey windows along one wall, funky, one-armed chairs and private alcoves on the first floor, partitioned by curtains made of white sake bottles. Upstairs offers even more seating and privacy. It smells fantastic and, even though we are there in the middle of the restaurant’s soft opening phase on a Wednesday night, the place is still doing brisk business.

We’re greeted by a friendly barman who offers us a seat at the bar while our table is prepared, and explains the concept of Japanese liquors, even offering us a taste of some of the more exotic selections before making us a couple of delicious sake mohitos.

Once we’re at our table, something magical and almost unheard-of happens: there’s service. Real service. Our friendly (albeit slightly incongruous) Mexican waitress appears and explains the rather lengthy menu, and several people stop by just to check we’re alright as we await our starters. We go for beef croquettes and vegetable tempura. The tempura is excellent – large portions of vegetables crisply fried and generous in terms of portion size, it’s served with a spicy salt for dipping and rolling, instead of the usual watery sauce. And what a difference some salt makes!

The croquettes are our first taste of Kobe beef that evening, but not our last: small balls of beef rolled around foie gras, they’re rich, tender and succulent, and suddenly I’m regretting my easy ‘let’s share’ comments when ordering, as I really, really don’t want to give these away.

Since the Kobe went down ever so smoothly in round one, my dining companion bites the bullet and orders more for mains. The steaks come in two sizes, tasting and main, and she opts for the smaller tasting size, with sautéed zucchini and garlic rice on the side. I’m lured by the promise of raw fish: there’s an extensive sushi menu, and I’ve been staring at the gorgeous sushi bar since we entered. I opt for salmon caviar, the crisp eel roll, spicy salmon belly roll, and salmon and avocado roll (a salmon-chanted evening this is turning out to be). While we wait, our waitress reappears, bearing a traditional, rough piece of sharkskin and a stick – unbeknown to me, my beloved wasabi starts life looking a bit like sugar cane, and Megu offers fresh wasabi ground at the table on the sharkskin, in traditional style.

Our waitress lets us smell the wasabi and touch the sharkskin, before telling us that the mood affects the condiment: if you’re sad while you grind it, it will taste bitter and sharp, if you’re happy, sweet. And when the food arrives, we’re definitely happy: first comes the rice, served family-style in a covered stone bowl. Next, the fillet; it’s served on a sizzling hot stone on a platter surrounded by pebbles and you allow it to finish cooking at your table.

The rice is sticky and flavourful, but the steak’s wafting aroma and gorgeous sizzle is what really stands out. Buttery, juicy and tender, it’s simply an amazing piece of meat, served without frills: when the meat
is this good you just don’t need gimmicks. They literally serve it on a rock, and we’re still impressed.

Next comes my sushi – the rolls are generous without being overwhelming, and I’m quickly becoming a fresh wasabi convert. The salmon caviar piece is a bit small, but has a perfect crisp taste. I’ve recently discovered the joys of eel and, while I’ve become accustomed to it being served drowned in sticky-sweet barbecue sauce, or else tasting oddly fishy, the eel roll is neither; it’s just delicious. The sauce is subtle, the flavours wonderful, and the rice holds the perfect ground between sticky and soft. The spicy salmon belly has a nice zip, with a texture closer to a purée, and the salmon and avocado rolls are refreshing, with a crunchy kick that proves that the vegetables are fresh and perfect. We spend the next several minutes in complete silence (rare for us), save for occasionally chomping noises.

We linger over our meals and take our time ordering dessert, and no-one seems to rush us. In fact, we both spend far too long in the bathroom checking out the funky electronic Japanese toilet (seriously, it’s cool – book a detour and inform your companions you’re off to check out the Skynet of bathroom appliances lest they think there’s something wrong with you), and yet no-one comes to hurry us out.

When we finally order dessert, sadly about half the offerings aren’t available, but we settle on the chocolate fondant and the crème brulée. Again, our waitress helps us make the selection and she isn’t wrong: the fondant is amazing. It’s gooey and sweet, the cake portion as rich and creamy as the fudge and, embedded in the middle of it all, sweet beans as a refreshing little surprise. Served with green tea ice cream, it’s amazing and makes me very happy. My friend is equally impressed with the large dish of crème brulée, which is soft and pudding-like without being goopy.

This place is fantastic: the atmosphere is amazing, the food is stunning, and the service top-notch, even during the soft opening, when most restaurants are still working out staffing kinks. We will definitely be back and, in fact, are slightly loath to print this review, in case we have trouble getting a table next time.

The bill (for two)
2x Evian
QR60
1x beef croquette QR90
1x vegetable tempura QR75
1x fillet, tasting QR148
1x zucchini QR30
1x garlic rice QR35
1x salmon caviar QR30
1x crisp eel roll QR80
1x spicy salmon belly roll QR65
1x salmon avocado roll QR65
1x mint lemonade QR35
1x café latte QR25
1x cappuccino QR25
1x chocolate fondant QR50
1x crème brulee QR50
Total (incl charges) QR863

By Time Out Doha staff
Time Out Doha,

Time Out reviews restaurants anonymously and pays for meals. Of course, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or independence of user reviews.

Details

  • Location: The Pearl-Qatar, Doha
  • Tel: 6611 2115 ext. 2101
  • Travel: Porto Arabia
  • Cuisine: Japanese
  • Times: Open daily 11.30pm-2.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm
  • Price: QR500+

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User reviews:

Posted by: mica.c on 05 Apr ' 15 at 12:22

Edited by TimeOutDoha.com

great Japanese restaurant in town! I would dare to say the best! Such a pity can't serve sake....

Posted by: Ki on 29 Apr ' 13 at 01:52

It's fantastic place!

Posted by: Akko Kitamura on 28 Apr ' 13 at 18:30

I am a huge fan of MEGU. They have an amazing terrace overlooking the marina and the decor inside is very beautiful. As a Japanese, I can see the authentic elements of Japanese arts everywhere. The food is of course amazing there. They even grate fresh wasabi for you, maybe the only place to serve fresh wasabi around here. My favorite there is the Kobe beef steak on the hot stone. And always love their crispy asparagus:-) You should definitely try this place!!

Posted by: Danica Cosic on 28 Apr ' 13 at 17:45

Amazing food and beautiful decor!

Posted by: Ouahid Ouassaidi on 28 Apr ' 13 at 17:37

By far the best restaurant from quality, service design

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