There is a particular joy in going BACK to a much-loved restaurant, and one leaps at any opportunity to go to a MEGU. Ever since the first visit to a free-standing MEGU in New York City, the gal has been a follower, an addict or whatever you want. Now that Nobu has his own hotel, will we see MEGU also going into the hotel business? For now, suffice that there is a MEGU in one of Asian’s most opulent luxury hotels, Leela Palace New Delhi. Of course one heads there, for crumbed asparagus lollipops followed by sashimi…
MEGU is always recognizable for its stunning décor. In the New Delhi branch, the main room has the ‘corporate logo’, a life-size crystal Buddha, seated under a ten-foot Meiji bell that is part of the DNA of a MEGU – the bell is based on one in the Todaiji Temple. The design firm SPIN had a ball doing this restaurant. Everything is outsized. The restaurant only seats 80 indoors but it also has outdoor terraces so the space seems endless, and it soars up. More of the design requirements include kimono fabrics on the walls and ceilings and graphic photo artwork of Japanese scenery, say the Yakushiji temple at sunrise.
MEGU chef here is Yutaka Saito, the most charming of culinarians. He listens intently, and comes up with whatever you might have wanted had you thought of it. For Kelly Sailer, at our table, he provides endless meat dishes. I, personally, am almost swimming in salmon at the end of my meal, but it is totally delicious. We finish with an oriental cheese cake, and green tea ice cream and a crème brûlée. I did not know that was Japanese but who cares, it was sensational. The conversation ranged from the last time I had met Kelly, on a sandbank island off Canouan when we drank Veuve Clicquot, to food, and more food.
I think of the evolution of the MEGU brand, started in Tokyo by nightclub and care home owner Masahiro Origuchi, who charged $5 for a yakitori skewer when others gave them away for 80 cents. Origuchi-san sold MEGU on, to pachinko king Kazuo Okada’s KO Dining Group, and now presumably Okada and his colleagues are trying to see how he can expand MEGU without harming his other brands, notably Kazuo Okada (is he egotistical, perhaps), Yu Lei, Messina and Chairman’s Cellar.
This hotel has so much going for it. There are artworks and bits everywhere you look. This painting is along the zigzag walkway to the Technogym, reached via the ESPA complex on the upper (first) floor. I barely made it to the gym as my fabulous room, 931, a 151 sq m Royal Suite, has a squash court-like terrace, floor the right size, and very tall side walls. Here I have a sizeable heated plunge pool with water jets, so it was tempting merely to luxuriate there – I certainly did not make it up to the 11th floor rooftop main pool, with its infinity edges, end cupolas and magnificent views over Delhi rooftops through glass side walls.
And this painting is by the ninth floor elevators. The executive club lounge, opened since my last visit, is on the ninth floor, and very good the facilities are too. You can judge a true luxury hotel by its club lounge – here, the bijou breakfast buffet included both white and wholemeal croissants, and a chef cooked whatever, and the coffee is great. At which I said my goodbyes and was whisked away, kind of swallowed up by Delhi’s morning traffic.