TRIBECA — Upscale Japanese restaurant Megu recently won a rare international mark of luxury that has only been bestowed on one other New York City restaurant.
Megu, which launched in TriBeCa in 2004, just received a Six Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, a group that honors stellar luxury establishments around the globe.
The only other New York restaurant to ever receive a Six Star Diamond Award is Midtown's Jean Georges. The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences usually gives out Five Star Diamond Awards but recognizes top-notch service with an extra star.
The group has given out only about 25 Six Star Diamond Awards in all, to a range of entities including top-notch cruise ships, high-end hotels and New York City itself, said Joseph Cinque, president of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, which has been around since 1949.
"I don't give a sixth star to just anyone," Cinque said Tuesday. "You have to go above and beyond. It's the energy, the attitude, the cleanliness, the service."
Megu opened on Thomas Street eight years ago and since then has expanded with a Midtown location on First Avenue across from the United Nations and outposts in Moscow, Doha and New Delhi.
The modern Japanese cuisine includes seven- and nine-course prix fixe dinners with wine pairings and dozens of varieties of sake, along with a la carte items like crispy fried asparagus coated in spicy rice crackers and an Oriental salad with sashimi, vegetables and nuts seared with sesame oil. Many of the entrees are cooked over a traditional charcoal grill, which imbues them with a smoky flavor.
Cinque first ate at Megu six years ago, on a recommendation from friends, but he was not initially impressed. The food was good, but not good enough to merit even a standard five-star rating, Cinque said.
But when industry experts kept telling Cinque about Megu, he decided about six months ago to give the restaurant another shot — and he was glad he did.
"The service is unbelievable," Cinque said. "And the quality — they buy only the best."
Cinque is planning a star-studded celebration of Megu's award at the TriBeCa location in early May.
The awards have to be renewed each year, which means Cinque will keep eating at Megu to make sure its standards stay high.
"As fast as we can give it," Cinque said with a smile, "we can take it away."