Chef/owner Steven Megu Lin has named his newest Ventnor restaurant Megu Sushi. When asked, the chef is quick to explain his style.
Basically traditional, going to a little bit fusion-style," Lin says. "We have a tuna pizza."
In the current food world, there is nothing more modern than something served on a flatbread.
At Megu, that flatbread is a tortilla topped with fresh tuna, guacamole, lump crabmeat and mixed baby greens. Lin's version of pizza has flashes of Italian, Mexican and Japanese, too.
Born in China, Lin came to New York at the age of 18. Landing in Manhattan, Lin spent almost five years working under a sushi master before opening up a place of his own in North Jersey, in 2001.
His second restaurant, with sushi and hibachi, opened in Cherry Hill in 2004, after selling his first business. Moorestown opened in 2010.
When Kitaro in Ventnor closed for the winter after only a few seasons, Lin took over, opening mid-March of this year. It should come as little surprise that Lin hopes to some day open more restaurants in his new home of South Jersey.
His penchant for fusion cuisine also is no surprise. It turns out Lin spent some time working for a catering company doing wedding parties where the menu tended to be international.
"That's where I get my ideas," Lin says.
Lin's menu reflects his varied background by combining elements from different cuisines in unusual ways, such as his tuna pizza.
Fish specials are market price and are influenced by the season and availability. Lin often has a selection ranging from toro, the fatty tuna from the belly, to live scallops, giant clam and sea urchin, along with fresh red snapper and white yellowtail. From time to time, Lin offers branzino, an imported Mediterranean sea bass.
A cold appetizer, yellowtail jalapeno ($12) is composed of slices of tuna with jalapeno and an Italian-sounding caper sauce. Taku Su ($6) is made with fresh, imported octopus from Japan, served in a vinegar sauce with seaweed and cucumber for texture.
Lin also recommends the rock shrimp tempura ($8), a popular hot appetizer. Batter-dipped and fried shrimp is paired with a creamy sauce with just a touch of heat and sesame oil. Duck spring rolls ($7) are crispy mu-shu pancakes wrapped around roasted duck meat, crispy duck skin, cucumber and scallion, then served with hoisin sauce - Lin's take on the classic Chinese Peking duck.
Hand rolls, those ice-cream-cone-shaped nori seaweed rolls with ingredients stuffed inside, and sushi rolls, cut into six pieces, come in many creative combinations at Megu Sushi. One big seller is the Angry Dragon ($14.95), made with crispy shrimp tempura, sweet papaya and topped with spicy lump crabmeat. For more crunch, the Godzilla Roll ($9.95) is filled with spicy salmon, spicy tuna and avocado, dipped in tempura batter and fried, then topped with tobiko caviar.
Lin's signature Megu Roll ($11.95) has shrimp tempura and crab stick inside and lobster on the top. Typical garnishes include wasabi, the green Japanese horseradish; gari, or pickled ginger; and soy sauce for dipping. Special rolls can be made with white sushi rice or with brown rice for an additional charge.
A recent entree special is a half-duck ($22.95), slow-roasted to yield crispy skin with no fat, then served with a plum wine sauce.
Sushi entrees are served with miso soup and salad included in the price. Sushi and sashimi can be ordered separately or as a combo.
This summer, Lin will be offering his omakase dinner, where the customer allows the chef to decide on the menu. The customer can choose the price they want to spend or the number of courses they would like, then the chef fills in the blanks using his own creativity and whatever ingredients are the freshest to construct the meal.
Lin also is in the planning stages for a multi-course dinner that pairs a different sake with each course.