New York Day 6: MoMA and the Museum of Natural History with Dinner at Megu

This day marked the end of my tour of Northeast United States, and I plan to dedicate it to finding out what makes the United States a leading influence in the field of science, culture, art and technology. Being up early that morning I took a jog in the direction of Central Park, stopping by the Apple Store in 5th Avenue which was open 24 hours, 365  days and has never closed its shutters since its opening date. It was an interesting experience shopping for an iPad in your jogging pants and a hoodie, but even in such early hours, they still had no iPad 2 in stock, so I ended up continuing my morning jog in Central Park. The clear weather that morning was suitable for a jog and being up early meant there was little of the honking noise that usually made this area full of life. Instead it was a piece of quiet and serenity, with birds chirping in the distance and dogs barking. There were lots of people out on the park bringing their dogs along for a walk and this just shows how livable the city could be with this wonderful park.

The W at Times Square

Returning to the hotel after my jog, I made a stop at a sandwich bar along the way for a simple breakfast of eggs and toast. Gulped down with a cup of ordinary coffee, I went for a shower at the hotel before making my way out once again. It was still 9am when I went back out and the sun was shining over Times Square though the crowds are  still nowhere to be seen. When I walked over to the Museum of Modern Art, it was already open and getting busy. Having gotten the City Pass tickets, I got into the museum without queueing for tickets. My first stop was at the modern bauhaus kitchen exhibits which showcases some modern design on kitchen tools. Galleries in the museum were dedicated to various genres in arts, including product design, photography and artpieces in itself. Unlike the Met which has a grand feel about it, MoMA has a modern feel with its glass and simple entrance. The whitewashed walls of the museum was clean and gave this museum which rises upwards an airy feel. Having a personal preference for product design and modern art more than ancient art, the museum was more fascinating to me, and I particulary enjoyed their exhibits on the product design gallery showing the trend in the use of natural shapes and materials and the evolution of the font as an important distinctive feature in products.

Exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art

The upper storey’s of the museum were dedicated to more famous artpieces, including a display of Andy Warhol pieces like his famous Campbell’s Soup Cans. I got to know him from doing up the Art Cars series for BMW. Another gallery which I enjoyed was their exhibit on Picasso’s Guitars themed artworks. For the first time, it brought me to understand more about works done by Picasso and what made him so famous.

Campbell’s Soup Cans by Andy Warhol

I spent all of my morning in the museum, and even had a late lunch in the cafe upstairs, having a seared and chilled fillet mignon. While the chilled steak might sound unappetizing, it was actually good. I don’t know why it is so, but it didn’t have the strong taste of beef and tasted still juicy. In fact, the chilled steak fits very well with the small serving of soba and salad and made for a healthy and great lunch.

Seared and Chilled Fillet Mignon at MoMA Cafe

I returned to the hotel once again after half a day of touring MoMA, and I retrieved the car from the Crowne Plaza, driving it to the Museum of Natural History, where once again I scored a parking space along the curbside on the western side of Central Park and took a short walk to the Museum of Natural History. With the museum closing at 5pm, I only had around one and a half hours to spend visiting the exhibits. And due to the short time prior to closing, the museum was providing free access to everyone. Like the Met, the Museum of Natural History was large and it would perhaps take a full day to visit all the exhibits here. At first glance, though, I could see why some guides say this is the museum that kids would want to go to. From the huge dinosaur fossils majestically rising from the entrance of the museum, to the excellent dioramas of various animal species around the world, it was a very interesting museum. No wonder then that it became the focal point of the movie ‘Night at the Museum’!

T-Rex Fossil at the Museum of Natural History
African Grasslands Diorama

I did skip most of the dinosaur galleries, having visited the excellent Royal Tyrell Museum in Alberta, Canada, and went over towards the Galleries covering Space and the Universe. It was a bright open space in a separate wing from the main building, and had a huge spherical theatre showing a movie on the big bang theory. This would be a fascinating place for people curious about the universe and how Earth compares to its planetary brethrens. Given the interest on Star Wars and Star Trek, I am pretty sure every one of us have this innate question on living in the space one day.

Rose Center for Earth and Space

With the limited time, I was only able to get a glimpse of the gemstones gallery before being ushered out of the museum. Once out of the museum, I took a walk in Central Park again and this time armed with my DSLR, I got around to enjoy the scenery of the Park while taking the time to relax under the sunset.

View of Midtown from the Lake

While it was still early and given that most of the other places of tourist interest have been covered in town, I had a great idea of driving out to Brooklyn. Since I have the convenience of a car with me in town, it was a nice sunset drive along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive on the eastern shore of Manhattan. It was a great sunset drive with views of the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn on one side and the changing landscape as we passed through the East Village and then the downtown skyscrapers on the the other side. Upon reaching Brooklyn Bridge, I made a turn though was met with an unexpected traffic jam into Brooklyn. But I was still on time to catch the setting sun over the horizon with the magnificent view of the Brooklyn Bridge and the downtown skyscrapers!

Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Skyscraper

Initially I was considering on having dinner at the restaurants in Brooklyn, but with nothing that interests me and suddenly craving for Japanese food, I headed out to downtown Manhattan for a meal at Megu. On a sunday night the deserted downtown meant that I was able to get a table without a reservation in Megu. With its unassuming entrance and location, the interior was breathtaking and an eye-opener for a restaurant design. This huge Japanese flag model welcomed me into a cool restaurant with a lighted ice sculpture of a Buddha in the centre of the dining area. Definitely one of the most impressive interiors of any restaurant I’ve been too. Well, enough about the design, what about the meal?

Megu Interior

At first glance the menu is really exorbitant with much more expensive prices, but someone has got to pay for their massive decor I guess. Since I will be splurging anyway, I might as well go for the best food that I enjoy, thus I went for the O-toro sashimi and seared O-toro Sushi, and ordered some ikura sushi and salmon sashimi along with those. For the prices I paid, I got real wasabi instead of those that came from tubes and they were freshly sliced garnished before me by the server. Both the fatty tuna belly was amazing and I particularly enjoyed the seared version atop the sushi, since it is rare for restaurants to get the right texture for this seared O-toro sushi. This one was just perfect! The next course was a spicy seared salmon belly roll, and this one wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. Having sampled the fantastic sushi rolls at Zentan in Washington, I was expecting something better, but this wasn’t the dish. The star of the meal, however has got to be the Kobe Beef Ishiyaki. Having sampled some great ishiyaki in Las Vegas, I wondered how good this one would be since they trumpeted it as their signature river stone grill. As it turns out, it was as good or maybe slightly better  than the ones I had in Las Vegas. I attribute it to the better taste of the beef and how the sauce was very well paired with this dish. The heat of the stone was also just right that made for a burnt exterior but juicy red centre.

Kobe Beef Ishiyaki

The meal though wasn’t the end of my experience. When I made my way to the washroom, there was this amazing artpiece in the alcove. Using just one lantern, and multiple mirrors, it created a creative illusion which was cool. The dining experience at Megu, I conclude is not just based on the food alone, but consider the cost as an entrance fee into one of the nicest restaurant interiors anywhere in the city.

Lantern Display at Megu

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