As Temps Drop, Mercury Rising!

It’s Restaurant Week, and the city is awash in toxic tuna!

The New York Times published a front-page sucker punch today (currently the most e-mailed story on their Web site), featuring an analysis of tuna sushi from 20 restaurants and stores throughout Manhattan which found that some of the fish had mercury levels so high the FDA could legally take them off the market.

The Times writes:

"According to a 2007 survey by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the average level of mercury in New Yorkers’ blood is three times higher than the national average. The report found especially high levels among Asian New Yorkers, especially foreign-born Chinese, and people with high incomes. The report noted that Asians tend to eat more seafood, and it speculated that wealthier people favored fish, like swordfish and bluefin tuna, that happen to have higher mercury levels."

There are 12 Japanese restaurants participating in Restaurant Week. But the only unlucky participant to appear on the Times‘ mercury rating list is Megu, in Tribeca, whose menu includes a bluefin tuna platter with seven pieces and a roll, putting it a roll beyond what the EPA says is a safe "weekly reference dose," or what a 154-pound adult can safely eat on a regular basis. (The platter is not on the Restaurant Week menu, but their lunch menu does include sushi.)

A woman fielding reservation line calls at Megu shortly before their 11:30 opening time this morning did not know about the article. Were people canceling Restaurant Week reservations?

"So far no, not at all," she said, before politely putting me on hold. After ten minutes of a looping Megu advertisement, I gave in and hung up. As Temps Drop, Mercury Rising!