Would you believe it if I told you we were served dinner by ninjas? Well, we were!
When we were planning this trip I was looking around for ideas for a nice dinner for Ryan's birthday. I looked into Michelin starred restaurants, but the costs were insane (even compared to other countries where I have been to Michelin starred restaurants, mostly because food here can get pricey with those stars). Then I was clued in to one of the restaurant trends here in Japan. Themed restaurants. Yes, themed restaurants. Some of the big ones are Alcatraz and Vampire Cafe, but there are actually a bunch of these. Another top listed one is Ninja. I think what surprised me most was that it was in the same building as the hotel we stayed in last time we were in Tokyo. Those ninjas live up to their name because we had NO idea there were ninjas lurking in the same building serving dinner.
After reviewing the menu online, Ryan and I both found something we would eat, so I made a reservation. Now, I said the Michelin starred restaurants were pricey here, and that is true, but the theme restaurants are actually pricey too. In fact, they can come out to just as much as a Michelin starred restaurant in the States. At least with Ninja I read that the food was actually really good quality for a themed restaurant. I even asked around on base and heard from some people that it was good, so I was glad we were going to try this out.
We almost would not have noticed it was here if it wasn't for the sign inside the building that told us to go outside and around the corner.
Entering into the restaurant kicked off the entertainment. The hostess asked us to wait a moment while our ninja trainer arrived to take us through ninja training. Out came a ninja (ok, someone dressed very ninja like, let's be realistic!) and she whisked us away through a secret door, down dimly lit pathways, up and down stairs, twists and turns, and then to a crossing with water. Here is where we were stopped because there was no way to go forward. Or was there? She taught us the secret word (shhh, I'm not telling!) and after we said it, the wall in front of us dropped down and created a bridge for us to cross. At the other end was a bustling restaurant that looked like the inside of a Disney ride. They played up the theme really well. We were taken into a cave like room and shown to our table. Thankfully there was more light down there than I expected, but it still wasn't the best for taking pictures.
This is the little pond that was in the corner of the room where we sat, but because of the lighting it didn't turn out too well.
Ryan and I both preordered course meals so our server already knew what we were having. He provided us with a drink menu and gave us a great suggestion for sake. This was by far the best sake I have ever had, which leads me to believe I have no clue about sake and just pick out junk because the bottle looks cute. Note to self: need to learn more about sake. Why? Because this sake was good. It was smooth. It was very enjoyable. Wondering where the sake is? It is in this chilled little bamboo bottle behind this little bamboo cup.
Here I am with my star blades grissini (crackers that look like ninja stars). I had ordered the Yamato Spirit Course, which is listed as 10 courses, plus the stars (crackers) pictured here.
Ryan ordered a steak course, which was 6 courses (one of which was the steak, and he went with the smallest portion offered- 150 grams). His meal didn't start off with the crackers like mine, but around the same time, he was served this salad. Wondering how on earth this is considered a salad? This is called "shredded vegetable salad ninja style". Get it? The salad is hiding inside. It was a bread enclosure wrapped around a shredded lettuce salad, and on top was something (yes, we have no idea what some of these things are so we can call it something) creamy and topped with gold leaf.
The next item we were both served was the white fish and tomato ceviche. The white fish in this case was sea bream. Thin slices of raw fish were served draped over a tomato half.
Then we reached an interesting moment. I knew the menu said escargot on it, and I don't eat this, so I decided I would just let the server know and pass on it. Well, the "escargot" (on the menu as turban shell bombs a la escargot) came and I told the server I did not eat escargot. Boy did he get a panicked look on his face. He calmly explained that this was not escargot. I remembered the menu said escargot, but he told me that, no, this is not escargot. He explained it was a seafood dish served inside a shell (which is where the escargot word came from). He said it was all seafood, which I do eat. I agreed, and he was pleased because it meant he got to do this:
He lit this baby on fire, like a bomb, as the dish name suggests, and the flame went down the plate and up in flames around the shell, which finished "cooking" my dish. I was glad I gave it a try because it was really good. It was sort of in a creamy sauce, but I don't think it was creamy, just that it had a creamy texture.
Next up was an even crazier scare for me. This was the evening's mystery dish. I asked what it was and the server said lizard. I swear he said lizard. Oops, turns out I was wrong. After some back and forth, and the use of his dictionary translator, we discovered he was saying rissole, a French word. The Japanese pronounce the letter 'r' as an 'l', so you can see where the confusion started. He informed me it was only rice and vegetables inside and there was no meat. I believe the outside shell may have been something made from seaweed, but I am really not sure. After a deep breath from really thinking he was serving me lizard, I cut into it, took and bite, and again was very glad I did.
Next up was a soup course for both of us. Ryan was served onion soup. He said it was a pork base and not a beef base, which I guess really does not surprise me. They use a lot of pork and it is common in soups.
My soup was really interesting. This crazy looking ball is fish cake in the middle with tapioca balls wrapped around the outside, and the broth was like miso soup. Again, I was surprised that I really liked this dish, not because I questioned the quality of the food, but because I am picky with things, especially odd textures, and those last few foods are things I would never have tried just a few years ago.
Next came something really strange, and although it was vegetable, I was not too impressed. It was a cold eggplant dish, and that part was good, but the cream thing on top was too weird for me.
Next for me was the salmon tartare incognito. Gotta love that ninja theme! This was salmon, avocado and something creamy inside a black roll, which made it appear to be hidden on the plate. I believe the server said to eat it like a sandwich, which is what I did.
This ended our starter courses and the server brought us grapefruit sorbet to cleanse our palettes.
Out came Ryan's steak, which he said was really good.
I was served a lovely piece of sea bream. I was presented with 2 meat and 2 fish choices at the start of the meal, and this was my selection. I was thankful to be given a choice because the online menu only showed choice of seafood or beef dish of the day. I was surprised to see 2 options for each. This fish dish was really good, but I must admit I was getting stuffed by this time. It is hard to tell from the pictures, but the portions are not huge. I thought they were decent (just the right size, not too big, not too small), but I know there were many reviews on this place that stated the portions are small (yes, I assume this is mostly coming from Americans or people from places that typically serve portions that are way too large). If they were any bigger, I would have had to call it quits earlier.
You probably think the meal is done, but I am not kidding, after these entrees, we were served a plate of sushi each. Here is Ryan's.
This was my sushi platter. I couldn't believe that we still had this after we ate our entrees.
Plus, they even served Ryan miso soup with his sushi.
After the sushi, our table was cleared, and a ninja magician came to the table to preform card and coin tricks. He actually had a few tricks that were pretty good. We were quite entertained. Although we were not allowed to video tape or take pictures, I did get a picture of the card I took home where I wrote a message to mark my card that was used in the grand finale trick. Somehow it got from the deck of cards into his pocket. Now how does that happen!
Once the magic act was over the server brought us our dessert. Not only did we get dessert, but all the ninjas came over to sing Ryan happy birthday. He was quite surprised (mostly because they snuck up behind him from a hidden doorway).
I think I was served what has to be the cutest dessert ever. Seriously, can it get any cuter than this? It was a cookie wafer on the bottom and the animal shape was made from something that seemed almost like sweetened cream cheese. Inside was berries. Yum!
Ryan had ice cream and berries.
Plus, he also got this awesome chocolate birthday treat. I love when restaurants take that extra step to personalize your experience.
I thought it was a great restaurant with a very fun atmosphere and they did the theme really well. One more thing that I loved about this place is that they offer a full vegetarian course menu. I almost went with that option, but the sushi and fish options on the other menu also sounded really good. I would go back again for a special occasion, but it's too much to go more often than that. I am hoping to take my sister there when she comes to visit, or maybe a different themed restaurant. The whole idea is fun. The Japanese seem to do a really good job of making themed restaurants. Maybe I'll get to try another one in the future.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been to a theme restaurant? If you could create any theme restaurant, what would you choose?