Japan takes the cake when it comes to themed dining. From cat cafes to geeky maid bars to izakayas modeled after elementary school classrooms, there’s no limit to the intersection of food and amusement, especially in Tokyo. While these establishments rank high in experience, their menus hardly steal the show. Ninja is an exception. With locations in Akasaka, Shinjuku and New York, the restaurant takes guests on a journey to Japan’s Edo era, where masked heroes, cunning magic and high-quality fusion fare await.
Ninja takes the shrouded yet fascinating history of Japan’s legendary mercenaries and spins it into a top-notch dining experience. Each Tokyo location offers a distinct adventure. The design-heavy Akasaka outpost immerses guests in a fantastically replicated ninja village, while the Shinjuku branch centers on what goes on the plate. In either case, guests can expect a daring dose of entertainment and cuisine.
After checking in with the host at the Akasaka location, guests are guided through a subterranean adventure featuring miniature waterfalls and a drawbridge before arriving at the lively “Ninja Village.” The village is made up of private and communal rooms to dine in. The servers wear ninja uniforms, and the dramatic ambiance feels very much like a movie set. Torches, rustic stone walls and dangerously dark lighting add to the thrill. Occasionally, a robed ninja will appear to perform “top secret spells” so guests are thoroughly entertained throughout their meal.
Contrary to most restaurants of its ilk, Ninja’s package isn’t limited to theatrical flair. What sets Ninja apart from being just another tourist attraction is its attention to great cuisine. Both Tokyo locations offer a variety of tasting menus priced between ¥5,000 and ¥20,000, including vegetarian and kids courses as well. Lunch sets are available at the Shinjuku restaurant. Rooted in Japanese culinary tradition, the ninja-themed menus feature carefully selected ingredients like seasonal vegetables, seafood and luxurious Omi beef, which ranks as one of the best wagyu (Japanese beef) brands in the country.
A short walk from the busiest railway station in the world, Ninja’s Shinjuku location is less theatrical than its Akasaka counterpart. What it lacks in underground tunnels, however, it makes up for in beautifully presented, one-of-a-kind dishes that are equal parts surprising and delicious. At ¥7,000, the “NINJA” course begins with bite-size monakas served on a ship floating in a sea of dry-ice fog. Ninja’s version of the traditional Japanese sweet is light yet full of flavor, with fillings of smoked pickles, cream cheese and mascarpone.
The food often inspires a sense of childlike wonder. In one instance, the coals at the bottom of a small charcoal grill are revealed to be pieces of white fish tempura, enjoyed with white asparagus and shiitake mushrooms. In another, an elegantly wrapped treasure box overflows with fog, and only when the cloud clears can guests make out the chilled sashimi salad inside, splendidly arranged with microgreens, grapefruit and a refreshing citrus dressing. The bonsai dessert — a small tree made of pie crust, sponge cake and ice cream — is as fun to look at as it is to eat, making for a delightful last note to the meal.
At Ninja, guests get the best of both worlds. Through its immersive interiors, awe-inspiring diversions and high-end courses, the restaurant guarantees a fascinating experience — with no shortcuts on what goes on the plate.
5pm – 11:30pm
Mon – Sun
1F Tokyu Plaza Akasaka
2-14-3 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku
Lunch: 11:30 – 3pm
Dinner: 5pm – 11pm
Mon – Sun
1F Kono Building
1-11-11 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku