Ninja, Akasaka

Food & Drink - July 17th, 2009

Stealthily sneaking through both Eastern and Western culture, the ninja have captivated the imagination of people for centuries. Modern pop culture sees ninja in anime such as Naruto, numerous computer games, and the Tom Cruise epic The Last Samurai.

Though no longer trained in the black arts of assassination and espionage, the ninja at the Akasaka restaurant of the same name are experts in the fields of customer service and skillfully presented Japanese food. A magician even entertained us at our table as we drank ice cold beer. If you have any guests visiting from abroad, or if you want to experience a theatrical slice of the Japan you see in movies, this restaurant is for you.

Greeted by an almost invisible black-clad hostess, we snuck inside through a hidden door, opened with the shout of a password. A maze of dark corridors and a drawbridge led us to our atmospheric booth. Our waiter seemed to appear from nowhere…or maybe it was just the kitchen. This is one of the best izakaya experiences I’ve ever had in Tokyo.

The menu is printed on scrolls, and the food is a high-end twist on typical izakaya fare. The performance continued with the excellent presentation of the food; the dishes under the ‘Special’ category are executed at the table by a ninja, a real spectacle to watch.

The à la carte menu starts at less than ¥1,000 per dish, but we opted for the Shabu Shabu Daishogun course at ¥11,111, which includes ‘batblack’ burdock strips, deep-fried shuriken ‘star-blades’ grissini, diced octopus with marinated scallops, turban shell ‘bombs’ à la escargot, shabu-shabu (paper-thin slices of prime Japanese beef, mizuna greens, buckwheat shuriken sobagaki), and deluxe sushi served on driftwood.

The desserts are also unique and beautiful. We tasted a cookie in the shape of a bonsai tree, and still other sweets are made to resemble Japanese gardens. Ninja is definitely recommended for an entertaining night out. Look for the Ninja sign illuminated by flaming torches.

Tel. 03-5157-3936