Located in downtown New York, Ninja, a Japanese restaurant, is not for the faint-hearted. If you're looking for a truly kooky restaurant experience, this is the one for you.
My dinner date was attempting to "surprise" me with the restaurant choice and he certainly succeeded. We walked into a dark, shady, and claustrophobic "lobby" where the restaurant host was sitting alone in the dark. We gave her the dinner reservations and without responding, she indifferently began transmitting gibberish into her walkie talkie. She then asked us if we wanted to take the "easy way" or the "hard way" into the restaurant. I was already confused.
We then proceeded into a dingy elevator, went up one floor, and were greeted and escorted by a ninja into a winding hallway of DOOM AKA "the hard way." Brave and selfless, I forced my date ahead of me, as I hid trailed behind because I obviously knew a pre-planned scare was awaiting us. At the end of the hallway, another ninja was awaiting our arrival, attempting to give us cardiac arrest. As we reached the end of the corridor, a ninja jumped out of nowhere and yelled at us. If you're like me, you will scream. Also, if you're like me, people will laugh at you.
All that to get to your table. And that is not the end to the ninja attacks. After sitting at our own "hut" with a sliding door and all, we decided to order a prix-fixe dinner with drinks. I recommend getting any menu item marked with an asterisk. The asterisk represents a "Ninja art dish" AKA your meal will be on fire, covered in dry ice, or you will personally have to stab your meal with a samurai sword. (already cooked--don't worry) For drinks, definitely get a Ninja cocktail.
For my drink, I got the Zoh. (lychee fruit juice mixed with champagne and lychee fruits) Very recommended! For food, we ordered the Sasuke course order. First course: duck pâté with house made Yuzu mustard, rock shrimp and Yuzu ceviche with carrot salad. Second course: Sushi rolls (shrimp tempura and spicy tuna). Third course: Miso Salmon but we substituted with Chicken terriyaki. Fourth Course: Angus ribeye steak. Choice of dessert: we chose the Rose Chocolate.
First course: Duck pâté. This was my first time trying duck pâté and now I know that my taste buds are not a fan but it was presented very elegantly and it seemed to be a popular dish. The ceviche was citrusy and refreshing.
Second course: The sushi rolls were rolled professionally. It was tasty, fresh, and different because of the sauce and seasoning they added to the rolls.
Third course: The chicken terriyaki was delicious. The chicken breast was very tender and the terriyaki sauce was rich in both sweet and tangy flavor.
Fourth course: Although a Japanese restaurant, the ribeye was definitely my favorite course. The meat was juicy and tender, especially because we ordered it medium rare. It definitely makes top ten in steaks I have eaten--even in comparison to restaurants where steak is the main dish.
Dessert: The Chocolate Rose was a romantic and an elegant dish that was both delicious and aesthetically pleasing. It came out covered in dry ice with an actual white rose presented in a cup next to the sorbet and creamy chocolate. Highly recommended.
Many times throughout the meal, ninjas came from behind the door surprising scaring the ish out of us by yelling and screaming, throwing the trick ball at me (the ones that are attached to a string--they did this more than five times because I fell for it every single time), and attacking with their samurai swords. This may sound uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing because it is. But it was fun if you're willing to reciprocate the fun right back.
After eating, a magician visits your table and performs a really cool magic show. Whether you're easily amused or not, the magic was legitimately mindblowing.
Overall, the food was creative, of good quality, and tasty. The ambiance was interesting and the overall restaurant experience was definitely foreign and an experience that you probably haven't ever experienced before.
Sidenote: the bathroom is awesome. It has those technologically-crazy heated toilets with the water rinsers and everything.
This isn't exactly a restaurant I would visit on a weekly basis but it's a great pick for special occassions or when you're feeling like you want to try something new.