Those brazen, mysterious and unorthodox mercenary agents of feudal Japan date as far back as the 14th century and have long captivated the popular imagination both in Japan and the rest of the world.
The truth about the ninja is enmeshed in a web of colorful legend and folklore, but it is the fantasy that burns bright today and is respected in a culinary cocoon located just opposite the Akasaka train station.
Once inside the Ninja Akasaka Restaurant, another cosmos invades the dining experience. Ninja waiters/warriors lead diners to a world usually visited only after drinking too many martinis.
The underground fantasy has built-in obstacles; do not enter starving, as you must earn the table and service by crossing a drawbridge that leads to the main dining room. The drawbridge opens only on command from the ninja in charge. (Ali Baba and “open sesame” rock again!)
The question remains:
Do ninjas prepare food with the same finesse as they waylay and assassinate political foes by any means necessary? Their migration into the food industry has found a special niche in Tokyo where restaurants with specific themes are a common and popular occurrence.
The Ninja Akasaka Restaurant has a most interesting menu. There are literally hundreds of differently decorated ninja entrees and appetizers to chose from, all of which when presented to the table resemble works of art that belong in a museum.
One is advised to beware of the “exploding snail dish” which the ninja waiter serves by shooting a jet of fire across the dish (and maybe even careless nearby diners). The bonsai dessert, which is a blend of green tea, ice cream and bananas really resembles a miniature tree and is highly recommended.
Ninja Akasaka has a wonderful Ninja Bar with cool music as well and the most popular drink is something called cha-cha, which translates into “highball” and is a combination of Shochu and fresh grapefruit juice. The alcoholic content of this drink is often quite low allowing those with a low tolerance for alcohol to drink comfortably and safely.
Ninja Akasaka is well worth the dining experience especially if you are a ninja at heart yearning for the status of another time and place.