25 Hudson st New York, NY
During this past holiday visit to my family on Long Island we took the annual trip into Manhattan to fight our way through the crowds to see the tree and get dinner. After a bit of deliberation we decided to go to Ninja. My parents were not exactly excited, they seemed a bit put off that I suggested something that sounded like a kiddie restaurant.
As we walked down Hudson st, between Duane and Reade I was the first to spot #25, it was a copy shop? Next to that Tim spotted Ninja. It was very un assuming and looking in, you didn't see a restaurant. The first floor only has a reception area, once your table is ready you enter an elevator that transports you down into the ninja world. You are shown to your own private room by a ninja. Some of the room looked large enough for parties of 10 or more, there were also smaller booths, like you would see for 2 seaters in most sushi places. The restaurant really does seem like a maze. Each time any of us went to the bathroom there was always a bit a trepidation, even though it was only down the hall. Our room was typical of the general decor of the restaurant, stone walls that you expect your waiter to climb on at any moment. There are small nooks and Japanese plates and artwork to add interest.
This was not a kiddie restaurant. The drink menu included Ninja cocktails like the tasty sake based Kai martini with raspberries and lime. There are also sake tastings. Tim tried one of these, some of the sakes were good, but they were all served cold which seemed odd for a tasting.
The service was very good. Our waiter was prompt, which is not easy considering he could not see our table unless he walked down he narrow staircase to it. It was white linen level service with quick clearing and traditional politeness.
We all ordered the same tasting menu, Kunoichi. There were a few variations possible throughout the menu. On the first course, none of us chose the Caesar salad, even with Ninja dressing it seemed out of place. We instead got dancing plantains, that although they may not be Japanese, they were at least interesting. The presentation was excellent with each length wise slice of crispy friend plantain standing in the slats of a sushi mat. The tomato avocado dipping sauce was delicious. Next we had sushi rolls. I w as the only sushi lover at the table but everyone enjoyed both the spicy tuna roll, which included an intriguing crunch on the outside as well as the Korean BBQ roll, which was well flavored and surprisingly easy to eat.
The third course, the ladies got the Pink Pearl, Marinated Salmon with straw mushrooms and Roe. It was wall balanced and the Yazo sauced blended the different flavors well. The men however won this course with the Kuro-Subuta, a Tempura Pork in squid ink. It looked like a plate of tremendous black truffles but it tasted divine. It was the best pork I have ever had, ever.
Before our main course we were visited by a ninja magician. He did a few impressive card tricks, but it was novel at best. I didn't think Ninja's did card tricks. I would have been more impressed if his tricks were more ninja, and he spoke less.
After all the fabulous courses earlier in the meal the steak course was a bit pedestrian. The sauces (Wasabi, garlic or teriyaki) were all well done but there was nothing overwhelming about this course. Dessert was noteworthy. Although more French and Italian than Japanese all the desserts we sampled were worth the calories.
At the end of the meal the ninja's were happy to take pictures for us and gave us a small tour. In addition to their dining room there is a rock garden which looks and functions as a lounge area with no reservations needed. We also received ninja key chains. All in all it was a good experience but don't go for the ninjas, go for the food.
Tasting Menus $50-$90
call for reservations 212-274-8500