“Okay, so 8 on Tuesday at Ninja,” read the text from my friend, fellow comedian Devin Barnes. He was letting me know where his birthday dinner was being held.

“Sounds too expensive for your dumb ass,” I didn’t text back. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind messing with a comic, but come on, it’s his birthday.  I texted my girlfriend Evi and she agreed. We were going to Ninja.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Why the hell would anyone name a restaurant after an Asian assassin?”  Well, the answer is that it’s actually a Ninja-themed Japanese restaurant.

“Oh, a theme restaurant,” you’re thinking. “That means crappy food, right?”

Actually, no. This isn’t Planet Hollywood.

“Yes, but–AAUGH! MY EYES! MY EYES!”

Look, sorry I had to use mace on you, but this is my article, and I’m never going to finish it if you keep asking me stupid questions.

Like a lot of NYC restaurants, the front door and little portable sidewalk sign were the only clues a business even existed.
Like a lot of NYC restaurants, the front door and little portable sidewalk sign were the only clues a business even existed.

So, where were we? Oh, Ninja. Like a lot of nice New York City restaurants, you could easily walk right by and not even notice it.  It’s fronted by a simple glass door in a large building on Hudson St in Tribeca.  Evi and I met Devin, his girlfriend Ashley, and three other friends near the front door and walked in. We were greeted by a pleasant young lady in small dark room with a hostess stand and not much else. She led us down a dark hallway to an elevator, where we, as instructed, selected the lowest level.  The ride down was quiet.

“So we’re going to die, right?” I asked nobody in particular. Nobody laughed.

Once the elevator door opened, we heard the sounds of people laughing, enjoying their dinner, and ninjas.

Yes, ninjas.

“HI-YAA!” We heard. It was a common theme throughout the night. A ninja walked us to a small room with a single table. Once seated, another ninja took our drink order.  We all ordered either sake or some Japanese beer.  He was to be our main server the rest of the night.

As the birthday boy, Devin was bestowed the title of an honorary ninja. Don't ask him to kill anyone. Or do anything athletic.
As the birthday boy, Devin was bestowed the title of an honorary ninja. Don’t ask him to kill anyone. Or do anything athletic.

“This place is awesome,” said Devin, who’d been there before. “The first time I ate here–”

“HI-YAA!” interrupted a new ninja, outside our room, startling us.  He came in and did some magic tricks.  He was very good.  Or maybe it was the sake.

When the food came, we immediately noticed the uniquely designed plates. Evi’s salmon came on some kind of wagon coach, while another friend’s order came on some kind of funky dish that was neon backlit with dry ice wafting out. We took plenty of mediocre pictures.

Luckily, the taste matched the presentation. I had a sushi roll and Evi had her own appetizer, and she and I shared a main course, as I simply wasn’t all that hungry. Everything was delicious.  Our share, including two alcoholic beverages and tip, came to about $84. Expect an ordinary dinner for two to cost slightly north of $100. In New York City, that’s pretty much a bargain.

Wait, I think I had two beers. And the sake.  It really was a bargain.

Maybe this isn't a wagon. Is it a rickshaw? Is that question racist?
Maybe this isn’t a wagon. Is it a rickshaw? Is that question racist?

One final tip: make sure to ask the server to help escort you back outside.  The dining area can be quite confusing and dungeon-like, so it may be difficult to find your way back to the elevator.  After two beers and a sake, anyway.

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