Akasaka. A money making location proliferated by businesses and hotels. Tower blocks loom overhead and salarymen jovially make their way to their post-work beverages. Spotless streets stretch before you and immaculate windows reflect the luminescent gleam of the surrounding neon.
Something rather surprising hides in this modern setting. A hive of secretive Shinobi lurk here! Luckily enough, vegetarians are more than welcome in their lair.
Ninja Akasaka (official website) offers an enjoyable eating experience in the presence of genuine-looking Ninjas. Unlike many of the themed restaurants in Tokyo, the novelty factor does not forego the quality of the food and drink. It is thoroughly recommended as an overall experience and really should not be missed.
Akasaka-mitsuke station is the easiest exit to arrive from, though the masked location is suitably hidden. This website contains a really useful guide for how to get to Ninja Akasaka.
Once you see the jet black, shutter-like walls of the restaurant and enter through the curtained door; the fun and entertainment begins! A masked waiter clad in black arrives to guide you to your seat and takes you on a series of Ninja challenges. I will keep these a secret to avoid spoiling the surprise!
It truly is a labyrinthine route of winding corridors where you feel like you are venturing far beyond the surface of Akasaka. Once navigated, you feel as though you have entered a first-person video game as the brilliantly stylized interior appears before you and Ninja waiting staff verbally greet your arrival one at a time.
Different rooms are available: from private rooms; to ones that are more shared; or even a bar. Booking ahead at this popular venue is recommended, as is the set menu (though a la carte is available).
Vegetarians can choose an 8 course option for 5700 yen, or a 10 course one for 6999 yen. It is relatively pricey, but is really worth it for a definitively unique eating experience in a very different venue.
While it is not Michelin star quality, the food is excellent and cleverly chosen. I opted for the 8 course version, which led me along a delicious conveyor belt of vegetarian eats. As follows: Shuriken star-blades grissini, vegetable sushi, fried season vegetables, avocado carpaccio, season vegetables potage, tofu steak, vegetable roll and fruit sampler. The 10 course option would have added a comport of tomato and pseudo-hotpot with vegetable and miso dip ‘in the air of beguilement’. What amazing wording throughout!
My personal favourite appearance-wise was the star-blades starter. Crisp crackers in the shape of Ninja throwing stars hang from a wooden centerpiece. Though they were slightly dry, a tasty olive oil worked well in combination.
Taste-wise, the ninja cocktails (around 970 yen each) were actually my favourite of the lot. A range of different mixes are on offer, from sweet to the more bitter. Each combination is well chosen – I tried many!
The real reason to visit Ninja Akasaka, though, is the experience as a whole. As each course is presented, escorted by a prowling Ninja waiter, it is a really fantastic experience to be had. A strong theme, but not tacky.
If you spend over 3000 yen then you will also be entranced by an engaging Ninja master magician, who demonstrates a wonderful array of slight-of-hand tricks.
Ninja Akasaka is well worth a visit then, especially if you are in Tokyo for a short time. Waiters literally somersaulted as we exited last time, ending the visit in characteristically awe-inspiring fashion. The delights of this restaurant resulted in my friend blurting out, “I have to live in Japan now!” That says it all really. Give Ninja Akasaka a go!