SPIES THEY ARE NOT: Meet the ninjas at Ninja Jones.
SURYANI DALIP lunched at a restaurant with "ninjas" for waiters, but where food is a fusion of Japanese and Western cuisines.
|HOT FROM THE PADDLE: At the robatayaki, food is passed over the counter with a giant paddle.|
|CHOPSTICKS FOR DESSERT: Dessert Bento comprises tiramisu, pumpkin pudding, two pieces of chocolate chopsticks, fresh fruits and green tea ice-cream.|
I even aspired to go to Japan and meet them in person. I have still not outgrown my fascination for these feudal (4th century) warriors who were hired to carry out covert operations including espionage, sabotage and assassinations.
So, imagine my excitement when I met a few recently at Ninja Jones izakaya, a Japanese restaurant located at Mid Valley City, Kuala Lumpur. (They were not there to spy on or assasinate anyone). The ninjas, seven of them, work as waiters.
A unique dining place, the restaurant opened its doors for business over six months ago.
Once seated and leafing through the menu, hot green tea will be served.
As its name suggests, Ninja Jones is a fusion between traditional Japanese and Western. You may not see it in the interior because it is totally Eastern, but it shows in the presentation of the food and music. When my colleagues and I were there one lunchtime, I was surprised to hear jazz numbers being played.
Restaurant manager Danny Lai said Japanese “mystery” music is played during dinner as it helped to create the ambience.
Lai added the restaurant was conceptualised by a Japanese businessman with a fascination for ninjas. Malaysia has ardent ninja fans, young and old.
“We believe the kids will love the ninjas, especially the cartoon series Koboto Ninja which is being aired on TV. They can come here and take photographs with the ninjas,” he said, adding that soon there will be between four and five female ninjas, clad in red.
Lai went on to explain that Ninja Jones is fashioned after the izakaya concept — a Japanese new generation bar or restaurant, mainly found in cosmopolitan cities and very popular in Japan after work.
The word originates from i and sakaya (for Japanese sake shop) that is originally tachinomiya a standing bar that sold sake and food.
The restaurant offers an array of fusion Japanese and Western dishes. Lai worked with the restaurant’s executive chef Yagisan to come up with the menu. It involved doing a market survey and travelling to Japan, Korea and England to find out the kind of food served in these places and their preparation methods.
“We try to be different from other Japanese restaurants in town,” he said.
Here are some of its signature dishes — Shuriken No.1 Special (RM16) — sushi with crab and avocado filling, wrapped with snapper and baked to perfection in cream sauce; Volcano Roll (RM2) — oven-baked eel layered on top of California roll, sesame seed and spring onion sprinkles; Wagyu Ishiyaki Beef (RM52) — beef grilled on hot stone topped with wasabi sauce; and Dessert Bento (tamatebako) comprising tiramisu, pumpkin pudding, two pieces of chocolate chopsticks, fresh fruits and green tea ice-cream.
What differentiates it from other Japanese restaurants is also the robatayaki or Japanese barbecue station. It originated from Japanese coastal villages where fishermen would grill the catch of the day on their boats.
The seafood is marinated with salt and butter. Besides seafood, beef, chicken and vegetables are also available at the robatayaki.
At Ninja Jones, the barbecue is served with four homemade sauces that include seven Japanese spices for robata and noodles. Ginger is used as seasoning for vegetables and mustard for chicken.
The items are priced from RM4.50 to RM20. There are also two set menus priced at RM68 and RM98.
Patrons are advised to make reservations for the robatayaki especially for dinner, as it is usually packed. The counter can accommodate 15 people at a time.
Ninja Jones also has four private rooms on the second floor. One of the rooms is big enough for a conference. It can fit between 14 and 16 people, while the other rooms can accommodate between six and eight persons.
The restaurant is located at A-G-5 Ground Floor, Northpoint, Mid Valley City 1, Medan Syed Putra Utara, Kuala Lumpur. It opens for lunch from noon to 2.30pm, and dinner from 6.30pm to 10.30pm. For reservations and details, call 03-2288-1646.