NINJA New York: Smoking Food & Sword-Wielding Ninja Waiters

My father, @CognitiveFlex, visited me this past weekend in New York City, and we unintentionally found ourselves in several surreal situations that felt totally immersive and like back-to-back movie sets. First, we visited the McKittrick Hotel for Sleep No More, Punchdrunk’s Macbeth-themed choose your own adventure performance. The show challenges its masked audience to wander through 11,000 square feet amidst dancing and wildly unpredictable performers as they climb walls, bathe repeatedly, and kill each other. Imagine being transported inside a David Lynch-meets-Vertigo style dream that is being shared by hundreds of others wearing white Venetian masks.

The next day we visited Ninja New York, a restaurant in Tribeca, that ushers you through a dark corridor into a ninja village where diners eat in private rooms with stone walls and sliding bamboo doors. Cave dining at its finest entails multiple ninja waiters leaping or falling from the ceiling or reaching around the corner to scare you with their ninja moves and giant swords. The special art dishes are pulsing with flames, and some come in special bowls with swords through them. When the sword is pulled, smoke rushes from the food engulfing a simple sashimi platter and pouring over the table like a cloud.

I like to sample theme cocktails, so I ordered the Ninja Star Martini, the restaurant’s signature drink. It had no listed ingredients. The menu simply called it a “mysterious black potion.” The yummy dark elixir came in an elegant martini glass with a throwing star doubling as a straw and garnish. As we began to get a little tipsy, ninja magicians circulated doing magic card tricks. Throughout the meal, we listened as the dimly lit dining hallways were filled with the screams of the new patrons who were entering the village and being “greeted” by jumping ninjas. On our way out, we even got a ninja escort to see us off with a sudden “hai-YA!” as he dropped a slick “Sayonara” scroll before the elevator doors slammed shut.