15 July 2010

a dinner at Ninja- Tribeca

We passed the subtle entry to Ninja, before tracking back, and crowding the sample-sized entry. The hostess verified our reservation and radioed down to the subterranean dining room to announce our arrival. She ushered us into the elevator and as the door opened- we were assaulted by ninja poised to scare the living daylights out of us! After round of screams and laughter, the ninja asked how we'd like to get to our dungeon. To which I replied, "the most difficult way possible." Down a desperately dark corridor of steps and turns-- we fell into a subtle light- to be accosted by another ninja equipped with exploding flames.

Each table is contained in its own chamber, with sliding gate. Various ninjas snaked up on us (and continued to inundate us throughout the entire night) armed with knives, firecrackers and flames. I quickly grew pleased with my decision to sit in the corner lacking a window (easy access to a knife at the throat).

We quenched our thirst with Toh's for the ladies (champagne and lychee) and Echigo rice beer for the gents. The Toh was a bit thick and we felt it best to swap out for pure bubbly after a few. The speed of order to arrival on the drinks was a bit on the slow side, a detail that we allowed ourselves to forgive as we were under constant attack by the ninja army.

While we craved various selections from the French-Japanese fusion a la carte menu, we decided to select the Sasuke tasting menu as well, in the spirit of a full experience. For our appetizers, we requested spicy tuna and shrimp tempura rolls (doubled up from the a la carte and tasting menu), as well the Katon Explosion- caramelized foie gras and Japanese taro potatoes pressed together and served with foamy ponzu sauce. The sushi was standard- above deli grade, but nothing to write home about. The Katon proved interesting, if not a little messy and seemingly over sized for an appetizer portion.

Up next (from the tasting menu), the Batto Jutsu. The Batto is a gorgeous combination of sashimi and soft beets in a ginger sauce with a bowl of tuna confit. The dish is a lovely marriage with the sira-ae sauce and the elements are better appreciated in arranged in bites together.

Our next shared course, the miso salmon, came in a pile on par with an entree. The soft roasted Scottish salmon looked like a lazy sun bather on an island of turnip, pressed into a sea of white miso. And: it was luscious, even for fully cooled. I'll credit the miso sauce.

I could have skipped the entrees, but they were already in the queue. From the Sasuke tasting menu: a massive rib eye steak with a dipping sauce line-up (garlic apple, pepper saiko miso teriyaki) joined by sides of taro and cauliflower gratin. The pepper saiko stole the show with whole peppercorns dominating the zingy sauce. The ladies at the table, myself included, selected the steak in a box. Requested rare, our Thai style Angus came politely arranged in a box with mixed salad spiced with crispy shredded potato and two smaller boxes of Thai-spiced sauce and soft boiled egg. Per the instruction of our ninja, we mixed the sauce with the egg and doused our salad and pre-sliced steak.

Also recommended, we agreed to a few more rolls from the chef's noted specialties- the wasabi yellow tail and Rock n' Roll NY, which is composed of spicy crayfish, avocado, pop rocks salad (yes, there was an explosion instigated) and topped with habanero-masago. Served on a long and slightly dramatic plank, the presentation topped the overall excitement of the rolls, explosion aside, of course.

A magician appeared to wow us as we plunked back in our chairs, tipsy on champagne and lethargic from the overindulgent consumption. We were somehow coerced into a final course of ninja star. Noted as "The ultimate ninja weapon," the soft chocolate mousse cake stood strong with a berry sorbet and small square bowl of fresh mixed-fruit and little wooded fork for nibbling.

The next day in the office, I found myself approached by a handful of people, inquiring about my experience (foursquare check-in sparked the attention). It seems that is Tribeca spot is much like a chain of amusement parks- and from the sounds of the Toyko branch, New York has them beat on cuisine.

images: daily intake, eater

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