No stars. Zero.
“Poor,” the lowest rating possible, was the New York Times review in October of 2005 of the newly opened New York City restaurant Ninja. Frank Bruni’s review has even made the Ten Most Scathing New York Times Restaurant Reviews of All Time list.
Referring to a choice of routes to your table (one straight to your table, one being an adventure through tunnels and turns) Bruni said:
I recommend a third path: right back out the door. Granted, you will be denied the sating of any curiosity about what a $3.5 million design budget permits in the way of faux stone walls, make-believe gorges and mock torches. You will forgo an iota of modest amusement.
But you will be spared an infinitely larger measure of tedium, a visually histrionic smorgasbord of undistinguished food and a discordant bill that can easily exceed $100 a person with tax, tip and drinks.
You should read the whole review, which is jaw-dropping in its slam of this restaurant. I remember clearly when I read it over ten years ago for the first time, shaking my head at the restaurant concepts some people think will work, laughing out loud at every paragraph, skewering this silly place even more. I felt sorry for all the investors.
Fast forward to 2016.
From Yelp reviewer Paul Y:
“I’ll definitely recommend this restaurant to any friends and family that is living or visiting New York to try this place out, it’s a great place for family, kids, friend or ever your dates.”
From Gissi88 on Trip Advisor (where Ninja ranks in the top ten percent of New York City restaurants):
“For me this its one of the best restaurants that I have visited. My boyfriend and I visited in our vacations in New York. The service was amazing, unfortunately I don’t remember the name of our waiter, he did a great job and an excellent presentation of the food. If I go to New York again, for sure I’ll come back.”
Ninja Restaurant is alive and well, not easy for a 6500 square foot destination in New York City.
Never assume you know how a restaurant will do. Yes, this one survives on tourist dollars and yes it’s a Disney like destination, but something tells me the reps that are selling the wine, beer, and spirits to Ninja are fans as well.