#172: Ninja Sushi and Teriyaki

NOTE: Ninja Sushi & Teriyaki can now be found on Vernon street in the spot where the Sammy Hagar restaurant was.

I’ve had sushi on the brain since Sunday when I tried to go to Ninja and found they weren’t open for lunch that day.  Tonight I decided to finish that attempt.  They close for a short period between lunch and dinner, so I headed over and arrived a little after they opened at 5.  I walked in and was immediately greeted in typical sushi restaurant fashion, with all the staff saying “irasshaimase!”  There was a family seated in the corner and one person at the bar, but other than that it was just me.  One of the servers approached me and asked if I wanted a table or to sit at the bar and I chose the latter.

Ninja Sushi & Teriyaki is a continuation of the Lincoln location that closed some time ago.  Years ago I used to frequent it and enjoy music on the patio at the Beach Hut next door.  It is now owned by one of the chefs from Lincoln and re-opened here, kat-corner from the Walmart center by 65.  Apparently the Ninja Sushi Express that was next door to Habit in the same parking lot was an earlier iteration of the same business.  I know there is at least another Sushi joint with the Ninja name in the Sacramento area, though I do not know if they are related.

Taking my seat in front of the head chef, and the owner beside him, I was handed a menu and the server asked what he could get me to drink. I thought for a moment and decided to look at the menu for a moment first.  Taylor, the chef, asked how I was doing while he worked on wrapping up a roll with foil in a dragon shape and lit it on fire.  The drink options were basic.  They had six bottled beers and a couple on draught.  I went with a Sapporo and it was brought out immediately.  I took some more time skimming over the large menu (unfortunately they did not currently have a paper menu for me to scan, nor a website I could point you to and I forgot to bring my little handheld scanner, so you’ll have to use your imagination).  It’s got all the standard offerings of sashimi, sushi, rolls and teriyaki.  I decided to go with the Sushi Combo A (9 pieces Chef’s choice sashimi and 7 pieces assorted sushi) [$19.95].  This comes with a salad and miso soup.  Taylor took my order and I also added BBQ Albacore (5 pieces served with spicy BBQ sauce) [$9.95].

In just a couple minutes I had a very hot bowl of miso soup sitting in front of me.  It was fairly dark and easily one of richest and most flavorful misos I’ve had in a while.  I sipped on this a little and put is aside to cool off when the BBQ Albacore was handed to me over the counter just a few minutes later.  5 huge pieces of fish sat in the middle of this big dish smothered in the bright re-orange sauce with a white sauce to the side.  These pieces were borderline too big to be bite-sized, but I soldiered through them with giant mouthfuls.  They were a little warm and had a very light grilled texture on the surface, then tender and juicy on the inside.  The sauce had a nice heat that built over consecutive bites, enough that I took a break a couple times for a sip of the ice cold Sapporo and the mellow miso soup.

A little under ten minutes after receiving the albacore appetizer I was handed a big, rectangular plate by the chef.  I think the owner, Steve, made this plate up.  I had seen him slicing some of the items while I was working on the BBQ.  This was quite a spread, and Taylor commented as such to Steve after handing it to me.  There were a few items that I either get very rarely or haven’t had before, including Ika (squid) and Tako (octopus), as well as Hamachi (yellowtail), which I usually don’t seem to get in assorted plates though I have ordered it individually before.  I was pretty interested in trying the octopus and squid, though I did not enjoy them as much as I had hoped.  Both were not particularly flavorful and were somewhat tough.  I am glad I got to check these out anyway.  My least favorite was actually something else, the sashimi with the shiny skin, which I am taking a wild guess in saying was Saba (makerel).  It was a very dry fish, salty and the most fishy-tasting by far of any sushi I’ve ever had.  I may have had this once before, I don’t see it too often.

The rest of this combo was absolutely fantastic, with my favorites being the sake (salmon) and hamachi sashimi.  Both of these were almost creamy in texture and bursting with wonderful, buttery flavor.  All the pieces were generous portions, sliced nice and thick, and it was all chilled and quite fresh.  My salad came out just a minute or so into this, which was oddly timed.  The typical creamy and sweet dressing was over crisp lettuce, slices of tomato and carrot slivers.  Unlike many of these salads, this one actually had a proportional amount of dressing to salad instead of the insane amount that drowns the lettuce underneath.

This was quite a lot of sushi and I left absolutely stuffed and content.  Overall the quality was outstanding, rivaling any sushi restaurant in Roseville for sure.  The staff was incredible.  Everyone from the owner to the chef and servers were all extremely friendly and talkative.  I would put them, and the service as a whole, as my favorite out of all the sushi spots in town (and I’ve literally been to every one now!).  This one is a must try, in my opinion, if you’re looking for a truly excellent sushi dining experience.


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