The interior at the much-anticipated Ninja Japanese Steakhouse is nearly completed. The sushi bar is built. Hibachi grills are installed and the lower level karaoke suites are fully decorated. And owner Lee Chen says he has fully staffed the new Downtown restaurant at 770 N. Milwaukee St.
In fact, Chen says he plans to host a soft-opening for the new three-floor venue on Wednesday, Feb. 1 with a grand opening planned for Saturday, Feb. 4.
Due to a delay in receiving their liquor license, Ninja will open with food and non-alcoholic beverages only; however, Chen anticipates they should be able to implement their bar program shortly after Feb. 14, the date of their liquor license hearing.
Ground floor: Sushi
On the ground floor, guests will find the main bar, which will feature house cocktails, sake selections, a wine list and 12 beers on tap (local craft, domestic and international). The back half of the bar will feature sushi bar seating with a view of the fish case and sushi making process.
Three standard tables across from the bar accommodate groups of two or four beneath a pergola-like structure hung with cheerful festoon lights.
Various booths fill out the dining area on the opposite side of the pergola.
The menu features an ample selection of sushi, sashimi, hand rolls and maki, including a variety of signature rolls. Specials like uni (sea urchin), geoduck and fatty tuna will also be showcased as availability warrants. There will also be lunch specials featuring sushi, hibachi, teriyaki or bento box options.
Second floor: Hibachi
Stairs adjacent to the main bar take guests up to the second floor, which is dedicated to hibachi-style dining. On the landing, guests will find a “Push Your Luck” a casino-style coin pusher game, plus two toy grabber machines (called 'UFO catchers' in Japan).
One is a grabber claw machine filled with various candies; the other features little rubber animals, plus the chance to “open the prize door” if you can retrieve an egg with a key in it.
The second floor dining area features four U-shaped tables, each equipped with two teppanyaki grilling stations and accommodations for parties of six to nine people on each side.
Hibachi offerings will include chicken, steak, salmon, swordfish, lobster and filet mignon along with a variety of accompaniments including noodles or rice, soup, salad and vegetables.
The second floor also features a large private room which can accommodate hibachi-style service for up to 50 people (or two smaller groups of 20-25).
A smaller private dining room equipped with AV equipment for corporate meetings or lunches is also available; it accommodates 10 guests with the option to enter through the back of the building if guests do not wish to walk through the restaurant.
Lower level: Karaoke
Guests can also take the stairs from the ground floor to the lower level, where Ninja features seven private karaoke suites.
All suites are similarly equipped, though the decor is differently colored in each room. All can accommodate between 15-20 guests and comes complete with lounge-style banquette seating, low tables to accommodate drinks, a large screen to display lyrics and disco-style lighting to set the mood.
Meanwhile, a small bar on the western side of the lower level will service all karaoke suites.
Rooms can be rented for $159 for one hour (an additional hour is +$100) or three or more hours for $300.
Beginning Feb. 1, Ninja Japanese Steakhouse will be open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch service and, 4:30 to 10 p.m. for dinner service; Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch service and, 4:30 to 11 p.m. for dinner service; Saturday from 3 to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 3 to 10 p.m.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.