Jahbella’s Tokyo Adventures (Jul 2015) – Ninja Restaurant Akasaka Review

One of the main things which we were worried about when it came to visiting Tokyo with the kids, was food. We heard that most places in Tokyo or at least those that would be serving the more ‘authentic’ Japanese experience, would not be too child friendly (think small places/ no high chairs/ unfriendly chefs/ zero tolerance for kids who make a pip). So how do we ensure that we get a decent experience (i.e no fast food) but yet feel welcomed and have the kids enjoy themselves.

Taking the train to Akasaka

Taking the train to Akasaka

A friend who had just returned from Tokyo recommended that we try the Ninja Restaurant at Akasaka. The Ninja Restaurant Akasaka is basically a themed restaurant which served mainly course meals and is ‘set’ in a Ninja village. The experience starts from the moment you enter their doors and its main entrance is so non-descript that you can’t even tell what’s behind that door on street level. In fact you wouldn’t even notice it unless you were looking for it. Trust me, we were looking for it and we missed it. :p

Upon entering, your Ninja guide would take you through the ‘village’. Through trap doors and door ways with low beams and ceilings. Lots of bending down and going down narrow stairways before you eventually reach the main dining room. It was all very dark so please excuse our photos which were all taken in a very dark restaurant. Oh and we couldn’t take any photos of our ‘journey’ through the village for fear of falling.

We prepped Jah way beforehand for fear of his reaction to the ‘scary’ ninjas and the dark restaurant so thankfully he was perfectly fine and loved the experience. However we totally forgot about prepping Bella, actually it would have been quite impossible to prep her. She was and is still currently in the phase of “I’m scared of everything” (come on! She was even afraid of standing next to cute ole Winnie the Pooh at Disneyland..sigh). So there was a bit of resistance from Bella and she insisted on sitting on Joel’s lap through the entire meal which was well not the best dining experience for him.

Anyway we were led to our private dining room, yes a private dining area/ room even though it was just the 4 of us. Thank goodness so that we could have some privacy to calm Bella. Oh yes and because we had kids with us, the restaurant had advised that we could only book the 5pm to 7pm dinner slot as they do not allow kids after 7pm due to the ‘nature of the crowd’. While some people might feel ‘discriminated’ by this, I felt that it is a very good system to ensure that the kids were allowed a friendly environment and no one was going to be upset that they might be seated next to kids. 🙂

Don't be fooled by this peaceful moment...Bella was super jumpy hahah

Don’t be fooled by this peaceful moment…Bella was super jumpy! Thank goodness for a private area!

We were asked to pre-order our sets when we made our email reservation so that the kitchen could ensure that they had the ingredients for what we wanted. They had a kids menu available but we chose to order 3 adults meals to share amongst the 4 of us because we weren’t really keen on the kids menu. However a recent check on their website shows that they have updated their kids menu offering a little and even offer a kids ninja bandana as part of the set. Would have been nice if they had it during our visit 🙂

That is where she will stay for most of the meal...:/

That is where she will stay for most of the meal…:/

We ordered their 2 sets of their Tasting Course as well as their Jyubei course. The courses were delivered one by one and only after you have completed each course. So you would probably buffer about 2 hours for the meal. The food was good! Some dishes probably alittle ‘stranger’ than I would have liked but we all loved their beef. In fact the kids were fighting us for the only course of beef that we ordered..grrrr…We didn’t take photo of a lot of our food because we were so caught up in eating, the entertainment and also with pacifying with Ms Bella so honestly the food photos don’t do the meal much justice.

Yes..all edible! Jah was made to believe that they gave him Ninja power!

Yes..all edible! Jah was made to believe that they gave him Ninja power!

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Some of the courses were accompanied by a bit of fanfare – like dry ice coming out of a ‘treasure box’ which they would ask you to open and also get you to crack the magic egg, or a ninja sword display before you were served your next dish as well as some drama as your ninja server prepares your stone boiled soup.

Magic box...

Magic box…

Magic egg???

Magic egg???

Dramatic Sword Display with fire!

Dramatic Sword Display with fire!

Stone boiled soup (The soup was cooked with hot rocks in the pot!)

Stone boiled soup (The soup was cooked with hot rocks in the pot!)

We were initially concerned about whether the kids could sit through a 2 hour meal but with the fanfare and entertainment, the kids were entertained (or at least Jah was..Bella was just always on edge every time the Ninja reappeared with food :p)

They rounded up the meal with a private Ninja Magic Show where a magician would come to your private dining area and perform a few magic tricks. Jah was amused and annoyed all at the same time because he felt tricked by the magician’s ball disappearing from under the cup act. :p

Bella totally suspicious of our Ninja magician (Note no photos allowed during the magic show)

Bella totally suspicious of our Ninja magician (Note no photos allowed during the magic show)

What impressed me about the experience was the fact that the show didn’t just end with dinner. Our Ninja server engaged us and the kids all the way as she was escorting us out of the ‘village’ and even needed Jah to help perform some ‘magic’ before the door would finally open to let us out. They even took their act all the way to street level as they bid us goodbye.

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It was an awesome first dinner out in Tokyo and truly a wonderful official start to our Tokyo Trip. 🙂

JahBella’s Mummy

More of our kid friendly Tokyo Adventure coming up soon…

In the meantime, you can read about…

Where to Stay with Kids in Tokyo [Hilton Tokyo Bay Review]

After the tough decision of having to decide which flight configuration and flight timing would work for us, I had another dilemma looming in the horizon..where to stay in Tokyo?

Here are some of the options we had and the rationale/ pros and cons behind each one.

  • Stay at a Disney Hotel for 11 days.

🙂 Minimize the need to move hotels and keep us really close to Disney on the 4 days we were intending to visit (perfect for going back for afternoon naps!)

😦 Visiting Tokyo on the other 7 days would be a hassle, with multiple train stops and at least 45 minutes travel time each way.

  • Stay at a Disney Hotel for half our trip and move to a city hotel for the other half.

🙂 Minimise travel time on a day to day basis

😦 Lose one entire day when we change hotels and we would have to visit Disney over a weekend and battle the crowds. [Read about our tips to surviving Disneyland Tokyo with kids]

  • Stay at a City hotel for 11 days

🙂 Easy travel for most part of our 11 day holiday

😦 Almost impossible to go back for afternoon naps on our 4 Days at Disneyland and lose out on a lot of the Disney experience

So which would you have chosen?:)

We eventually chose Option 1 which I know is probably not the most popular choice but we really cherish our naptimes :p (well rested kids = happy kids = happy parents) So yes we chose to struggle on most days and manage our itinerary within means.

We ended up booking a room at Hilton Tokyo Bay which although is not an Official Disney Hotel (The Disney hotels are connected to either Disneyland or Disney Sea) but it was fairly well-connected by a monorail line which served the Disney area (think our local LRT).

The hotel provided a free shuttle service to the nearby Bayside monorail station. We would usually take the shuttle bus to and from Bayside except at night when it tends to get really crowded. For those peak times, we would opt to take a nice slow 5 minutes stroll to our hotel.

Disney Shuttle to Bayside Station from our hotel

Disney Shuttle to Bayside Station from our hotel

With Mickey design and interior

With Mickey design and interior

Jah enjoying his front row seat everytime we took the Disney shuttle

Jah enjoying his front row seat everytime we took the Disney shuttle

Bayside monorail station would bring you to 3 other stations – Disneyland station, Disney Sea station and the main Maihama Station which would connect you to the greater Metro lines. The monorail takes about 15 minutes to complete an entire loop so it was really convenient and fast!

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We bought a 3 day monorail pass which gave us unlimited rides (only adults need to pay)

The Disney monorail

The Disney monorail

Enjoying the view of Disneysea while enroute to Disneyland

Enjoying the view of Disneysea while enroute to Disneyland

All smiles for Disney!

All smiles for Disney!

The hotel also provided a direct shuttle service to Maihama Station for those who are heading out to the city. This was how we travelled out to the city on the other 7 days. This is also where you would find Ikispiari Mall, where we settled a lot of our meals when we were not heading out to the city.

Maihama Station

Maihama Station

The Hilton Tokyo Bay had several room types – 1 of which was the Happy Magic Room. The Happy Magic rooms are situated on their own level which was decorated in a Magic Forest Theme. It was a real treat for the kids and they would ‘greet’ the little dragon 3D holograms found near our lift lobby every time we took the lift.

The room we had was really awesome for 3 main reasons. The room was HUGE compared to many of the city hotels in Tokyo and honestly even Singapore!!! Yes, we had 3 queen sized beds put side by side and so we didn’t have to squeeze or worry about rolling off the bed. There was also ample playing space for the kids and our huge suitcases.

Huge Happy Magic Room!

Huge Happy Magic Room!

Wondering what to do with themselves in this big room

Wondering what to do with themselves in this big room

There were little tricks in the room to entertain the kids, like a magic mirror and a giant key to unleash the ‘magic’.

Magic Mirror and his princess friend

Magic Mirror and his princess friend

We also enjoyed our 180 degree sea view which offered us a glimpse of Mount Fuji on a nice clear day.

Brother and sister enjoying their seaview in the mornings

Brother and sister enjoying their seaview in the mornings

View of Mount Fuji from our room

View of Mount Fuji from our room

While the hotel does not offer room service, it does have a well-stocked convenience store where we would purchase our daily beverage and snacks replenishment. They also have a take-away deli which sells hot food, pastries and desserts, and they offer room delivery for an additional 20% charge. This was how we settled our dinner upon arrival and the food was pretty decent (tasty spaghetti bolognaise, curry rice, kiddy bento). The photo doesn’t do the food justice because I was too famished to take a good shot :p We ordered from the deli every time we were too lazy to eat out and the kids even requested to go back to the hotel for the deli food on a few occasion. 🙂

Well-stocked minimart at our hotel

Well-stocked minimart at our hotel

Our hot food upon arrival..takeaway from their Deli

Our hot food upon arrival..takeaway from their Deli

While it was really quite a hassle to travel out to the city from the hotel (for 7 days!!) Reality was a lot tougher than what I imagined in my head :p That being said, I would definitely still choose to stay at this hotel, the next time we visit Tokyo Disneyland (unless of course we decide to stay at the Official Disney Hotel 😉 )

The Hilton Tokyo Bay is a real value for money hotel especially if you book early..:) (Think $300 a night vs $900 a night!) It is after all a Hilton right?

JahBella’s Mummy

Kovan Special Noodle and Chikuwa Tei Chirashi – Food Journey

This blog was started to document our parenting and family travel adventures but this year I have decided that I will attempt to document our food journey as well. This might include not only food joints that are family friendly but the food ‘adventure’ that Joel and I embark on as a couple. 🙂 They may range from your simple hawker fare to ‘nice food’ for that special occasion. They say the key to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I say the key to a happy marriage is awesome food! Trust me! Totally tested! We argue less when there is good food. :p

So let’s kick off 2015 with the food we had today!

The Special Noodles at Kovan market is an old favourite for us. We discovered it way before Jah was born and used to have it almost every weekend. We have stopped visiting for awhile because bringing kids to a hawker centre and having to queue at least 20 mins for noodles is not exactly ideal. The stall serves your usual wanton mee, Ipoh hor fun and shredded chicken noodles etc but their signature dish is what they call Special Noodles which is kind of a mixture of all the above noodles I have mentioned. The sauce plus the chilli and tomato ketchup mix is simply awesome! Just make sure that you come early if you want to try their special noodles as they tend to sell out fast and the stall normally closes by late morning.

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We decided that our lunch stop for today would include Jap food, a good barachirashi to be specific. We made a reservation at one of our usual Barachirashi haunts but found out when we got there that they were not serving their usual lunch bentos today! Argh! It was 210pm and we were fast running out of options. We did a quick search and ‘settled’ for Chikuwa Tei at Mohamed Sultan which was a 10 mins drive away. I am so glad that we were ‘forced’ to try this restaurant. At $25, their Chirashi sushi bowl is a real treat! Value for money with generous slabs of very fresh sashimi. They also had a very good variety of bentos and sides and we have decided to include them as one of our go to place for good jap food. 🙂

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All in all, a very good start to 2015 yummy wise 😉

Here’s to more feasting, delicious food and a happy marriage!

JahBella’s Mummy