A couple of weeks ago my brother Oscar mentioned to Mike and I that there was a new Japanese/ramen place in town – the Ninja Club Japanese Bistro located at 10324 Whyte Avenue. It’s just over a month old – so still pretty green! Sometimes it’s hard to try a place when it’s still so new because there will inevitably be kinks that they’ve yet to work out but we actually found few flaws when we went to the Ninja Club.
Ninja Club is a very narrow, small place – I would say under 40 seats for sure, maybe even under 30 seats. It was partially full when we arrived around 6:30 on a Tuesday night. I had called a couple hours earlier to make a reservation and they hadn’t asked for my name so I don’t think they were concerned that there wouldn’t be enough seats available (still new!)
It’s a small menu, completely hand-written except for the front page where it showcases its five ramen bowls. The ramen bowls are: Shoyu Ramen, Miso Ramen, Kimuchi Ramen, and Tantan Ramen. The ramen broth choices are soya sauce base, miso paste and miso broth with spicy ground pork kimuchi – a Japanese-style fermented cabbage (very similar to Korean kimchi).
The ramen bowls range between $10-$12 and then additional toppings including egg, corn, chicken, beef, or sliced pork, are $1 each. It’s pretty great pricing for a pretty filling bowl of tasty ramen. The noodles have that heavier, handmade quality to them. I asked our server if they made the noodles in-house and they said no, it’s made in a factory. I actually found the noodles tasted almost identical to the ones I had at the #100bowls ramen pop-up at Get Cooking back in November. They got their noodles from a noodle-making master who does it out of her home (her home is like the noodle factory) so I really do wonder if it’s from the same noodle maker.
I thought the Kimuchi ramen was the best of the bunch but all three were pretty good. There was a nice combination of flavours and decent meat/toppings ratio for the price. The broth was good but not great (wouldn’t blow you away). It’s still no King Noodle House Vietnamese pho but for a Japanese ramen bowl it’s a great/welcome addition to Edmonton.
They offer some of the cheapest dinner bento boxes that I’ve ever seen in the city – but we didn’t order it so I don’t actually know how large the box would be. They have some sushi rolls but not as extensive as some other Japanese spots in the city though certainly for some of the lowest prices.
We tried the Dynamite Big Roll – which came with 10 pieces of deep fried prawns, avocado, cucumber, imitation crab, flying fish roe, spicy sauce, mayo, and house sauce ($14). It was great! Love the trio of sauces and the texture of these rolls and the presentation was very appealing.
We also tried their six-piece salmon sashimi ($8) and it was some of the juiciest salmon sashimi I’ve had in a long time.
The service was a little slow. Our sashimi didn’t come out until we were already half-way through our ramen bowls. But that’s really it for kinks from my perspective. The server herself was really friendly. The ramen didn’t blow me away but it was good and filling – and at a great price. When my brother went, they told him that they were planning on adding more items to their menu, they just didn’t want to do it all right away. They’re keeping it a bit smaller and more manageable as they start out, which is a smart move.
Sometimes I feel like Edmonton is over-saturated with Japanese restaurants (even though Japanese is in my Top 3 favourite food genres) so if you’re not offering something a bit different, or you’re not offering something amazing, then you can really get lost in all the other competition but I think Ninja Club obviously has a great location, what we tried was good (not blow-away, but good) and most importantly they are doing something slightly different as there isn’t a whole lot of ramen offerings in the city. They’re jumping on that craze right now and I can see the advantages for them of getting on it early and establishing themselves as a ramen destination in Edmonton. It’s a must – try if you’re looking for the perfect ramen bowl. I don’t know if it is the perfect ramen bowl but it’s a pretty good ramen bowl that’s definitely worth checking out!
You can also check out my pal Andrea’s review of Ninja Club too and let me know what you think if you go and try it!