Review: Ninja Club Japanese Bistro

The Ninja Club Japanese Bistro at 10324 Whyte Avenue.

The Ninja Club Japanese Bistro at 10324 Whyte Avenue.

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.

Inside the Ninja Club Japanese Bistro on Whyte Ave.

Inside the Ninja Club Japanese Bistro on Whyte Ave.

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!)

Ramen options at Ninja Club!

Ramen options at Ninja Club!

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).

Kimuchi Ramen - Miso broth with spicy groun pork kimchi, Japanese chili oil, vegetable (topping choice $1 each - boiled egg, chicken, sliced pork, and corn) - $12

Kimuchi Ramen – Miso broth with spicy groun pork kimchi, Japanese chili oil, vegetable (topping choice $1 each – boiled egg, chicken, sliced pork, and corn) – $12

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.

Shoyu Ramen - Soy sauce base broth, egg noodle, vegetable, sliced pork (topping choice $1 each, boiled egg, chicken, beef, corn) - $10

Shoyu Ramen – Soy sauce base broth, egg noodle, vegetable, sliced pork (topping choice $1 each, boiled egg, chicken, beef, corn) – $10

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.

Tantan Ramen - Miso broth with spicy ground pork, baby corn, Japanese chili oil, vegetable (topping choice $1 each, boiled egg, chicken, beef, sliced pork, corn) - $12

Tantan Ramen – Miso broth with spicy ground pork, baby corn, Japanese chili oil, vegetable (topping choice $1 each, boiled egg, chicken, beef, sliced pork, corn) – $12

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.

The menu at Ninja Club!

The menu at Ninja Club!

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.

Dynamite Big Roll (10 pieces) - Big size roll, deep fried prawn, avocado, cucumber, imitation crab, flying fish roe, spicy sauce, mayo and house sauce - $14

Dynamite Big Roll (10 pieces) – Big size roll, deep fried prawn, avocado, cucumber, imitation crab, flying fish roe, spicy sauce, mayo and house sauce – $14

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.

Six-piece sashimi for $8 at Ninja Club!

Six-piece salmon sashimi for $8 at Ninja Club!

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!

Linda


Ninja Club on Urbanspoon

Social Media Notes (#52) – Links for the Week of December 8 – 14

Social Media Notes

Here’s this week’s round-up of social media (& tech) news. Come by each week for what I hope to be a fun & informative blog post on social stories that caught my eye throughout the week!

  • Did you see this week’s Cat Saturday photos?! My favourites are 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 19, 21, 25 and 27!!!!

Thoughts on these stories? Tweet @ me or leave a comment below!

Linda


Review: MEAT for Dinner

MEAT at 8216 104 Street!

MEAT at 8216 104 Street!

Last weekend I finally tried MEAT for Dinner, a barbecue restaurant just off Whyte Avenue at 8216 104 Street. MEAT opened this past year and is owned by the same owners of The Next Act Pub. MEAT is one of the most recent BBQ spots in Edmonton and is a great addition to the ‘meat scene’ (if you will) in town.

EAT MEAT HERE.

EAT MEAT HERE.

On a Friday night for dinner for four, there was a long, long line-up to get a table at MEAT. In fact, a big chunk of the room after you get through the door is entirely devoted to waiting space and it was full with people waiting when I got there just before 7 p.m. With the big crowd, and the big waiting space, at first I was unsure of where to go to get my name on the wait list. You have to go through the throng of people to get to the hostess station as it’s not right by the door.

Busy Friday night at MEAT!

Busy Friday night at MEAT!

I was told it would be a 30-40 minute wait for a table and my initial thought was… Well I hope it’s worth the wait. Luckily – it was! I really enjoyed the food and the wait actually ended up being shorter than originally estimated. When we were seated, I noticed that our table (and a lot of MEAT’s tables) was just one long communal table separated only by barbecue sauce bottles. You’re sitting pretty close to other parties.

Mustard and BBQ sauces at MEAT.

Mustard and BBQ sauces also act as table diviers at MEAT.

Our server was very friendly, and even got down on his knees to talk to us. He asked if it was our first time at MEAT, if we needed help deciding what to get, and also explained what the feature meat special for the day was (on that day it was apple chutney bacon pork at $9 each – YUM!)

What's on the menu at MEAT? ... Meat!

What’s on the menu at MEAT? … Meat!

Our table shared a bunch of different meats! That’s generally how you’re supposed to “do” MEAT. They give you all the meat ordered on one big tray to encourage family-style eating/sharing. We tried a pound and a half of brisket ($17 + $11), whole apple glazed smoked chicken ($24), feature (pork, $9), and andouille sausage ($6 per link – about two pieces in a link), and then had the house salad ($6), pickles ($1 per pickle), brussel sprouts ($5 small) and mac and cheese ($6 small) as our sides.

Brisket, chicken, pork, and andouille sausage at MEAT!

Brisket, chicken, pork, and andouille sausage at MEAT!

All of the meat at MEAT is smoked for several hours. The pulled pork goes for 14 hours, brisket is 12 hours, chicken and ribs are 4 and the sausage is smoked for 2 hours. MEAT uses 1/3 cherry and 2/3 hickory wood to smoke their meats. I thought the meat was fantastic. My favourite was the feature pork – it was so flavourful, and the apple glazed whole roasted chicken was so tender and included so much. The brisket wasn’t particularly special on its own, but with any of the meat you get four homemade sauces to choose from – mustard, cherry, bourbon and spicy, so adding a bit of that to the brisket (and the other cuts) brought it up to a whole ‘nother level. All of the sauces were great but the stand-out for me was the cherry BBQ. It brought the perfect amount of sweetness to the smokey meat.

Brisket, chicken, pork, and andouille sausage at MEAT!

Brisket, chicken, pork, and andouille sausage at MEAT!

Fun facts about MEAT: They fill their smoker with over 700 lbs of meat every day and there is ‘minimal’ seasoning on the meats because they use the smoke as the ‘flavour maker’ (this is cool, but also runs the risk of some of the meat like the brisket not having a whole lot of flavour if the smoke doesn’t penetrate it enough).

Another fun fact: I’m told the dress code for the ladies at MEAT is stripes or polka dots, which I think is much more fun than your standard black uniform.

Brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, and a pickle at MEAT.

Brussel sprouts, mac and cheese, and a pickle at MEAT.

The sides are really good. I think it’s a bit crazy one pickle is $1 but the pickle is really necessary to balance out all the meat and it’s a really tasty pickle. I loved the brussel sprouts (I’m a fan of brussel sprouts usually though) and my friends Rachel and Sam who had the mac and cheese thought it was great. They also enjoyed their sodas and our friend Taylor really liked his bourbon and beer. MEAT has an extensive bourbon and drinks menu. They also have fun sodas, and (surprisingly) have a vegetarian feature option.

Sodas and bourbon at MEAT.

Sodas and beer at MEAT.

MEAT has a great (and busy) atmosphere – especially on a Friday night. They don’t take reservations so expect to wait. I’d like to try it during the daytime when it’s nice out – and there’s natural light coming into the space. The inside walls are all beautiful blue with white accents but I couldn’t see any of that detail at dinner. Look at the photo on their website, it’s a gorgeous room and definitely unique/different from what you normally see in BBQ restaurants.

We didn’t have dessert but my social media followers were raving about the pecan pie so when I return, the pie’s on my to-try list for sure!

I’m no BBQ expert but I really enjoyed MEAT. It’s a great addition to the Whyte Ave./Old Strathcona food scene, and an even better addition to the current Edmonton BBQ scene. The food came out in good time (even with how busy it was) and was really tasty, our server was helpful, I thought the price points were pretty good (on par with other BBQ restaurants), and overall, I would say that the wait was definitely worth it!

If you’re a carnivore like me, you have to try MEAT for dinner! The slogan on their outside wall ‘EAT MEAT HERE’ is extremely appropriate. You’ll get meat sweats and you’ll love it.

Linda


Meat on Urbanspoon