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Ninja Food: What Makes It So Special?

Thuy FangThuy Fang
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April 12, 2024
A ninja holding a sword, maybe getting ready to enjoy ninja food.

Ninjas, also known as shinobi, have become a significant part of Japanese culture, appearing in manga, martial arts skills, and even cuisine. Across Japan, you can find many restaurants or cafes with shinobi style, serving ninja food and drinks. Explore some natural shinobi foods and dishes that capture this cultural style!

What did the ninja eat?

Ninjas were not just masters at sneaking and spying but also experts in what they ate! They said no to meat, fish, and sugary treats and said yes to lots of potatoes, wheat, whole-grain rice, and veggies. They needed to stay light and not smelly when sneaking around.

They also loved dark-colored foods like brown rice and black sesame. They thought dark foods kept them warm, while white foods made them feel cooler. They also ate root veggies like carrots and ginger because they might help these shadow warriors’ blood flow better. 

Hyorougan brown rice pellets on a banana leaf.
Hyorougan was perfect for a quick burst of energy! Image via Toei Eigamura

Regarding meals, these spies weren’t afraid to get adventurous. They didn’t mind having small snakes, grasshoppers, and frogs on their menu, and their usual ninja food, such as grains and wild greens. Shinobi (another name for ninjas) also had special snacks called “ration pills” to help them stay strong when sneaking around. There were three types: hyorougan, kikatsugan, and suikatsugan.

Hyorougan was made from rice and seeds, like a little energy boost. Kikatsugan, which contained carrots and rice soaked in sake, was used when shinobi felt hungry. On the other hand, suikatsugan, made with pickled plums, was for times when they were thirsty. Here are places in Japan where you can eat like a Japanese spy!

Fuji Q Highland

If you’re a fan of the legendary manga series known worldwide – Naruto– you mustn’t miss Fuji Konoha Hidden Village in this record-breaking amusement park. Inside this simulated shinobi village, there’s sure to be a ramen shop named Ichiraku, just like the one Naruto has been eating at since he was a kid until he grew up.

The ramen shop offers many menu items inspired by the show’s characters, drinks, and desserts. The highlight is the Ichiraku ramen, similar to the ramen bowl in the series. 

A bowl of Ichiraku ramen, a modern take on ninja food.
This ramen is inspired by “Naruto, the famous ninja anime! Image via Fuji Q

A bowl comes filled with toppings like chashu (Japanese braised pork belly), Naruto fish cake, menma (seasoned bamboo shoots), and fresh baro onions. This ramen has two broth types for customers: miso pork and soy sauce tonkotsu. It also has nori (dried seaweed pieces) featuring the symbols of the five famous shinobi villages from the anime. 

In addition to the famous Ichiraku ramen, there’s also Naruto Special, which comes with a significant portion of chashu, and Sasuke’s Great Fireball Technique, spicy miso ramen with a Sharingan seasoned egg. However, the menu might vary depending on the availability of ingredients on that day.

Are you looking for amazing themed ninja snacks? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers the best Japanese snacks, drinks, sweets, and noodles straight from Japan to your door so that you can have a fun summer party at home!

Burger King

Burger King Japan first released the black ninja burger in October 2013. The look of this ninja food was inspired by a popular Japanese character named Kuro Ninja. The black bun, made with charcoal, adds a unique touch without any burnt flavor. Inside, you’ll find flavorful ingredients like onions, lettuce, mayonnaise, and Chaliapin sauce, a dark brown sauce named after a famous Russian opera singer.  

The Black Ninja Burger from Burger King Japan.
This burger has a huge slice of bacon! Image via Gigazine

What makes it more exciting is that on each side of the bun, there’s a long piece of bacon sticking out, looking just like the cheeky tongue of a shinobi! This long bacon strip adds a savory kick. But that’s not all! This burger also has big hash browns for extra crunchiness.

Jidai Cafe

Jidai Cafe is a well-known coffee shop that attracts many tourists visiting the beautiful Himeji City of Hyogo Prefecture. The most iconic dessert served here is the ninja parfait. This sweet combines the crunchiness of cornflakes, the creaminess of fresh cream, the sweet taste of brown sugar syrup, and the coolness of black sesame ice cream.

A parfait with black ninja star cookies .
This ninja parfait has shuriken cookies! Image via Japan Wow.

Moreover, there are unique toppings like chewy brownies, small dango (Japanese sweet dumplings), or black sesame cookies shaped like shuriken (throwing stars) and kunai (throwing knives). The addition of soybean flour also enhances the flavor of this dessert, giving it a traditional Japanese taste.

Ninja Tokyo

The fancy restaurant resembles a shinobi village, making you feel like you’re there! You can enjoy a tasty meal in one of the shinobi huts near a pond with a waterfall while waiters, who dress up as shinobi and speak both Japanese and English well, guide you and serve you delicious food.

A plate of luxury ninja food from Ninja Tokyo.
Ninja Tokyo offers a full-course ninja meal! Image via Tablecheck

Here, you’ll have a chance to indulge in high-end full-course cuisine with flavors crafted from luxurious ingredients and sophisticated presentation. There are over five meal courses, with most featuring the premium Sawai Wagyu beef. Plus, there are vegetarian options and special courses designed for children. While dining at the restaurant, you’ll also witness one-of-a-kind magic tricks and performances with cards and coins performed by the ninjas.

What makes ninja food so unique?

Ninja food isn’t just about satisfying hunger; it’s a journey into Japanese history and culture. From the clever selection of ingredients to the innovative design and presentation, every aspect of shinobi cuisine tells a story. The strict diets and ingredient selection of these ancient warriors have also influenced modern healthy eating habits today. Have you ever tried any ninja-themed dishes? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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