At first glance, Ninja Sushi & Grill, located just south of The Parks at Arlington mall, looks like any Asian buffet joint. There are hot stations of endless soup, noodles, gyoza, and tempura items and several long buffet tables offering mainly raw and cooked sushi rolls, though some room is made for freshly grilled selections from the hibachi, including chicken, steak, and shrimp. However, Ninja specializes in sushi buffets, and, most unusually, the front of the room is dominated by a giant chocolate fondue fountain. There’s also a beautiful selection of fresh fruit, Rice Krispie treats, and cookies to dip into the three-foot curtain of chocolate. You’re a grown-up, and life is short. Nothing is stopping you from diving into the fountain before your meal.
Ninja also has a full-service bar, with generous happy hours from 5 to 8 p.m. daily. Mixed drinks and the specialty margaritas (made with sake) are buy one/get one free. The Haru sake mango margarita was just about perfect and packed a fairly potent punch for a fruity umbrella beverage. The coconut Fuyu sake margarita was almost too sweet to drink, although, since it was free, that almost didn’t matter. Ninja also has wine and beer specials and Japanese beer on draft.
The two “safe eaters” in our party of four opted for the buffet. The line did offer an impressive selection of the highlights of Ninja’s menu, including the fried I-20 roll (spicy crab, avocado, and cream cheese) and the Vegas roll, a combination of eel, avocado, and cream cheese. The Tyson roll was an interesting mix of teriyaki chicken, grilled onion, and tomato –– almost like a fajita rolled into sushi. However, the buffet choices seemed overwhelming. Because of the similarity of the ingredients, most of the rolls started to taste the same after two trips through the line.
[pullquote_right]We also tried the Red Rock roll: tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, and spicy tuna, all topped by crunchy panko bread crumbs. Yum.[/pullquote_right]Diners can also order off the menu. The agedashi tofu appetizer was good: Crispy breading, creamy tofu, and a wonderful fish sauce all blended really nicely. We also ordered the white tuna tatakim, but the sashimi appetizer never materialized. Our server apologized backward and forward for that.
Ninja has a few unusual specialty rolls, like the Pretty Ninja: a low-carb, no-rice mixture of raw tuna, salmon, and faux crab rolled in cucumber strips and served swimming in spicy sriracha chile sauce. Even though I’m a fan of heat, I was left reaching for what was left of my sake ’rita to douse the fires after about half the roll.
We also tried the Red Rock roll: tempura shrimp, avocado, cream cheese, and spicy tuna, all topped by crunchy panko bread crumbs. Yum.
For the price of a single upscale roll off the menu, a buffet diner can get his or her choice of portions of more than three dozen rolls plus whatever’s being grilled on the hibachi and more soup, salad, tempura, and noodles than a sane person could eat in one sitting. Add the chocolate fountain, and there’s no reason that anyone but the most demanding sushi aficionado wouldn’t find something to like. Ninja Sushi & Grill doesn’t offer particularly inventive options, but you get a pretty good bang for your buck, in a clean and pleasant setting.
Ninja Sushi & Grill
4638 S Cooper St, Ste 190, Arlington. 817-472-5600.
12-9pm Sun, 11:30am-10pm Mon-Thu, 11am-10:30pm Fri-Sat.
Buffet is closed 3-5:30pm Mon-Thu. All major credit cards accepted.
Child’s buffet …………….. $6.99
Adult dinner buffet …… $12.99
Agedashi tofu …………… $4.95
Pretty Ninja Roll …………. $9.95
Red Rock Roll ………….. $12.95