The Bruni Digest

In which I sit on a dirt mound somewhere in Brooklyn with my ears pricked, waiting for New York Times head restaurant critic Frank Bruni, who I imagine to be a Venetian count in a huge ruffled collar, to dole out stars from the inside breast pocket of his brocaded chamber robe. This blog is predicated on the suggestion that every Wednesday, in the Times Dining Out section, Frank lays a huge faberge egg of hilarity.

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Location: New York, New York, U.S. Outlying Islands

I am fiscally irresponsible, which means I have weak bones and a dorsal fin. And a penchant for dining out, even though I am, in the words of many rich people, a "poor people". I make a different face when speaking each of the foreign languages in which I am shittily proficient.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ninja: Crouching Failure, Hidden Assholes

Frank returned from vacation this week full of sauce and ready to get dirty. Literally.

“Ninja New York deposits you in a kooky, dreary subterranean labyrinth that seems better suited to coal mining than to supping.”

Lighty cap? Check! Starving death-stare? Check!

Frank's review of Ninja was not a thoughtful rumination at the end of which we find a censorious conclusion; rather, his visit there was more like a huge-handed birthday clown spinning around open-palmed in a tight circle of children: non-stop hilarious smackdowns of assholes that didn’t see it coming.

“Oops! My B!”

For example, Frank recommends leaving as soon as you’ve entered. (Warning: I’ma hafta quote heavily this week…)

“You are asked to choose between two routes to your table. The first is described by a ninja escort as simple and direct. The second is ‘dark, dangerous and narrow,’ involving a long tunnel and a drawbridge that descends only when your escort intones a special command, which he later implores you to keep secret.

I recommend a third path: right back out the door.”

But if I leave, won't I miss lots of cool ninjas with steamy balls and sexy headwraps?

“…you will be spared … tedium, a visually histrionic smorgasbord of undistinguished food and a discordant bill that can easily exceed $100 a person with tax, tip and drinks.”

There's only one thing I hate more than a histrionic smorgasbord...

...and that's Discordant Bill. Hey Bill! Still looking retarded? Good to hear!

"Ninja acts like a Disney ride - Space Mountain under a hailstorm of run-of-the-mill or unappealing sushi"

These children were thankfully caught in a hailstorm of fresh and delicious sushi. No but seriously, why are they playing with exotic fish? All I got to play with was staplers and wall-tack. No fair!

"An American offshoot of a restaurant in Tokyo, Ninja intends to evoke a Japanese mountain village inhabited by ninjas, a special breed of stealthy warriors."

OH REALLY? IS THAT WHAT A NINJA IS? I don’t think Real Ultimate Power, the definitive authority on ninjas and their awesomeness, is news to anyone at this point. However, did anyone notice the COMMENTS on the NY Times forum that followed Frank’s review? I swear to a Shinto Bodhisatva, I did not make this up. Please pay special attention to the number of people that found these comments helpful.

September 8, 2005
Reviewer: damon88

I wanna to go to this restaurant so bad I have pee my pants. It has the potential to surrepticiously slice and dice the competition. Megu and their ice sculpture Buddha should think about relocating to Weehawken- the game's over dude. Ninja waiters? These guys are totally awesome and that's a fact. Ninjas are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I love this restaurant with all of my body.

8 of 16 found this review helpful

September 28, 2005
Reviewer: mattbell7

Ninja don't even know how to swim! Were do you get your information bro? Pirates eat more sushi and most of the time are drunk. If a single pirate gets in this resaurant, GAME OVER man! Maybe if Morimoto was there he might be able to stop a few pirates. When I see a ninja, I dont even ask for WASABI.

5 of 11 found this review helpful

September 20, 2005
Reviewer: chrisgeisel

dude you wish you had realultimatepower but your so obviously NOT a ninja but just some kid who wants to be one and talks the talk but do you walk the walk? i don't think so.

your probably a PIRATE is my guess. anyway, a restaurant with ninjas way, way too dangerous but on the other hand could be sweet.

3 of 14 found this review helpful

AWESOME. Thank you for hosting that exchange, NEW YORK FUCKING GROWNUP TIMES. Amazing. "I love this restaurant with all of my body." Has he even been there? Did he pay in cash, or did he barter his Envoy of Earth Dark Emporer Yugio card? Page 1: Judy Miller, War in Iraq, Supreme Court Crap. Page D9: PIRATES vs. NINJAS!!!!!!

As for the food, skanky sushi, drowned octopus, and a "meteorite pot" in which the attendant ninja passed a hot gaul-stone directly into a pot of tepid broth did not "tickle his taint," as they say. Ok, no one says that. But apparently ninjas do say "Go-Mayn!"

Dishes arrived with "loud expectorations of a putative courtesy that sounded more like a rebuke, the phonetic rendering of which would be something along the lines of 'Go-mayn!'...

I grew so weary of these syllables that I asked if they could be varied, if something along the lines of a 'Surrender, Dorothy!' could be thrown into the mix. I was dead serious."

"Hey, guy, when you give me my food, instead of uttering benisons in your abrasive heathen jabber, would you mind singing 'You Gotta Be' by Des'ree? Thanks."

But seriously, I plan on going to Ninja sometime soon. "You're an idiot, Jules!" you say. "Everyone seems to hate this place, and plus, it's pricy and you're poor, like a Croate!" I can't argue with that, the following tidbit tempts me:

"[The restaurant] should respond to an expressed interest in sake with a presentation of its sake list, not with the words 'I'll bring half a liter,' which is what a ninja said.

It should also advise its ninjas that it's not nice to brag about having entertained a Hollywood celebrity who, by the account of the ninja in question, was the apparent beneficiary of recent breast augmentation. I was happy for the disclosure and appalled at the indiscretion."

EASY LIQUOR WITH A SIDE OF HOT CELEB GOSSIP??? It's like sitting at Bar 81 with a copy of the Post, except way more puerile and tacky. Where do I sign?

"If I pose this hard, they'll never know I'm illiterate!"

Speaking of illiterate, I would like to publicly offer my services to Frank as a body guard, since there is no doubt that a band of out-of-work actors dressed as ninjas are currently roaming the streets trying to kill him. I'm a great body guard and I'll work for steak tartare and martinis!

That way I'll be too drunk to notice when my polyester arrow breaks.

And Count Frank, kids would much rather just get candy when they come trick or treating; I tried to eat the copy of Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain that you stuffed in my bag last year and I ended up pooping a 19th century hand-crafted hourglass. It is very beautiful but was hard to pass!!!! Maybe some Charleston Chews?



Blogger happy-go paradeboy said...

Jules, let me be the first to officially ask you out to dinner at Ninja. It would be an honor. And just tell your boyfriend I'll be a complete gentleman. He'll probably have to work the line that night anyways.

7:07 PM, October 28, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

I just wish I had time to conceive, gestate, expel, and then cultivate a hyperagressive 10-year-old boy to bring along. If I'd known this restaurant was gonna come along when it did, I would have torched my Ortho Tricyclen Lo yyeeeeeeeeaarrrss ago!

12:38 PM, October 31, 2005  
Blogger Pip Harper said...

You make me laugh so hard I can't inhale my cigarette. I want to go Ninja too! (And I'm practically like a 10 year old boy.)

Where does your boyfriend work?

6:32 PM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger happy-go paradeboy said...

okay, new plan. We arrange for enough people to organize, arm, train, congregate, and finally attack the ninja castle, freeing all trapped inside. It should be easy enough to find an army of volunteers who have anger management problems, are moderately fit, and willing to take on any possible suicidal mission. Do you realize how many of us chefs read you. You're the friggin' elf queen to a city of hairy footed hobbits. Run with it.

10:01 PM, November 01, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

great, we can combine my interests in dining out and LARPing.

My boyfriend works at-- oooh, maybe shouldn't say? mommy doesn't want to get daddy fired, especially what with mommy's profligate hurtling of her own meagre paycheck into the banana hammocks of lower east side bartenders.

But Frank gave my bf's place 2 stars and the Michelin just gave it one, so there's a hint.

1:04 AM, November 02, 2005  
Blogger happy-go paradeboy said...

honestly, this is just getting fun for those of us with a tuesday off from the kitchen and the circadian rhythms to keep us awake until 2 am or later. Random comment checking and a bottle of bourbon, suddenly bachelorhood has taken on a higher calling. As for Pip prying into a virtuous girl's beau background- I like the subtle hints. so, let's see- does he work for someone named shea, or with a little man named phillipe, or in a crystal tower with an ugly view of a black phallic structure? Or should I do some research? ps loved "cher" definition

1:55 AM, November 02, 2005  
Blogger Jules said...

Crystal tower. Well played.

11:46 AM, November 02, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This woman like all bloggers is an unemployed
loser with little intellectual skills but
unending belief in her intelligence. Like
most bloggers, she can't find suitable employment so she creates a useless and

childish byline because of her need for
attention. She knows nothing of food and
has little of importance to say, thus
she is compelled to lampoon a genuine
food critic to bring him down to her
level to compensate for her personal

2:42 AM, November 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you could look at it that way... unless you've read her bio where she reveals she is not in fact jobless... and what makes a food critic different from any person who frequents restaurants? Critics live to pen snide libel about fine eateries on the pages of a periodical that pays them to do so after they've bloated themselves on the cuisine of said eatery. Stop looking so deeply into the Blog and see the HUMOR in the writing.

6:04 AM, November 13, 2005  
Blogger Lone Pawn said...

You made Yahoo!'s front page, but I'm not entirely certain why. A somewhat amusing blog, but...newsworthy?

1:35 PM, November 13, 2005  

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