Service at sword point at Taipei's "Ninja" restaurant
By Ralph Jennings and Ben Tai
TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - Waitresses wield swords and flare flames at diners, who have to get past a moat before sitting at their table in the dimly lit dining hall.
The same customers are also encouraged to take photos with the warrior-like waitresses, who dress in black or red to look like ninjas in keeping with the theme of a dark but lively restaurant that opened last month in Taiwan's capital.
"The ninja is mysterious," said Ou Chia-wei, owner of the restaurant simply named Ninja, explaining why he chose that theme for the Japanese-style restaurant. "On that premise, we can do magic tricks and light up the food."
Waitresses working the barely lit dining room floor burn specialty menus, which vanish without a trace of ash, and send flames snaking across tables as customers watch.
A moat and screen of cascading water just past the front entrance make customers wait a few minutes until the drawbridge goes up, leading to a dark stairwell toward the dining hall.
There are professional magic shows, as well as cabarets, for those who walk in at the right times.
Ninjas were mercenaries who resorted to unusual warfare strategies such as espionage, sabotage and assassination from as far back as 700 years ago in feudal Japan. They remain a common, enduring theme in Japanese folklore.
Ou, who also owns a hospital-theme restaurant in Taipei, and his wife put the three-storey Ninja eatery together on their own without hiring a designer, said his landlady Ting Tsui-lan. The overall investment was T$15 million ($470,000). Continued...