Houston has built a reputation as being a top dining destination in the country, and it’s no secret that many within the restaurant industry are plotting to have a piece of Space City’s pie. This has translated into an onslaught of new chains and restaurants from outside of Houston opening left and right, and some restaurants hosting collaborations or pop-ups to gauge diners’ interest. With that, comes some ... novel concepts.
In the month of December alone, Houston will welcome a Ninja-themed restaurant and a LEGO-themed burger joint pop-up.
The Ninja restaurant, which is slated to launch in more than five states, will start as a pop-up on Kirby Road, offering hidden menus with “exotic flavors” (note: Asian-fusion), plus a host of surprises and live performances by ninja entertainers displaying their martial arts skills, according to a release. Tickets for the experience are now on sale for $125 per person.
The Ninja pop-up seems eerily similar to the wacky Ninja-sushi restaurant that launched in New York in 2005 and shuttered in March 2020 after 15 years, according to an Eater.com report. There, servers, sometimes yielding blades, dressed in all black and often darted out of nowhere to surprise diners. The restaurant was initially bashed by critics, with a New York Times critic comparing it to a Disney ride caught “under a hailstorm of run-of-the-mill or unappealing sushi” that was overpriced (and Eater, too, initially called it a shitshow). But Ninja, which was similar to an establishment launched in Tokyo, continued to draw in diners thanks to its theatrics (Eater later rescinded some of its “shitshow” comments after a revisit in 2008, calling the food “tolerable”).
The Ninja pop-up headed for Houston, however, allegedly has no ties to a brick-and-mortar restaurant but could in the future. A rep for the company says if the pop-up is in high demand, the restaurant might open something more permanent or extend its stay in Houston — possibly hosting dining events every week or weekend for a few months. “We love Houston, and we know from experience that Houston has a market for these fun and exciting pop-ups so we’re really excited to see if there is any interest around this,” they said in an email.
That same weekend in December, the same company will host a LEGO-themed Brick Burger on Louisiana Street, serving up what appears to be squared burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches, and veggie burgers on Crayola-colored, Lego-shaped buns. The restaurant’s temporary location will also exude the Lego theme, with colorful brick walls, LEGO-themed furniture, and a brick-building station, where diners can use their imagination to create their own designs and even earn prizes during on-site competitions. Tickets are on sale now for $47 per person and include a burger and a choice of drink, which includes non-alcohol beverages, beer, and wine.
So, will a Ninja-fueled restaurant and Lego burgers be permanent fixtures in Houston? It's up to diners to decide.