Review | Wild Ninja Asian Grill offers affordable, customizable bento boxes


Alyssa Carnevali | Staff Photographer

Wild Ninja Asian Grill is a new restaurant on Oakland Avenue.

By Sarah Demchak, Staff Writer

Walking down Oakland Avenue, students will come across colorful, triangle banners hanging above the sidewalk. Located between Stack’d and Fuel and Fuddle, a cute, cartoon ninja catches the eye — enticing passersby to try the Korean fusion restaurant’s bento box-esque meals.

Wild Ninja Asian Grill held its grand opening on Dec. 9 in the heart of Oakland. It’s open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and until 10:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Traditionally, bentos are a single-portion take-out or home-packed Japanese meal. They are also common in other East Asian cuisines, including Korean culture, with rice as its staple. Typically, these boxes consist of a carb, such as rice or noodles, a protein, usually meat or fish, and various cooked and pickled vegetables, such as kimchi.

Wild Ninja’s menu consists of solely build-your-own “Grill Togo.” You choose a base — either rice, noodles or salad. Then, you pick a protein — grilled chicken, grilled beef, grilled shrimp or tofu. Next, you can choose up to 10 toppings that vary from bean sprouts and carrots to daikon and potatoes. Finally, you pick a sauce that varies in flavors and spices, from teriyaki to sriracha.

I ordered rice, tofu and a plethora of toppings with teriyaki sauce — and I definitely recommend this combination. As a tofu snob, I can confidently say that Wild Ninja has some banging tofu, which is hard to find. The restaurant has many possible combinations with an assortment of vegan or vegetarian options.

I ordered online via Wild Ninja’s website. The site is easy to navigate, which helps those who are less electronically savvy. You can customize your meal however you like, making the customer their own chef.

Despite this highly customizable menu, it may be daunting to us indecisive customers. Typically, places that offer build-your-own-bowls have a signature creations menu with pre-determined ingredients. Wild Ninja only offers DIY meals.

If you are intimidated by the idea of ordering your own meal, you can take as long as you need to curate your box on the restaurant’s website. Then, you can pick up your meal in 10 to 20 minutes.

Once I received my meal, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the box was big. For only $8.99, you get a lot of food. The container is microwave safe, which is convenient since you get so much food. I was full after eating half and was able to warm my meal up for the next day — two meals for the price of one.

The restaurant itself is quite small, since it’s nestled in between many other businesses on a busy street. The big windows that cover the entirety of the front of the shop open the space up more. The natural light that filters through them adds to the brightness of the restaurant. With bold colored stools and fun ninja themed decals, the store definitely has a quirky personality.

Since the meals are usually to-go, you do not have to stay and eat in, though the restaurant’s ambiance allows for customers to enjoy their dine inside as well. Due to the shop’s size, I would not recommend staying to eat and do homework because it could easily get loud and distracting. There also might not be any stools available on a busy day.

Overall, I would recommend Wild Ninja Asian Grill to Pitt students who are on a budget and looking for a customizable, healthy bowl. Its convenient location, plethora of combinations, big portions and fair pricing make Wild Ninja a great, new option for Oakland residents.