Located in Tokyo’s popular Shinjuku ward just north of the world’s busiest rail station, you’ll find a small alley called Omoide Yokocho. The historic alley, known locally as Memory Lane or Piss Alley depending on who you ask, is in fact one of Tokyo’s more authentic and atmospheric dining destinations.
Don’t let the negative nickname deter you. Today, it’s a bit of a misnomer anyway. In 1999, the entire alley was destroyed in a fire. It has since been rebuilt in much the same way and with the same old world Postwar Tokyo atmosphere, but with one notable exception. The alley now has bathrooms. The nickname “Piss Alley” harkens back to the days when no such facilities existed.
As you walk down the narrow alley, you’ll see tiny bars and restaurants tightly packed together on either side with the occasional tattered red paper lantern lighting the way. Most of these establishments consist of a small kitchen and a counter with several stools for patrons to sit. You might find one or two tables in the larger ones. Yakitori is the specialty, but you’ll also find stands selling offal stew and grilled organ meats -- both staples of Japanese street food.