Fukuhachi Yakitori Restaurant (Tokyo 2016): Yakitori Alley Memory Lane
One dining experience that you should really plan on trying if you find yourself in Japan is the yokocho or alleyway restaurants that are crammed full of tiny yakitori restaurants. Most of these restaurants only have a dozen or so seats and are only open at night. One such alleyway located in Shinjuku is called Omoide Yokocho and is located on the west side of Shinjuku station.
It’s also known as Yakitori Alley Memory Lane or, more colourfully, as Piss Alley. The alleyway is quite narrow and, at night, the atmosphere makes you forget that you’re only steps away from the shiny new high-rises and bustling train station. Walking past all of the busy yakitori restaurants will make you hungry as the aroma of grilled meats wafts through the air.
We wound up finding seats at Fukuhachi Yakitori Restaurant which confidently displayed a sign saying they were the best yakitori restaurant. We were more sold on the sign that said they had English menus.
As you can see in the pictures, it’s basically a tiny bar with seats. The restaurant is so narrow that you’re pretty much leaning up against the wall when you’re sitting down… this proves to be quite challenging when diners are ready to leave since there really is no room to move. There are, however, a couple of small tables in the back of the restaurant. When we visited, there was a group of westerners in the back and when they were getting ready to leave, we couldn’t imagine how they were going to get out of the restaurant. As it turns out, there was a hidden back door where they were able to escape into a side alleyway.
The menu is fairly basic and there is a one drink per person minimum order.
In addition to the items listed in the menu, they have some fresh specials spread out along the tiny bar area… you can just point at what you want and they’ll cook it up for you.
The stuffed peppers came out to ¥400.
Skewers of meat ran ¥140 each and we wound up getting some chicken with scallions and pork skewers.
The fresh clams here were humongous and ¥700 for two clams.
We wound up getting some more chicken skewers… the meat had a nice char on the exterior and the meat inside was moist and juicy.
We finished off our meal with some grilled fish cakes. While individual items are rather inexpensive, it would be easy for your bill to soar since all of the food is so good and smelling what everyone else has ordered makes you hungry. Including our drinks, our meal came out to ¥3100 (about $36 CAD).
Due to the size of the restaurants in these alleyways, it’s difficult to find seats… especially if you are in a large party. If you don’t mind the cramped quarters, the food is really great and it’s an experience that you’d never forget.
Shinjuku-ku, Tōkyō-to 160-0023
5 min walk from Shinjuku Station