The Shinjuku district of Tokyo is a bustling, hectic, and very modern part of the city, however, there are a few spots only steps away from the busy main streets that offer visitors a glimpse into the old Tokyo. One such place is Memory Lane (translated from Omoide Yokocho, but also known as “Piss Alley”). Here you’ll find an assortment of tiny shops that serve up yakitori, soba noodles, and (of course) plenty of drinks. Aside from just being really cool to walk through thanks to its narrow alleyways, cramped bars with people laughing, eating, and drinking, and Japanese decor strung throughout, this is where I found the best bowl of soba noodles.
What to expect down Memory Lane (“Piss Alley”).
Memory Lane brings back feelings of Japan’s post-war era. While I was initially expecting to walk through a dirty, decrepit alleyway, I was pleasantly surprised that the name “Piss Alley” (the name originally came from the alley’s 1940’s black market bars and lack of toilet) was not directly related to the physical state of the area. In fact, I found Memory Lane to be incredibly charming and full of character. I would recommend having a walk through the whole thing (it’s really not that big) before choosing a place to sit down and eat. Just go with whatever jumps out at you and looks appealing (and actually has an empty seat!). This is how we found a cute noodle shop and ended up having one of the best bowls of soba.
Where to eat in Memory Lane Tokyo
Since we were walking around quite late at night (at this point, it must have been between 10:00 – 11:00 pm), there weren’t as many restaurants opened as we had expected. Most of the little hole-in-the-walls, which could only comfortable sit a maximum of 10 or so people, were completely full. Thankfully, just as we came around a corner, this brightly lit open-concept soba shop caught our eye. There was a small queue of people waiting, which told us the food was good. So, we waited about 10 minutes for a seat, sat down, ordered their best seller (there are only three options), and began slurping away. The dish consisted of fresh soba noodles, crispy vegetable tempura, and a soft boiled egg. All for only ¥400. This was one of my favourite dishes I had in Tokyo, not to mention one of the cheapest.
Omoide Yokocho; Memory Lane (Piss Alley)
1 Chome-2-8 Nishishinjuku