Eating Yakitori down Memory Lane in Shinjuku, Tokyo

sarah walking down memory lane, shinjuku, tokyo

Sarah walking down Memory Lane in Shinjuku, Tokyo selecting a yakitori place for dinner

Sarah and I recently got back from a 7 night trip to Tokyo, Japan. We had an amazing time and can’t wait to go back. We spent our days walking and riding the metro around the city on the hunt for interesting places to visit and delicious food to eat.

One of our favourite nights out we got to enjoy traditional yakitori down Memory Lane in Shinjuku.

Yakitori restaurants are usually small places, or even stands and grill yakatori over traditional binchotan charcoal. In the heart of Shinjuku, Memory Lane (or Piss Alley as it is sometimes known) features a wide variety of different yakitori  restaurants always busy and full of customers enjoying cooked to yakitori and beer.

As you can imagine we fit right in.

yakitori menu

Some yakitori places down memory lane feature English menus

We arrived late on a Sunday evening after an interesting evening at the infamous Robot Cabaret close by in Shinjuku and managed to grab a couple of seats in a small restaurant that happened to have an English menu. I guess it wouldn’t have mattered too much as the menu is very simple but it did give Sarah peace of mind that I wasn’t going to sneakily order womb or intestine yakitori for her.

skewered yakitori ready to grill over binchotan charcoal

The skewers of yakitori are prepared in batches ahead of time so that they are ready to grill

We ordered large (and selectively) and sat down to with beer and a bowl of Edamame (soybeans), as that is what you do. We were happy to oblige.

Yakitori being cooked overbinchotan charcoal

When you have made your selection your skewers are cooked almost right in front of you

I was keenly interested in the small restaurants grill. Most of the places had a similar setup, facing towards the alley at the front of the shop being able to grill about 12 skewers at a time. They use the traditional binchotan charcoal which has been made in the Kishu region of Japan since the Edo period.

What is great about this charcoal is while it burns hot, it burns at a lower temperature than other charcoal but for a longer amount of time. Interesting stuff!

yakitori being cooked overbinchotan charcoal

The binchato coals are long and hot burning and the yakitori does not take long to cook

It wasn’t long until our yakitori was ready and we were able to tuck in.

Yakitori is best enjoyed with an alcaholic beverage, usually beer

Yakitori is best enjoyed with an alcoholic beverage, usually beer

All of the smaller restaurants we ate all served local beer. At this point in the night I didn’t really mind and got amongst it and enjoyed sitting at the counter top drinking from bottle in a small glass. I really enjoyed how each restaurant also had a small keg system.

chicken & pork with green onion yakitori skewers

When the yakitori is ready there is no hesitation to dig right in

While some of the choices were interesting, you really can’t go past the standard pork and chicken with green onion yakitori. We went a little overboard and ordered more. It was so worth it.

We had such an amazing time in Tokyo and can’t wait to head back again to explore even further.

Have you been to Tokyo and enjoyed traditional yakitori? Let me know in the comments below.

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3 comments

  1. Amy · June 3, 2015

    I went to Japan as a youngin’ and was such a fussy eater, I’m really sad to say I missed out on so much! Cannot WAIT to go back, really soon I hope. This looks amazing!

    • Scott · June 3, 2015

      I have heaps of trips away when young where I missed out on so much! Trips away are so hard to come by these days as well! Hope you make it back one day!

  2. Don Stevens · June 3, 2015

    Looks fantastic, hopefully a few posts from Japan. Cooking over charcoal, you must have been like a pig in muck. Look forward to future posts.