Where to Eat in Shinjuku, Tokyo: Late Night Restaurants

Posted by on May 15, 2012

If you’re traveling to Tokyo and want to stay near the action, Shinjuku and Shibuya are two districts with plenty of hotel options.  They are both pulsating and dynamic areas that house incredible shopping, entertainment, and of course, eats.

I stayed in Shinjuku during my last two visits to Tokyo because:

  • the hotels are a bit cheaper than Shibuya’s
  • parts are grittier than Shibuya, which I like
  • it’s a transportation hub and the convenience can’t be beat

If you’re like me, you’d try your hardest to stay out late to fight the dreaded jetlag.  After a night of bar hopping, you’ll need to eat something substantial to soak up the hard stuff.

On the flip side, despite your best efforts to catch some snooze, you might end up tossing and turning at 4AM and be hit with hunger pangs by 5AM.

Luckily in either situations, there are numerous restaurants that are open around the clock.  So whether you’re wide eyed and ready to explore or are in need of a snack with your night cap, Shibuya’s got you covered.

Below are some of my favourite bites at 24 hour and late night restaurants.  I didn’t provide specific names because it’s tough to explain how to find them amidst the maze.  My point here isn’t to go to a specific spot either.  Just explore, keep your eyes open, and go where it’s busiest.  There’s no wrong way to do it.

Drinking sake at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

Kicking the morning off with sake at 6:30 AM. The (very intoxicated) guests behind me were just winding down their evening.

Grilled crab miso kani  at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

For breakfast, miso kani on yakiniku: crab shell loaded with crab roe, meat, and miso paste, grilled tableside. This was one of my best bites in Tokyo. I sure was glad to stumble in here than to hit up a Starbucks.

Grilled Vegetables Yakiniku at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

Ordered some vegetable skewers too for good measure

Yakitori restaurant at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

Here's a tiny yakitori restaurant with standing room only

Yakitori and beer at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

A plate of unidentified chicken parts and ice cold beer. The room was completely filled with smoke, both billowing out from the charcoal yakitori grills and from the chain smokers.

Yakitori  at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

We ordered the combo, and to the best of my memory, it comprised of chicken gizzard, hearts, liver and thigh. There were a few skewers that we couldn't figure out for the life of us. The language barrier proved to be too much. We just shut up, ate, and enjoyed each smoky, succulent bite.

Ramen ordering machine  at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

For me, there's no better way to end a night than with a bowl of ramen. Ramen ordering machines are not uncommon. Pick your items, pay, and bring the receipt to your server.

Ramen  at Late Night Restaurants in Shinjuku Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

And tada, a steamy bowl of ramen arrives at your table. This particular bowl had visible globs of chicken fat floating around in the broth. It definitely hit the spot.

Late Night Ramen and Oden Cart at Shinjuku Station Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

Coming back from the train, you just might bump into a late night ramen and oden cart with fold up tables set up on the street.

The owner fixes a bowl of oden at Late Night Ramen and Oden Cart at Shinjuku Station Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

Here, the owner fixed us a bowl of oden that's simmering in the broth. His son, standing behind him, served tables and did the dishes.

Oden with tofu, egg, fish cake, sausage, daikon, and more  at Late Night Ramen and Oden Cart at Shinjuku Station Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

Our oden bowl, loaded with fried tofu, a medium-boiled egg, fish cakes, a sausage, daikon and a quintessential dab of karashi, a Japanese hot mustard

Owner cooks ramen  at Late Night Ramen and Oden Cart at Shinjuku Station Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

Next up, the owner started to cook up a few bowls of ramen

Late Night Ramen and Oden Cart at Shinjuku Station Tokyo by Melody Fury Photography. Food, Drink, Restaurant Photographer and Writer in Vancouver BC and Austin TX

There's always room for more ramen and beer. It's not the most refined bowl but it did the trick. There's something special about eating on the streets of one of the busiest cities in the world that never sleeps.

Read more about our honeymoon in Asia.

 

 

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  • http://www.baconismagic.ca/ Ayngelina

    The breakfast looks delicious!

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Hard to come back to cereal and a grapefruit :)

  • Teresa

    I miss Tokyo! It’s like wherever you go you’d find a good restaurant.  And yes, the early morning breakfast…I tiredly ate at a famous dim sum restaurant in HK at around 7am I think

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Haha no kidding. Australia Milk Co. too… 7AM!

  • http://www.GQtrippin.com Gerard ~ GQtrippin

    Just got into Tokyo and staying near Higashi Shinjuku. Googled places to eat around here and your blog came up. Thanks for this!

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Not a problem. Have a fantastic time! Don’t party too hard – not!

  • J.T

    Hi, may I know where can I find the mobile food store in toyko that sells the ramen and oden that is featured in your post?

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Hi J.T. thank you for your comment. The food cart sometimes parks outside Shinjuku station at night. I’ve seen several of them around the different exits. Best of luck catching one of them!

  • Bunga L

    Hi, where can i find the crab shell ? tx

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Hi Bunga,

    I don’t remember the name because I was just weaving through Shinjuku’s entertainment district in the wee mornings. I do recall it was decorated with lots of seafood on the exterior. Best of luck!
    - M

  • Bunga L

    Tx. and yes! finally i’m leaving for tokyo tomorrow… :D

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Have a great time. Jealous!

    ——– Original message ——–

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