|Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan|
But sometimes they're just irresistable.
|An entrance to Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku|
|Eateries in Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku|
During the peak times you'll be lucky to find a couple of seats in any of the eateries as most of them seat an average of 10 people or so at the counter, with their backs against a wall with hooks for hanging coats and bags that inevitably become as smoky as the air.
|More packed eateries in Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku|
Yakitori, grilled chicken or grilled things on skewers generally, dominates Omoide Yokocho although there are a couple of ramen places thrown into the hodge-podge mix of eateries from yesteryear.
|An eatery in Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku|
|A specials menu of sorts|
|Kirin beer and sake (right)|
|Cabbage and mince appetiser|
|Tsukune - chicken meatballs on the grill|
Shaped and skewered as we ordered, watching the mince balls brown on the grill directly in front of us was a fragrant and mouthwatering exercise.
|Tsukune - chicken meatballs served with raw egg yolk|
The egg yolk is broken and stirred into the sauce, with the tsukune dipped into it for an increased creaminess and silkiness.
|Grilled shitake mushrooms|
|Hata hata fish on the grill|
They had a quick defrost session in a microwave - the first and certainly not last time we were to see a microwave in overt action - and took their positions skewered on the grill.
|Grilled hata hata fish|
|Young corn on the grill|
To be honest, I'm not sure if I've ever seen corn this size - perhaps three or four times the size of the baby corn we get in Australia.
|Grilled young corn|
|Beef intestine stew|
All night long as we drank our beers and Hoppy, there was a stew simmering away in front of us that a couple others had ordered. Without a clue as to what it was, another microwave "ding" brought us a deep brown bowl of stew topped with finely sliced leeks and shallots.
We dug into the tender, well flavoured pieces knowing very well it was offal of some sort. It really wasn't bad at all, my first experience eating beef intestines.
|Golden Gai, Shinjuku|
Somehow we stumbled upon another collection of laneways filled with little lit signs and yet smaller establishments filled with perhaps six people on average sitting at a crowded counter.
We'd unintentionally found Golden Gai, an area of tiny bars and restaurants that was another point of reference in Japan's modern history.
|Bars in the Golden Gai, Shinjuku|
Some bars supposedly only allow regular customers which made sense as some places didn't look all that welcoming.
|In a bar at Golden Gai, Shinjuku|
The menu was rather simple at this place: one draft beer, two shochu varieties and a small back bar of spirits. I chose a shochu - and after my second and a lot of laughs in between with the bartender and other customers, that was the end of that night and half the next day.
|What looks like a DIY yakitori eatery, Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku|
|Spinach and sesame appetiser at Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku|
This time we managed to grab seats that were properly indoors, at a wooden, U-shaped counter that seemed to have done its time.
|Negima - grilled chicken thigh with leeks|
The leeks are grilled to a caramelised point where they barely have any pungency, and are even better with a lick of tare sauce and a sprinkle of shichimi togarashi chilli and spice seasoning which is usually found at the table.
|Reba - grilled liver|
|Sunagimo - grilled chicken gizzards|
This was served shio salt grilled style with a sauce of miso on the side and are a great workout for your jaw and teeth.
|Asupara-bacon - asparagus wrapped in bacon|
The Japanese style of bacon used here isn't the smoked, pink stuff we're used to. It's probably closer to a very thin and tender slice of pork belly wrapped around asparagus spears; the pork's fat keeping everything moist and tasty.
|Ninniku - grilled garlic|
|Yaki-onigiri - grilled rice ball|