Nagi - Shinjuku Golden-gai
Shinjuku’s famed bar district, Golden Gai, comes aglow at night with its immense character and charm. Tons of old houses crammed together in the narrow alleyways have been converted into bars and restaurants, including the most atmospheric of the Nagi ramen chain’s dozen or so shops peppered around Tokyo. Located on the second floor up a steep, claustrophobic staircase, the amazingly cramped room is bisected by a 10-seat counter. The specialty is pungent niboshi ramen, made by accumulating a vast quantity of dried sardines and then boiling them for 12 hours. It comes with thick noodles, a slice of char siu, seaweed, naganegi onion, mianma (bamboo shoots) and a soft boiled egg. It is boldly flavored, salty, rich and delicious.
The restaurant is open 24 hours, so you can go after a night of bar-hopping the Golden Gai or for lunch. To order, ascend the stairs and buy a ticket from the Japanese-only vending machine (the specialty is the top left) and line up outside in the cross-alley until called. It would be hard to find a more atmospheric ramen experience in Tokyo.