On October 26, I ventured out to Shinjuku to check out Jerome’s special pop-up taco stand. It was my first time visiting the Shinjuku area. As I exited the subway station at dusk, I took in the tall buildings, brightly illuminated signs, and a member of Japan’s Communist party making a speech from atop a van.
I rounded a corner and came upon an alley of an entirely different scale. This narrow strip, called Omoideyokocho, is famously crowded with small yakitori restaurants. Smoke from the grills poured out into the alleyway.
I wondered how I would find Jerome, but it was easy: A few more steps and there he was prepping for tacos as the proprietor of the yakitori shop set up for the evening and Yuko hand-lettered signs and menus. The kind proprietor had agreed to let Jerome and crew share his spot for the evening.
The pork taco and the tuna head taco were both delicious.
In the miniature upstairs dining room, Tosan and friends had drinks.
Tosan helped Howie make margaritas with grilled limes and a special surprise ingredient: dried squid.
Sam sampled his tacos.
A few doors down was the corner yakitori bar that gave Jerome his inspiration for the event.
I enjoyed peeking in the other restaurants, many of which conveyed the feeling that they hadn’t changed in half a century.
The tiny restaurant got more and more crowded. I left before the entertainment arrived: a Tokyo-based “Mariachi” who apparently serenaded Jerome’s customers with Italian songs. All in all, it was a raucous and delightful evening.
Jerome Waag, Masayo, and the proprietor of Fujiichi Yakitori Bar: