Shinjuku has a huge spread of eating options: it's daunting really. There's little you can't get here, but the district (and Shinjuku-sanchōme, in particular) is especially good for classic izakaya (Japanese pub-eateries). Shinjuku, Takadanobaba and Ikebukuro are all known as 'ramen battlegrounds', where fierce competition keeps things interesting. Shin-Ōkubo, Tokyo's Koreatown, naturally has tons of Korean restaurants. When it all gets to be too much, head to one of Shinjuku or Ikebukuro's department stores; all have restaurant floors with reliable options.
Feature: Diverse Communities
Shinjuku and the neighbourhoods to its north are among Tokyo's most diverse. Shin-Ōkubo is known as Tokyo's Koreatown, with lots of signs in Hangul, shops selling Korean cosmetics and outlets of popular Korean food chains. It's naturally a lifeline for the city's Korean community, but also a draw for Tokyoites who are into Korean pop culture.
The hub of Tokyo's Chinese community is Ikebukuro, where there are Chinese restaurants – like the popular Shanghai-style dumpling stand Yong Xiang Sheng Jian Guan – and grocers. Ikebukuro also has a large halal market and many halal restaurants catering to the neighbourhood's not insignificant Muslim population, hailing from countries as diverse as Pakistan and Malaysia.
Sandwiched in between, in Takadanobaba, is Tokyo's small but close-knit community of immigrants from Myanmar. There are a cluster of restaurants near the JR train station, including Ruby, which serves tasty mohinga (rice-noodle soup) and laphete thote (salad of pickled tea leaves).
Feature: Department Store Food Courts & Rooftops
Should you want to grab a quick bite to eat – without having to brave the crowded streets – head to one of the food courts on the top floors of the shopping centres in and around Shinjuku Station. Takashimaya Restaurant Park, reached via the New South exit, has the nicest one, though it is also the priciest, with meals starting around ¥2000 per person. Lumine and Mylord, at the south exit, are cheaper, catering to young shoppers.
Within Shinjuku Station, before you reach the New South exit ticket gates, there are a number of good takeaway vendors – perfect when you're catching the Narita Express or a long-distance bus; you can also sit and eat on the terrace outside the ticket gates, adjacent to the NEWoMan mall.
From Shinjuku-sanchōme subway station you can directly access Isetan, which has a fantastic basement food hall, with bentō, fresh bread and more. The department store also has a little-known free rooftop garden, where you can sit and eat.
In Ikebukuro, Seibu department store is a good bet, and also has a rooftop garden.