If you think we’re fussy about charcoal in America, just visit Japan.
Here I am outside the famous Tokyo charcoal shop, Tanagokoro. Located in the fashionable Ginza shopping district, Tanagokoro is to charcoal what Chanel is to haute couture. The shop specializes in bincho-tan, Japanese natural lump charcoal from the Wakayama Prefecture. Bincho-tan is the world’s most exclusive charcoal, made by burning white ash for several days in a cave sealed up with mud bricks. It burns slowly (one piece will stay lit for several hours); it burns hot. And it burns incredibly clean, with no discernible aroma, which is why it’s so prized by fussy Japanese yakitori chefs. Alas, you pay dearly for these attributes–a single piece of charcoal costs $2 to 4 and at Tanagokoro, you can buy charcoal logs and even whole trees, costing hundreds, even thousands of dollars. To learn more about this incredible charcoal, check out the following web site: