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The world’s most exclusive charcoal—traditionally made from ubamegashi oak from the Wakayama Prefecture in the Kansai region of western Honsho, Japan. Bincho-tan burns hot and long, producing no discernable aroma of its own—a quality much prized by Japanese grill masters. (We Americans are just the opposite—we like a “charcoal” taste.) It’s so hard and dense, it has an almost metallic ring when you strike two pieces together. According to Japanese cultural authority, Elizabeth Andoh, bincho-tan takes its name from a Genroku Era (late 17th century) nobleman named Bingoya Chouemon. Because of its exorbitant cost (I have a chunk on my desk that cost $4!), more and more Japanese grill masters are turning to bincho-tan from China.

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