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Bincho-tan: Japanese white oak charcoal

Bincho Yakitori is named after the charcoal used in our grills: bincho-tan, a type of high-carbon oak charcoal that tinkles with ceramic-like musicality when knocked together. How lovely. Bincho-tan is favoured by yakitori chefs because it burns evenly, produces minimal odour and stays hot for a long time.

And now for the science bit. Concentrate.

A piece of bincho-tan placed in a rice cooker will purify the water, resulting in smoother, sweeter-tasting rice. Also, fruit stored in a bag with bincho-tan will ripen more slowly, because the charcoal absorbs the ripening compound ethylene. 

These remarkable abilities are due to millions of microscopic pores that trap impurities on a molecular level. In fact, if you spread out one gram of bincho-tan completely flat it would equal the surface area of a tennis court.

Try telling that to a drunken salaryman after ten glasses of sake…

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