The idea of gourmet yakitori is nothing new. There are plenty of restaurants around town where the humble art of skewering and grilling chicken has been elevated to a degree of sophistication. But you don't expect to find it in the back streets of Gotanda, just north of Shinagawa.

More seedy than downright sleazy, the block immediately to the east of the Yamanote Line tracks is lined with cheap drinking dens and massage parlors. But there are also clear signs of gentrification — and none more so than the presence of Yoshicho.

You'd never stumble on it by chance. Hidden from view on the second floor of a newish building just off Sakurada-Dori, there is little inside or out to suggest that this unpretentious restaurant, with its open kitchen, glass-enclosed grill, counter seats and three small tables, is anything out of the ordinary. It's the food and not the setting that makes it worth searching out.