On one side of the battered shōji screen with its panels of flimsy washi paper, the sleet and biting wind. On the other, a small old-fashioned hibachi brazier, its coals glowing softly. There’s no contest: At Botan, the charcoal wins every time.
But that flickering fire does not keep the cold at bay alone. There is a cast-iron nabe casserole bubbling away on top of it. For centuries, one-pot cooking has been Japan’s default winter comfort food, heating the body both inside and out. Nowhere in Tokyo does that tradition live on more vividly than at Botan.