Arriving for the first time at Torishiki's elegant entrance, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had come to the wrong address. The chic, charcoal-gray facade, artfully illuminated in the dusk; the dwarf maple growing from a ceramic pot; the plain-wood sliding door with its pristine white noren curtain: par for the course for high-end kaiseki or sushi, but for yakitori? Surely not.

Why the surprise? In the right hands, the simple act of grilling skewers of chicken over glowing coals of charcoal produces one of the supreme delicacies of Japanese cuisine, well worthy of a such a tasteful setting. Those hands belong to yakitori maestro Yoshiteru Ikegawa.

His is the face you see first as you step into Torishiki. He stands center stage at his grill, facing the doorway, barking out greetings in the age-old style. With his hachimaki bandana wound tightly around his close-shaven head, he looks every inch the archetypal shokunin (traditional artisan), save for his natty goatee.