As the days draw in and the nights get chilly, what greater pleasure could there be than settling in by a warm hearth stacked with glowing charcoal? One thing only: watching the meal you're about to eat being cooked on it. That's the kind of enjoyment delivered at Tadenoha.

Traditional irori (open hearths) are still found in rural parts of the country, but they're not what you expect in the heart of the city, least of all on the second floor of a nondescript building in Aoyama. Don't be deterred by the simple rustic look. Tadenoha offers brilliant dining along with its fireside comforts.

The name chosen by chef/grillmaster Kiyofumi Kozuru for his restaurant is apt. Tade (water pepper) is a herb that grows alongside rivers, especially those sufficiently clear to support populations of ayu (sweetfish). And its delicate, spicy leaves — tadenoha — are often incorporated into dipping sauces for those fragrant freshwater fish.