Briquette-free barbecuing as the sun turns the hood of Japan’s cheapest car into a hot plate.

A few years ago, we completed our most successful bargain-hunting project ever when we bought a car for just 1,000 yen (US$9). Our Mitsubishi Minica Guppy has served us well in the time since, getting us from Point A to Point B in reasonable comfort and style (especially during its period as the official Mr. Sato itasha).

As you might expect from its budget-friendly price, though, the Soramobile isn’t exactly loaded with options. However, it does sport one very practical feature: we can use it to cook lunch!

▼ Our Minica cooking video

With scorching heat continuing to bake Japan, we’ve started hearing tales of people cooking snacks on the sheet metal of their cars. But we decided to go one step further and prepare an entire meal using our automotive griddle, so we waited until the afternoon temperature climbed to 34.5 degrees Celsius (94.1 degrees Fahrenheit), at which point the solar preheating had our car’s hood at 56 degrees Celsius (132.8 Fahrenheit).

Dedicated culinarians that we are, next we smeared cooking oil across the hood, then laid down a few strips of bacon.

While there was no audible sizzle, as we watched the meat, we saw it slowly change color as the fat began to melt away and the heat started cooking it.

After a 15-minute display of remarkable willpower, we could resist the slabs of bacon no more, and our brave taste tester Seiji Nakazawa took a bite.

Disclaimer: SoraNews24 does not formally recommend doing this, especially if, unlike us, you don’t have a job where “I got sick from eating seared bacon off a car hood” is a valid excuse for missing work.

So how was it? In Seiji’s words:

It’s seriously delicious! When you bite into it, you really get the aroma of freshly grilled meat. A lot of the fat has been cooked off, but the meat is still nice and juicy.”

Emboldened by his success (“success” in this case defined as anything better than immediate stomach cramps and vomiting), Seiji moved on to making the second course of his meal.

Monjayaki, sometimes referred to as a Japanese pancake, is made by pouring batter into a ring of shredded cabbage. So first Seiji set up a semicircle of foil to keep his ingredients from sliding off, then poured cabbage onto the hood.

Once again, no sound was made, but the cooking process was still taking place, as evidenced by the cabbage browning as Seiji stirred it with his cooking chopsticks.

After a half hour of this, Seiji formed his cabbage ring and added the batter.

Of course, it’s well-known among Japanese foodies that the eyes taste first. Because of this, Seiji next sprinkled on sliced green onions and pickled ginger, adding artful verdant and crimson elements to the visual flavor.

Monjayaki is customarily eaten with a compact spatula, which is also used to press down on parts of the pancake that you want to get extra heat while cooking. After about five minutes of pressing, Seiji figured our Minica Monjayaki was as cooked as it was going to get, and so it was time to taste it.


“…sort of raw.”

Unfortunately, as brutally hot as the sun was, it wasn’t quite hot enough to cook the batter enough to give our monjayaki any real structural substance, even compared to the relatively runny consistency of proper restaurant-cooked versions. Still, Seiji was shocked by how good the cabbage tasted. “As I experienced the crisp texture and refreshing taste, it was like sensory joy was being carried to the far corners or my internal organs,” he explained.

It was a surprisingly emotional description, and we asked Seiji to hypothesize as to why car cabbage should taste so good.

“How can simple cabbage taste so good?” he murmured, turning the topic over again and again inside his head. Still unable to arrive at a conclusion, he took a sip from a bottle of water, and declared the humble beverage “more delicious than anything I could have imagined existing in our world.”

Based on this observation, Seiji realized that the secret ingredient making the cabbage taste so good was

…exhaustion from standing out in the sun, rendering sensory stimuli unnaturally intense.

▼ Seiji and SoraNews24 owner Yoshio, relaxing in the shade after their latest adventure.

So if you’re trying to make a meal on the hood of a car this summer, don’t forget to have something to drink too.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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