When you can’t go out to a yakiniku restaurant, you bring the yakiniku restaurant to you. 

Now that restaurants are closing early under the state of emergency and people are being asked to stay home, we’ve been looking for ways to entertain ourselves indoors. After cooking up batches of Shakey’s Mojo potatoes and trying our hand at a 1,000-year-old dessert recipe, we decided it was time to get adventurous with the grill, and so our reporter Masami put her hand up to test out a new device that would allow her to have a BBQ party for one at home. 

Made by Japanese company Nichinen, this handy little device is part of the company’s “UFO” lineup of grills that use infrared technology. This style of grilling is said to maintain the moisture of ingredients, and cook food without creating smoke, a claim Masami was particularly interested in.

If you’ve ever tried to recreate a night out at a yakiniku grill restaurant at home before, you’ll know how quickly the house fills up with smoke and grease, due to the absence of high-power fans normally used at restaurants. For Masami, smokeless grilling indoors sounded like something that was too good to be true, so she quickly started setting up the device for a test run.

First off, she put some water in the recess located underneath the bottom plate and popped a gas cylinder into the side. Then, all she had to do was place a few ingredients on the plate and turn the machine on. Masami was immediately impressed with how easy it was to set up, and with just one hot plate being used, cleaning up afterwards would be easy as well.

Starting with lighter flavours first, Masami popped some fish onto the plate and watched as the infrared heat began to work its magic on the food. She cracked a window at this point, fearing the area might start filling up with smoke, but she needn’t have worried, as the machine actually lived up to its claim of being smokeless.

This smoke-free cooking method was an absolute game changer, and Masami was keen to test it out on other foods. But first, time to get the party started by cracking open a can of Lemon Sour.

After a few sips, Masami began to feel like she was dining out indoors, and once her fish had been grilled to perfection, she added some thickly cut vegetables and adjusted the overhead heating element to direct the heat to where it was needed the most.

The ability to control the direction of the heat was another big plus for Masami, but she had to admit that the grilled veggies would’ve turned out better if they weren’t as thickly sliced. It took a while for these to be done, so if she were to use vegetables again, she’d have to slice them thinner next time to cut down on the cooking time.

▼ One thing she definitely recommends trying is pizza, which takes no time to cook, and turns out meltingly tasty.

▼ Another excellent result came with the horumon (offal), a popular dish at yakiniku restaurants.

Moving onto the heavier flavours, the party really kicked into full swing with cuts of meat and a long sausage. These turned out to be excellent, with the meats retaining a succulent juiciness. While a small amount of smoke appeared while these were being cooked, it was surprisingly minimal and didn’t bother her in the slightest.

The grilled sausage was a standout, and Masami could’ve happily snacked on half a dozen of these while sipping on her nine-percent alcohol-by-volume beverage.

At the end of her meal, Masami felt a strange bond with the UFO grill and decided she never wanted to part with it. That could’ve been partly due to the fact that it was the only thing keeping her company during her solo party, but more because it did such a great job of entertaining her taste buds while keeping her nose and clothes free of smoke.

Nichinen’s smokeless grill comes in two types: the rectangular UFO-S, which is priced at 27,280 yen (US$255), and the larger, round UFO, which retails for 44,000 yen.

The rectangular UFO-S, which Masami used, is perfect for one person and compact enough to carry around the house so you can enjoy a BBQ in your lounge room or out on the balcony.

▼ Masami knows how to throw an awesome yakiniku party…even when the only guest is herself.

The smokeless grill is a great little contraption that Masami says she’ll be using a lot while she stays home during the state of emergency. And it fits perfectly on her kitchen counter next to her one-person bento-box rice cooker.

Related: Nichinen UFO site
Photos © SoraNews24
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