Perfectly grilled cheese sandwiches and dessert toasties are a cinch with this Japanese cooking gadget.

With more and more people choosing to eat at home during the pandemic, the popularity of small cooking gadgets for solo diners is going through the roof. In Japan, rice cookers and tempura makers for one have already become the hot items of 2020, and now there’s another contender on the scene to make solitary dining more fun: the 4w1h Hot Sand Solo.

As the name suggests, this is a hot sandwich maker for solo diners, with 4w1h referring to the “Why, When, Who, What, How in Kitchen”. Described by satisfied customers as a “God item”, the new product comes from the Tsubamesanjo Kitchen Research Institute in Niigata Prefecture, who aim to hit the mark on “quantity,” “form,” and “prep time” for breakfast sandwiches.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy a grilled sandwich after breakfast, of course, and that’s what we decided to do when testing this new gadget out. It took us a while to get our hands on one, though, as they sold out when they were released and are now being produced on backorder as it’s been impossible for the makers to keep up with demand. So after making our reservation for one of the grills in June, it was a happy day in late August when this finally arrived at our door.

We opened up the box and pulled out the sandwich maker, which was beautifully compact and branded with the words “Made in Japan”. While it looked like a product you’d use on a campfire, and you certainly could use it while camping, this iron sandwich maker is actually designed to be used on a gas stove or portable gas cooker in the home kitchen.

We decided to christen the product with one of the very best toasted sandwiches: bacon, egg and cheese. So we popped in a very thick slice of bread, as per the maker’s recommendations, and placed the ingredients inside.

All you have to do after that is simply close the lid slowly, to ensure the fillings don’t fall out, and heat the press on a low-to-medium flame for two or three minutes on each side.

The press itself weighs only 405 grams (14 ounces), so it’s nice and easy to handle on the stovetop.

The sandwich is done when the surface of the bread turns golden brown, so we opened the press to check our progress periodically until it looked like this.

That beautiful golden hue had us yearning to bite into it immediately, but as we all know, grilled cheese is hot, so we placed our creation on a plate and sliced it in two to admire it. That’s when we realised just how much detail had gone into the design of the press, as our sandwich was beautifully crimped along the edges to add extra crunch.

The crunchy edge added a fantastic textural contrast to the fluffy, moist centre, which was wonderfully hot and flavourful. The whole thing was absolutely delicious and cooked to perfection — in fact, it was so good we decided to follow up with a sweet toasted sandwich for dessert.

Chocolate and banana is always a winning combination, and we were keen to find out what it would taste like inside a grilled sandwich. So we got out another thick slice of bread and popped the essential ingredients inside, baking it to perfection within minutes.

This was another winner, with the banana heated just enough so as to not become too overpowering, while the chocolate sauce was meltingly hot, tasting devine with the fluffy, crunchy white bread casing. We also loved the fact that the sandwich maker pressed all the ingredients together nice and tight, so there was no risk of spillage or messy hands as we ate it.

The one-person sandwich press is easy to clean, easy to store, and best of all, easy to use. Priced at 4,500 yen (US$42.39) plus tax, the product isn’t particularly cheap, but it’s a quality item that’s in such high demand it remains sold out at the company’s online store. Limited orders are being taken each month, however, with application details available via the company’s official Instagram page.

If you can get your hands on one of these little sandwich presses, you’ll be glad you did, as it allows you to create the perfect grilled sandwich in minutes, not just at home but in the great outdoors as well. It’s been a great addition to our ever-growing one-person gadget collection and now we can’t wait to see what other “God-like” solo items await us in future!

Photos ©SoraNews24
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