Cooking With(out) Fire: The Downtown Grill Electric Hibachi

It’s sadly past grilling season in New York City- too much wind and cold temperatures make it tough to enjoy standing outside and fixing dinner. Even as the last month or so has alternated from autumn to summer and back again, we’ve been taken every advantage of opportunities to fire up the barbecue. Actually, let us rephrase: there was no fire involved and we’ll be able to keep it going year-round even when it snows. No lid required.

That’s because the Downtown Grill Electric Hibachi can be used indoors or outdoors, relying on electricity instead of messy briquettes or heavy propane. And in some ways, it’s better than your traditional grill- it can reach temperatures up to 700 degrees, hotter than most gas grills can reach. They make some big claims- for instance, that ”from now on, the world’s best grill plugs into a 120 V outlet”. And without needing to worry about open flames, you can grill on your balcony, in your yard, or just about anywhere that an extension cord can reach.

Part of the trick is a patented heat transfer technology called ThermoCeramix, which helps keep the heating element in direct contact with your meat or vegetables. And unlike other electric cooking methods- like induction- you still end up with authentic scorch or grill marks. It’s still surprisingly even heating though, due in part to the compact size, which means less hassle trying to find the sweet spot or moving your steaks around to keep the timing right. And it also means less wasted electricity- though it does draw a lot of power when first warming up, enough that we’d recommend watching where you plug it in. There is still plenty of space for several burgers or pork chops at a time.

Controls are simple- there is an on/off switch and a temperature dial, though there aren’t actual temps and so does require a bit of experimentation. In just a few minutes, you can have perfectly seared steaks. There is a catch to all of this- smoke. The reason why most grills are used outside is due to smoke, and it’s hard to avoid with the Downtown Grill. If you have enough ventilation or a decent hood, then it’s certainly possible to pull it off inside. But you’ll still have to clean it up, which was the only other downside (certainly not unique to this grill, as cleanup is often problematic despite drip trays). Overall, count us impressed with the Electric Hibachi- it gets crazy hot pretty quickly, with all the sizzle that you’re looking for. The Downtown Grill is expensive but worth it, available now online and in stores for around $450! 

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