Hibachi Grills: A Complete Guide to a Japanese Classic

vegetables resting low over open coals

Finding the right grill is an essential part of any BBQ-lover’s life. There’s nothing quite like a well-grilled, well-seared, smoky slab of beef, chicken, bacon, or any number of savory meat patties sizzling away in flavorful harmony. Grilling can be relaxing, a truly Zen experience – and so it’s only fitting that some of the best grills in the world are Japanese.

All of which brings us to hibachi grills. 

Japanese chefs have been cooking with grills like these since the 8th century. Their classic circular design and close proximity of the grill to the flames produce a unique taste and cooking experience that has been a staple of Japanese cooking for centuries. Modern barbeque and grill manufacturers have caught onto this design and have incorporated it into their own models, which rank among the most popular grill styles on the market today.

So what’s “so hot” about hibachi grills, and which options on the market give you the most flame-seared meat for your money?


Contents


hibachi flames

What Makes Hibachi Grill Options Such a “Hot” Buy?

There’s a lot to like about a hibachi grill, starting with its trademark design of placing the grill far closer to the flames than many other grills and barbeques. If you’re someone who loves a flame-seared flavor in your meat and want to amp that up as much as possible, a hibachi grill might be for you. This is achieved in large part thanks to the fact that the close proximity of the meat, flame, and charcoal to one another gives meat a rich and more fire-treated flavor. Charcoal allows you to sear and influence the flavorfulness of the meat while likewise making for a tenderer meaty center.

In addition, hibachi grill options tend to be on the smaller side, so if you’re looking for something more portable, this may be the grill for you. 

Another unique feature that some hibachi grill models have are dual temperature levels. While these grills are often portable, they are also often large enough for those with the proper know-how to light two-level fires, which in turn can create different temperature levels in different parts of the grill. As a result, you can cook different foods that require different temperatures and treatments at the same time, adding to the time effectiveness and overall portability of these models.

Hibachi grill models are fantastically versatile, able to excellently sear and treat a wide range of different foods, including veggies, rice, eggs, seafood, steak, and all manner of different meat.

Traditional hibachi grill models do not have covers, and that is often – although not always – the case with modern grills. As a result, while these grills can be great for cooking many different kinds of food, they do not trap heat, which can make it difficult to cook especially thick cuts sometimes.

Some other notable features that hibachi grill models often include are:

  • Freestanding style
  • Limited smoke
  • Proximity of grill, meat, and flames can help cuts baste in their own juices
  • Design can keep grease from dripping onto the burner
  • Durable cast iron builds are common
  • Compact design

With that established, let’s get cooking and see which hibachi grills have the steak to match that sizzle.

Marsh allen cast iron hibachi grill

1. Marsh Allen Cast Iron Hibachi Grill

This model maintains the topless hibachi design and low-set grate while eschewing the circular style for a more rectangular arrangement, measuring 18″ x 3.4″ x 10″ split into four individual 9”x 8” grids. Forged from cast iron, this is a grill that is built to last. This model features wooden handles off to the side for maneuvering these grids, though they’re a bit close to the fire, which can weaken over time.

That said, the separate grids allow for more dual temperature.

Pros:

  • Adjustable air vents make it easier to control the temperature
  • Curved grates keep food from slipping off
  • Sturdy cast iron design

Cons:

  • Fire can weaken the wooden handles
  • Legs can be slightly wobbly
Isumer charcoal portable hibachi grill

2. Isumer Charcoal Portable Hibachi Grill

One of the best things about this 15.9” x 11” x 8.8” grill from Isumer is the fact that its legs are detachable, allowing you to set it on a stone or similarly heat-proof countertop and grill away or stand it up on its legs. This flexibility makes it all the easier to grill with friends in a variety of settings. It is also quite sturdy given its stainless steel frame.

This model is far more simplistic in its design than others, and requires assembly. That said, that simplicity can also make it a great starter grill, especially given its affordable price.

Pros:

  • Highly affordable price
  • Durable yet flexible build
  • Easy to clean and use

Cons:

  • Comparatively simplistic
  • Assembly required
Weber Charcoal Go-Anywhere Grill

3. Weber 121020 Go Anywhere Charcoal Hibachi

This is a good example of how hibachi grill models have evolved since interest in them has increased and mass production has taken over. On the one hand, this deviates from the traditional Japanese style in several ways, from its rectangular design to the fact it features a lid. On the other hand, the handle on top of the lid makes it especially portable, and it’s also one of the most affordable models on this list.

All that’s well and good, but what about its cooking capabilities?

The grill measures 14” x 21” x 12.25” and weighs in at just over 14.5 lbs, making it about middle of the road in terms of size, and maybe a bit heavier. The grill is a bit vulnerable to rust, but it’s nothing you can’t guard against with proper maintenance. The porcelain-enamel lid actually allows you to control and check on temperature levels a bit more than you might typically expect from a more traditional hibachi grill. What’s more, you can adjust the height of the model, while the added lid and heat controls can also help you control the height of the flames.

Pros:

  • Built-in hanger is easy to clean
  • Added control over flames and height
  • Convenient carrying handle

Cons:

  • A bit on the heavy side
  • Grill slightly vulnerable to rust
Lodge Cast Iron sportsman hibachi style grill

4. ​Lodge Cast Iron Sportsman’s Grill

At 19” x 8.2” x 10.2” and 27 lbs, this model is on the larger, heavier side, which can be good or bad depending on how beefy you want your beef-searing grill to be. However, that extra poundage isn’t in vain, as its heavy-duty cast iron build makes this offering from Lodge one of the most durable hibachi grills you’re bound to find. The construction compromises between a traditional circular style and the rectangular ones on display in this list with an oval design.

Size-wise, this model is large enough to fit several patties, or a couple of steaks alongside some eggs, rice, or veggies. If you’re looking for a model big enough to handle a cookout with friends and family, this might be a good choice. What’s more, the model cooks very evenly with adjustable temperature control, though the controls can take some getting used to initially. The grill must also be seasoned regularly, or it may rust.

Pros:

  • Beefy heavy-duty build and rounded design
  • Cooks evenly
  • Can cook for a whole family

Cons:

  • A bit of a learning curve with the controls
  • Grill requires regular seasoning lest it rust
cajun classic round seasons cast iron charcoal hibachi grill

5. Cajun Classic Round Seasons Cast Iron Charcoal Hibachi Grill

If you’re especially partial to the design of traditional Japanese hibachi grills, you’ll love this option from Cajun, which does a fantastic job of capturing and updating that aesthetic. It stays true to the traditional circular design, so if that’s important to you, this is likely the best choice on this list for you.

The model cooks very evenly, and can allow you to cook different types of food all at once. Its small circular size – 15” in diameter – contrasts with its heavy 42 lb weight, making it a small but heavy option. Its flip open design and a door at the side makes replacing charcoal a snap.

Pros:

  • Closer to traditional circular hibachi design than other models
  • Durable build 
  • Door at the side makes it easy to replace charcoal

Cons:

  • No top cover for trapping heat
  • On the heavy side
Cuisinart Cgg-180t Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill

6. Cuisinart Cgg-180t Petit Gourmet Portable Tabletop Gas Grill

At 12.2” x 18” x 12” with a weight of 13.5 lbs, this is a surprisingly lightweight entry from Cuisinart. However, there is nothing lightweight about the 5,500 BTU of heat this unit has to offer.

This is another rectangular unit with a stainless-steel burner, thick cover and carrying handle, porcelain-enameled grate, and aluminum legs that lock into place. However, other parts of the grill, such as the heat transfers, are a plastic and not quite as durable. That said, the unit is able to handle a wide range of different foodstuffs at once, making it another good choice for families.

Pros:

  • 5,500 BTU makes for solid cooking
  • Can handle fish, steaks, veggies, and other foods
  • Foldable lightweight design

Cons:

  • Plastic heat transfers can be comparatively flimsy
  • Burners are a bit lacking in accuracy

Conclusion

Whichever of these grills has enough sizzle for your steak, there’s no denying that hibachi grills are a hot choice for family grilling this summer.

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