Little Kasai Konro Grill summary
With a design based on the traditional Japanese blueprint of konro grills, this British-made Kasai charcoal barbecue is Sous Vide Tools’ sleek new offering for 2021, built for safely grilling indoors and out.
Its brick insulation and four standing feet make it safe for use on any sturdy tabletop, enabling a sociable cooking and eating experience. The grilling space is large enough for two large portions of multiple ingredients, or a side element for four people. We tested it with a whole raw chicken portioned up and laid flat across the grill, finished with charred lemon halves, slices of courgette, aubergine, green beans and our ultimate vegan burgers. The grilling method gives you excellent control over the cooking of meat and fish, and was a joy to use – we used it three times in one week!
- Available from Sous Vide Tools (£399)
How easy was the Kasai grill to set up?
The first step is choosing your charcoal. The brand recommends using the grill with Sumi Bincho charcoal, made from ubame oak from Shikoku or Wakayama in Japan and known for its long burn time without imparting fumes that can flavour the food. Its density also means the charcoal is reusable if put out correctly (in a lidded steel pot to starve it of air, or plunged into cold water), which makes it excellent value for money – you just need to make sure the coals are bone dry for the next use. Alternatively, good quality lump charcoal also lights quickly and, for smoky wood flavours, small logs would work a treat.
We used a chimney starter to light the binchotan logs and it took 15 minutes for them to turn white-hot with glowing insides.
Using heat-protective gloves, we tipped the hot coals from the chimney starter into the grill and spread them evenly across the base with a small pile in the middle, slotting the grill above them. After five minutes, the grill was hot enough to sear the meat.
Depending on where you pile the coals, you can achieve direct and indirect heat that’s as fierce or as gentle as you’d like, which is useful for if you’re cooking meat and vegetables at the same time, or keeping cooked ingredients warm on one half of the grill.
How easy was it to use the Little Kasai Konro Grill?
The fire brick construction means the exterior doesn’t get hot and therefore doesn’t have to be used on a heatproof surface. Of course, this does mean the grill is incredibly heavy so the surface does need to be strong. Its two metal handles are robust enough for moving it around but be wary of lifting it from the ground up – it may require two people.
There’s an adjustable vent on either side of the grill base to control the flow of air to the coals. When open, the constant feed kept the temperature high. These are made of metal so required heatproof gloves for adjusting during cooking.
When it comes to heat retention, this grill is unrivalled – its coals were glowing red for five hours.
Prior to grilling, we portioned a whole uncooked chicken into breasts, drumsticks, thighs and wings on the bone, seasoned with our perfect BBQ chicken rub and chilled for two hours before cooking.
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Chicken drumsticks and thighs were placed skin-side down on the hottest part of the grill, while the sliced breast portions and wings cooked around the edges at a slightly lower heat. After seven minutes, the chicken skin was golden, crispy and richly caramelised. After being flipped and cooked for another five minutes, the dark meat on the thighs was tender and flavourful.
The chicken drumsticks took the longest to cook, requiring turning every two minutes to ensure the heat reached every side. This would usually mean the chef is chained to a stationary grill, but not so with the Kasai. We tested it on the centre of a picnic table and those sat around it were protected from the heat. The drumsticks were done in 15 minutes and, thanks to the closely meshed grill, no chicken fell through to the hot coals.
For vegetarians, our courgette and aubergine slices were cooked evenly, criss-crossed with diamond char lines and packed with flavour.
The olive take: should you buy the Kasai grill?
The Kasai grill completely negates any need to invest in a lidded barbecue, efficiently capturing and reflecting all the heat of the coals back onto the food so that it’s easy to monitor, quick to cook and unaffected by external air temperature despite the lack of cover.
Meat such as chicken is notoriously tricky to cook through safely from raw on a barbecue, while also achieving the flavour, texture and finish that makes it delicious, so it’s in this area that the Kasai really shines, with excellent results. Combined with its portability and ability to facilitate a sociable eating experience indoors or out, it’s a truly excellent piece of cooking kit.
Available from Sous Vide Tools (£399)
Kasai Konro Grill specifications
Dimensions: H21 x W400 x D260mm
Cooking area: 370 x 230mm
Warranty: one year parts and labour
Cooking grade material: stainless steel
Working temperature: 107C to 350C