Do you like to cook? Do you love it when you make a dish and your friend’s taste buds dance with delight? If so, these cool Japanese kitchen gadgets will make your work in the kitchen much easier – and way more fun.
What comes to mind when you think of a Japanese kitchen? You probably imagine lots of modern, technologically advanced appliances. Japanese kitchens definitely have them, and we cover some in this list.
But you might be surprised. A few traditional tools made it on the list as well. Some have been around for centuries.
You’ll also notice many of the appliances are designed for communal eating, a very important aspect of Japanese cuisine and culture.
Has all this talk about food made you hungry to get started yet? Let’s dig right in.
Here are the 10 coolest Japanese kitchen gadgets. They make preparing a delicious meal much easier and a lot more fun.
1. Takoyaki Maker
Takoyaki is the street food king of Osaka. It’s often referred to as the “Octopus Ball.”
To make the dish, you pour a savory batter into a special pan. The batter features lots of green onions and red ginger. The batter also usually contains some tenkasu (deep-fried bits of flour batter) or dried shrimp.
A piece of octopus gets cooked inside each ball.
You flip the takoyaki using a special technique. It might take a bit of practice, but it’s a lot of fun.
A takoyaki maker features a hot plate with several round indents. It’s usually placed on the tabletop so you can eat your takoyaki while it’s hot.
But it doesn’t just make takoyaki. You can make anything – as long as it fits within the shape of the grill
Some creative ideas include cake pops, omelet balls, hash browns, and grilled onigiri balls. Basically, anything that can be cooked into a ball shape is possible. The only limit is your imagination!
Note: To turn the takoyaki, you’ll need a takoyaki pick. Some makers come with one, some don’t.
Make sure you know if your appliance includes a pick before you order the device. If not, you’ll need to get one. They usually cost between 4 – 8 dollars. You could also use a thin chopstick if you can’t find a takoyaki pick.
- Power consumption: 800 W
- Dimensions: 365 x 245 x 72 mm
- Weight: 1.45 kg
- Holes: 24
- Plate: Fluorine resin coated plate (removable, easy to clean, 100% safe)
An Option for The Serious Cook
If you love to cook and want a kitchen appliance you’ll use over and over again, check out the Zojirushi hot plate set. This hot plate is super versatile and can be used to make just about anything. The hot plate is easily changeable, so you can use the flat grill, takoyaki grill, or yakiniku grill which allows excess oil to drip to the bottom of the pan. Zojirushi is one of the highest quality brands in Japan, and this hot plate set will be something you use for years to come.
- Temperature adjustment range: heat insulation (80) ~ 250 ℃
- Size: Width 54 × depth 45 × height 20cm / body weight: 9.5kg
- Material: Stainless steel, PP, aluminum die-casting, printing steel plate
- ※ Power: AC100V (50 / 60Hz) / power consumption: 1300W
- Japanese manual URL (PDF): http://www.zojirushi.co.jp/toiawase/TR_PDF/EAGR_GV.pdf
2. Frozen Beer Slushie Maker
Kirin’s patented freezing technology turns beer into a whipped, frozen ice cap. This cap sits on top of your beer.
The cap keeps your beer cold for up to 30 minutes on a hot, sunny day.
The slushie maker started as a promotional item for a summer beer campaign. The Kirin company decided to sell the slushie maker as a regular product after seeing how popular it became.
My friends who like beer are in love with this thing. They tell me it works much better than freezing a glass.
The frozen beer slushie is the perfect addition to a hot summer barbecue.
- Size: 150 x 260 x 10mm (5.9 x 10.2 x 0.4")
- Power: C batteries x 4
- Glass not included
- Product appearance may vary slightly from images
- Instructions: Japanese (but easy to use)
3. Taiyaki Maker
Taiyaki is a fish-shaped waffle with an azuki (sweet red bean paste) filling. It’s a popular street food, especially in Tokyo.
Taiyaki has origins in the Meiji era. Tai (red snapper) was the most expensive fish on the market.
Up until the Meiji period, the snack had a simple round shape. It was called Imagawayaki.
An innovative street food vendor changed the shape and added a few ingredients. He called his new creation “Taiyaki.” It was a huge hit, and taiyaki continues to be popular to this day.
Traditionally, a taiyaki has azuki in it, but you can make taiyaki with all kinds of fillings. Custard, chocolate, ice cream, and mochi are popular alternatives.
You can make fresh taiyaki at home with your taiyaki maker. You’ll have a blast experimenting with all kinds of yummy fillings and ingredients.
I suggest you try mixing chocolate with your favorite ice-cream flavor. The chocolate and ice-cream create a heavenly mix when offset by the cake. Delicious!
- Body size: about W 23 × D 24.5 × H 9 cm / Weight (main body): about 1.3 kg
- ※ Rated voltage: AC 100 V (50/60 Hz) / ※ Power consumption: 760 W
- Power cord length: about 0.95 m / Temperature fuse: 240 ℃
- Material: (Main body) Phenolic resin / (Plate) Aluminum (Fluororesin processing)
Another option is the Kotobuki Taiyaki Pan, which is just the pan which you can heat up by using your stove top or portable gas stove.
*Note: The Kotobuki Taiyaki pan is made in Korea
4. Surikogi and Suribachi (Japanese Mortar and Pestle)
Sometimes a tool gets designed right the first time. When this happens, it stays the same for hundreds of years.
The Japanese mortar and pestle is as useful now as it was back in the 17th century when it was first created.
The Japanese mortar and pestle is used in a variety of ways. It’s commonly used to grind sesame seeds – but it works well for any recipe involving grinding or mixing.
The surikogi (pestle) is made of wood. It won’t damage the ridged interior during the grinding process.
This combination works better than electric grinders and mixers. A surikogi and suribachi gives you more control over the grinding.
These traditional tools also work great for making non-Japanese recipes like pesto sauce.
- This listing is for 1 Pieces of Japanese Ceramic Blue Suribachi Mortar Food Preparation Bowl
- Size: 7.25" Diameter
- Design: Blue Trim
- Material: Ceramic
- Made in Japan
- This listing is for 1 Piece of Japanese 7"L Solid Wood Wooden Pestle for Suribachi Mortar Bowl
- Made in Japan
Another option that is cheaper, but not made in Japan, is the Helen’s Asian Kitchen Suribachi Set that has both the pestle and mortal included in one set.
5. Oroshigane Grater
Ginger, wasabi, and daikon are all frequently used in Japanese cooking. Recipes often call for grating them, as in “daikon oroshi,” which means “grated daikon.”
But a typical Western grater can’t handle the small size of certain ingredients. That’s why most Japanese kitchens have a special grater – an oroshigane.
It’s smaller than your typical grater. You won’t find any holes for the grated food to fall into… just very sharp, fine teeth on a flat, stainless steel surface.
Freshly grated ingredients make a world of difference when it comes to flavor. An oroshigane makes it quick and easy to grate a variety of vegetables.
- Made in Japan
- Stainless steel
- Built-in well
- Fine grate
- Traditional Japanese kitchen tool
6. Yakitori Grill
What’s better than a cold beer and some yakitori at an izakaya (local pub)?
Well, with a yakitori grill, you don’t even have to leave the house. You can make delicious yakitori in your pajamas, right on your kitchen table.
Yakitori, which translates to “grilled chicken,” is an izakaya favorite… partly because it goes so well with beer and other alcoholic drinks.
What exactly is yakitori? Basically, it’s chicken on stick, that’s grilled.
Pieces of meat get skewered on kushi (skewers made of bamboo or steel). You then grill the skewers over a charcoal fire grill.
Using the Grill
You might not get that charcoal flavor with your yakitori grill. The indoor grills use electricity instead of charcoal.
However, you can get izakaya-quality food… with the charred edges and juicy centers of perfectly grilled chicken.
The grill works great for other things as well – such as BBQ, yakiniku (grilled beef), burgers, etc.
- Ideal for grilling steaks, chicken, fish, burgers, and vegetables indoors
- Nonstick grill surface measures 12-1/2 by 9-1/4 inches
- Variable heat control; cool-touch handles and housing
- Disassembles easily for cleaning; dishwasher-safe drip tray
- Overall, measures 12-5/8 x 18-3/4 x 3-inches
If you are looking to use charcoal to get that authentic, smokey Japanese yakitori flavor, check out the Kotobuki Japanese Yakitori Grill Set. Just make sure that you use the right type of charcoal, like the highly prized Japanese Kishu Binchotan White Charcoal.
7. Bamboo Draining Basket (Zaru)
The bamboo draining basket, or zaru, is a time-tested kitchen favorite.
It’s flatter than a colander. It drains water and other liquids from food quickly because of the large surface area.
Food quickly cools in the zaru for the same reason.
You can serve your food immediately after draining it. You can also use your zaru to display the ingredients you use for cooking. The bamboo gives a traditional, rustic aesthetic to your table.
A zaru gives you versatility and durability. You’ll find lots of uses for yours. Most Japanese kitchens have several zaru in different sizes.
They’re easy to store. A zaru doesn’t take up much space – always a good thing, but especially in a tiny Japanese kitchen.
You’ll definitely want one if you like eat a lot of Japanese noodles like soba or udon.
- Bamboo Round Zaru Basket for Soba, Udon and Noodles
8. Gyoza Press
Have you ever made gyoza (pan-fried dumplings)? If so, you know it’s a time-consuming project.
Folding the wrapper edges can get tricky. The technique requires deft fingers to fold pleats along the half-circle edge.
That’s where the gyoza press comes in handy. The press offers a simple plastic mold with ridges along the outer edge.
How It Works
You lay the gyoza wrapper and filling on the press.
You fold it in half and push. Out pops a beautifully pleated gyoza in a fraction of the time it would take to do by hand.
A gyoza press is cheap (usually around $5). It’s a lifesaver if you ever need to make huge quantities of gyoza… like for a party.
The gyoza press saves you a lot of time and energy. Your fingers will thank you!
- Japaese Plastic Gyoza Dumpling Press with spoon
9. Tamagoyaki Pan
Tamagoyaki is a popular breakfast and bento food. It’s made with eggs, soy sauce or dashi, and sugar (with lots of variation in recipes).
The pan cooks eggs in the distinctive rectangular shape of tamagoyaki. With a pair of chopsticks, a thin sheet of cooked egg gets neatly folded over itself to form multiple layers.
If you cook tamagoyaki a lot, the pan makes it easy to achieve that classic rectangular shape.
It’s also a compact and adorable looking decoration for your kitchen. It’s useful for cooking other (bite-sized) things as well.
Another cheaper option that is non-stick is the TeChef Tamagoyaki Japanese omelette pan. Just keep in mind that this pan is made in Korea, and not Japan.
10. Donabe (Ceramic Pot)
Japanese families get out their beloved donabe every winter. They use the ceramic pot to make soul-warming nabe meals, also known as “hot pot.”
A donabe, which means “earthenware pot,” gets made using a special clay. The clay can withstand cooking on an open flame.
Your donabe will remain hot for a long time after reaching its peak temperature. It’s great for cooking ingredients evenly.
It’s an essential piece of cookware because of its versatility – you can cook just about anything in it.
For a Quick Meal
Want an easy, nutritious meal that feeds your entire family? Just throw some stock and whatever ingredients you have in the fridge into a donabe, and you’ll have a quick and easy hot pot meal.
It’s a wonderful way to warm up from the cold and bring people together at the end of the day.
- 11-1/2-Inch diameter
- Large enough for a meal for 5 to 6 people
- White with traditional brown and green brushstroke design
- Made in japan
A smaller option is the exquisite Kamado-san Nabe by Hase Ceramics. It is a high quality Iga-Yaki(伊賀焼) pot that is great for making rice as well.
Summing Up Our Culinary Adventure
A typical Japanese kitchen offers a fascinating mix of instruments.
You’ll find brand-new technology sitting next to centuries-old tools. These tools have stood the test of time.
Japanese kitchen gadgets range from simple, traditional utensils to modern appliances. They both make cooking much more convenient.
Japanese people place a lot of value on communal eating. These tools offer some great ways to bring your family and friends together.
Dining feels more intimate when you’re cooking the food right at the dinner table. You’ll enjoy some delicious meals and great conversation.
Do You Have a Favorite Japanese Kitchen Gadget?
If so, what is it? How does it help you in your kitchen?
Don’t forget to share this article with your friends who like to cook… or even those who just like Japanese food.
You can explore some fun ways to prepare food together. Tell them you’ll accept chocolate taiyaki as a token of their gratitude!