The Hibachi Grills Andrew Zimmern Uses To Elevate Outdoor Parties

Grilling hamburgers and hot dogs is a no-brainer when you're entertaining guests at casual hang-outs during the warmer months, but there's a lot more pressure added when you're hosting a special event that needs a more upscale feel. Cooking the food inside and then bringing it out to the table technically works, but you lose that special outdoor dining vibe that comes with grilling. Andrew Zimmern has an elegant solution for those who stress about these outdoor get-togethers a little too often: tabletop hibachi grills.

Zimmern shared with Food & Wine that Japanese konro hibachi grills can bring some finesse to your outdoor dinners. Many are even small enough to place on the tables you'll be eating off of. As an added bonus, there will be "less to-ing and fro-ing from the house," or standing in the corner of the yard while grilling, so you can spend more time with your guests. Zimmern says that hibachi grills "offer easy and simple grilling," making everything from "kebabs from the easter Mediterranean, Japanese yakitori, or BBQ chicken wings" possible for table-side preparation. But there's one particular element he mentions that makes tabletop grilling possible without choking your guests with clouds of acrid smoke, and that's binchotan charcoal.

Bintochan burns clean

If you've ever used a tabletop grill at, say, a Korean barbecue restaurant, then you know how smoky it can get. The smell of smoldering charcoal briquettes and grilling meats can sink into your hair and clothes for days, which you definitely don't want to happen if you're hosting an elevated al fresco event. Andrew Zimmern's solution is swapping out your bargain-basement match-light briquettes, which can contain additives that "impart unpleasant flavors — notes of gas station, with a hint of nail polish," as Jarret Melendez says in Epicurious, for binchotan charcoal.

Binchotan has been used in Japan for centuries. It's considered by many to be the best quality charcoal available. Binchotan is made from kiln-fired oak wood, which stays in the oven for weeks, where temperatures can reach up to 1800 degrees. The high temperatures burn away impurities, so when it's lit, it gives off little to no smoke and is odorless. Your guests will be spared the stinky clothes and coughs that come from your usual lighter-fluid-soaked coal, while still being able to enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of grilled food made right at the table. Binchotan is more expensive than regular briquettes, but it can also burn for up to five hours, and can be extinguished and re-lit for multiple uses. The next time you're set to host a summer soiree, try Andrew Zimmern's bichotan-fired hibachi grill idea to make a big impression.