The oven toaster is a mainstay in any kitchen in Japan. Flip the door, turn the dial, and voila! – your toast is done. Not so fast! If your most essential appliance has given up the toast, take a deep breath before you rush out for a new one. Apart from size, control features, and everything you can do to a piece of toast, and more, with digital enhancement, there are no less than four categories of oven toaster to choose from. So, don’t settle for less when you could be getting more!
A Retrospection of Toast
Although quintessentially suited to a typical Japanese kitchen, the oven toaster was an American invention. Hats go off to one William S. Hadaway from Westinghouse Electric Company for the invention in 1910.
This innovation was hailed for it’s great efficiency in numerous cook operations besides toasting and was a welcomed economizer to the household range. In Japan, though, an oven toaster is so much more than just a complement. It may very well be all the oven you’ll even get.
The Four Pedigrees of Toaster
An oven toaster in Japan is not just an over toaster, unless that’s what it actually is. The different categories of oven toaster are created by the addition of two parameters, wind and steam.
The Oven Toaster – Full Range Perspective
Any oven toaster in Japan will try to game you on 4 things: control, power, time, and convenience.
A good example of this is the Yamazen series. The YTS-S100, which is priced a little over 2 000 yen, has a 15 min timer and a time cook guide on the door for toast, gratin, hotdogs, etc. The similar YTS-C101 (price link) has an additional temperature dial, plus the panel offers a temperature and time guide.
The popular Panasonic NT-T501-H (price link), however, keeps things simple with a whopping 30-min timer, low, med, high heat levels, AND the choice of using just the upper or lower element. This contrasts to their premium NT-D700 Bistro with both near and far infra-red elements and a dial to select 16 different menus – a true marriage of power and convenience.
Other toasters, like the Aladdin, vie for power coupled with a chic design. The Aladdin likes to boast about its graphite elements that can generate an acclaimed 330℃. The Delonghi, meanwhile, prefers to entice you with nice tray accessories, a longer cord, and 45 min on the timer.
If you enjoy warming up your brain with a tech challenge for breakfast, then you should try the Iris Ohyama MOT-401-H with more buttons to push than a space craft. The Zojirushi ET-GM30 is similar, but the Yamazen GTM-M100 is a completely digital oven with 59 min on the timer matching the Ohyama.
Apart from these factors, if original style and design is what you’re after, the Toffy brand, Bruno, and Doshisha all have something to peek your interest.
The Steam Oven Toaster – Japan’s Gift to the World
Steam oven cooking has been around for a long time. Typically, all you need is a ceramic dish with water placed in your oven – or use the water grilling method. Since some people don’t like toast too dry and crunchy, adding steam to the mix is a no-brainer. How this is done is really the question behind what makes a great steam oven toaster.
The Balmuda steam oven toaster uses a tank system and a micro computer to release enough steam into the oven at the appropriate time. Whether Balmuda, The Toaster was the first ever steam oven toaster is somewhat foggy, but these ovens have proven a hit both in Japan and abroad.
Sharp, a steam leader in Japan, has a couple of superheated steam oven toasters. The difference being the more expensive Sharp AX-H2 has three levels of steam intensity. These ovens are the best for reheating fried foods while removing excess oil at the same time – and making superheated steam toast!
Other Japan brands with a steam oven toaster include Iris Ohyama, Doshisha, and Hiro Corporation. You can read our reviews for more about these ovens.
The Convection Oven Toaster – Baker’s Dream of Wind
A simple fan in an oven does wonders to intensify and distribute the heat more evenly. Convention fan cooking, or toasting, is a great time and energy saver. For a convection oven toaster, size, and how long on the timer for baking are often key deciders.
The Iris Ohyama (see our FULL REVIEW) has three rack positions, 60 minutes, and is the most affordable option for home baking, especially bread. The Twin Bird is similar, but the Ohyama can keep warm at 60℃ degrees while the Twin Bird starts at 100℃. These larger ovens are slightly slower at toasting, but still toast both sides at the same time.
When it comes to smaller convection toasters, The Yamazen YNA-100 has a simple design. Like the larger Twin Bird, it has a fan switch so you can deploy wind as you please. The Siroca ST-2D251 is a similar design but has additional digital presets for toasting levels and frozen pizza.
If you’re more interested in award winning digital design and excellence, the Tiger KAS-G130 has been cooking up a storm for some time. The Hitachi HMO-F100 tries to offer more value with a number of handy digital presets, but the timer is only 30 minutes. If you’re sold on the Delonghi Brand, their series of convection oven toasters have more on timer for the price you pay.
The Steam Convection Oven Toaster – Evolution of Form
Steam convection ovens are all quite unique and specialized in their own way. The simplest to use is the Bruno, however, you can’t use steam and convection together – so its a steam or convection oven built into one. The Iris Ohyama convection oven FVC-D15B-S model has a simple steam dish you slip into the front.
The Iris Ohyama CMOT-S040 is a great little oven for the amount of control it offers. It also has a low temperature of 35 ℃ and can slow cook for 4 hours between 35 to 95 ℃. It is, however, rather small for what it can do! The Tiger KAX-X130WF is a steam version of their own classic convection oven toaster.