VIJAY SHAH via REED STEVENSON & YUJI OKADA/Bloomberg
If you were to visit your local electronics store and the salesperson tried to flog to you a rather pricey toaster that could only toast one slice of bread at a time, would you buy it? Probably not. But in Japan, a toaster that retails for GBP £216 (JBP ¥29,086/USD $270) has become acclaimed for producing toast that is prepared to perfection. That does not come as a surprise in a nation known for the very high quality of its electronics and white goods, but also surprising at the same time as Japan is more known for eating sushi, rice, and miso soup rather than grilled bread.
The Bread Oven (no simple ‘Toastie5000’ name for this gadget), developed by Mitsubishi Electronics headquartered in Tokyo, Japan’s capital, can only toast one bread slice at a time. The oven costs six times more than a normal toaster, according to the Bloomberg news service. Appearance-wise, it is a thick, stocky, brown coloured machine with retro fake wood veneers that would not look out of place in a 1970s kitchen. But not only it is an expert at toasting bread, its manufacturer sees the Oven as a perfect business opportunity to capitalise on the growing trend of making baked goods in the Japanese home. More and more people in the country now want to start their day with slices of toast rather than the traditional local breakfast: rice, grilled fish and miso soup.
The Oven, which was carefully conceived by the research and development team at Mitsubishi Electronics, is compact and designed to kept handy on the dining-room table rather than shunted next to the microwave as in British kitchens. It makes use of a tight seal to retain moisture near the bread, which according to a Bloomberg journalist who taste-tested the Oven’s toast versus a regular toaster, found that the toast from this device is crisp and evenly browned on the outside, but retains a soft interior, in other words, a perfectly balanced toastie. The type of bread normally used in Japan, a thick square version known as ‘shoku pan’, is served dripping in butter in the Oven, and the end result makes it tastes as though you have just got it from the bakery there and then.
“We wanted to focus on the single slice, and treat it with respect,” said Akihiro Iwahara, who is in charge of technical development at Mitsubishi Electric’s home-appliances division. “Our technology and know-how from rice cookers helped us come up with a way to trap and seal moisture.”
“Given Japanese tastes, there are a lot of people looking for a refined and delicate experience,” said Hiroaki Higuchi, the general manager of marketing at Mitsubishi Electric’s home-appliance unit. “We’re not asking customers to get rid of their toasters, but to enjoy this as an entirely different category.”
Heat is transferred to the slice via two plates at a set temperature of maximum 260 °C (500 °F). The oven can also be used to fry eggs and cheese on the toast, as well as the usual lashings of butter.
Refined toasters have become a hot commodity in Japanese kitchens in recent years as the trend for the perfect toastie has taken off and customers increasingly demand products of high quality to create perfect meals. The industry leader is currently a brand called Balmuda, a trailblazer in the technology and moisture-retention concept that Mitsubishi’s Bread Oven now uses.
Bloomberg, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/bloombergbusiness/
“This Japanese Toaster Costs $270. It Only Makes One Slice at a Time” – Reed Stevenson and Yuji Okada, Bloomberg (16 May 2019) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-05-16/this-japanese-toaster-costs-270-it-only-makes-one-slice-at-a-time
Pixabay via Pexels.