The Japanese Fish Grill: The Secret to the Japanese Kitchen | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan
japanese fish grill

The Japanese Fish Grill: The Secret to the Japanese Kitchen

By Guidable Writers Jun 7, 2021

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In a Japanese kitchen, often there is a built-in fish grill oven right under the gas cooker. Almost every kitchen has this, but what is this Japanese fish grill and what can it be used for?

An Introduction to the Japanese Fish Grill

The size of a Japanese fish grill is quite small. It is usually only a little bit bigger than a shoebox. If you look at the pictures below, you can see the drawer with the glass window in the middle part of the gas cooker. It has just enough space to fit a couple of small size fish.

People new to Japan often do not know how to use the grill at first. However, once you get acquainted with one, you can cook a wide variety of foods quickly and easily because the inside temperatures can go up to around 300°C (570°F) in a short amount of time. The high temperatures mean that outside of the food becomes crispy but the inside of food stays tender and juicy. You can also place an iron grill pan or a tray on the original grid to suit your food type. If you get used to your grill, it will be much easier and quicker to prepare food.

Japanese fish grill, Japanese stove, Japanese kitchen

Using Your Japanese Fish Grill

It is not so difficult to use one of these grills. Firstly, you just press down the knob for a few seconds to ignite the stove, starting a fire inside. When the stove has ignited, twist the knob to the right heat strength. Now you can start cooking!

Japanese Fish Grill Cooking Suggestions

It is called a ‘fish grill’ or ‘fish broiler’ between Japanese people. However, people cook a much wider variety of foods than just fish. You can cook so many things like toast, sausages, vegetables, pizza, french fries, chicken (grilling instead of frying as a healthier option), vegetables steamed in a foil packet, meats, cakes, bread, puddings, pies and leftover fried foods. You do not have to buy expensive pans and trays especially for this. You can use aluminum foil instead.

Japanese fish grill

Tips On How to Cook

  • Preheat the broiler for around five minutes.
  • For some types of a fish broilers, you need to fill the tray with water before cooking the food.
  • Stay watching the food from the glass window while cooking to avoid burning it until you know the grill well.
  • Take out the cooked food immediately after switching off to cool down and to prevent the food from taking in the inside smell.
  • Put a sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of the grill tray to catch the drippings from the food.
  • Mix bicarbonate of soda or potato starch into the water for the tray to make it easier to clean the tray later.

Japanese kitchens often have little space, so people use the broiler as a substitute for many other kitchen appliances like a toaster, an oven grill, a microwave oven, and a conventional oven. There are so many free recipes available online, or you can create your own recipes.

Three Different Styles of Grills: Which to Purchase

There are three different styles of fish broiler available to purchase in the market.

1. Products in the Bottom Range

Gas burners only on the top-side:

You need to fill some water in the tray under the grill before you use it.


  • It is easier to take fish clearly off the grill when it is cooked because the steam from the water underneath prevents food from sticking to the grill.
  • It is cost-effective and typically the cheapest option available.


  • It could take some time to get ready to use because this range might need extra preparations like applying some oil on the grill before putting any food to avoid sticking.
  • It might not be easy to clean afterward because you have to take the broiler out to drain dirty water without spilling it.
  • You need to turn over the food to grill both sides evenly
  • The fish or food might fall apart when you are flipping the fish or food to the other side.
  • It takes a longer time to grill food than the other types.

2. Products in the Middle Range

Broilers with a gas burner only on the top side, but there’s no need to fill the tray with water before you use it:


  • It is easier to cleanly remove food from the grill when it is cooked.
  • It has fewer jobs because you do not need to put water in the tray before you use it or drain it after you use.


  • The food might fall apart when you are flipping the food to the other side.
  • It takes a longer time to cook.

3. Products in the Top Range

Broilers with gas burners on both the top and the bottom, with no need to fill the tray with water before using it:


  • The duration of cooking is half long as the others.
  • No need to turn food over.


  • It is more likely that the food will get stuck to the grill.
  • It is more expensive than the other ranges.

You might want to consider which to buy depending on what you use it for and how often you will use it.

Two Gas Providers

To start using your Japanese fish grill, you’ll need to be connected to a gas source. There are two different gas providers in Japan. One is LP Gas (LPG) and the other one is Toshi Gas (LNG). The gas connector nozzle of your grill is different depending on which gas supplier you have, so make sure you buy a gas cooker that has a connector suitable for your gas company.

Japanese Fish Grill: A Functional and Convenient Kitchen Solution

Even if you do not have an oven or a microwave, you can still cook most recipes with this broiler. That means you will enjoy cooking without the frustration of not having a conventional oven at home. Try using one in your kitchen for perfectly cooked fish, pizza, or whatever else you may crave!



What else can you find in Japanese homes? Read this article next for some more unique and functional features:

10 Unique Features of Japanese Homes

This article was originally published on February 21, 2017 and updated and republished on June 7, 2021.