And that sums up my thoughts on The Shinwa Grill, a Japanese spin on the backyard barbecue. Rather than isolating the grill off on a corner of the deck, the Shinwa puts it smack dab in the middle of the very table you and your guests will be eating off of.
We've all been to one of those Japanese restaurants where the hibachi is sizzling and the chef sends pieces of cooked shrimp spinning through the air into hungry mouths, does fancy tricks with eggs and spatulas and then way overcharges for the experience. I guess this is sort of the idea behind the Shinwa: make cooking part of the entertainment.
According to the company, "the Shinwa is a cast iron, flat surface grill surrounded by a bamboo table the seats four to six." According to Chuck Allen, President of Shinwa Grill, "Shinwa means friendship. When people dine around The Shinwa they grill delicious food, but more importantly, they create memories that last a lifetime."
Yeah, like, "Hey, remember the time we were sitting around the Shinwa and the smoke kept blinding and gagging me?"
Look, I think in theory The Shinwa could be fun. But I have yet to witness a barbecue that didn't put off smoke. And as much as we Americans like to barbecue, we don't exactly gather 'round the grill to make lifetime-lasting memories. We stay the heck away (unless we're the cook) so we don't inhale smoke and grease.
But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's the suffering through the experience that brings everyone a little closer. Maybe it's the hot oil burn, the smoke inhalation, the sweating for sitting too close to hot coals that makes The Shinwa experience so memorable.
I wouldn't say no if a friend invited me to a Shinwa party. But I don't see myself buying one of these.