Iwatani CB-AS-1: first impressions
My flat doesn't have gas installation, so the only way to have a stove is to use the electric one. My landlord installed a ceramic stove top, which is... cheap, and after some time I decided to actually upgrade my kitchen equipment with a portable gas stove. Among many options, Iwatani CB-AS-1 seemed like the best, and I will share my first impressions...
My idea for a gas stove was simple: something practical and efficient, with acceptable design that I wouldn't feel ashamed putting on my dinner table. Unfortunately, there seems to be a very tiny market for portable home gas stoves, leaving me with a choice between Iwatani and... camping stoves. Not the best situation, but I was resilient.
I have found basically two models that were fitting my requirements, the other one being a portable gas stove in a case. Pretty thick, black piece of metal that did the job, but would make my dining table or the kitchen feel like a construction zone ;-) Thick, black, no-no.
Apart from the design, I made an observation regarding the nozzle of each stove — I wanted something that will distribute the heat evenly around the bottom, and cheap camping stoves unfortunately had a candle-like nozzles, which would be pretty much unusable for me (hot center part of the pan, cold outside, not an improvement). Only the Iwatani stove had a well-shaped nozzle with a row of side-opening holes that when burning, make a nice, even ring around.
This was the deciding factor for me and I decided to order the Iwatani CB-AS-1 gas stove from Amazon, for a whooping 40€ (a note: cheap models were around 25€, but you get exactly what you pay for).
It starts nice...
Opening the package, with Japanese-only instructions, was pretty easy. Stove comes with a minimal, image-rich leaflet describing what not to do. Basically don't apply hairspray in front of the stove, don't dry your clothes over the it, and so on and on. Basic stuff. One additional leaflet seemed to signify the safety of the gas canisters, and their usability date. Everything so obviously marked with images and colors, that even without Japanese reading skills I was able to get the idea. Well done Iwatani!
The stove itself is pretty... light, scoring just 1.2kg — and it really, I mean it, feels light. I was pretty much surprised, that something made with metal can weight so little, but apart from that I cannot say the stove feels cheap or anything. It's mostly empty inside (ventilation zones to keep the glorious 74mm of height safe), so used materials (steel and aluminium) just give the impression, that it will be so much heavier.
...and stays nice
Technically the stove is okay, so let's move to the obvious feature: the looks. This gas stove looks gorgeous! It has this honey-copper metallic colour, and doesn't look like a portable stove at all. That's good, by the way. The advertised 74mm make it a real eye-candy, leaving a huge grin on my face every time I passed it on my way around the home.
One thing that was worrying me, were the gas canisters that it requires, but it seems that Iwatani went for the standardized butane canisters (large ones, with a hole in the ring around the nozzle), that you can buy almost anywhere (mostly Amazon and travel shops). They come in various brands and packs, but in general the cost is 3.95€ for a 250ml canister (or less for larger packs). I have no idea how long will it last me, but I would say that a week or two would be a sweet-spot: easy and efficient cooking with a small, acceptable cost footprint.
Loading the canister is ridiculously simple, and that's something I admire in Iwatani CB-AS-1. It's so simple! You just put the canister on a special tray, and slide it into the valve. Smooth and simple! To remove the canister, just lift the back and it will jump out of the valve. No need for creepy buttons or levers that you would find in other, cheaper brands. This one instantly bought me.
But, what about cooking? Well, it's also great: the stove heats up quickly, and it really packs a punch. I was surprised that my pan was ready after few seconds, compared to minutes spent on pre-heating the stove and then the pan... Setting the desired heat took a bit of a learning, because the gas comes out of a pressurized container and turning the heat down too quickly would basically cut off the gas. Takes few tries to master, but totally worth it!
Iwatani CB-AS-1 seems to be a superb little gas stove, and I am very happy to have it in my kitchen. It looks great, works good and has some ideas that I really admire. I would say: definitely worth the money.