Hibachi refers to a small, portable grill that has its origins in Japan, inspired by its shichirin.

As a grill, a hibachi is small, portable, open style made by placing a sturdy grill over a container which may be oval, square, or rectangular. The container is used to hold charcoal for cooking, just like the bowl of a full sized grill.

To be termed a true hibachi, the grill must be at least ostensibly portable, and the small grills are in fact often carried on camping trips for use as outdoor stoves. Hibachis have no lids, and they can be used to grill a wide assortment of foods from vegetables, seafoods and different kinds of meats.

Various materials are used to construct a hibachi. Some are made from cast iron, and cheaper tin and steel are also available, althought the latter is less durable. In both cases, the traditional fuel is charcoal, although some hibachis are gas fired for convenience.

Many restaurants use hibachis to flame or finish food, since they are small enough to be used without posing a danger to diners, and many diners like to watch their food being cooked. Japanese restaurants in the United States may refer to their shichirins as hibachis, to avoid confusion. Whatever one calls them, the small grilling stoves play an important role in Japanese cooking, which places a heavy focus on fresh, perfectly cooked ingredients.

In Japan, a hibachi is actually a form of heater, traditionally used in the winter to warm a room. The term hibachi evolved as it spread across other countries and was used as a name for a portabale grill, just like many borrowed concepts and words. However, in both senses, the etymology is the same, as hi means "fire” in Japanese, while a bachi is a bowl, so a hibachi is a bowl which holds fire, or "fire bowl.”

Originally, the hibachi was used by members of the upper and middle class in Japan during its often bitter winters through the twentieth century. The concept of a large charcoal heater was imported from China at some point in Japanese history, probably around 1000 CE. Early hibachis were made of wood lined with clay, while more complex and decorative hibachis began to appear with fancy ornaments, lacquer, and gold leaf. In addition to heating a room, a traditional hibachi could be used to keep a pot of tea or plate of food warm.

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