The Great Debate: Charcoal or Gas BBQ Grills Part 3

During the Lunar New Year break, an old friend of mine invited me to see his new apartment in Northcote (in the lovely city of Melbourne). Of course, being a barbecue lover, I headed straight for the balcony to see what kind of barbecue he had. It was a very basic 4 burner, powder-coated Jumbuck from Bunnings. Nice and simple.

What really caught my eye, though, wasn’t so much his barbecue but from where I was standing, I could see that almost every other balcony along the street had their own barbecue. It was like a bbq paradise! I loved it. These people weren’t going to let the fact that they were “garden-less” stop them from having a good time. I wish more Singaporeans would think like that, especially since we have such good barbecue weather all year round!

Anyway, let’s get back on track –

3. User-Friendliness

The gas barbecue is still a relatively new concept in Singapore. Of course, there are many barbecue-savvy people out there who know their stuff. But what I’m saying is the average Singaporean is still stuck on the idea of charcoal grills (or electric grills for some) because their idea of a barbecue party is to start a fire themselves in some pit in East Coast Park or wherever. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for those of you who do want to see what’s out there, here it is:

If you have no idea how to start a fire with charcoal, the gas barbecue might just be your thing. It works just like a regular stove (not your electric stove), with knobs and a spark plug to ignite the fire. It’s fairly easy, and controlling the fire is just an simple twist of the knobs. One thing to note is that not all gas barbecues are built the same. Some gas grills work on a central ignition system while others work on a single integrated ignition.

What’s the different you ask? A central ignition system means you’ll have one spark plug to get your burners going, but a a single integrated ignition system allows each knob to set off it’s own spark. In a way, the central ignition system is less convenient for those who have hotplate and grill combinations on their barbecues as the burners ignite in an order (for example, from left to right), and if you’d have to switch the grill and hotplate around depending on which you’re using that day. But it’s really no big issue if you have to compare starting a fire from charcoal and fanning it constantly to get the fire going.

There are however, easier ways to start a fire using charcoal. For example, you could employ the use of a chimney starter. It’s basically a cylinder that contains your charcoal. You then stuff newspaper in the base and light it up. This will help fire up the charcoal. Once that’s done, toss the charcoal into the pit. Easy peasy. The problem after is controlling the heat. How do you do that? Well, this can be done if you have a more sophisticated charcoal unit like the Landmann Bravo Premium. There are trays in the barbecue where you can raise higher or lower with a lever. The rest is common sense. The closer your food is to the fire, the hotter they will be, and vice versa.

My verdict? Unless you’re a really good cook and you know what you’re doing on a charcoal grill, best to stick with the gas barbecue as they are much easier to handle!

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