The product we used:
The Ideal Non-Stick Frying Pan
What does everyone want in a non-stick frying pan? Simple: perfectly cooked eggs and other delicate foods for as long as possible, with a comfortable and pleasant cooking experience.
When my wife and I were asked to review the TAKUMIWAZA KIWAMI aluminum frying pan from UMIC, we wanted to know if it could deliver the goods. We jumped in the car and popped a wheelie on the way to the grocery store to grab some eggs.
After we got home and as we prepared our egg experiment, my first impression of the TAKUMIWAZA KIWAMI was that it was heavier than I expected. My family uses some cheap non-stick frying pans from good ol' Nitori (Japan's Ikea) which are larger, but about the same weight. I prefer to use stainless steel for most of my cooking, but my wife cooks more delicate items like tamagoyaki, so she tends to use the non-stick pans.
The TAKUMIWAZA KIWAMI frying pan is a bit pricier than the Nitori pans my family uses, but it has some surprisingly professional-level qualities that we'll be testing out. It's made out of solid aluminum, but unlike cheaper pans, the bottom of the pan is thicker, measuring in at 4mm (by comparison, the Nitori pans we use are 2.7mm thick on the bottom). Because of the solid aluminum body, the pan isn't IH compatible. For our review, we used a gas stove.
Because of the thicker bottom, we expected the pan to transfer heat more evenly. The uneven distribution of heat in our Nitori pans is a source of frustration for my wife, so when we were trying the TAKUMIWAZA KIWAMI out for this review, we were eager to see if there is a noticable difference with an extra 1.3mm of thickness on the bottom. The sides of the pan are thinner, again designed to maintain even heating throughout the pan.
We had high hopes for the non-stick surface, too. The surface uses the highest level of Teflon coating and the aluminum body has been hardened using the same techniques used to harden the parts of cars or airplanes (for people interested in the details, it's a technique called Shot Peening). It's designed to last.
We don't have any data on the lifespan of the non-stick surface, however, and we only had a short time to use our review unit, so we can't give any information on the long-term durability of the coating itself.
After reading the technical specifications approximately eleven times, I was ready to give the pan a good scrubbing--as instructed in the manual--and then get to work on those eggs.
My wife was finished, however.
The Non-stick Surface
As you can see from the photo above, the TAKUMIWAZA KIWAMI (and my wife) did an excellent job with a simple tamagoyaki. My wife reports that the non-stick coating has a somewhat rough surface. Other non-stick frying pans we've used tend to have very slippery surfaces that allow food to glide around the pan easily, but the KIWAMI's surface didn't seem to have the same quality. Food didn't stick, but it also didn't move around the pan. She recommends using a little bit of oil to help food move around. UMIC recommends cooking food with water or oil to preserve the non-stick coating.
In addition to cooking eggs, my wife also cooked some chicken and vegetables with the KIWAMI. Again, the non-stick surface did a great job. The pan also seemed to cook much more evenly than the pans my wife is used to cooking with. That thicker bottom got the job done.
One thing that surprised my wife about the pan while cooking the chicken was that the pan heated up much more quickly than she expected. The pan cooks evenly, but it also transfers heat quickly. She recommends exercising a bit of restraint with the heat until you get used to the speed that the pan heats up.
According to the manual--which I studied like a professional frying pan reviewer should--water can build up in the wooden handle. There is a hole in the handle designed for draining the water out before storing it. I pointed the hole out to my lovely-and-also-professional wife as I was cleaning it. She seemed unimpressed with my detailed knowledge.
The TAKUMIWAZA had some surprising qualities and was overall a pleasant pan to use. It has a bit of heft, but the handle is comfortable to hold and the Teflon coating worked perfectly. If you are in the market for a non-stick frying pan that'll fry you the perfect eggs, you can't go wrong with the TAKUMIWAZA KIWAMI from UMIC.