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Jul 10, 2009 07:40 AM

A 'beautiful' cast iron frying pan?!

I fell in love with this one when I saw it.

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  1. It does look really nice. Who makes it? How much?

    10 Replies
    1. re: grampart

      It's an Iwachu "omelette pan" from Japan (where I live). Ordered it from Amazon's Japanese website for about $60.

      1. re: tanuki soup

        tanuki soup: Iwachu.

        Motciron. I had guessed before I saw your second post. The best cast iron in the world, bar none. Omedetou.

        1. re: Politeness

          Thanks, Politeness. Actually, it was reading your very favorable comments about Iwachu cast iron that led me to check out what was available from Amazon Japan.

          I'm embarrassed to confess that the first cooking task for this lovely pan was to fry up a batch of "Morning Serve" Japanese pseudo-sausages last night. They *did* come out great, though!

          1. re: tanuki soup

            tanuki soup, I agree that the pan has elegant lines. In addition to being fine craftsmen, the artisans at Iwachu apparently include some people with an artistic eye. I do not know where in Japan you live, but the pan looks to be well suited to Kansai-style okomiyaki. Of course, I can conjure other tanukis that have not yet been caught.

            1. re: tanuki soup

              Tanuki Soup:

              I tried looking for this omelet pan EVERYWHERE and cannot find it. Can't find it on either. Any idea where I can find it? I am new to Chowhound and I don't know if they provide for private messaging to discuss in private???


              1. re: kramark

                Here's a link to the Iwachu omelet pan at a HUGE Japanese online shopping site called Rakuten (which is the front end for more than 120,000 Japanese stores offering more than 68 million products).

                I was surprised and pleased to see that they now have listings in English. It also appears that overseas shipping is available (although I don't have any experience with that because I live in Japan). I hope that Rakuten can send it to your location, and that the shipping charges aren't too outrageous. Good luck!


                PS. The machine translation is a bit iffy ("Fluffy omelette ass realization"?!) and also seems to be a little out of date, but I think you should be able to get the gist of it.

                1. re: tanuki soup

                  Fluffy omelette ass realization!!! That is gold.

                    1. re: cannibal

                      The original Japanese reads, in relevant part (using Hepburn romanization):

                      "fu wa fu wa TORO TORO OMURETSU jitsugen"

                      where "fu wa fu wa" is in hiragana, "TORO TORO OMURETSU" is in katakana, and "jitsuken" is in kanji.

                      Deconstructing from the end:

                      "Realization" is a decent translation of jitsugen.

                      OMURETSU is, of course, a phonetic katakana rendering of "omlette."

                      But I have not before come across the idiomatic phrase "fu wa fu wa TORO TORO."

                    2. re: tanuki soup

                      tanuki soup

                      How utterly fantastic so many things that I want from this site.

                      Thank you:

          2. The Bathtub Porsche of frying pans? Yes, it is beautifully curvy.

            26 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              It has very nice balance, and the long, curved, split handle provides a good grip and doesn't get hot. (I hate the stubby little handles on most cast iron frying pans.) Sadly, I don't actually use this "omelet pan" to make omelets. As you have rightly pointed out elsewhere, cast iron doesn't spread heat quickly out to the rim of the pan, so the edges of the omelet don't cook properly (at least on my induction cooktop -- might be better on a gas burner). For omelets, I use an Archetun or De Buyer CHOC induction-capable aluminum nonstick frying pan -- much more even heating. The omelet pan, however, is quite nice for browning onions or sauteing a chicken breast or two.

              1. re: tanuki soup

                Still very beautiful. Probably a searing racehorse, too.

                1. re: tanuki soup

                  I think you're right - gas would solve that problem. Tanuki soup, can you give us a link on for that pan?

                  Very cool.

                  1. re: Indirect Heat

                    Sorry, Indirect Heat, but I just checked Amazon Japan, and they don't seem to have it listed anymore. You may have to try the Rakuten link I gave in my response to kramark's post.

                  2. re: tanuki soup

                    I would think the swoop of the edges would be good for other things though. Unfortunately, shipping is almost as expensive as the pan. But I still might get it.

                    I found the pan on the Rakuten website last night after doing some VERY extensive searching...I guess I could've saved some time had I checked this discussion last night more closely. LOL.

                    I am waiting to hear back from a place in the USA that MIGHT have it.

                    1. re: kramark

                      "Unfortunately, shipping is almost as expensive as the pan. But I still might get it."

                      It often goes the other way with me -- I'll see something I really like from the US, but the shipping to Japan is even more than the price of the item.

                      What I do in such situations is to calculate the total cost (price of the item plus the shipping charge) and ask myself whether I would buy the item if I saw it for sale at that price at a local department store. If the answer is yes, I go ahead and order it without fretting about the shipping charge.

                      1. re: tanuki soup

                        Yes, the "big picture" approach. Often we get excited about "free shipping", but we all know free shipping isn't exactly free. The fee has already been added to the product price. The difference is really shipping fee added to product s (free shipping) vs shipping fee has not been added to the products.

                        1. re: tanuki soup

                          I've noticed the only real shipping option from Japan to the United States is EMS. There's nothing between EMS and boat that would make shipping of 5 or 6 pounds more affordable.

                          1. re: kramark

                            I have EMS'ed a lot of Japanese knives directly out of Japan. I kid you not, EMS has been faster then 2-day domestic almost every time. It even beat next day service a couple of times. On a weekend order, I once ordered very late on Saturday (~11PM) and had it in my hands Monday morning!!!!

                            Japanese EMS works extremely well in my experience.

                      2. re: tanuki soup

                        I wonder how this would perform over my charcoal grill? Maybe fish or something?

                      3. re: kaleokahu

                        I just got mine in the mail. Yes, it's a bit pricey, but I look at it this way.... how much do people pay for a similar Le Creuset? Sure, Le Creuset has been around for nearly 90 years. Iwachu? 400. Plus I wasn't fond of the enamel, we had a "bare" cast iron pan as well and that worked better than the Le Creuset.

                        My initial impressions:
                        * It looks smaller than I thought it would be. Maybe it's the curved sides
                        * The handle is waaay more comfortable than a similar Le Creuset we used to use when we were young
                        * The pan is actually much lighter than I thought it would be. I'm not sure how that is....
                        * The cooking surface is a lot rougher than I was expecting. Not as smooth as that ol' standard cast iron my mom uses

                        Can't wait to use it.

                        1. re: EatsFats

                          What kind of stove are you using it on? Gas? Induction?

                          1. re: kramark

                            Are you kidding? Gas. There's no substitute, it's such a big change from everything else I used before (actually I grew up with gas, then there was a dark period in the middle...)

                            By the way, since I got this from Japan, the instructions and everything are all completely Japanese, so ... unless you have a handy translator like me, you will have to wing it.

                            I started prepping the pan (oh, I'm taking my time, what little I have, with this one) and I'm very impressed at the way water beads up and just rolls off the cleaned pan. It's hard to describe, but it's quite amazing. I've don't often deal with surfaces (not just cooking) that are this hydrophobic.

                            1. re: EatsFats

                              if you don't like enamel that's fine, but that (and the guarantee) are what you're really paying for with LC.

                              As for the roughness, it should smoothen slightly as you build the seasoning. Have to say, I'd love to have that pan myself.

                              1. re: EatsFats

                                EatsFats: "Are you kidding? Gas. There's no substitute, it's such a big change from everything else I used before ..."

                                We have been using Iwachu Nambutetsu (cast iron form the Nambu region) for four decades. We do not have the pretty omelet pan that tanuki soup found, but we have a few other pieces (all purchased in Japan). In the past, we have used them with gas; we now use them with induction.

                                You are right: gas is no substitute. Cooking with Nambutetsu, induction is superior in every respect.

                                I cannot speak for kramark, who asked, "What kind of stove are you using it on? Gas? Induction?" but I would hazard a guess that he wasn't kidding.

                            2. re: EatsFats

                              Well, after a light seasoning, I finally used it. I doubt the surface roughness will go down, not unless I do some serious scrubbing or if by "seasoning" you mean building up a fine layer of crud. It's very rough, not just a little dimply.
                              First dish ... what else, a plain omelette. Just heat it up (gas stove ;-), no seriously, I'm sure there are induction fans, but ask any chef if they prefer to use induction or gas...), put a tiny bit of oil and and throw in the already scrambled eggs (yes, they are organic free range local eggs).

                              How did it do? Simply amazing. No "non-stick" pan could've done better. I let it cook a bit on one side, there was zero stick. I just flipped flipped the omellette on the other side by tossing it in the air, that's what I mean by no stick. (And it helped the pan wasn't too heavy). That was it. Clean up was a cinch, just wipe down with hot water and cloth.

                              The handle did not get too hot, I just held it with bare hands and it may be a little warm...
                              Only time will tell how this holds up, but so far, it's great. Totally worth it. I'd say middling price after all the shipping, not the really cheap cast iron, but neither like Le Creuset. Don't care about any warranty or stuff either, chances any cast iron pan is going to break??

                              1. re: EatsFats

                                So, it's been a while. How has the pan been doing?
                                It started off great. It was more non-stick than anything else we had ever used, non-stick included. Eggs, hashbrowns, omelettes with cheese, rice cake, fish. Yeah, since almost nothing stuck, it was also easy to clean

                                Then the issue was little black specks coming off into the food. It was still non-stick, but the black dots were disconcerting. It didn't taste like anything, but still...
                                I checked around and people said it's because I use too much soap (really, just the residual on a scrubby sponge) and that I needed to re-season and never use anything but a plain brush. Really? So I fried up some bacon and baked the pan. That seemed to do the trick, but then after only a couple of times, I realized my brush was worse than anything else, soap or no, so it's back to re-season and just a coarse cloth. I'm seeing how that works out. At least seasoning is fairly easy, but it stinks up the house so I have to do it outside in the barbecue...

                                1. re: EatsFats

                                  EatsFats: " spots coming off into the food."

                                  Sounds like too-thick seasoning coming off. Keep cooking.

                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                    Eh? Too thick? Not sure what you mean. No, the pan came all black. I now see bits of "silver" metal poking through, so definitely I've scrubbed off whatever was on there before. Also strangely, try as I might, I don't get black bits on my cloth or sponge, but it comes off during cooking only...

                                  2. re: EatsFats

                                    EatsFats: "'s because I use too much soap (really, just the residual on a scrubby sponge)"

                                    Uh-oh. That "scrubby sponge" was not a ScotchBrite or equivalent was it? All of our Nambutetsu have started off black, and we have used then hard, but we never have seen bare (grey) iron on any of them, ever. (We also never have used soap on them, though we have swiped them from time to time with previously soapy rags.)

                                    1. re: Politeness

                                      Which ScotchBrite? :-)
                                      No, it is not Scotch brand and it's a sponge that I wouldn't use for the "normal" pots & pans because it isn't strong enough to take off anything on those...
                                      At any rate, I have transitioned over to just a coarse rag, no more brush or scrubby sponge.
                                      (For the life of me, I can't remember what I used to wash my mom's pan with, even though I was the one who did most of the washing!)

                                      1. re: EatsFats

                                        EatsFats: "Which ScotchBrite?"

                                        The (usually green) clothlike "sponges" about a quarter inch thick have some very, very hard mineral embedded within the fibers. It is hard enough to scratch, not only the coating of the pan, but the cast iron surface itself. In the warranty for pots and pans in the Sitram Cybernox line, there is a specific reference to ScotchBrite pads, the use of which voids the warranty.

                                    2. re: EatsFats

                                      I'd suggest you try a natural fiber scrubbing brush. The natural fibers are stiff enough to get cast iron nice and clean without damaging the seasoning.

                                      I use a Japanese "tawashi" to scrub out the inside. After that, I do use soap to get the oil or grease off, but only by gentle wiping with a soft sponge. After drying the pan, I wipe a bit of safflower oil on the inside with a paper towel (a very thin film) and then hang it up.

                                      I think you should be able to find a tawashi in the US. If not, I believe Lodge makes a natural fiber scrub brush for its cast iron pans.

                                      BTW, whenever I notice signs of black stuff starting to build up on any of my cast iron pans, I scrub them out with coarse kosher salt and olive oil. It really works great.

                                      Hope these suggestions help you get your Iwachu frying pan performing as it should ASAP!

                                      1. re: tanuki soup

                                        tanuki soup: "I think you should be able to find a tawashi in the US."

                                        Definitely. If there is no specialty gourmet cooking store near you, tawashi will be found in the cosmetics section of any large supermarket or variety store as a bath/shower aid, and often is called a "loofa."

                                        1. re: Politeness

                                          Also available from Amazon US. The shipping charge is more than the tawashi itself, but would probably be more reasonable if you bought 3 or 4 of them.


                                          1. re: tanuki soup

                                            Thanks for the suggestions. Those types of "natural" scrubbies can be found all over the place here. I do live in a foodie town :-)
                                            I did think about oiling up the pan after each wash with the paper towel, the problem is that the Iwachu is fairly coarse (compared to most other cast irons I'm used to), so I end up leaving little bits of paper residue on the pan...

                              2. It's the 'swoop' of the handle. Nike would be proud. ;-)

                                1. I got a heart on when I looked at those pics , beautiful

                                  1. Just curious, Tanuki - what size is your Iwachu Omelette Pan? I noticed it comes in 22 cm and 24 cm sizes.

                                    How is it doing, so far? Your seasoning did not flake off, as reported by another member in this thread?

                                    18 Replies
                                    1. re: cast_iron_cook

                                      Hi CIC -- Just checked. Mine's the 24. No issues with the seasoning. I'd be curious to know if EatsFats ever solved his flaking problem. (This is a pretty old thread, though.) -- TS

                                      1. re: tanuki soup

                                        Hello Tanuki-san,

                                        I'm thinking of buying this. I wonder if it's more practical to buy the 22 cm version. I usually cook omelettes with only two eggs. I have a feeling the beaten eggs will spread out too much if the pan is oversized.

                                        Most likely this pan will be put into service for searing tuna, porkchops, smoked eel, and the like. We usually cook for few people - two to three persons at a time.

                                        I do have other cast-iron skillets.

                                        Is the 22 cm versatile enough? or should I step up to the 24 cm?

                                        I probably won't be asking this and just buy the two pans, if only shipping was not so expensive!

                                        I'm a chowhound newbie. Such a rich source of info, and I've only scratched the Cast-Iron surface.

                                        Is there a way of sending a private message to you? I'd like to communicate in private regarding pans and Japanese cuisine.

                                        Thanks so much!

                                        1. re: cast_iron_cook

                                          Hi CIC -- As you can see from the picture, the pan is kind of bowl shaped, with wide curved sides. I just measured it, and even though it's 24 cm (9.5") from side rim to side rim, the flat part on the bottom is only 16 cm (6.3") across. For a two-egg omelette, the 22-cm would work fine, but it would be a bit tight for 3 porkchops, IMO. -- TS

                                          PS. I'm an American living in Japan, and definitely no expert on Japanese cuisine. Although I'm not really set up for PM conversations, I'd be happy to talk about Japanese cookware with you here at CH. TS

                                        2. re: tanuki soup

                                          First off, get the 24cm. Don't even consider the 22cm unless you're on some sort of minimal dietary restriction routine and just cooking for yourself. I got the 24cm, normally just cook for 2 and I wish it were bigger. (Nope, we are not American-sized). Don't know how thick your omelettes are, but the 24cm is barely enough for 2 large egg omelettes here.

                                          The pan comes nicely prepared so my first mistake (duh!) was inadvertently introducing some detergent. That just meant I had to re-season the pan. Eventually what worked was scrubbing it hard & clean, then starting the seasoning. Making a few bacon meals helps :-) It also takes time, you might miss a few spots the first time, but just keep going, eventually it will sort itself out and the flaking bits goes away.
                                          The second important tip, not sure if I read that here or elsewhere, get the natural fibre scrubby brushes. I tried all sorts of plastic brushes (definitely no metal), but none worked as well as these brushes. Not sure what they're made of, but you can find it in most Asian stores I think. They remove the gunk without removing the seasoning. And for what it's worth, the one I got from the Japanese store worked a lot better than the one I snagged from the Taiwanese store. When cleaning, just scrub with hot water and the brush.

                                          I won't say the pan works better than any other cast iron pan, pretty much the same as the el-cheapo one my mother has, but it looks way better and light enough for my wife to handle.
                                          As a non-stick, I give it the edge over my 2nd favourite pan, aluminum with a thick layer of anodizing (no non-stick coating). Overall, I am tempted to give the anodized aluminum the edge. Care is much easier and works better for most meals, on the other hand, I'll bet the cast iron lasts longer, the surface can't get damaged as it's the same material throughout. It's a great pan, as I mentioned before, I only wish the pan were bigger.

                                          1. re: EatsFats

                                            Thank you, Tanuki and EatsFats! You probably saved me from a costly mistake. I appreciated the clear measurements. Yes, the 16 cm diameter flat part is probably what I need.

                                            I'm looking for other uses for this pan. I don't really cook regularly. I'm more of an iron accumulator. However, because of the bowl-like shape of this pan, I think it would be perfect for Dutch Baby Pancakes. Maybe even a Deep Dish Pizza, or a Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie pan, piled up with ice-cream.

                                            Other than the obvious sear/reheat/omelette functions - do you have other suggestions in which this pan, with its fantastic shape, is well suited? I'd like to use this as much as possible and get the patina going.

                                            1. re: cast_iron_cook

                                              Hi, c_i_c:

                                              I would think that all your stated uses wold be workable in this pan.

                                              If you make omelets regularly (or value perfect ones), I recommend you dedicate one of these pans for ONLY that preparation and crepes. Get a second pan for the other functions, and you will be a happier omeleteer.


                                              1. re: kaleokahu


                                                I assume you don't own this pan, but you do have a Stanish pan if I remember correctly. What are your thoughts on the Stanish, or comparable Pot Shop, pan v. something like this for an omelette pan for classic French Omelettes I know the Aluminum will provide a more even heat, but I'd think the iron might hold up better to the vigorous stirring and scraping on the grates (Jacques Pepin style).

                                                Tanuki Soup,

                                                How have you liked this pan for omelettes specifically. I've been using the De Buyer Mineral 10", but there are times I wished it had more of a bowl shape. The conductivity on the carbon steel has not been an issue for omelettes, so I'd wouldn't image it would be an issue for a comparably-sized cast iron pan. I'd love your thoughts!



                                                1. re: jljohn

                                                  Hi, Jeremy:

                                                  Sure, the iron will abrade less. I've already noticed the Stanish pan getting marked on the bottom from shaking after the eggs set.

                                                  For me, the big difference is the stickiness. I've never had a cast iron pan that doesn't stick eggs, no matter how smooth or how well it's seasoned. To be fair, I haven't had a dedicated CI omelet pan though. All I know is that the Stanish aluminum pan is unbelievably non-stick.

                                                  Another issue to compare is seasoning. The aluminum pan is foolproof seasoned in one try, whereas CI requires OCD levels of funiculation.


                                                  1. re: jljohn

                                                    Hi jljohn,

                                                    I have an induction cooktop, which means that pans tend to heat up in the center more than at the edges. This is especially true for cast iron due to its poor thermal conductivity and high heat capacity.

                                                    So I don't use my Iwachu pan for omelettes -- when the center of the omelette hardens up, the edges are still runny, making it difficult to flip. (This probably isn't an issue for folks who use gas because the flames and hot gasses flow up around the sides of the pan, heating up the edges.)

                                                    Induction-compatible aluminum pans work much better for omelettes on my cooktop because aluminum conducts heat out to the rim a lot faster. (De Buyer CHOC Induction and Analon Nouvelle Copper both work great for me.)

                                                    BTW, even if you use gas, you might find it worthwhile to get an induction-compatible aluminum frying pan because they have a stainless steel disk bonded to the bottom so you can scrape them on your grates with no worries.

                                                    Hope you find these comments helpful.


                                                2. re: cast_iron_cook

                                                  Well, maybe others may think it's odd, but I use this pan for just about everything. Eggs of all types of course. I find the sloped side makes it easy to get a fork under there and just roll up the egg (sort of like tamago style). Grilled fish (I just did a trout tonight, you can get a nice crispy skin on that, no stick), bulgogi short ribs, bacon, pancakes, french toast, corn bread, plain toast, paella, risotto even fried rice. Even tried rice noodles/rolls. No particular advantage to the pan for rice noodles, but it works.

                                                  1. re: EatsFats

                                                    Thank you, Kaleo and EatsFats!

                                                    EatsFats, I'm glad you gave me that rundown of what you do with the Iwachu pan.

                                                    That's basically the entire menu!

                                                3. re: EatsFats

                                                  Thanks for your follow-up post to this old thread, EatsFats. Glad to hear that you got the flaking issue sorted out and that you like your pan.

                                                  BTW, just FYI, Japanese tawashi scrubbers are made out of tightly bundled palm fibers. They really are perfect for cleaning cast iron, IMO. Definitely nothing better for scrubbing the gunk out from between the ridges of my cast iron grill pans.

                                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                                    Tanuki, is the pan pre-seasoned, from the factory?

                                                    1. re: cast_iron_cook

                                                      Yes, just like pre-seasoned Lodge pans.

                                                      1. re: tanuki soup

                                                        Cool, thank you! just placed an order - can't wait to try it out! Thank you for helping me choose!

                                                        1. re: cast_iron_cook

                                                          By the way, do I need to season the pan, or do I just have to wash off the waxy coating, and start using it right away? I'm sure the instructions are in Japanese.

                                                          Do I need to follow the tips I see on YouTube on using Woks for the first time - i.e., saute an onion, and discard the sauteed onion, before using it for the first meal to be cooked in this pan?

                                                          Again, thanks in advance!

                                                          1. re: cast_iron_cook

                                                            As I recall, the pan didn't have an obvious wax or lacquer coating on it when it arrived, so I just gave it a light scrub with hot water and a natural fiber brush. Then just started using it, beginning with some pork sausages..