This is the most badass kitchen equipment I own. Well, Kenji says it’s badass. I bought a cooking torch for the sole purpose of charring steak. I can probably use it for other meat preparation as well I suppose, but like Kenji said, there may be a lingering smell of the fuel if not used in conjunction with cooking on a pan. I know that is true because i’ve seen the torch being used at some restaurant and thereafter there was a noticeable smell of the fuel.
The Iwatani cooking torch is a popular cooking torch sold on Amazon and it is made in Japan. Iwatani makes the cooking torch (probably the exact same design but with a different model name of course) in China as well and obviously you can find it on Taobao. At 110 Yuan (S$23), it is cheaper than the one on Amazon (US$23.95 or S$32.30). Besides, the item is not eligible for free AmazonGlobal shipping, so shipping will be additional cost.
I don’t know how it compares with other torches, as this is the only one i have ever used, but it meets my expectations. Initially, i was worried about finding a compatible gas cassette to be used, though i felt certain that it must be a standardized thing. And then i found out that FairPrice Finest supermarket sells Iwatani branded gas cassettes (meant to be used with portable steamboat stoves).
Anyway, when used at charring steak, it didn’t seem able to produce char quickly. I didn’t want to leave the steak on the pan for too long for fear of over-cooking the steak. There were also instances when the flame went out. Otherwise, i am certain that it helped in making a better steak crust.
This is a fun toy that i recommend for your kitchen.