Komodo Kamado Refractory Grill/Smoker/Oven


Introduction
Back in 2006, Komodo Kamado shipped a cooker to a customer in Raleigh, NC. When customs opened the cooker for inspection, they didn't latch the lid correctly, and as a result the cooker was damaged during the truck ride across the country from Los Angeles to Raleigh. Komodo Kamado shipped an entirely new replacement to that customer, but also called us up and asked us to go get the damaged cooker. They helped us repair the damage and we then had a cooker that we could review for the website.

Well, that cooker served us well. We cooked a lot of ribs and paella on the cooker, but it wasn't the color we wanted and it had a textured surface, not tile. We finally decided that we wanted a cooker in tile in the color we wanted, a cooker that had not been repaired, and of course, a cooker with all the new and latest improvements (are there are a bunch!). So back in May of this year (2011), we sold the 2006 cooker. At the end of June, we picked out a tile and color and placed our order. It arrived in early August. That's five weeks to build and ship the cooker from Indonesia which is pretty impressive. (There is usually one shipment every month, so you can expect at most a two-month wait to get a new cooker. Occasionally, there are cookers in stock at their southern California warehouse and you can have a new cooker in a week or less.) But our cooker is here now, so now here is our product review.

Who is Komodo Kamado? They are a company located in Surabaya, Indonesia that began operations in 2003 when....well, let's quote the owner, Dennis Linkletter:

"I learned that a very talented crew of artisans who had been manufacturing a ceramic grill in Surabaya, Indonesia had been abandoned when their ”morally ambiguous” boss was suddenly forced to leave the country. After hearing this story, I checked the Internet and found that several companies were successfully selling Kamado style, egg-shaped grills and their customers were unusually passionate about them. I decided to build a grill that capitalized on their strengths and corrected their flaws. I adopted the talented and experienced crew and launched Komodo Kamado."
Since then Komodo Kamado have made improvement after improvement and we can now show you the very latest model of their OTB cooker. (In case you are wondering about what OTB stands for, a heart shaped foil balloon inspired the final design of these cookers. This shape is revolutionary and a product of outside-the-box thinking — thus the OTB design designation.)


The Cooker
The cooker being shown here is the 23-inch OTB Gen 2.4 Ultimate. The tiles are Olive Green and Gold pebble-shaped tiles. The grout color is Dark Charcoal. Everything you will see in this review comes with the basic cooker except for the 17" baking stone and the wood side tables.

Komodo Kamado also produces a smaller "patio-size" cooker known as the 19.5" lil' Isla. Visit the Komodo Kamado web site for the latest details on available cooker types, options and prices, as Komodo Kamado is always making constant improvements to their cookers and accessories.


Features and Specifications
We could be here from now until Christmas trying to list all the features and specifications on this cooker, but we'll give it a go:



Glossary

CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control. Essentially you create a numerical model on a computer of the item you wish to make. This digital model is loaded into a machine which then uses the model to control the cutting and shaping of the material. Result, extreme precision and uniformity.

TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas. TIG welding uses an arc struck between a tungsten electrode and the metal to be welded. The arc heats and melts the metal, a filler rod being added as necessary. The electrode does not melt as the welding takes place and an inert gas (argon) flows out around the tungsten and the weld preventing oxidation. The resulting weld is extremely neat, with no smoke or spatter, and low distortion due to the localized heat of the arc. In short, TIG welding produces accurate results of the highest quality.

304 Stainless Steel is a high quality stainless steel consisting of 18% Chromium and 8% nickel. Lower quality stainless steel contains less nickel and magnets will stick to it.

ACME threads are threads which have a squarish cross section vs. the normal V-shaped cross section on most screws. It enables the threads to hold more weight without shearing off and makes for more accurate positioning when translating a rotational motion into a linear motion.

The Body
  • Damper top assembly milled 304 stainless steel
  • Refractory body, two layers of refractory materials one for strength and durability, and one for insulation.
  • Elastomeric industrial insulation with nano-ceramic spheres used as an adhesive/grout
  • 3008 ceramic tiles (we'll take the manufacturer's word on that one!)
  • Main body seal CNC milled interlocking lip
  • Main body gasket collapsible food grade silicone
  • Self opening lid
  • Self-tightening latch with cam CNC cut and folded 304 stainless steel
  • Handle and body plates 304 stainless steel
  • CNC cut side accessory plate with threaded counter set sleeves 304 stainless steel
  • Accessory side plate bolts aircraft Allen head 304 Stainless Steel
  • Rear spine above & below 304 stainless steel
  • Interior expansion joints
  • BBQ Guru / Stoker port with Guru inducer sleve 304 stainless steel
  • CNC draft door with spring-loaded low airflow dial 304 stainless steel
  • CNC cut and folded draft door frame 304 stainless steel
  • Draft door guides 304 stainless steel bolted to the door
  • Thermometer probe wire sleeve 304 stainless steel
  • Rotisserie sleeves with drive shaft with bearing 304 stainless steel
  • CNC cut and folded rear gas door frame 304 stainless steel
  • User-adjustable rear hinge cut and folded CNC brushed stainless steel
  • Galvanized heat treated, high carbon rear hinge spring
  • Rear hinge / spring cover brushed 304 stainless steel
  • Leg/caster bumpers 304 stainless steel

    The Innards
  • Upper/sear grill 3/8" 304 stainless steel, 274 square inches
  • Main grill 3/8" 304 stainless steel, 375 square inches
  • Lower/sear grill 3/8" 304 stainless steel, 329 square inches
  • High-volume charcoal basket 304 stainless steel
  • Two-piece firebox high temperature refractory material
  • Heat deflector high temperature refractory material

    Miscellaneous
  • Stainless steel drip pan
  • Rotisserie readiness full kit w/ bearing
  • TelTru 150-750°F thermometer
  • Multi-directional galvanized caster wheels hard rubber
  • Spare tile repair kit
  • Wrench to adjust spring tension
  • Allen wrench to install rear spring cover
  • Lift off / easy open crate
  • Smoke tested in factory
  • Preheated in factory 12+ hours
  • Those are the features and specifications, but here are some more observations and information about the features of this cooker. Oh, and don't worry. Later on we have a "Photo Tour" which will show you photos of all the features that lend themselves to photography.

  • A welcome feature is the two-piece firebox. Having the firebox in two pieces prevents expansion and contraction cracking that plagues other ceramic grills.

  • Something that should immediately strike the casual user is the fact that you don't see any metal bands holding the lower base and the upper dome. The spring hinge is coupled to straps built into the body for a lifetime of perfect alignment. The bands are internal, cast inside the body, so they are perfectly aligned and will remain so. No external bands means no rusting and no adjusting.

  • The dome shape of the cooker is unique in that the chimney/flue is at the rear, allowing for a flatter top surface which is uniform over 80% of the grill and gives a more even heat distribution.

  • The cooker has sturdy built-in legs which roll on high-density black rubber wheels.

  • You don't have to lift a heavy lid on this cooker. The lid is held open by a hidden user-adjustable heavy-duty spring at the rear of the cooker. The spring-loaded pull-down lid means no unsightly tubes or brackets. The top stays open on it's own and you just have to pull it down and then close the trigger latch. Releasing the trigger-latch allows the the lid to open slowly and automatically. When the lid is closed, the trigger-latch locks the lid in the closed position. You then press the latch towards the grill's body; this will force the roller bearing to travel over the cam, snugly closing and sealing the grill. Just close the lid and, snap the trigger-latch to the closed position and the lid is locked shut.

  • The grids are simply stunning, made from 3/8" 304 stainless steel rod. You can cook with all three in place if desired for a total of 978 square inches, tops in the industry. The lower grid has an opening in the front to allow you to add charcoal or smoking woods. There is also a hinged insert you can attach to the lower grid to increase the grid space. The main grid has a hinged access door to also allow access to the fire. All grids have left and right handles to allow you to easily lift and remove them, even with a load of food on them! The upper grill can also be inverted and placed down on the firebox, just inches above the burning charcoal to get your meat right down on the fire for a high-temperature sear. All in all, the three grids total a massive 43 pounds of 304 stainless steel!

  • The charcoal bowl is also made from large gauge stainless steel rod. It has a rack that allows you to set a heat deflector just above the coals.

  • The cooker has a massive CNC laser cut, CNC folded TIG welded hinge assembly that holds the dome and the massive spring which is used to hold the dome open.

  • The cooker has a CNC laser cut and folded lower draft door frame assembly that creates a perfect airtight seal. The lower draft door also has a spring-loaded CNC laser cut dial that gives absolute low airflow control. Factory set tension between the door's guide rods and the guide tubes ensures the door hold tight and stays leak free even without a gasket.The cooker also has a second door towards the rear which can be removed for using the optional gas option.

  • The lower damper door is flush to the bottom of the inner chamber, making ash removal easier since you can just scrape ash right out into a receptacle such as a pan or bucket. A screen fence is provided to keep burning embers from leaving the cooker on their own.

  • To the right of the draft door is a CNC laser cut opening with a BBQ Guru inducer tube that will accept a BBQ Guru blower. (The Stoker temperature controller can also be used with the appropriate adapter.)

  • The damper top has a machined large ACME thread 304 stainless steel shaft that of course will never rust. It is seated in a stainless three-point bracket with a recently lengthened brass sleeve that prevents it from binding when heated. The damper top has a gasket to afford an airtight seal.

  • There is an access tube in the side of the base to allow you to run your remote thermometer probe wires into the cooker without running them over your food-grade silicone gasket.

  • The grill can use an optional cradle-style rotisserie. The left sleeve, which is set into the refractory body, has a spring loaded plate; the right sleeve goes completely thru the body and has a drive shaft with a socket on the inside and a socket on the outside and a bearing dead center. The motor sits outside the grill and a spring-loaded shaft drives the grill's socket. This can be used with the top closed, an industry first.

  • There is a collapsible "D" shaped food-grade silicone gasket used to seal the opening between the lid and base, another industry first. It seals so efficiently that when you close the lid with the damper top closed, air blows out the front airflow wheel.

  • Each cooker comes with a tile repair kit. There is always a chance your Komodo Kamado can get banged up. Things like movers, baseballs, bicycle crashes, and lawnmower crashes can and do happen. If a tile should ever get scratched or broken it's easy to replace them as about 10-12 extra tiles are included with some adhesive/grout material. This is also handy because the colors of the tiles can vary slightly from batch to batch and this ensures you will have matching tiles if any should ever become damaged. You can also use black Permatex silicone automotive gasket maker to attach and grout the tiles. Just clean out the area so the tile can sit flat then coat both surfaces with the material and set the tile into place ensuring it's sitting how you want it to be when it dries.

  • A Very Special Feature
    There is one special feature which deserves a section of this review all to itself, and that's the tile adhesive and grout. Komodo Kamado has been in business just over eight years now, yet we still get questions and comments indicating that people confuse Komodo Kamado with a decidedly inferior brand with a similar name. "They are sure pretty, but I hear the tiles all fall off" is a typical comment. Well, early Komodo Kamado cookers did have a few tiles come off, but nothing like the massive tile loss seen on the other brand. But almost four years ago Komodo Kamado made tile loss a distant memory when they introduced a tile adhesive and grout made from an acrylic elastomeric compound that can expand and contract along with the cooker when it is heated and cooled. We mentioned this material in the features list above, but now let's give you a little more detail.

    The material used for the tile adhesive and grout is a NASA spinoff product. It's an insulation that uses nano ceramic spheres created in a vacuum. It creates a big thick rubber-like jacket that both holds the tiles as well as reflects heat back into the cooker. It's also elastomeric so it flexes and moves with the cooker when it expands while being heated. (It's elastomeric enough that you can spray it on copper sheet, fold it in half, open it up and it's fine.) Service temperature for this material is -42°F to 520°F. Of course, the outside of the cooker never reaches these temperatures because of the inside layer of refractory insulation. This material is marketed as an outdoor spray-on insulation for reducing heat loss as well as OSHA-rated protection from exposed high-temperature pipes. A 285°F high-temperature steam pipe can be sprayed with 1.5mm of this material and you can grab the pipe with your bare hand and not be burned. The material is UV resistant and never needs sealing.



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