As far as microwaves go, Sharp has the market cornered. Almost all the microwaves you can buy in the U.S. today are sourced by Sharp, with nothing but pretty brand badges and exteriors differentiating them from one another. So I was curious to see Sharp breaking out of its comfort zone and into a market that has, as of yet, been dominated by higher end brands such as Miele, Viking, and the like.
The Sharp Steam Oven is really four ovens in one. It is a convection oven, a steam oven, a super-steam convection oven, and a microwave. In our experience, the convection oven portion works exactly as it should. As does the microwave. It has an auto sensing warming feature that works well – an area that most microwaves fall short. However, it’s when you use the Super Steam features where this unit really shines.
Chickens come out browned and moist, vegetables look amazing, and you can poach an egg without a second thought. Putting the water into the unit for the steam function is simple and easy. And it doesn’t put out excessive heat into the kitchen. The Sharp Steam Oven needs only 700 watts, making the unit more energy efficient – moreso than most microwave-only units.
Another unique feature of this unit is its ability to be both a counter-top and built-in application. With legs, stainless wrapped sides and top, the counter-top application seems to be a valid one.
One downside to the SuperSteam Convection feature is that it does longer to preheat the oven, as well as a longer cooking time. It’s not a big deal considering the results, but it’s one of note. Also the menu system can be a bit confusing in the beginning, and there is no simple button to just put something in to “nuke” it. You still have to use the round button to scroll through the menu to start the machine. Also, since the machine uses a lower wattage than many microwaves this size, the microwave cooking times may be slightly longer than you may be used to.
At $1,000 USD, the Sharp Steam Oven is an amazing feat. It may not be the perfect machine, it may not even be as good as some of the other brands out there right now, but with the market for large, built-in steam ovens currently dominated by units priced at $2,500 and up, it is a steal of a deal any way you look at it.
Pros: Low price, great steam results, counter-top and built-in applications
Cons: Longer pre-heat in steam convection mode, menu system can be confusing at first