When it comes to preparing rice, nobody does it better than Asians. This food is a staple in almost all East Asian countries, but the place that turned rice cooking into a science is definitely Japan.
Since the Japanese are pioneers in the manufacturing of rice cookers, I’ve gotten curious about the quality and performance of their products.
It is needless to say that I wasn’t disappointed and because quite a few people have been asking this question I decided to say something about my favorite Japanese rice cookers on the market today.
If you are a busy housewife like me, you know how much convenience a single kitchen appliance can bring, and a device like this makes life a lot easier.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it!
Why Choose A Japanese Rice Cooker?
As I’ve mentioned before, the first-ever rice cooker was made in Japan by the Mitsubishi Corporation, but back then it was a very simple aluminum pot with a heating coil at the bottom without any of the fancy electronic stuff.
The point of the story is that the country which invented this device and the country whose people eat a lot of rice is probably going to make very good quality rice cookers.
Besides this, the Japanese are known for their high standards and attention to detail in pretty much anything they make – from cars to skyscrapers, and you can be sure that kitchen appliances are well-built too.
Also, if you come from a place that doesn’t use Imperial measures (inches, ounces, cups, etc.) as we do in the US, a Japanese rice cooker might be a better choice because it has metric increments.
For example, an imperial cup is 240 ml while a metric cup is 200 ml, so as you can see this can cause some confusion when it comes to cooking. My advice for you is to save the measuring cup that comes with your newly bought cooker and stick to measuring with it.
What To Look For When Getting A Rice Cooker?
People who have never encountered one of these devices will probably be interested in this section, and God knows that I was also clueless when I decided to buy my first cooker.
When it comes to use and construction, the rice maker is a pretty simple appliance, but, of course, there are some key things that you should know when buying your first one.
1. Quality Of The Bowl
Bowls in rice cookers can be made from different materials. The most common ones are aluminum, in cheaper models, and stainless steel in more pricey ones.
These two materials don’t have the same heating properties, and you might want to learn more about this before making the purchase.
Also, the surface of the bowl is usually coated with non-stick materials, and sometimes users have complained that the coating starts to flake off quickly in cheaper products.
2. Rice Cooker Size
These devices are made to operate with specific amounts of rice and water, so before buying one, it is necessary to know what size portions you want to prepare. If you are cooking for a family, then a larger appliance would be desirable, but if you cook for one or two people, buy a smaller one that will suit your needs.
This information is important because I made the mistake of buying a smaller one and ended up overfilling it when preparing a large portion for my boys. Needless to say that the rice didn’t turn out properly, so always follow the prescribed amounts for your particular cooker.
Cheaper models will usually have basic and intuitive controls (e.g. put in rice and water, press a button – done), but higher-end models usually have more functions that might interest you.
Some of these features include:
- Scheduled or delayed cooking
- Options for preparing various types of rice
- Automatic keep-warm setting
- Digital display
Some of these options can come in handy, and I believe that it is worth spending a few more bucks just to have them.
4. Stay Cool Exterior
Some rice cookers heat up on the outside, and if you’re not careful you can burn your fingers pretty badly (speaking from experience!), so a good thing to look for would be a stay-cool exterior.
This makes it so much easier to handle your cooker.
5. Heating Methods
There are two central cooking methods when it comes to rice cookers – a coiled electric heater and induction heating.
The first one is usually what you will find in cheaper models with aluminum bowls, while the latter is present in higher-end devices.
Induction heating is much faster and cooks the rice evenly with almost no chance of ever burning it, while this misfortune is more plausible with coiled heaters.
As with any other product, a brand of the manufacturer is usually an indicator of quality. You will want to choose a reputable brand that has proven itself on the market.
Fortunately, Japan has no shortage of respectable companies, and a few examples would be Zojirushi, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, and Hitachi.
What To Know Before Buying A Rice Cooker
Rice Cooker Use
Besides rice, this machine can be used to cook vegetables, cereal, and other things too.
You need to know what exactly you want to do with it because not all models can be used for these various foods.
Frequency Of Use
Folks who eat rice once in a while will probably be satisfied with a simple, cheaper device, but those who like to cook it on a daily basis will need to invest a bit more in a higher quality machine.
Most Recommended Japanese Rice Cookers – Barbara’s Reviews 2020
When I first saw this model I instantly fell in love with its design – a sleek-looking, silver and black body that fit in perfectly in my kitchen. This cooker has a 3-cup capacity, and it makes 6 cups of wonderfully cooked rice. A cup that comes with the device is 180 ml and to ensure a good result make sure to use ONLY this cup when measuring rice.
The control panel might look complicated at first, but I assure you that it is not hard to operate. The timer button lets you select the time when you want the rice to be done, and the two big arrows allow you to adjust it. Also, when it comes to cooking, there are different modes for different kinds of rice.
The cooking bowl has a layer of non-stick coating, and there is a special spatula that comes with the cooker which helps not to damage the surface of the bowl. Another convenient feature is the keep-warm setting which does exactly what the name implies – keeps your rice toasty for whenever you wish to eat it.
Things I liked
- Simple to use
- Can cook other cereals as well
- Good price compared to other Japanese cookers
- Doesn’t take up a lot of space in the kitchen
Things I didn’t like
- Teflon coating can get damaged very easily
- It takes quite a long time to cook brown rice
At first glance this device looks very amusing to me – a round-shaped machine with cherry blossom print on the sides; “Very Japanese!”, I thought. As I got more acquainted with it, I realized that this is one simple, basic and easy-to-use rice cooker.
First of all, it has a capacity of 10 cups, which is a lot and it makes it great for families. If you want to, you can also cook smaller amounts starting from 3 cups onwards. This large capacity also means that the appliance itself is pretty big, so if your kitchen is cramped (like mine), it might not be the best choice.
The inner pan is non-stick, so you won’t have to worry about getting your rice glued to the bottom of the bowl, even though the heater is not induction and it doesn’t have any fancy temperature regulating technologies.
When it comes to the cooking process, things get very simple. Add dry rice, add the required amount of water, plug it into the socket and press cook. It doesn’t have settings for different kinds of rice, so it is necessary to know the amount of water that goes with each type of rice grain.
Things I liked
- Very simple to use
- Keep warm function works for 12 hours
- Energy efficient
Things I didn’t like
- Doesn’t have advanced features (scheduled cooking, etc.)
- A bit expensive for such a simple model
When I first saw this machine, boy was I confused! Hitachi RZ-VS2M-N is made in Japan and exported to the rest of the world, and the instructions and writings on the cooker are completely in Japanese. This is exactly what caught my interest, and I thought to myself “If it’s made for the Japanese market, then heck, it must be impeccable.” So, needless to say, I decided to try it.
This rice cooker is a cute-looking, round device with a flat lid on top. The design is quite simple but attractive in my opinion. The best feature of this product is the iron pot which can be removed from the rest of the cooker and carried with a handle, so you can bring it right to the table without using an extra pot for rice.
Now, the most challenging part was figuring out how to operate it due to the Japanese instructions. Luckily, Google Translate and some kind people on cooking forums were more than helpful, and having only three buttons; it was quite simple to learn how to use the appliance.
Remember that if you are buying the device in the US, you will need an electrical power converter because this cooker is made for Japanese power sockets.
Things I liked
- Perfectly cooked rice every time
- Clean and simple design
- The removable pot that can be carried
Things I didn’t like
- Twice as expensive as other Japanese rice cookers
- Only Japanese instructions
This superb rice cooker by Zojirushi will allow you to experience the taste of every type of rice, just as it was meant to be cooked.
You can use this large-capacity 1.8L Japanese rice cooker to prepare delicious jasmine, healthy GABA brown rice, and all other sorts you prefer.
There are several preset options to eliminate the guesswork when you are preparing rice. These include white, regular, soft or hard, quick, mixed, jasmine, sushi, porridge, sweet, GABA brown, and brown rice.
This Japanese made rice cooker and warmer has an induction heating system and three heaters located in the lid, in the bottom, and on the sides, so that the rice is cooked evenly and perfectly every time with even heat.
The rice cooker has an auto keep-warm feature, as well as an extended, keep warm option so that the rice prepared in it will remain fresh and delicious long after it has been cooked.
The Zojirushi NP-HCC18XH Japanese rice cooker has a delay timer, so you can plan your meal ahead, and make sure that the rice is ready when you come home from work, or cooked while you sleep.
The size of the countertop appliance is 15.5 x 11 x 9.5 inches, and it is also available in a smaller option with a 1-liter capacity. It is easy to use and clean and is among the best Japanese rice cookers you can buy if you love rice.
- Induction heating, and triple heating elements for even cooking
- A large capacity of 1.8 liters
- 12 preset cooking settings for the perfect cooking of 12 different types of rice
- An auto and an extended keep warm features
- A useful timer
- Easy to use
- Detachable and easy to clean pan and lid
- Made of sturdy materials
- Sold with a 1-year warranty
- Manual in English and in many more languages
- It is more expensive than some of the other rice cookers we have reviewed
- The unit has a bigger footprint than some of the other rice cookers on this list
The Toshiba TRCS01 Rice Cooker has an impressive 3L capacity, which means that you can cook up to 6 cups of rice per batch in it.
It is a perfect solution for a large family, and even for small restaurants.
The Toshiba rice cooker is reasonably priced for its efficiency and quality.
It has 7 pre-programmed cooking settings for cooking white, brown, mixed, short-grained, long-grained rice, as well as porridge or oatmeal. This means that you won’t have to set the temperature and cooking time manually every time.
The rice cooker can produce large batches of up to 12 cups of fluffy and delicious rice.
It also has a nifty Quick Rice feature, which will allow you to cook rice for just 30 minutes.
You can use the steamer function and basket to cook other steamed food like veggies, fish, and others too.
The appliance has a programmable delay timer, as well as an automatic, keep warm feature which will keep the rice warm and fresh for up to 24 hours after it has been cooked.
The non-stick pot and inner steam valve produce the steam needed for making Japanese and Asian style rice every time. There is a removable steam vent which will prevent bubbling and overflows during the cooking.
The unit is very easy to set and use, and is 16 x 12 x 10.1 inches in size.
A very large capacity of 3L which equals 12 cups of fluffy rice per batch
Easy to use thanks to the preset cooking functions
A delay timer
24 hour keep warm feature
It can be used for steaming all other types of food too
It is less expensive than some of the other Japanese rice cookers on this list
It is made of food-safe materials, which are easy to clean and wash
It is bulkier than most of the other rice cookers we have picked
The Best Japanese Rice Cooker Is…
Slowly but surely we’ve reached the end of our reviews and now is the time to pick the winner.
Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT is the product which I feel deserves this spot due to its affordable price, ease of use, and a variety of options which it has.
It is a medium-sized device, good for families or individuals, it can cook other grains besides rice, and its programmable features make cooking more convenient.
First-time buyers will find it easy to use, and it is a good addition to any busy kitchen I can tell you that!
Last update on 2020-07-05 at 21:54 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API