Best Japanese Rice Cooker Reviews 2017: Top 5+ Recommended

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 which 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.

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.

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.

Controls/Options

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
  • Timer
  • 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.

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.

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.

Brand

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.


Top 5 Best Japanese Rice Cooker Reviews 2017

1. Zojirushi NS-LAC05XT – A Beauty Which Performs Well

Image Credit: Amazon.com

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

2. Tiger JNP-1800-FL – Average Japanese Style Device

Image Credit: Amazon.com

At first glance this device look 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

3. Hitachi RZ-VS2M-N – If You Want To Cook On Japanese

Image Credit: Amazon.com

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
  • Removable pot that can be carried

Things I didn’t like

  • Twice as expensive as other Japanese rice cookers
  • Only Japanese instructions

4. Toshiba RC-10VRG-R – Japanese Again, But Adjusted

Image Credit: Amazon.com

Having experienced the models made in Japan before, this product didn’t come as much of a surprise to me. Again the Japanese-only manual gave me a bit of inconvenience, but after spending some time translating it, I was excited to try this cooker. What I found is that it had more options than the previous all-Japanese model I tried, so it took me a bit longer to figure it out.

Toshiba RC-10VRG-R has a capacity of 5 cups, it weighs 11.5 pounds and works like a charm. The red color and compact size made it a perfect fit on my kitchen counter. The best thing is that you will not need a power converter for this one, and I have used it for months without any troubles at all.

The pot is made of metal; I'm not really sure which one but I do know that it has a non-stick coating which helps to remove all the rice easily after it is cooked. Now, the price was a bit of a shock, but due to the high standards of Japan, I understood that it has to guarantee quality.

Things I liked

  • No need for a power converter
  • Cooks fast and always perfect
  • Beautiful design

Things I didn’t like

  • Manual only in Japanese
  • Quite expensive

5. Mitsubishi NJ-XS104J – If You Aim For The Best Without Compromise

Image Credit: Amazon.com

Mitsubishi NJ-XS104J is another Japanese import product, and this one is high-end. The first thing that I noticed with this product is the price which blew me away. Immediately I asked myself how is it possible to sell a simple device such as a rice cooker for this amount of money?

After doing a bit of research, I realized that people who are serious about rice and eat it on a daily basis would definitely want to invest in a rice cooker of the highest quality available.

This fairly big, red, box-shaped contraption didn't look so appealing in the beginning, but the quality of rice it provides is outstanding. An inexperienced pallet might not be able to tell the difference, but frequent rice eaters will be able to appreciate the taste and the texture that this appliance can provide. You can prepare rice with varying textures from airy and loose to sticky and glutinous.

The product weighs 15.3 pounds which might be a bit heavier than some other models on the market, but the weight is usually a sign of reliability, and this is certainly the case when it comes to this appliance.

Things I liked

  • High quality
  • Cooks rice in any way you prefer

Things I didn’t like

  • Very expensive for this kind of product
  • Instructions only in Japanese
  • Not as visually appealing as some other cookers on the market

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!

Barbara Whitney
 

For the last 20 years, I’ve been cooking, preparing, researching, and gathering recipes, tools, and knowledge about food and the way we prepare it. Raising two lively boys and spoiling one great husband later, it’s safe to say that I’ve optimized my kitchen to deliver the best possible meal, no matter the occasion.

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