Asian countries are known for a lot of things. Their culture, their traditions, and most importantly, their food. Each Asian country has its own cuisine and is unique in its own ways.
However, at least in terms of food, there is one thing very common among these countries, and that is their consumption of rice. Due to the mass consumption of rice in these countries, the technology used for cooking better rice was also invented in one (or more) of these countries, which to be specific, is in Japan.
Japanese rice cookers are famous all around the world and are known to make perfectly cooked rice. This is why these rice cookers have such high demand almost everywhere.
Due to the invention of these Japanese rice cookers, and with all the recipes available online, people all around the world are able to cook different cuisines at home. The rice cookers allow people living in the US, UK, or any other western country to experience the taste of Japanese (or any other Asian country’s) rice dishes.
There are so many electronics brands that produce rice cookers in the present day and age. Brands such as Toshiba, Panasonic, Zojirushi, Tiger, etc. produce very high-quality rice cookers. But the range of rice cookers is so vast, it is hard to tell which ones are the best.
In order to help you find out which Japanese rice cooker is best, we have prepared for you a complete guide to rice cookers. In this guide we will be talking about the types of rice cookers available, basic features to look out for, special features that you might want, and the best Japanese rice cooker that fits most, if not all, of the criteria.
If that sounds interesting to you, let’s hop into the ultimate guide to Japanese rice cookers!
Types of Rice Cookers
There are many different types of rice cookers available in the market. But in this article, we will be looking at only four kinds of rice cookers. Let’s have a look at the types of Japanese rice cookers you will see out there.
These rice cookers are generally on the cheaper end and do get the job done. If your purpose is to only cook rice in the simplest manner, this is the one for you.
Some conventional rice cookers come with a few modes and options as well, so you can cook a few types of rice in these. The only issue with this kind of rice cooker is that you will have to keep a close eye on your dish.
If you leave your rice cooker to cook the rice automatically, chances are, you are eating burnt food for the night. So if you want complete automation, this one is not for you.
However, if you are okay with observing this rice cooker while the rice is being cooked, then this is a great and affordable option.
This kind of rice cooker is, well, smart. This type of rice cooker uses sensors to detect what type of rice you are using, its quantity, and also the room temperature to ensure your rice is cooked perfectly as you want.
These are completely automatic and do not need any observation or looking out for. You can go completely hands-free and let your rice cook on its own without worrying about it.
Rice cookers of this type also come with various features and options for cooking in different methods, so you get a very diverse cooking experience. The only downside to these is that all these functions, options, and buttons can be a bit confusing and overwhelming at first. But you do get used to them with time, so don’t worry about this too much.
These smart rice cookers can be a little on the expensive side, but that is what you pay for the automation and all the functions you get. If you’re wondering which Japanese rice cooker is best, these are a great contender.
Rice Cooker with Steamer and Crock Pot
This is similar to the smart rice cooker, but a more affordable option. These rice cookers come with crockpots, so you can slow cook, steam, or use other cooking methods for creating the perfect dish. The best part about these cookers is that you can not only cook rice but also other foods as well.
These are slightly cheaper than the tech-savvy smart rice cookers but are equally amazing.
Micom Rice Cookers
Micom is short for microcomputer, so Micom rice cookers are the ones that use microcomputers to cook rice. These rice cookers use fuzzy logic technology to adjust all the settings to cook the perfect rice for you.
These can identify rice types and also other food types using that technology. Regular Micom rice cookers have low heating compared to induction heating rice cookers.
They are usually affordable and do a great job at cooking good quality rice. The best part about Micom rice cookers is that the high-end ones come with induction heating, pressurized cooking, and other cooking features. Those are comparatively more expensive but are pretty high quality.
How to Choose the Right Rice Cooker
Several factors decide which Japanese rice cooker is best for a person. You mainly need to take into account what your key requirement for the rice cooker is. Other than that, you also have to consider whether you can afford it or not.
How big of a rice lover are you? If you want to have rice regularly, then a conventional rice cooker should do the trick. However, if you prefer a completely hands-free experience for cooking rice, opt for a smart rice cooker. Or at least one that requires no observation.
Some smart rice cookers come with fewer features than others but retain the automation feature. So those will be appropriate for you.
But if you want to get a rice cooker that will serve multiple purposes, go for a smart rice cooker or ones that include crock pots and other features. These will allow you to use your rice cooker to cook other foods.
And lastly, if you wish to rely on your rice cooker to do absolutely everything for you, then get the smart rice cookers that cook perfect rice without having to do anything other than putting the ingredients in.
We must look at the affordability as well. Conventional rice cookers don’t usually cost that much. Some smart rice cookers are affordable as well. So if you are on a budget, opt for these. But if your budget allows it, go for the high-tech cookers that will provide you a variety of special features for cooking.
Features to Look Out for
Whether you get a simple rice cooker or a smart high-tech one, you must check certain basic features that the rice cooker offers. These factors will determine whether it is worth the purchase or not. Let’s look at some basic features you should expect in a good quality rice cooker.
The bowl quality of a good rice cooker can tell a lot about the overall quality of the rice cooker. The type of material the bowl is made of can decide how well cooked the rice will be. This is because of the heat production and absorption properties of the material of the bowl.
To make the most out of this property, most rice cookers use stainless steel bowls that can stay hot for long and cook your rice nicely. The best choices when wondering which Japanese rice cooker is best will have stainless steel bowls. Make sure you get insulated and thick bowls that promote heat retention and regulation for better cooking.
As we have already discussed in the types of rice cookers part, there are about 2-3 different heating options. Each heating option does a better job than the other gradually. You must take into account that the quality and efficiency of each heating option will rise in order, so make sure you know what you are going for.
First, we have the coiled heating. This heating method uses a coil at the bottom of the rice cooker to heat up the rice. The downside to this is that the heat is not evenly spread from all sides, so it takes a bit long for the rice to cook.
It is kind of similar to cooking in a pot/pan on a stove. Your rice cooker heats up from the bottom using the heating coil and starts cooking the rice. Rice cookers that come with this feature are generally on the cheaper end, so if you are on a budget and need a rice cooker that will still get the job done, get one with coiled heating.
Next, we have induction heating. This method uses an alternating magnetic field to produce heat and use the entire pan to cook the rice. Unlike the coiled heating method, this one provides heat to your rice from every side so it is cooked evenly.
Being cooked from not just the bottom, this method takes considerably less amount of time to cook the rice compared to coiled heating rice cookers. This is why rice cookers with induction heating are slightly more expensive than the coiled heating rice cookers.
While that is great, adding a pressurized element promotes the cooking process even more. You will find rice cookers that use both induction heating and pressurized cooking at the same time.
These rice cookers use pressurized cooking on top of using induction heating methods which allows you to cook restaurant-quality rice. You get the perfect amount of softness as well.
The rice cookers that use both induction heating and pressurized cooking are undoubtedly the best contenders on the list of which Japanese rice cooker is best, and also the most expensive ones. So, if your budget allows you to invest in a rice cooker that has both induction heating and pressurized cooking, you are in for a great experience of rice cooking at home!
Ease of Cleaning
After cooking a pot of rice, it is unnatural that some rice won’t stick at the bottom. We are talking about cooking in a pot on a stove here. Most of the time, people overcook their rice and it ends up sticking to the bottom of the pan/pot and you are forced to scrape it off using your spatulas. That can be pretty annoying.
The whole purpose of a rice cooker is to make the process of cooking rice easier and smoother. Hence, look for rice cookers that solve this issue as well. Check if the rice cooker you are going for features non-stick bowls.
You don’t want your rice cooker’s bowl to be sticky and have to scrape off sticky rice from the bowl. The last thing you want is to invest in a rice cooker where the rice still sticks to the bottom of the pot.
Check if the bowl is non-sticky and ensures that every grain of rice can be taken out of the pot without getting stuck. Most good quality rice cookers come with this feature. However, the lower-priced stainless steel bowl ones might not have a non-stick surface. In this case, you might want to get some cooking spray.
This one depends on your preference. However, Japanese rice cookers have a specific sizing system that can be confusing to most people. In Japanese, the sizes are measured in “Go” (合) or Sho (升), which are counter words for rice. Choosing the right size is essential when wondering which Japanese rice cooker is best.
1 Go is approximately equal to 150 grams, and 1 Sho is equal to 10 Gos. Japanese rice cookers generally come in three sizes.
The smallest size is 3 Go which measures approximately 450 grams. This one is appropriate for people living alone or with a small family of 2 or 3 people max. It is usually smaller in size compared to other rice cookers and can cook a decent amount of rice. These are also usually cheaper.
The second sizing is 5 Go which has approximately 750 grams of capacity. This is perfect for families that consist of 4 to 5 people and consume a lot of rice.
And lastly, we have the biggest sizing for rice cookers. The 1 Sho size or the 10 Go size is appropriate for people with extended families or for those of you who want to cook for parties and get-togethers. This type of rice cooker can cook a lot of rice at a time and is great for mass cooking.
As we mentioned above, some smart rice cookers have the ability to detect the type of rice being used. There are many different types of rice. You have white rice, brown rice, haiga-mai, zakkoku-mai, etc.
Each rice is cooked differently. They require a different amount of water, different temperature, and different cooking styles. If you are going to be cooking only white rice in the most common method, go for the conventional simple rice cookers. But if you go for a smart one, check if it has distinctive cooking features.
This feature allows you to cook different types of rice in their respective methods automatically with just the press of a button. You will see there are options for each kind of rice. All you have to do is select the mode, add the rice, water, and necessary ingredients, and you are good to go!
So if you want the flexibility and options for cooking different types of rice, check if the rice cooker you are getting has this distinctive cooking feature. It will definitely be a useful feature to have in a rice cooker. And you will be seeing yourself using it more often than you think.
Rice can be consumed both slightly hard and granular or nicely cooked, soft, and mushy, depending on the type of dish you are preparing. It is a great feature to have in a rice cooker to be able to choose the amount of hardness you want in your rice.
The rice cooker will automatically decide how much water and how long it will take to reach the level of hardness or softness you desire. And once it’s done, you can check and take it out. However, if you don’t like it, you can put it back and cook it like that again using a different hardness option.
The flexibility to change the hardness of a rice dish after cooking it makes this feature so useful. So if you are getting a rice cooker, check if it comes with such an option. Make sure you are able to control the hardness of the rice and change it later if you want, using the rice cooker.
This feature is very important in a rice cooker. A lot of cheap rice cookers will produce a lot of steam from cooking rice till around the time the cooking is finished. This can be harmful if breathed in, and can also burn your face if you put your face near it. Fortunately, this kind of rice cooker is a thing of the past now.
Now you can find rice cookers that are integrated with technology that allows you to cook rice without the rice cooker forming any sort of steam. These rice cookers are smart and get rid of the production of steam to prevent the suffocation and face burning issues so many people faced in the past while using rice cookers indoors. This is an important feature to look for when deciding which Japanese rice cooker is best.
The non-steam rice cookers get rid of any smell that used to come out of the conventional rice cookers and also prevent getting burned from the hot steam coming out of the rice cooker.
This feature is generally found in smart rice cookers, which can be a little expensive at times. But we assure you, the investment will be a wise one, as it solves a pretty big problem that might as well be prevalent in conventional rice cookers. So make sure you get an amazing rice cooker that has this feature.
This one can be considered a bit of a bonus. What if you could use your rice cooker as an oven? To a lot of people that would be an incredible feature to have in a rice cooker.
There are some rice cookers available in the market that can bake bread and cake. You can ferment dough and also bake it to become bread or cake using some rice cookers.
It is such a simple process! All you have to do is put the dough in, turn on the switch and wait. You will have a nicely baked bread/cake that you just baked in a rice cooker. How amazing is that!
So if you want this feature to be present in your rice cooker, invest in a high-quality smart rice cooker that comes with said feature. Trust us, you will be using the baking feature more than you think. This is an overlooked feature when wondering which Japanese rice cooker is best but may be a priceless addition. And before you know it, you will be baking cake in your rice cooker quite often!
At this point, you may think we are stretching it. But trust us, this is possible using a lot of rice cookers available these days. The technology on these really does baffle us! With these smart features on the rice cookers, you can connect your phone to them and use a special app to enter your favorite recipes and cook them on your rice cooker.
This connectivity allows you to select any dish and the micro-computers on your rice cooker will detect the settings needed for cooking that dish and deliver you perfectly cooked food.
You can choose almost any dish you want, and this does not limit you to just rice dishes. This feature also saves time and widens your range of recipes for providing you a premium cooking experience!
So if you want to experience such luxury in cooking, invest in a high-quality rice cooker that offers such a magnificent feature.
What is the Best Rice Cooker in Japan?
“Which Japanese rice cooker is best?” you may ask. This one might be a tough question to answer as there are so many high-quality rice cookers available at present.
However, in our opinion, one particular rice cooker stands out as the overall best Japanese rice cooker. And that one would be the Zojirushi NP-NWC18XB rice cooker.
Of all the requirements that we have discussed above, The Zojirushi NP-NWC18XB offers most of those features and cooks very high-quality rice. This rice cooker has all the essential features needed in a rice cooker up its alley.
This rice cooker is a Micom rice cooker and features multiple settings for cooking. You can cook multiple types of rice (almost every type) and even porridge. You also get to steam vegetables and cook other types of food using this amazing rice cooker. This high-quality rice cooker uses fuzzy logic technology for cooking and delivers high-quality results.
It features induction heating along with pressurized cooking. So it is bound to provide you with the best quality rice you will ever get from a rice cooker.
So if you ask us, “which Japanese rice cooker is the best?” we would definitely recommend the Zojirushi NP-NWC18XB to you.
The only downside to this amazing Japanese rice cooker is that it is going to be a little hard on your budget. The Zojirushi NP-NWC18XB is a little expensive. But trust us, the quality of cooking that you will get on this rice cooker will be phenomenal and you will be glad that you invested in such a good rice cooker. The choice remains yours, whether you want to make that investment or not.
Also, this is not the only high-quality rice cooker you will encounter. There are obviously cheaper options that offer similar quality (not really) cooking. You might also find other rice cookers from the brand Zojirushi or other brands like Tiger, Panasonic, Toshiba, etc. appealing and appropriate for your needs.
Buying a rice cooker is not rocket science and you should not exactly have to spend hours on end to decide which rice cooker is the best for you. Just make sure the rice cooker is within your budget and meets all the basic requirements. If your budget is high, you may get special features in the rice cooker you buy.
But other than that, don’t stress over getting the very best Japanese rice cooker. We hope our ultimate Japanese rice cooker buyer’s guide was helpful for you and you found it informative.
Just follow the tips we provided and get the right rice cooker for your needs. As for which Japanese rice cooker is best of them all? The Zojirushi NP-NWC18XB beats most of the rice cookers in the market, and we recommend this one if you are looking for the very best rice cooker you can find.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article, have a nice day!