In many homes, a rice cooker is a kitchen staple. Here is my take – if you don’t care, get any old sub-$100 rice cooker and steamer.

These typically have one button and turn off automatically.  Plain and simple. However, once you’ve tasted, if you care, superbly prepared rice, Japanese-style, you will want and appreciate this difference.  To many, rice is a daily staple and there are rice cookers designed for this demand.  Some are designed to be set ahead at least half a day and can keep rice warm and fresh tasting for a day and a half after cooking.  Amazing, isn’t it?  The good ones are NOT cheap by any means, but if you ask a Japanese national friend, you are likely to be told that the preferred brand is Zojirushi. I can recommend two types to you.  First, their small, 3-cup model that can also make Risotto as well as white and brown rice is called Zojirushi RIZO, now less than $175 through Amazon.com. Read my review.

 

Current state-of-the-art is the Zojirushi NP-HBC10 (5-1/2 cup model) and NP-HBC18 (10 cup model).  Amazon has them at a significant discount, with the 5-1/2 cup model costing under  $240 and the 10 cup model selling for $252.  What’s so good about these. They are the epitome of functionality, precision and utilitarian value. And they are really high-tech!  This higher technology, which can be read about at the NP-HBC10 link above will be revealed.  In our trials, it just does everything better than we could have imagined.  Talk about an eye-opening experience!  Soft and fluffy, if we want it that way, better than any other.  And it makes so many different varieties, all to perfection. Sushi rice is done to perfection. Brown rice never tasted better. It will also prepare mixed rice dishes, with chicken and vegetables together with the rice, all, of course, done to perfection.  Recipes are in the manual.  The automatic keep warm feature allows us to not be so precise as to when the rest of the meal is ready. I like that we can have it all done at the same time, having the rice ready when we are, never waiting for it to be cooked.  As with all Zojirushi products, we can expect this product to never need service and never need replacing, generally. That is a tall order, but this is my experience and that of many, many people with whom I have spoken.  Now, that’s value!  I have yet to see or hear of problems with this brand of rice cookers. On the contrary, I know of rabid fans that would not think of another brand and this model is at the top of the heap for most users. The 5-1/2 cup model is ideal for a family of four.  Have an advanced look at the manual!

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