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121 of 124 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2009
Sanyo ECJ-HC55S 5-1/2-Cup Micro-Computerized Rice Cooker and Slow Cooker, White

I have now used the Sanyo ECJ-HC55S about 50+ times since I bought it from Amazon. Hopefully, my review will help prospective buyers make an informed decision.

As of 2009, Sanyo is offering 3 types of 5-cup Sanyo rice cookers in this price range ($100 to $135). There's the D55S, F50S, and HC55s. It was definitely a chore to sort through the marketing lingo and specs sheets. The final conclusions are as such: The D55s is at the low end of the spectrum, with fewer features and a thinner bowl. Both the F50S and HC55S occupy the slot above it. Between these two, the HC55S is the newer model. Features unique to it include: the tofu maker, the option to fine-tune rice texture (soft, regular, firm), and a dedicated slow cooker bowl. The HC55S also has low/hi mode for the slow cooking process. However, the older F50S retains one big advantage: Its rice cooker bowl is actually thicker (3.5mm vs 3.0mm). Thicker bowls are theoretically better at heat distribution. The thicker bowl explains why the F50S has a slightly smaller cooking capacity than the HC55S (5.0 cups vs 5.5 cups)

I decided to go with the HC55S, and it definitely exceeds my expectations. There are plenty of great things about this product, but it's not perfect. I only have two complaints, and I will go over those first:

1. Non-stick bowl is only non-stick for white rice. I've cooked various white rice in this unit (Sticky Rice, Jasmine White) and the non-stick feature works as advertised. Very easy to clean. But brown rice is a different matter. I rinse my brown rice throughly 3-4 times, soak them for a few hours, before cooking. And every single time, there are little deposits that get encrusted to the bowl. I've used two types of brown rice (Thai Jasmine Brown, and Mahatma Brown) with the same results. And the hardened crust is DIFFICULT to clean up with a soft sponge! Soaking the bowl overnight doesn't help either. I have had to resort to using the "rough" side of my sponge to lightly scrub the crusts off. This method quickly takes the crusts off... but I worry about the long term impact of lightly scrubbing the non-stick bowl.

2. My only other complaint? The unit is not designed to cook rice & steam vegetables simultaneously. It's technically possible --- there's enough room in the bowl for the steamer and about 1.5 cups of rice. But the steamer tray doesn't hang off the lid of the bowl. Instead, the plastic tray needs to sit on top of the rice. Making things more icky is the tray has 4 rubber feet on it --- presumably to prevent scratching on the bowl. I am definitely not comfortable with the idea of having the plastic tray, the rubber feet, and my rice all submerged together in boiling water for the duration of the cooking process.

Those two are the only complaints I have with this unit. Everything else about the Sanyo ECJ-HC55s is fantastic. Rice comes out perfect --- individual grains retain their consistency, and don't come out as clumpy as they did with ordinary rice cookers. The unit is also highly efficient at retaining heat. Other than the little steam vent, there's virtually no place for heat to escape the rice cooker. It is sealed extremely well --- heat and moisture are perfectly contained. I don't even bother using the "keep warm" function of the rice cooker. Even with the warmer function turned off, rice that was cooked at noon will remain perfectly moist and somewhat lukewarm at 6pm. This is a far cry from ordinary rice cookers I had been using for the past 30 years.

Computerized rice cookers are notorious for their sloooow cooking times, and the Sanyo ECJ HC55S is no exception. 1.5 cups of white rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, and brown rice needs about 90 minutes. When I bought this unit, I was definitely apprehensive about the long cooking times. But it turns out that it was no inconvenience at all. All I needed to do was adapt my routines to the new features offered by the HC55S. As a life-long rice eater, I had the habit of preparing rice about 30 minutes before lunch/dinner time. Given the long cooking times of these new rice cookers, I needed to alter my routine. I now use the timer function almost exclusively. Every night, I put the rice & water into the rice cooker at my leisure, and enter my approximate schedule into the panel (i.e. 11:30 AM tomorrow). And the next morning --- like magic --- I would find my rice freshly cooked at exactly 11:30 AM. Definitely very convenient. A precise schedule isn't necessary though, since the unit is great at keeping the rice fresh for many hours after it's cooked.

Overall, I highly recommend the Sanyo ECJ-HC55S. I would've given it 4.5 stars, but Amazon's rating system doesn't allow for 1/2 stars...
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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2008
Purchased this rice cooker for my wife. We are both enjoying it a lot. The parts are solid and simply feel like high quality. There are two bowls. The rice cooking bowl has a better non-stick coating on it. The other bowl for non-rice cooking is easy enough to clean, but might take a little soaking for those challenging situations.

Selection is easy to understand. The slow-cook options are partially what sold me on this unit. You can cook so many things in this cooker, because you can manually cook instead of always having to follow a programmed option.

Rice can be kept warm up to 12 hours. It has a great sealing system, so it does stay fresh.

The unit looks very nice on the counter. The battery runs the clock, unless you keep the unit plugged into the outlet. The battery is suppose to run for 4 years or so.

Quality of rice cooked -- The rice has been PERFECT every time we have cooked rice. We are using a Jasmine rice bought from a local asian market. We simply wash the rice twice, put in the required amount of water, and set it to cook. So far it has been perfect each time.

I ended up buying this over the Zojirushi based on price and couldn't be happier. I saved maybe a $100 and am 100% happy with the product. We've been using this for 3 weeks now.

Cleaning is easy and fast. The removable lid/seal is great and easy to clean. It is not possible to latch the cover if the removable cover is not in place -- a nice feature and great engineering.

The steam collector works well. Be careful not to put your hand close to the exit hole as steam is not fully condensed coming out and could burn you. This is not really a safety concern for me and my wife. Cleaning the collector is not a problem so far. Simply remove and shake out the water. Any water dripping down is caught in a silicon seal. You can easily take a towl and soak up the very small amount of water that might drip out. It is only water and doesn't mess anything up.

I would buy this over again based on my experience so far. Can't speak about reliability yet. I can only hope Sanyo brand will be good. I don't usually buy their products.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2008
Spent way too much time researching the various brands and finally decided on the Sanyo due to the slow cooking option. The first day I tried simple Jasmine rice and it came out perfect. Next Day tried Botan ( Medium Grain) rice and once again it was cooked just like a resturant. Decided to try a simple slow cook chicken stew recipe from the internet, came out good and the slow cook function worked very well. Granted it's only been a week since I've had it but I have to highly recommend it due to it's versitility. Some of the feature that stand out for me are;

1. 12 hour clock ( not 24 hour like some brands)
2. Contacted Sanyo about changing Battery (clock) and it can be changed by the user without shipping to Sanyo. ( does take a little common sense though)
3. Comes with two pans, one for Rice, other for slow cook along with a steaming tray and tofu tray.
4. EASY TO USE!
5. Makes great rice! I don't think I needed to spend more money for better taste.
6. Looks to be built well. For those who are wondering, it's manufactured in China.

I'm very happy with this cooker!
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2008
This cooker replaced the National fuzzy logic that I had used at least 3-4 times a week for 5 years. With all the new rice cookers on the market it was hard to find one that had the features that I wanted, without a bunch that I didn't need. I really don't need to bake a cake in my rice cooker!! What I use the most are the slow cooker options and the rice options. I mostly make short grain brown rice and this model cooks it much faster than my old National. I also loved that this cooker came with an extra pan and lid for the slow cooker...which makes it a great value.

If it is important for you to know the length of the cook cycles, I suggest that you time them the first time you use them because the instruction booklet does not give the times for the cycles. My old National would show the length of the cycle when you started each cycle, i.e. when using the regular cycle it would show 43 minutes on the clock. This cooker only shows the time left when it gets down around 15 minutes. The brown rice cycle cooks in 75 minutes. I cooked quinoa on the quick cycle the other day and it was done in approximately 30 minutes.

Another option I like on this model compared to the National is that, so far, the lid is easier to clean. The national used to bubble up through the steam vent and make a mess that was not easy to clean from the rubber gasket, but the Sanyo doesn't do that and the lid barely needs to be washed after cooking a batch of rice. I wish these types of cookers would make removable upper lids so that they could be kept cleaner.

I also love that this model has the slow cooker and that there is both high and low slow cook cycles.

This cooker is just right for a small family or couple, but if you generally cook for more than 3 people, I would recommend the larger model. I can make enough soup for 4 people if bread and salad were served, but it may only serve several people if they had large appetites. It definitely does not have enough room in the slow cooker to do large roasts.

Great value, great cooker, I highly recommend it.
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57 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2009
This is a good rice cooker when it works.
However, the titanium coding of the inner pot peels off after several month of normal usage and becomes unsafe to cook food.
Even though the rice cooker comes with 1 year warranty. Sanyo does not have any customer service on the pot at all.
To make the situation even worse, Sanyo does not even have a replacement pot customers can buy to keep using the rice cooker safely.

In my opinion, Sanyo still has a long way to go to catch up Zojirushi for the quality of it's products. $100 for a rice cooker which only last 9 month is not something i will do again.

Update: Finally got some comfirmation from Sanyo about the inner pot. There is absolutely nothing Sanyo can do, i lose my $100.
Buyers beware: Sanyao has discontinued manufactured any of the inner pots. This is a product with no warranty!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2008
I read an NYTimes article about rice cookers around the same time I was starting a diet which recommended whole grains and steal cut oatmeal... so I read obsessively about all the different kinds of rice cookers, the reviews etc., and settled on this one based on combination of features and price.

Yes, $132 isn't cheap, but OMG! What a FANTASTIC appliance! Well-deigned, very well-built (nothing cheap feeling) and it does EXACTLY what it says really, really well. So far I've made oatmeal every day, brown rice, and I've steamed veggies and they've all come out fantastic! There's a bit of a learning curve on the veggies - what's the right amount of time for the veg. you select for the doneness you prefer, but that's expected. I'm looking forward to really using the slow cooker this winter.

And the oatmeal! Check it out - you can put in your steel-cut oatmeal and water the night before, set the time, and it'll be cooked and waiting when you wake up! Soaking the oatmeal just helps it cook faster in the morning, it doesn't ruin it, like setting your coffee timer, only better!

I'm single, and I like to cook, but I'm also really busy so I love the "Set it and forget it" way you can cook with this. As for size, I probably could have done with a smaller one (being a single girl), but I'd rather have too much than too little and I did have space for it. Maybe if I had a family, I'd want a bigger model - hard to say.

But barring the size, I'd go with a Sanyo with this exact feature set and I just can't imagine you wanting anymore.

My only criticism is the instruction manual is pretty lousy. nevertheless, I love my ECJ-HC55S and it makes me wonder why all appliances can't meet such a high level of quality.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2009
I will be frank: I love this rice cooker! Okay, that's out of the way. On to the actual review.

Pros:
--Cooks perfect rice every single time. This presupposes that one follows the instructions. The cooker comes with a rice measure. Use it. Water to the appropriate line for the rice/grain of choice.
--Cooks brown rice beautifully. Again, use the rice measure and water to the appropriate line for brown rice.
--Cooks steel-cut oats beautifully. I use the slow cooker. 1 cup oats, 4 cups water, pinch or two salt. Cook for 1.5 hours. Add dried fruit and additional water if needed (it usually does) and cook for another 15 to 30 minutes. I cook my oats at night for the week ahead so that I can haul it to work. 1 cup serving reheated for 2 minutes. I then add a touch (about 1/4 cup) soy or almond milk. Sweeten to taste.
--Cooks lentils and split peas easily in about 6 to 7 hours on low. Yes, the slow cooker will then sit on warm just like the rice.
--Easy as pie clean-up. I do recommend a gentle scrubbing. Be careful of your "scrubbie" as you don't want to scratch up that lovely titanium coating.

Cons:
--Slow cooker cannot be set to start at a specific time. With plenty of "sauce," it can sit on warmer for a good deal of time. Just like rice.
--Has a large counter-top foot print. I leave my cooker plugged in at all times. I am hoping on avoiding the battery replacement issue mentioned in other reviews.

I have not cooked "regular" beans in this pot yet so I cannot speak to how those will turn out. If you are interested, watch this space for an edit later on after I have cooked beans.

And there you have it. I recommend that you place the cooker in your shopping cart and watch for the price to drop. The price seems to very, very flexible. I bought mine for about $90 but saw it go from $90 to $135 and then inch its way back down in the 2 months that I was trying to make up my mind which cooker to purchase.

06/25/09 edit:

I have had a bit more experience with my new best friend so here is an update:

Lentils, on low, have taken up to 6 hours to cook. Black-eyed peas also take about 6 hours on low. I still haven't cooked beans so don't have any information there.

I finally was brave enough to try steaming eggs this week. These were the tenderist (is that a word?) "boiled" eggs that I have ever had.

Comment for those still on the fence: Now that the heat of summer is upon us, it becomes important to keep from over-heating my kitchen. This rice/slow cooker is one of the most important tools for me to do that.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2008
I had to have a great rice cooker. Not just one of those cheap ones with the glass lids that almost no one in Asia has anymore, but a fancy, computerized one. So when I saw this rice cooker on Amazon and saw that it had a separate pot for steaming/slow cooking, I was sold. I actually had my eye on a 5.5 cup Zojirushi cooker before, but the features (compared to this Sanyo one) just did not compare or justify the price difference.
Have had this cooker for about three months now, and have used it at least once a week (some weeks more, some weeks less...it varies due to my schedule and pantry items). Rice comes out cleanly and evenly-cooked every time (even if I add too little or too much water). I've been cooking jasmine rice and brown rice in here, and have been able to keep both jasmine and brown rice in the fridge for up to five days without it spoiling and getting too hard to eat (especially for fried rice). I've also steamed dumplings in it, and the only complaint I have regarding that is that I wish there was a better steam tray for this unit. The steam tray that comes with this cooker has concave dips in it to accommodate 8 eggs, and that gets slightly annoying, but only from an aesthetic point of view. Not really a dealbreaker!
The recipe booklet that comes with this cooker has some great recipe ideas. I've only tried the beef rice jook recipe so far. It's a bit on the thick side (like the consistency of REALLY thick oatmeal), but it at least gives you a starting point to tweak the recipe to your liking on some popular Asian (mainly Chinese) dishes.
Timer function is great, if a bit confusing to remember the first few times, along with the 12-hour warming function (though I've never had to use the warming function for longer than an hour so far). No warming function for rice porridge, but if you turn the unit off and then back on again, it will automatically stay on "warm". The noise that this unit makes when your food is done is also not the usual somewhat-annoying, very cheesy musical tunes that a lot of other fancy rice cookers have. It's just a standard beeping noise, and not too annoying or long.
Overall, I couldn't be happier with this cooker. If I can find a better steaming tray so that I can maybe steam some meals with my rice, I would be in heaven. This cooker definitely has the potential to do it all.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2009
I picked the Sanyo ECJ-HC55S based on the positive reviews on Amazon and because it came with a second bowl and lid. If you're looking to use your rice cooker for more than just making rice, I strongly recommend this model, which costs about $10 more than the model with a single bowl. The second bowl allows you to make flavored rice dishes, without leaving any flavors behind to flavor your plain rice. Both pots are very heavy, allowing for very even cooking and no burning. Cleanup is also very easy, due to the very effective, non-stick coating and the easily removable lids.

As with most rice cookers in this category and price point, it does an excellent job on rice. Measure your rice with the included cup, give it a rinse, add water to the measures inside the "rice" bowl, select the appropriate program (white rice in regular, firm, and soft, brown rice, sushi rice, porridge, etc) and you are rewarded with perfect rice in about an hour. There is also a nice countdown timer for the last 10 minutes. Once the rice finishes and moves to the "keep warm" setting, your rice stays great for hours, nice and moist with perfect temperature.

So far we have used this cooker for white and brown rice, as well as jambalaya, paella, lemon rice and rice and sausage. You can saute vegetables right in the cooker, before adding the rice, to make complete meals right in the cooker. Just use the "Quick Cook" program to heat the cooker up immediately, saute your veggies, then add rice and liquid and reset to a normal program (white or brown rice) and the cooker does the rest.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2008
great rice cooker. The instructions are a bit vague but, you can figure them out. There should be a chart relating American rice types to the Asian types. But, a little trial and error figures it out..

The features are poorly explained in the instructions. For example, the timers. One neat feature I discovered is that you use the markings in the rice pot to load it (use the cup that came with the unit to measure rice), select rice type, then push the start button and forget it.

The fuzzy logic will cook the rice properly, shut off and turns on warmer. This is really neat. The rice is always just right never over/under done.

I live on fried rices, Basmati and Jasmine are my favorites. Basmati is brown, follow brown rice directions. Jasmine is white follow white rice directions.

Cal Rose rice (sticky rice) is good but needs special handling or it will clump in a hard ball... (wash when done to remove sticky, then spread out to dry, before cooking fried rice. Very tasty..

The steamer is great for veggies. The rest I haven't used yet...

This is a 5 cup unit. The best overall size. I use three cups for the fried rices.

This is quality unit. The parts are well made and unit is very easy to clean. The rice paddle is very handy. Don't skimp on a cheapy unit. You get what you pay for...

Note: The measuring cup seems to compensate for final cooked rice volume, don't use standard measuring cups.
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