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I love my rice cookers. I use them not only to make rice, but for all sorts of one-pot meals. Put in a cup of rice, vegetables, meats or seafood, seasonings, tofu... and a half hour later you have a steaming hot one-pot meal. They're also good for pilafs and other grain dishes.
The Zojirushi and Panasonic units are all first rate, BUT you need to know a little something about cooking rice beyond what's in the poorly worded manuals.
Different rice takes different amounts of water. The long-grained rice Americans are used to should be cooked with 1-3/4 cup of water for each cup of rice. Japanese rice needs only 1-1/4 cup of water for each cup of rice, or 1 cup of water for each cup of washed, wet, rice.
Many Americans (and Europeans) have problems with these cookers because the measure ments are calibrated for Japanese short grain rice, and the Westerners are cooking long grain rice. Get the ratios correct, and everything works out fine.
I've had a number of rice cookers of different sizes. My Panasonic has lasted over 20 years, and my Zojirushi looks like it'll last just as long, while my South Bend gave up the ghost after only a year. Go with the top Japanese models; they're made for day-in and day out cooking.
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VINE VOICEon December 18, 2000
This machine is designed to give baseline service in a rice cooker. It uses a design and technology over 15+ years old. For the amount of money being charged you might want to consider getting a machine that at least has a retractable cord.
On the plus side - the pan heats well and is teflon coated; does white long grain and Japanese medium and short grain very well.
Be aware that the water markings on the interior of the pan correspond to cooking Japanese rice which uses a different ratio of rice to water than other varieties such as, wehani or short grain brown.
This machine has to be played with to do shorter grain varieties of brown. It can handle long grain brown fine.
I would make the suggestion of looking at (all) the rice cookers there and find one that has the following things for the money:
1) stainless steel pan or aluminium pan lined with teflon; 2) retractable cord; 3) warming function;
An on/off switch is NOT standard on an Asian rice cooker. It is due to the fact that in Japan and Australia there is an on/off switch right in the wall plug area. The manufacturers did not take into account that Americans with their different outlet styles would be rice junkies (silly them).
Do not cook anything less than a cup or try for more than 3 cups. Too little rice cooked comes out a bit odd while too much means your pot lid will pop up due to too much steam.
Oh yeah, that's another thing - the lid can make noise due to the steam lifting it during the cooking process (bubbling pot lid kind of stuff). It is not dangerous so don't freak from the noise.
This machine is fine for the dorm or home. But do examine the cost of the machine, the amount of rice you eat and the cost of the machine to features.
This machine is good but it is not great.
88 comments|512 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
For a long time, I didn't see a need for a rice cooker. What's the big deal, I thought, of cooking rice on the stove? However, as my life got busier and busier, I began to want one. For one, I cook rice at least twice a week, often more. Second, I thought it would be convenient to start up a rice cooker and then not worry about the rice until I was ready to put dinner on the table. This Zojirushi model is perfect for this. After the rice is cooked, it automatically switches to a "Keep Warm" setting.
A few tips about cooking rice in this model:
1. Follow the water/rice ratio directions on the rice box, NOT in the manual.
2. Fluff the rice when the cooking is complete and then let it steam longer on the "Keep Warm" setting. If you don't fluff, sometimes the rice browns a little on the bottom.
3. Use high-quality rice.
Although I rarely use converted rice (Uncle Ben's Original), I decided to give it a shot in this cooker. The results were barely satisfactory, since the rice browned on the bottom. I don't have this problem with jasmine and other premium rices. I suppose unplugging the appliance immediately after the cooking is done (and letting it steam without the warmer on) might help. My own solution is to stick with the better rices.
Other reviewers have noted a spitting through the steam hole during cooking. This is less of a problem with small quantities than large. The starchy steam doesn't bother me since the same thing happens to the side of a saucepan when I cook a lot of rice on the stove. The cooker is SO easy to clean that I can't imagine complaining about a wipe down of the counter. (Hey, I have to do that anyway!)
You'll be surprised by how simple this appliance is - and how well it works. Recommended for people who cook small to medium amounts of rice at least two times a week.
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on December 23, 2001
This is an excellent rice cooker but I would like to point out something very important. The directions say specifically that you must wash the rice in a strainer until the water that runs through them comes out clear. This is very important. If you are having problems with the rice bubbling up over the top of the rice cooker and getting on the counter, you probably aren't washing the rice or aren't washing it well enough. Also if you are having problems with a crust on the bottom of the rice, you probably aren't washing the rice or aren't washing it well enough. Start washing your rice and you probably won't see those two problems again. Also the rice comes out much fluffier and less gummy if you wash it.
The reason for this is that, when you get uncooked rice, there is a large amount of excess starch that is stuck to the outside of the rice that gets stuck there when the rice is processes.
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on February 5, 2008
i just wanted to add my two cents to help offset some of the negative reviews. i bought this particular cooker due to the positive reviews both here and on some other websites. i wanted a cooker due to being tired of cooking potatoes with most meals and getting tired of them. i received the unit very quickly and immediately tried it out. i wanted to try brown rice first, so i washed it briefly and put it in the machine to cook. shortly, a mass of bubbles filled below the lid and started 'sputtering' through the steam hole. not happy about the mess it was making, i endured it and ended up eating some fairly good rice with my first meal. i thought "yeah, they were right, it's messy, what a bummer". so, round two and three, i cooked some more, this time trying varieties of white rice and both resulting in a repeat of the first messy attempt, along with some 'browning' of the rices on the bottom of the pan. again i thought "this is no fun, friends or guests are going to think this is a piece of junk". by this time, i had been reading quite a bit on the 'net about rice, and concluded that a more thorough rinsing of the grains were in order, so my fourth round started off with such, along with an accurate measurement of rice and water, and....a pat of butter thrown in......i thought maybe it might help it from sticking or browning in the bottom. the result......perfect rice! i'm now making that my preparation regimen and i'm getting better results each time. i'm convinced that the errors others are reporting are not the machine's fault and i'm also convinced that, like most other machines, the user needs to figure out how to use it. in a short time a person should be able to make perfect rice repeatedly. to help the bottom-sticking, i'm also now opening the lid and giving a couple of stirs a couple of times through the cooking cycle. also note, like others have said that washing the rice is a must (maybe up to and including soaking, but i haven't tried that yet), as you are washing off a lot of the starch that helps make the mess in the first place. take note of the type of rice you buy. some rices have been stripped of their vitamins and have them 'sprayed back on', the bags will have instructions on them telling you to NOT wash the rice. i would avoid those types. i have yet to steam veggies or whole meals in it, but i'm sure i can get good results from it just as well.

good luck and good health!

update: 3 years later...... absolutely one of the best electronic kitchen gadget purchases i've ever made. we use it quite a lot and it's consistent!

ok, 4 years later and it's still the bomb! yes, i DID try some veggies in the top tray, along with some fish and they worked out just fine!
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on August 19, 2004
I purchased two of these (large size and smaller one) for my family in the US. I use it when I am home for a visit. I have never been able to use this cooker w/o it spraying water all over my countertop. In short, I regret the purchase.

I now live in Tokyo and realize that Zojirushi is just pushing an inferior product on the US market. You cannot even purchase a thin-lid rice cooker here, especially one w/ a blowhole in it that lets turns the cooker into a steady spray of boiling rice water every time it is used. Not good.

If you are serious about cooking rice often, and not having to clean up your kitchen after each use, I suggest that you invest a little more and get a better designed product.
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on December 1, 2000
I like this rice cooker - it's simple but well made and does exactly what it's supposed to do. Perfect for this family of 4. (Makes OK rice pudding too.) But throw out the instructions, they are useless. I added 1.5x the recommended amount of water and it works much better. You can also eliminate the spray all over the counter by leaving the steaming tray in when cooking rice.
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on May 30, 2000
I've used less expensive rice cookers, but they don't measure up to the Zojirushi rice cookers. I used to have the 10 cup model, but that one was a little too large for me (it would be great if you're cooking rice for more than 5 or 6 people). This 6-cup cooker is perfect whether you are making 1 cup or 6. Just put the rice in (remember to wash it first), add water up to the line indicated, and push start ... when it turns off, you have perfect rice. No more boiling water, stirring, boiling over, or burned pans!
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on July 10, 2003
Specs say it keeps rice warm for 5 hours. True of higher priced models, not true of this one. Instruction book clearly states the it shuts off when cooking is complete.
Specs and instruction book say a cookbook comes with it. It does not.
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on January 6, 2005
I am totally thrilled. For breakfast every morning I cook Old-Fashioned oatmeal with apple and cinnamon in it and for dinner rice with spices, veggies, shrimp or fish and have a meal in a pot. I highly recommend The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman which has amazing recipes. The pan inside has very slippery non-stick coating which I carefully wash by hand. I rinse my rice first which is how you prevent the spitting that some people report. You MUST wash the rice to get the starch off. Cooks brown and mixed brown and wild rice wonderfully. Great for 1 or 2 people. Original review was written in 2005. Update 1/26/2016: I have owned my Zojirushi for over 10 years now, and it is still going strong. That is my idea of quality. It is simple to operate. Use the provided measure to measure the rice. Add water to the line shown inside the pan, not extra. Flip the switch on. It turns itself off. You have plenty of time with it staying warm if the lid stays on while you finish cooking. I usually cook 1 cup only, which is enough for 2 people. Or maybe 1 1/2. My counter is clean after I cook 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups with the right amount of water. I have given up rinsing the rice. With 1 or even 2 cups I do not get spitting, but how hard is it to wipe a counter? The inside of my cooker still looks new as does the outside, after hundreds of batches. It fits easily in an upper cupboard designed for plates, so it is at eye level. I have traveled with this and have used it for morning oatmeal with fruit, soup for lunch, one pot meals at dinner. It is a real champ. I would buy it over and over again. 5 stars still, after 10 years of use. But then I do not look for "fancy" in my cookware. I look for reliable, dependable, predictable, quality made. This is dependable, reliable, quality made. I love mine. I still highly recommend this.
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