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Rice Cookers

I've been looking at various brands of rice cookers and it sounds to me like Zojirushi is considered to be at the top of the list, but are also the most expensive. Today at Costco I saw an Aroma brand cooker that looked like it has the same functions as a Zojirushi fuzzy logic model (even looked similar) but this was only $29.99! Then at Mitsuwa they had several Sanyo fuzzy logic models. I'd appreciate any opinions and recommendations from fellow chowhounders. My wife and I like to eat a lot of rice - mostly the Japanese-type but also jasmine, basmati and we'd like to have more brown rice, too. Is it worth spending the extra bucks on a Zojirushi fuzzy logic model? Thanks.

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  1. Yes. Costco "look alikes" seldom deliver. Zojirushi products deliver. If you plan on using it as often as you indicate, you'll appreciate the quality.The pricier Japanese-made models are worth it, kinda like Japanese-made Nikon gear is better than the Thai- or Chinese-made stuff.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kagemusha

      Thanks for the reply. It did seem pretty odd to me that it looked very similar to a Zojirushi but was about 1/5 the price. I also noticed on the Zojirushi boxes I saw at Mitsuwa that the pricier ones prominently say "Made In Japan" on the box whereas the cheaper ones say nothing. Do you think there's that much difference among models from the same manufacturer? Being made in China used to be a sign of low quality (as did made in Japan many years ago) but a lot of very good audio stuff is made there now so maybe the same with rice cookers (strictly the Zojirushi brand, though)?

    2. I also recommend the Zojirushi rice cookers. My parents had one (made in Japan) and it has worked well for many years. In my own household now, I have the Neuro Fuzzy 5 cup cooker (also made in Japan). I couldn't really speak to the Japan vs. China difference, but my parents seemed to believe strong that the ones made in Japan are superior. Perhaps it's just a bias that isn't tied to any concrete evidence? Hope you find one you like.

      1 Reply
      1. re: studiocate

        ditto! Mom felt strongly that the ones made in Japan were superior... we have the 5 cup Neuro Fuzzy at home (downsize from the 10 cup since everyone is moving out) and I bought the same model for my 1st college apartment :D

      2. I've had my Zojirushi since college--for about 10 years. That's the brand my family always uses, and my parents make rice every day.

        1. Zoji and Zoji only for me, both for rice cooker and bread machine....

          1. national aka panasonic is very good too. I've had my fuzzy logic unit for about 10 years now.

            1. Well thanks, all. I just ordered one online this morning (a Zoji neuro-fuzzy 10 cup model) so I am anxiously awaiting its arrival!

              3 Replies
              1. re: monkuboy

                Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoy ours! :)


                1. re: monkuboy

                  If you were at Mitsuwa, why would you not just buy one there? They have discounts every once in a while--the Zojirushis were discouted three times in the past two months!

                  One other note--the salesman suggested that there was a big difference between the 3-cup model and the 5/10-cup models, despite the similarity in model numbers and features. The latter were less than 2 years old, while the 3-cupper has been around for 7 years. And indeed it lacked some of the finer distinctions on the 5-cup model (I got the 5-cup, my MiL got the 3-cup).

                  Of course, if you skipped the NeuroFuzzy and wanted a cheaper model, my comment does not apply.

                  1. re: aardvark_cousin

                    I bought the 10-cup Neuro Fuzzy (NS-ZCC-18) for $155 including tax and shipping online so I thought that was a pretty good price. With my luck I'll go back there and see it on sale for a lot less now. Oh well, thank you for mentioning that, though!

                2. Several of my family members (including me) bought the Costco rice cooker back when it actually cost $25. All disintegrated within two years. Mine lasted the longest--only the ON slider broke. However, it is a mistake to assume that rice cookers that look the same are the same.

                  Unlike the CrockPot, there are many gradations in rice cookers. Panasonic/National, Tiger and others all make the $30-40 version--the kind with a single switch, an aluminum insert and a loose cover. Then comes the kind with a swing cover, but without most of the features found on the more expensive models. The more features, the higher the cost. I just bought a 5-cup Zojirushi at a Japanese store for $106 (same model on Amazon goes for $169). There is no comparison between this one and all the other ones that I've used over the years. Aside from the multiple settings for white/sushi, brown and sweet rice, this one also distinguishes between hard and soft (old and new) white rice and regular and prewashed rice (such as Botan).

                  Although Zojirushi is consistently top-rated both here and in Japan, Sanyo, Tiger and Panasonic (AKA National or Matsushita) make pretty good models (with quality declining in that order). Avoid no-name brands, including Aroma, unless you are just a bargain hunter.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: aardvark_cousin

                    We have an old Sanyo 5-cup one-button cooker now with an aluminum pot that has several little dents in it so I figure anything is an improvement! We eat a lot of rice and I plan on keeping the cooker for a long time so I look upon the expenditure as a relatively cheap investment considering the planned use for it,

                    1. re: monkuboy

                      That's the same rice cooker I have! It's at least 20 years old, given to me by my mother when I left for university. I'm (desperately) tempted to get a new neuro-fuzzy cooker, but can't justify replacing something that isn't broken.

                      1. re: OCAnn

                        Well maybe you could accidentally uh, yank out the cord? ; ) I was thinking the same thing, why replace it if it isn't broken, but these things last such a long time that it will probably outlast me!

                  2. Both my parents and I have a Tatung cooker, which is made in Taiwan. Nothing fancy but well prices and reliable. My parents have had theirs for over 10 years and I've had mine for nearly 5.

                    I really recommend the kind that allows you to interchange the rice pot with something else. That way if the aluminum or metal pot that comes with the rice cooker breaks or gets scratched, you don't have to throw away the whole rice cooker.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Zojirushi may be pricey, but it's worth the price considering it's quality and longivity. I actually prefers the "old" model with just one button. <http://www.zojirushi.com/ourproducts/...> I've had my current one for 7 years now and it's still working like new.

                      1. One thing to consider with a new rice cooker is: do you want a teflon-lined cooker, or not. I did not want teflon and recently bought a Sanyo (to replace my old rice cooker which died after a mere ±20 years). It has been doing just great!

                        1. I used to use my rice cooker quite a bit until I read a rice recipe in an ancient Galloping Gourmet cookbook. I haven't touched the rice cooker since. All you need are two pots and a collander.

                          1. Bring 4 cups of water to boil.
                          2. Add 1 cup of rice (any type).
                          3. Cover loosely and simmer for 10 minutes.
                          4. Place a collander in your second pot, dump the rice and water into the collander.
                          5. Place a lid over the collander (to retain steam), return pot and rice and collander to heat, and simmer another 10 minutes.
                          6. Fluff and serve.

                          For smaller portions, this is ideal, and you don't have to break any appliances out. The rice doesn't stick to the pan, because you remove it before it boils over. And it's fairly bulletproof. I've tried Japanese rice, basmati rice, converted rice, wild rice. Ten minutes boiling, ten minutes steaming, done.

                          1. I know this might be heresy, but consider a microwave rice cooker for some tasks. Long grain rices come out pretty well, but I'm not brave enough to cook glutenous or long cooking (brown, wild) rice in one. Oh, yeah, it's real easy to clean...