Confused about how to choose the right rice cooker for you? Don't worry, so are a lot of people, so here is a handy guide about what to consider or look for when you are buying a rice cooker.
Conventional or Fuzzy Logic
The majority of rice cookers that are available in the UK and Europe are basic conventional on/off with a loose fitting glass lid (during cooking starchy water can spit out). These rice cookers are only marginally better than using a saucepan – they simply boil the rice, reacting to when a certain temperature is reached, it switches off. A lot of these types of rice cookers burn the rice or over-cook it.
Fuzzy logic rice cookers on the other hand, are superior to conventional rice cookers. They are completely sealed units, so no mess is created when cooking and the fuzzy logic is the ‘brains’ of the machine. The fuzzy logic calculates carefully the temperatures and reacts, making the heating element react to different stages of the cooking cycle. The rice is steamed rather than boiled and the resulting rice is far better in taste and texture.
The other type of rice cooker is Induction Heating. Induction Heating (IH) in rice cookers occurs when coils in the bottom of the unit create a magnetic field. When the stainless steel inductive layer of the non-stick ceramic inner cooking bowl is placed into the rice cooker and the unit is activated, a magnetic field is generated to create instant heat throughout this layer. Through this technology, the inner cooking pan itself rather than the heating element becomes the heat source utilizing both even yet high heat and fine heat adjustments to control the cooking process.
Our Bamboo (YUM-IH15) model is the first Induction Heating rice cooker made for the UK and Europe.
Exclusive to Yum Asia’s Bamboo rice cooker model is Umai Induction Heating (IH). Induction Heating in rice cookers occurs when coils in the bottom of the unit create a magnetic field that specifically heats up the inner bowl and contents.
‘Umai’ in Japanese means smart brain which refers to the microprocessor used to make fine adjustments in temperature and cooking times. Because our Umai IH sytem is so smart (and combines IH with advanced fuzzy logic), it makes our Bamboo IH rice cooker more efficient, this means your rice is absolutely perfect every single time and it is cooked faster than other IH rice cookers.
Zojirushi IH models for the UK and Europe are very, very expensive and haven’t passed any CE safety tests, so therefore cannot be legally supplied within the UK or Europe.
Size of the rice cooker
The first thing to consider is the size of the rice cooker you need. Rice cookers come in different sizes, these sizes are usually termed in cup sizes or litres. Yum Asia sells 4 different sized rice cookers – 3 cup (0.5 litre), 5.5 cup (1 litre), 8 cup (1.5 litre) and 10 cup (1.8 litre). All of these maximum capacities are for uncooked white rice, brown rice capacity is lower due to the fact it cooks/expands differently to white rice.
Broadly speaking, the cup size of a rice cooker corresponds to how many people you are cooking for, however, it also depends on how much rice you usually cook per person. So, the measuring cup provided with rice cookers is 180ml/180g, so a 3 cup model cooks 540g of uncooked white rice and 360g of uncooked brown rice. A 5.5 cup model cooks 990g of white, 720g of brown. An 8 cup model cooks 1.44kg of white rice, 5 of brown. A 10 cup model cooks 1.8kg of white rice, 1.44kg of brown.
These maximum capacities should help you work out which rice cooker is the better option for you. You also need to consider if you are going to be entertaining people or wanting to cook extra for lunches, if so, you should factor this into the size you want to buy.
Functions of the Rice Cooker
It’s always useful to know what features you would like in a rice cooker. Think practically about what features you will and won’t use.
Most of Yum Asia’s rice cookers have features in common – white rice, brown rice, sweet rice (for sticky/glutinous rice), quick cook, porridge, timer, keep warm and extended keep warm. Then each model has different add on features which you may find useful. These add on features include steaming (for meat and veg), cake baking, thicker/thinner congee (porridge), Yumami, GABA brown, premium taste, slow cook, crust (Persian Tahdig), soup, yoghurt.
By thinking about what features you would use, it will help you make your decision. One thing to note is that not every model will have all of the features you want, so you may need to make a choice between what functions are most important for you.
Country of Manufacture
A lot of people and online reviewers have the impression that rice cookers made in Japan are better than rice cookers made in China. We would categorically say this isn’t true. Based on our over 11 years experience, we don’t feel there is any difference in manufacturing standards between the countries, this is because Zojirushi has dedicated factories where only their products are made.
It’s also worth noting that just because a product states it’s ‘made in Japan’ doesn’t mean that all of it’s components are – it only needs to be assembled in Japan for a company to state it’s ‘made’ there.
Yum Asia’s rice cookers are made in factories based in China with components from different countries (like Korea), this factory manufactures to the highest standards and also makes rice cookers for high-end brands like Cuckoo and Tiger.
Inner Bowl Material
Increasingly important to a lot of people is the material the inner bowl is coated in. For example, Zojirushi rice cookers are coated in Sumiflon (a Teflon-like coating) Zojirushi do not make any other type of inner bowl, other than the Sumiflon coated ones.
All of Yum Asia’s rice cookers have ceramic coated inner bowls included as standard, we took on customers concerns regarding Sumiflon/Teflon and decided to only use hard-wearing, heavy duty ceramic coated inner bowls.
Only a Rice Cooker or More?
Are you happy to have a rice cooker that mostly only cooks rice or do you want a multi-function rice cooker that has useful add-on features. For example, Zojirushi models mostly only cook rice – some of them have added features, but these are usually very basic. Models like the NS-TSQ10 (and the larger NS-TSQ18) have a steaming and cake baking feature, the NL-AAQ10 (and the NL-AAQ18) has a steaming feature. The NS-YSQ10 (and NS-YSQ18) has a short-grain rice setting, GABA brown, thicker/thinner congee and a slow cook feature.
Yum Asia’s Sakura rice cooker has steaming, cake baking, soup, slow cook, crust (Tahdig) and yoghurt features.
Yum Asia’s Bamboo Umai Induction Heating rice cooker has steaming, cake baking, slow cook, crust (Tahdig) features. It also has a unique ‘Yumami’ feature which cooks the rice in a specific way to release the sugars in the rice to make it tastier (umami) and GABA brown feature.
It’s also worth considering if the add-on features work as you would expect them to, or whether they are just basic add-ons. For example, the slow cook feature on the NS-YSQ10 is very basic, can only be used for liquid based dishes and cannot be programmed. It can be used for a maximum of 4 hours and can’t be used with the keep warm. In contrast, Sakura’s and Bamboo’s slow cook is programmable from 2-8 hours and acts more like a stand-alone slow cooker, so can be used for joints of meat or liquid based dishes. It also switches to keep warm when the cooking cycle has finished.
Buying a Rice Cooker
Yum Asia is the number one in the UK and Europe for high-end rice cookers. We offer a fully protected buying system, a comprehensive warranty and best of all, everything is shipped from the UK so you won’t pay any additional Customs fees which overseas purchases would incur.
Yum Asia has been selling Zojirushi rice cookers for over 11 years and in 2016, launched our first own branded rice cooker, Sakura, which has rapidly become our best selling rice cooker model ever. Bamboo, our second rice cooker, is the first Induction Heating model made for the UK and Europe.
Zojirushi rice cookers aren’t automatically CE-certified for use and sale in the UK and Europe. Yum Asia makes sure every Zojirushi product it sells receives proper CE certification – and is the only company in the UK that does this. As a result, Zojirushi products you see elsewhere around the web won’t have this CE certification and thus shouldn’t be on sale.
So now you have had a chance to think about all of the above, you can go to Yum Asia’s site and take a look at the rice cookers they sell. If you still aren’t sure which rice cooker to purchase, don’t be afraid to ask questions, we are here to help!