Zojirushi Rizo: The Rice Cooker That Will Convince the West?

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Trends in Japan says that rice cooker manufacturer Zojirushi's latest model, the "Rizo," was designed with "the western kitchen in mind." I'm not quite sure what that means—many rice cookers, including some from Zojirushi, have been available here for a while. I don't think it's the design that's holding them back from mass market penetration, but simply that rice isn't the everyday staple for most Americans as it is for many Asian cultures. I am curious about the special "risotto mode," however; how would it do all that stirring?

Another model from Zojirushi, called the "i-pot," will send a text message to your phone if it hasn't been used in a while, the better to keep track of the elderly's behavior. I know that when my parents die I want the first person to tell me to be the rice cooker.

Zojirushi Rizo rice cooker plans western invasion [Trends in Japan]

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26 Comments

  1. Another reason Zojirushi rice cookers haven’t “invaded” the West yet is that they’re just so bloody expensive. The $30 rice cooker I got on NewEgg.com works great for a fifth the price or less.

    Nice products, really. We owned a great Zojirushi coffee maker for several years until it released the blue-smoke genie and stopped working.

  2. I love the Zojirushi that I have (if you shop around you can get one for about a hundered bucks), and will say that it is far superior to other rice cookers I’ve used. I don’t really understand what fuzzy logic means in terms of rice cooking, but this cooker makes whatever I put in it come out perfect, so that’s enough for me. Not sure I need it to email me though, just cook brown rice properly.

    I wonder if the risotto setting is simply the porridge setting renamed for the sad people of the west who can’t get their heads around congee?

  3. The i-pot needs to be a little more specific with it’s information: ‘grandmother is trying to boil an egg in me’ or ‘grandmother is using me to water her houseplants’.

    Oh, and surely there’s a world of difference between risotto and congee. The congee that I have eaten in Hong Kong is basically watery rice, about as far from risotto as it’s possible to get.

  4. The model in the illustration looks dumbed down to me. My Zojirushi has a full display and timer. Truly a fantastic appliance which does just what it says.

    I also make stone cut oatmeal in it (1 cup water, 1/2 the unwashed rice measure cup on the porridge setting) and bake bread:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rcc_ITDgCY

    Their hot water dispensers are fantastic as well.

    They may cost a bit, but they are incredibly well built and well thought out.

  5. Maybe I’m missing the point.

    This seems like a really expensive way to replace a simple stove top pot.

    Rice is just not that hard to cook…..

  6. The best rice cooker that I’ve ever seen is a simple cast-aluminum pot–relatively wide and shallow, with sloped sides–that my ex-wife owns. Made great rice on the stovetop without various gimcracks and fuzzy logic and whatnot.

  7. Re: C1JOSH

    If you cook rice on a regular basis, using a rice cooker allows a level of precision and consistency that is impossible on a stovetop. Aside from control, the stove top is just inconvenient for pressure cooking. The whole “lid slightly off enough to allow just a little steam out” routine gets old very quickly.

  8. Re: C1JOSH

    Also, rice cookers make it incredibly easy to get perfect brown rice every time (a touchy hourlong task on the stove) and the fancy fuzzy-logic models can keep a pot of rice hot and ready to eat for hours without it getting mushy or dried out.

  9. I don’t understand: to those that own a Zojirushi, what does this do that the cheap ones at the Asian market don’t? Can it cook more rice, or cook it faster or something? I’ve seen some rice cookers that can scorch the rice on bottom of pot, but the one I have now cooks my rice perfectly and it cost me $25.

    I guess mine can’t cook risotto, but, seriously, who is looking for a risotto-cooking appliance?

  10. I am interested in owning a rice cooker. Maybe then I can start eating more like a Buddhist and less like a Fundamentalist! 🙂

  11. I miss my rice cooker sorely… There’s nothing as simple as a throw-in-rice-vegetables-meat-soy sauce-water-whatever-and-press-play kind of meals when you’re tired after a long day.

    Next time I’m in Japan I’ll bring one back (well, if I do return that is) and get a step-up converter for the darn thing. Expensive? They come in all colours and price tags so not really. Zoujirushi is usually at the upper price range so I’m not surprised.

    21,000 JYP isn’t even close to the most expensive ones. Try any regular electronics chain over there and you’ll soon realize than you can take this much, much further say into the 50,000 yen range… Luckily you can get one for 4,000 yen as well.

  12. I never understood the need for rice cookers, when it’s simple enough to cook rice in an ordinary saucepan.

    The technique I use: pour in the requisite quantity of rice, rinse it, then add water until there’s about a thumbnail’s worth covering the rice, then boil until the water has evaporated from the top, after which turn down to a low heat and cook for five more minutes. It’s not exactly rocket surgery, and the quality of results (generally excellent) is good enough that devoting money and bench space to a dedicated rice-cooking gizmo seems superfluous. Is there something I’m missing?

  13. @16:

    Rice for many Asian and Asian-American families is ubiquitous for nearly every meal, and in fact at least in Vietnamese, the word for ‘rice’ is the same as that for ‘food’ or ‘meal’. As such, it’s extremely handy to have a device that can prepare a large quantity of rice, do so unattended, and keep at the serving temperature for hours.

    A good analogy I think is coffee makers: it is easy enough to brew coffee and filter it, or to use a french press, but people who have coffee every morning more often use an automatic drip machine. In Vietnam, surely rice cookers outnumber coffee makers many-fold.

    Appliances are worth only as much as how often they are used, and this is why rice cookers are extremely popular with Asians and Asian-Americans, and why they will perhaps never be adopted in the West.

  14. Same in Japanese, in that the word for ‘(boiled) rice’ and ‘meal’/’food’ is widely used both ways.

    Also, way back, traditionally there has never really been any “pot cooking” rice in at least Japan and, I suspect, many other countries. The old way was to steam boil the rice in a bamboo setup, not a pot. That way you can’t burn the rice as it’s all indirect heat.

  15. I adore my Zojirushi rice cooker, although I still cannot believe to this day that I paid $200 or so for the thing a couple years ago.

  16. The risotto function is probably congee. For some reason Japanese risotto is the farthest thing I’ve had from real risotto — a thin soup with rice. Tasty but surprising if ordered.

  17. The risotto function is hopefully a longer-cooking version of the congee (porridge) setting on their regular fuzzy-logic rice cookers.

    I have one of those, and it’s pretty easy to make very very passable risotto using two cycles of the porridge mode, stirring once every 15 minutes or so. No, it’s not traditional risotto, but it’s good, and the texture is close. Given the drastic reduction in effort, it’s defintely worth it.

    Here’s how you do it. Saute some onions, or mushrooms, or whatever you’re adding, in a tablespoon or so of oil, in a large pan on the stove. As they get close to done, add risotto rice, stir to coat, and cook until slightly translucent (3-4 minutes). Transfer the whole thing to the rice cooker, and add 3 cups of chicken stock per cup of rice. Put it on the porridge mode, and stir every 15 minutes or so. When done, reset it and turn it on again, again stirring every 15 minutes or so. (On the model I have, I have to let it cool first before it will start again.). After the second cycle, the liquid should be completely absorbed – if not, then let it sit for 10 minutes or so. Stir in some butter, parmesan, salt, and pepper, and serve.

    1. That sounds great, Adam! I make risotto a lot at home the traditional way, although mine tends to come out stickier than I’d prefer. I think I need to kill the heat before it absorbs all the stock.

  18. I paid over $200 for my fuzzy logic Zoujirushi and it’s the best investment I’ve ever made in a kitchen appliance. It makes PERFECT rice every time, NO EFFORT, especially brown rice. I love the fact that it has a timer, and I often use it to have fresh, hot steelcut oatmeal or plain congee waiting for me when I wake up in the morning. Also really like the GABA brown rice setting.

  19. I’m not too sure about the Rizo model, it looks a bit flimsy and I don’t like the fact that there is no display.

    I searched for a long time for a supplier of Zojirushi in Europe because in my mind Zojirushi are the best brand of rice cookers and I was lucky to find a company that sells them in Europe and the UK (Yum Asia).

    The model I have is an NS-ZAQ10 (US equivalent is ZCC10) and it’s the best applicance I ever bought. It produces perfect rice every time and I love the timer button for my oatmeal for breakfast and it’s great that the rice is ready for me when I come in from work – all at the press of one button. When you eat a lot of rice a Zojirushi is the ultimate appliance you can own…in my opinion it is worth every penny and I wouldn’t be without mine! I’m now looking at buying a Zojirushi hot water boiler I’m that impressed with this brand.

  20. to the people who say a rice cooker is pointless because you can cook rice in a pot on the stove – that makes as much sense as saying buying a toaster is pointless because you can just as easily toast bread in front of a campfire. and roast chicken directly in the coals.

  21. Like the other owners here, I like my Zojirushi Neuro-Fuzzy logic rice cooker for its perfect brown rice, which doesn’t come out right on $25 rice cookers. But I wish they would make their batteries user replaceable, rather than having to send the whole until back to the factory.

    And I didn’t pay $200 for mine – got a decent discount at Amazon so I paid $125.

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