Whether rightfully or not, Chinese products are much maligned for their supposed lack of quality. Even the Chinese people themselves are often critical of their own country’s products, criticizing everything from Chinese news to rice cookers.

But are they really that bad? Our Japanese reporter Meg recently went on a trip to China and brought back a Chinese rice cooker to test it out. She had a couple of surprises along the way, involving everything from getting the rice cooker to even work, to the taste of the final product, so read on to see how it all turned out!

The Chinese rice cooker that Meg purchased is a Midea eight-cup model. She got it in Shanghai for 399 yuan (US$63) and hauled it back to Japan on her return trip. The Midea rice cooker was rated the best Chinese cooker in the world for 12 years straight, so we had high hopes for it here.

▼ “Midea” being a slight rearranging of the romanization of the characters next to it (meide meaning “beautiful”).


▼ D’aww, it’s all pink and round and kind of cute. So far it’s living up to its name.


When Meg bought the rice cooker and told the elderly female store clerk that she intended on using it in Japan, she was laughed at. Apparently it’s very common for Chinese people to import Japanese rice cookers because of their perceived higher quality, so Meg doing the complete opposite kind of blew the woman’s mind.

Still, the clerk was kind enough to remind Meg that she needed to buy a voltage converter if she was going to use the Chinese product in Japan. Japanese and Chinese electric outlet voltages are different, so the rice cooker wouldn’t even work without one. Meg decided she’d cross that bridge back in Japan though, mostly because just carrying the rice cooker already took both her hands so she didn’t have one to spare for a converter.

▼ “So are you gonna help me carry this? No, you’re just gonna keep taking pictures?
Okay then….”


Once back in Japan, Meg called a voltage converter company to see what kind of converter she’d need to buy. The rice cooker’s instructions said it needed 900 watts to work, but the company representative said that rice cookers and other electrical items that get heated up usually require two or three times their printed number.

So just to get the Chinese rice cooker to work, Meg had to buy the strongest converter she could find: a 3000-watt-producing, 24-pound, 34,000 yen ($284) monstrosity. That’s more than four times the price of just the rice cooker itself!

▼ “Hey baby. Is my voltage high enough to turn you on?”


But once everything was plugged in and ready, it was all worth it when the rice cooker actually worked.

▼ Hooray! So, does anyone else have any Chinese goods they need to plug in? Because I really hope I didn’t waste all that money on a converter just for this….


Now came time for the real test: how would it cook the rice? Would it be burnt on the bottom and uncooked on the top? Would it turn to mush? Or would it put Japanese rice cookers to shame and shatter all of our deep-held beliefs?

You can watch a video of the process here, or if you’re impatient/can’t watch videos, then scroll down for spoilers:






So how did it taste? Well, in the wise words of Meg:

▼ “It tastes just like normal.”


It was a success! …kind of. Nothing incredibly horrible or horribly incredible happened. The rice was just… fine. You can take a look at the final product here:

▼ Yup. It’s rice.


So if the rice from the Chinese cooker turned out just as tasty as a Japanese rice cooker’s, then why do Chinese people still prefer Japanese ones? And why is there such a perceived difference between the two all around the world?

One answer could possibly be that the difference has nothing to do with the rice, but instead is because of the difference in the durability of the rice cookers. Japanese rice cookers are considered to be a long-term investment, lasting for years and years like a piece of furniture.

Chinese rice cookers, even if they produce perfectly delectable rice, have a reputation for not lasting as long as Japanese ones. While we’re not completely sure if this is true or not, if you check out the video above you can see toward the end that the lid of the rice cooker flies up really fast, so much so that it can launch a projectile off it a good distance away. With such intensity being put on the hinge, it’s not hard to imagine that it would snap after not so many uses.

So what do you think? Is the difference between Japanese and Chinese rice cookers purely psychological? Or have you had a bad experience with one or the other and sworn it off forever? Let us know in the comments!

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