Essentially a portable rice cooker, this amazing gadget revolutionizes lunch in the office.

With as much rice as Japan eats, it’s no surprise that electronics makers offer all sorts of jumbo, family-sized rice cookers. But the model that’s most recently caught our attention went in the completely opposite direction by being small enough to basically make a single serving of rice for just one person.

That might sound kind of inconvenient for home use, but the great thing about manufacturer Thanko’s Super High-Speed One-Person Bento Box Rice Cooker is that it’s incredibly compact and lightweight. The unit is just 24 centimeters (9.4 inches) long and weighs only one kilogram (2.2 pounds), meaning you can carry it to the office and cook right at your desk, giving you freshly cooked rice to enjoy as part of your lunch!

The cooking gadget is available exclusively through Thanko’s online store for 6,980 yen (US$63), and it’s popular enough that orders can take as many as two months to fulfill. We were lucky enough to get ours delivered the other day, and were eager to try it out.

Aesthetically, the Super High-Speed One-Person Bento Box Rice Cooker is incredibly simple. If you don’t have the power cord attached, it honestly just looks like a sturdier-than-usual bento box (which, as we’ll see later on, makes perfect sense).

The package is pretty simple: there’s the primary unit/base, a lid, a detachable power cord, and a small cup with which to measure the rice prior to cooking it.

On the inside surface you’ll see a couple of measuring lines. The one marked “1” shows how much water you should pour in after adding the rice and before you start cooking if you use a full scoop of the measuring cup, which makes 180 milliliters (6.1 ounces) of rice, while the “0.5” is the line to fill the water to for a half-scoop of rice from the cup.

After adding water from the tap in the SoraNews24 office’s kitchenette, we plugged in the rice cooker and flipped the one and only switch to start the cooking process.

We were making a half-scoop batch, for which Thanko promises that the entire cooking process takes just 14 minutes (a full-scoop serving requires an additional five minutes to cook). But as we were typing away at our desk, we kept glancing over at the machine nervously.

Many rice cookers in Japan have displays showing their progress, with beeps or chimes marking milestones. The Super High-Speed One-Person Bento Box Rice Cooker has no audio indicators, though. It doesn’t gurgle or shoot out a stream of steam either. There’s just a tiny red light to show its cooking, but with no sound to confirm this we weren’t convinced…until we gingerly touched the machine, and found that it had grown warm without making a sound.

▼ In retrospect, the fact that it does its job so quietly is a definite plus, since that way it won’t distract/annoy you or your coworkers.

14 minutes after we’d flipped the switch, the indicator lamp changed color to green, indicating that the rice was done and the machine was now in its low-energy keep-warm mode. Since it was also time for our lunch break to begin, we opened up the lid for the moment of truth.

Lifting the lid allowed an enticing cloud of steam to billow out, bringing with it the mouthwatering aroma of a fresh batch of rice.

But just like pudding, the proof of rice is in the eating, so we grabbed our chopsticks, then grabbed a mouthful of rice…

…and were happy to learn that the Super High-Speed One-Person Bento Box Rice Cooker makes rice that not only looks and smells legit, but tastes fantastic! The result are as good as you’d get with a full-size cooker.

Of course, even through rice is the foundation of most meals in Japan, it’s not a complete meal in and of itself. But a quick pouch of instant curry was all we needed to add for a delicious, hot lunch.

▼ And remember how we mentioned the bento box-like size of the machine makes perfect sense? That’s because the size makes it easy to eat directly out of.

As a matter of fact, the Super High-Speed One-Person Bento Box Rice Cooker works so well that we used it again the next day, this time sprinkling on some furikake rice topping and cracking open some canned buri (yellowtail).

So yeah, the Super High-Speed One-Person Bento Box Rice Cooker completely delivers on its promise of convenient, fresh rice in the office. There’s currently a one-month backlog on orders, but if you’re patient enough to wait that long, it can be ordered here through Thanko’s online shop.

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]