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Product Review – Thanko Super Fast Portable Rice Cooker Bento Box

Thanko is a Japanese company that has been almost single-handedly keeping up Japan’s long tradition of gadget inventions. Whenever you see a list of top 100 crazy inventions from Japan, or something to that affect, you will find more than a few inventions from Thanko!

The range of Thanko inventions is wide, but today we will be reviewing a portable rice cooker that also functions as bento box. One problem with Japanese bentos is that when you get to work or wherever you are going, and have your boxed lunch, the rice is not fresh. You can microwave your bento, but warmed up cold rice is just not the same as freshly cooked rice. Thanko thought of a novel solution – why not combine a rice cooker with a bento? In other words, why not make the rice cooker super portable and super fast?

Right after getting my Thanko rice cooker box, opening it up, and taking a look inside, my first impression was that this is just a slightly large bento. The rice cooker unit is very compact, with the heater that actually heats up and cooks your rice layered at the bottom. And with a listed cooking time of 14 minutes for 0.5 go (a common Japanese rice portion measure), the unit is not only compact, but fast.

The contents of your Thanko box are very simple; just 4 items: the main body, lid, mini measuring cup, and power cord. Before using this new Thanko rice cooker, let’s introduce some of its features.

Ultra small and easy to carry

This rice cooker weights 840g, which is a bit heavy to carry on a metro commute, but still not too bad, and even easier to carry around if you commute by car. You can even use it in a car if the car has a power outlet.

Fast cooking time

There are two portion sizes, 0.5 go, and 1 go. The 0.5 go portion takes 14 minutes to cook, and the 1 go portion takes 19 minutes. Just place the uncooked rice and some water in the cooker, and before you know it, your freshly cooked rice will be ready for break time.

Let’s actually use the rice cooker

I did this in my apartment, but it would the same anywhere, like in an office environment, as long as you have access to electricity and water.

Step 1. Put in polished rice and water

Place the polished rice (what you would normally cook in any rice cooker) and a sufficient amount of water in the cooker. I put a 1 go portion and used bottled water to simulate somewhere without a readily available kitchen or sink.

Step 2. Plug the unit in, and switch it on!

After closing the rice cooker lid, connect the power cord to an outlet, and switch the cooker on. When cooking starts, a red light right above where the power cord connects to the cooker comes on.

Step 3. Wait for the green light, and open the lid

The instructions say that a 1 go portion takes 19 minutes to cook, so I timed it, and sure enough, right around the 19 minute mark, the red light turned green. There is no particular beep or sound, so you have to keep an eye out for the change. During the cooking process, a little steam will come out of the cooker after the 10 minute mark, so it’s probably best not to leave the it next to a computer or any sensitive electronics.

If you just keep the cooker plugged in and turned on with the green light, your rice will stay warm for you. If you unplug the power cord and then plug it back in again, there is no heating function, just a new rice cooking cycle.

When you open the lid, there is your hot, freshly cooked rice! I think if you leave your rice to steam for about 10 minutes after the green light comes on, it will be extra delicious.

The underside of the rice cooker lid will have water drops on it, like any other rice cooker, so be careful when opening it in an office environment. Since there is no rice scooper included, it would be convenient to have a spoon or your own scooper ready. 1 go is enough rice for 2 or 3 people’s lunches in Japan, so if you cook that full portion, share it with your coworkers. Or just make a 0.5 portion for yourself.

Step 4. Eat your freshly cooked rice directly from the rice cooker

One difference between this portable rice cooker and a standard one is that here, you are expected to eat right out of the cooker, as out of a bento box, instead of transferring the rice to a plate or other container. The freshly cooked rice is delicious, especially compared to warmed up microwave rice, and your coworkers will definitely be jealous of you!

Easy to clean up

The cord outlet on the rice cooker has a water-proof cap, so if you disconnect the power cord from the unit and close the cap, you can wash the rice cooker unit all together without disassembly. Or you can disassemble the rice cooker into its three parts to wash them separately.

This is pretty easy to use!

If the usage description in this article seems simple, that’s because this ricer cooker is so easy to use. There are no complicated functions. Just put in rice and water, close the lid, plug the unit in, and switch it on. Wait a short time for the green light to come on, open the lid (taking care of dripping water), and there you go!

I would definitely recommend this Thanko unit to anyone who wants freshly cooked rice on the go, and if you are interested, please check out our Thanko Super Fast Portable Rice Cooker Bento Box product page here at Allegro Japan. We ship all over the world directly from Japan, with free international shipping on every order, no matter how small. Thank you for reading!

Product Details:

Size: Width 240 × depth 100 × height 80 (mm)

Weight: 840g

Cooking time: 0.5 go – about 14 minutes; 1 go – about 19 minutes

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