The Sanyo EC-505 5-Cup Rice Cooker: Product Review

I don’t know if┬árecommends this sort of use, but I’ve made everything from chili, to chowder, to eggs, to pasta, to pancakes, to lightly toasting bagels with my Sanyo 5-Cup Rice Cooker. Hey, it’s a hot metal surface, right? It isn’t the ideal utensil for making such things, particularly given that it doesn’t have an on-off switch or a temperature control, but it surely does work in a pinch.
Fortunately, it is pretty good at the thing it was intended for as well – cooking rice. The rub is that it is really much better at cooking two to three cups of rice or less rather than the full five cups.

The unit comes with a steel cookpot with glass pot cover (with a small hole for steam venting), and a small ventilated metal tray that you can use to steam a small amount of veggies over the rice while it is being cooked. I found the tray to be good for steaming small, diced veggies (like baby carrots cut into slightly smaller chunks), but bigger hunks won’t get cooked all the way through during a normal cycle of rice cooking. The unit also comes with a small cheap spatula and measuring cup, neither of which is any great shakes, but both of which do the job adequately.

As mentioned, there is no On-Off switch. The unit is constantly on when plugged in, and you simply toggle it between Warm and Cook modes. To completely stop it from heating, you have to unplug it. I find this to be a minor inconvenience sometimes, but for most cooking tasks it actually isn’t that big a deal. There’s apparently some sort of temperature sensor at the bottom somewhere, as the unit will automatically kick off sometimes if it senses things getting too hot (that is to say, it’ll flip over into Warm mode automatically). Usually this happens when moisture has run out in the unit and dry stuff is touching the bottom, so it’s a good safeguard against burning and also tends to kick off just about when the rice is done if you add the right amount of water to begin with.

The problem with cooking more than three cups of rice at a time is that the unit seems to generate a lot of “dirty” steam, which leaves a residue all over the lid and sometimes “spits up” through the steam vent to make a mess around the outside perimeter of the rice cooker as well. While this is really just a minor clean-up issue, it can be a little annoying. I’ve never had any problems with the actual quality of the rice when cooking more than three cups at a time.

All-in-all, I’m pretty happy with this unit. It’s great for dorm rooms, extended-stay or residential hotels, or as a quick meal-maker for the office. It really works better for one person as opposed to family cooking, due to the clean-up issues and the overall fairly small quantity of rice it cooks, but in a pinch five cups of rice is enough for a base for a multi-person meal. The only other issue I would raise with it is that the included power cord is fairly short (maybe 3 feet), so you may need some sort of an extender to get it to the nearest outlet. The unit seems to retail for between $20 to $30, and at that price I’d say it is a good buy.

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