Panasonic SR-3NA-S Review
Pros: For consumers cooking for a small family, those living alone, or even students living in dorms, a little 3-cup rice cooker like the Panasonic SR-3NA-S (starting at $40; available on Amazon) can make a perfect amount of rice. It also doesn't demand much storage space on a counter or elsewhere, and its tiny footprint makes it easily portable and quite good for travel, as well. Several reviewers posting on Amazon rely on this little machine for healthy eating on long-haul road trips, while staying in hotels, or even making baby food while away from home.
Some Panasonic SR-3NA-S reviews say this rice cooker is almost foolproof, so much so that we were hard-pressed to find any complaints at all about the quality of the rice it serves up. The instructions suggest a lengthy process of soaking rice prior to cooking, and then allowing it to steam in the machine for an additional 30 minutes after cooking, but one reviewer notes on Amazon that rice made in this pot comes out just fine even without heeding these pointers.
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Cons: While it is possible to make both white and brown rice in this machine, reviews suggest it takes some experimentation to figure out the exact proportions of rice and water necessary. Users also say the instructions included with the appliance are extremely vague. There seems to be more than a little confusion about the 1.5 cups of uncooked rice it claims to hold -- are those American cups or Japanese cups, or the cup that comes with the cooker? On Amazon, one reviewer suggests ignoring the instructions completely and going with whatever ratio is recommended on the bag of rice.
Features: The Panasonic SR-3NA-S is about as simple as a rice cooker gets. Just measure the rice and turn it on -- it turns itself off. This means that it has no warming function, which is a problem for some people who like to keep rice warm all day, although those people are likely to buy a much bigger rice cooker. For short-term heating, users just keep the lid on the pot so the steam stays in. The lid on this machine is removable for easy cleanup and made of glass, so it's possible to see the contents as they cook and settle. Despite the lack of a vent hole in the lid, there are no complaints about sticky or mushy rice after sitting. Unlike most rice cookers, this one does not come with a steamer basket or a paddle; just the measuring cup.
Takeaway: Although this small model costs as much as many larger machines, it does something that many of them can't -- it makes just enough rice when not a lot is needed, and it manages to do so flawlessly most of the time. Its durability is not in question either, as several users say they've owned this personal-size pot for years.