Review: Hinode® White Long Grain Rice Microwave Cups

Coming from someone who now enjoys the best rice a home kitchen could have with my new Zojirushi Induction Heat Rice Cooker and super premium rice, how on earth could microwaveable “instant” rice ever measure up? Well, let’s find out in today’s product review.

Priced at $2.99, you get two 4.4 oz. mini bowls of Hinode® ready-to-serve microwaveable white long grain rice in each package. Hinode doesn’t offer short or medium grain white rice in microwaveable form, however they do have brown and jasmine microwaveable rice. There are other Japanese microwaveable white rice competitors on the shelf, which I’ll review in the future.

I need to look up YouTube on how to cook this rice. The instructions on the package are way too technical for me. lol Actually, being the typical guy I am, I’d probably attempt nuking it without even reading the directions. Look up my pressure cooker post on that one.

You have to wonder how they keep this rice shelf-stable, as it’s packed in a fully-cooked state, and stored at room temperature. Well the answer is that last ingredient called Distilled Monoglyceride (Palm). Looking that up, I found this explanation:

DIMODAN® (Distilled Monoglyceride) is used as anti-staling agents.

One of DIMODAN®’s main functionalities is mediated through starch complexing. Starch consists of two types of carbohydrate, amylose and amylopectin. When starch is mixed with water and heated, these two types of carbohydrate swell and form a gel from which the starch components slowly recrystallise. This phenomenon is known as retrogradation and is responsible for the staling process.

Amylose retrogradation occurs more rapidly than amylopectin retrogradation due to the difference in the molecular size and structure of the two types of carbohydrate.

Other examples of application areas of DIMODAN® include:

* anti-sticking agents in pasta, instant mashed potatoes and cereals
* emulsion stabilisation in margarine
* emulsion destabilisation in ice cream
* trans fat replacement

Key benefits:
* Efficient processing
* Improved product quality
* Fat reduction
* Shelf life extension
* Non-hydrogenated options
* Certified sustainable palm-based options

While Distilled Monoglyceride is safe for consumption, it still puts the term “processed” right into the product. The typical rice sold in 15 to 20 lb. bags you cook from raw grain is as whole as it gets, next to organic rice. There are no other ingredients added to preserve it.

Each microwave rice bowl measures 4″ diameter x 1¾” depth.

Interestingly, the instructions say to completely remove the plastic film before putting it in the microwave. I would have thought to leave it on and poke holes in it just to let the steam escape. See, good thing I read the instructions!

Here’s how it looks before heating it up in the microwave…

It feels fully cooked, yet firm, kinda’ rubbery and tightly packed, where the trapped water molecules gets released during the short 40 second microwaved cooking time, magically steaming the rice to a “fresh” cooked, al dente, fluffy state.

After 40 seconds, then quickly fluffing it up and adding an Ume (Japanese pickled plum) for presentation, voila…

Hai, itadakimasu.

The resulting fully “cooked” (nuked) rice turned out surprisingly fresh tasting, with a fluffy texture, albeit a bit mushy. My biggest problem with it, as I expected, is that it’s instant or microwaved. It’s just the very nature that it’s long grain rice. If you’re used to Chinese rice, then this will be fine, however, if you’re more used to the stickier, more “tight” Japanese style short or medium grain white rice, this isn’t going to go over well for you, as it didn’t for me. Long Grain White Rice is just too loose, hardly having any stick to each grain, while also having a subtle nuttiness to it, not a “clean” flavor like medium and short grain white rice.

Let’s try mask its instant long grain flavor weirdness and looseness with some furikake and more meaty Ume to mix into it…

Much better, however the looseness of the long grain rice is still off putting. Add to that, the sesame seeds add even more nuttiness to it then it needs.

Whether cooked conventionally or in the micro’, this loose long grain rice could never be turned into a musubi, that’s for sure, unless you don’t mind eating your musubi with a fork or spoon after its crumbled out of your hand.

This needs something with a sauce or gravy to mix into the rice and mask it even further. I didn’t have any type of stew on-hand, so I decided to top it with one my favorite gravy straight from mother nature, the runny yolk from a sunny side up egg!…

There’s very little rice underneath that egg — about a handful — so the yolk-to-rice ratio is favorable. Check it out….

Much, much, MUCH better! So much so, I actually finished the entire little bowl. Otherwise if it was just the plain microwaved white long grain rice, or with the furikake, forget it. Now the Yolk gives it some “stick” and richness, where it was much more palatable and satisfying.

While I’ve never reviewed it here, I have tried the brown rice instant bowls from Costco, and those are just OK as well. Personally I wouldn’t buy it myself.

Speaking which, I do have this Minsley Cooked Quinoa Microwave Bowl, also from Costco, that I have yet to try…

Back to the Hinode® Microwave Rice Bowl, summing it up, the taste and texture of this long grain white rice is decently fresh, considering it can sit in your pantry at room temp’ for several years. However it is what it is, being long grain rice; something that many Hawaii folks probably won’t like (including myself), with its slight hint of nuttiness, and grains that aren’t sticky enough like Japanese medium and short grain rice.

However, if you’re not really a rice person, where it doesn’t really matter, as “rice is rice”, this would be just fine.

What? Hinode® 2 Microwave Cups White Long Grain Rice
Where did you buy it and how much was it? Don Quijote, $2.99
Big Shaka to: Convenient, super easy to prepare and fast to heat up in Micro’ at just 40 seconds. Each bowl is a perfect portion for a single meal. The taste and texture is surprisingly “fresh” for rice packages this way. Nutritional values are decent (gluten free, sodium free, cholesterol free, low fat). Attractive, compact packaging makes it easy to store, even in small spaces. Long shelf life, refrigeration not required. My Zojirushi Induction Heat Rice Cooker “saving” me. lol
No Shaka to: Jasmine, Brown & White Long Grain Rice the only option for Hinode’s microwaveable rice products (no white medium or short grain rice options). White Long Grain Rice has weird taste (esp. if you’re used to Japanese medium and short grain rice), while being too loose. Zojirushi Induction Heat Rice Cooker spoiling me with perfect rice at home, every time, so all other rice is now inferior.
The Tasty Island rating: 1 SPAM Musubi (average)

P.S. Here’s a couple Note 3 wide-angle vertical views yesterday afternoon at Diamond Head Beach (moved here from the previous post)…