Julia and Tania's World

Electric Lunchbox – 小玩熊 playbear Brand

Electric Lunchbox - 小玩熊 playbear Brand

We were looking for something to make lunch at work with. We thought, how great would it be if we could find some sort of a light and compact cooking appliance to cook lunch at work with? It would allow us to have more options to have for lunch. We didn’t know if we would find such an appliance when we thought of this. These electric lunchboxes then popped up in our search on an online shopping website, taobao.com. We were excited! Light, compact and we could make delicious food with it. We got a Taobao agent to help us purchase a couple and got them to send it through to us! We went through the trouble of getting a Taobao agent to order and ship the electric lunchboxes to us from taobao.com because back when we were searching for something like these electric lunchboxes, they could only be found on taobao.com for us and Taobao didn’t ship to our country (New Zealand). That was a couple of years ago. Now though, electric lunchboxes can easily be found on aliexpress.com which ships internationally.

The question is: can you actually take it to work and cook food with one of these electric lunchboxes? We’ll let you know if you can and if we did after we give a review on these 小玩熊 playbear electric lunchboxes. :oP :oP

These electric lunchboxes cooks food for one person. It’s food like steamed rice, congee, instant noodles, steamed fresh vegetables, simple soups or steamed or boiled eggs that you can use to cook with just this electric lunchbox. If it’s not cooking food with these electric lunchboxes, it’s reheating food that you’ve already cooked. It’s very convenient. You’re able to throw food into the electric lunchbox and then eat straight out of it. With the ability to let it cook away whilst you do something else or preset the cooking start time, it’s even more convenient. Cleanup is easy, too! It’s just tipping out the water from the electric lunchbox and washing the food container the food cooked in.

How the Electric Lunchbox Cooks Food

There’s an element at the base of the electric lunchbox. This is the silver part at the centre. You pour water into the base and the element heats this water up to create steam to cook food. You place food in a stainless steel container and this goes into the electric lunchbox. Place the lid of the electric lunchbox on, set the cooking time and away the electric lunchbox cooks!

Electric Lunchbox - element at the base of the lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox - Noodle soup with egg and vegetables

Size and Material

One of the things we like about the 小玩熊 playbear brand electric lunchbox is its light weight, size and the ability to choose to use one layer to cook food or two layers to cook food.

The size is pretty compact. Its external diameter is 160mm. Height is 210mm when two layers are used and 160mm when only one layer is used. The electric lunchbox is 1.5kg.

The lightness of the electric lunchbox comes from the body material being made of plastic. The internals are also plastic. The specifications of the plastic used is ‘a heat-resistant PP plastic that doesn’t emit toxic substances or odour during the cooking process.’ Having used the electric lunchbox almost daily since we bought it (a couple of years ago), nothing has degraded, become distorted or damaged from the heat of the steam or from cooking food. The material seems pretty good. We also didn’t notice any strange odours when we used it for the first time and boiled water. We can’t say anything about the plastic not emitting any toxic, though. We didn’t have any way to see if this was true.

Electric Lunchbox - lunchbox clip securing the lunchbox lid to the lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox - handle

The clips at the sides of the lid holding the plastic lid to the main electric lunchbox body is strong and sturdy. We’ve not had any problems with the electric lunchbox suddenly coming undone due to the weight of the food that we’ve put in there so far.

The plastic handle is very comfortable to hold. It’s also strong and sturdy. There was one time we tried to multitask with carrying the electric lunchbox along with something else in one hand. Though one side of the handle ever so slightly popped out of the insert that kept it connected to the lunchbox lid, no accidents came about. We connected the handle back to the lid and it was all good again.

Cooking Accessories

Electric Lunchbox - cooking accessories

Boiling Egg Rack

We think most of these electric lunch boxes out there comes with one of these things. The egg rack that comes with this electric lunchbox is made out of the same plastic as the electric lunchbox material. This rack can boil up to four eggs.

Stainless Steel Containers

The electric lunchbox comes with three stainless steel containers:

  • Main Lunchbox Container – Height: 60mm, Diameter: 150mm
  • Soup Container – Height: 65mm, Diameter: 140mm
  • Vegetable Dish – Height: 35mm, Diameter: 150mm

The stainless steel containers have the specifications of being food grade 304 Stainless Steel that doesn’t rust and is durable. We’ve found no issues with the stainless steel containers after many uses, so these containers are very durable and good for cooking.

Measuring Cup

A small plastic measuring cup is provided. We’re thinking this measuring cup is for the water to go into the electric lunchbox to make a certain softness or firmness of Chinese steamed eggs (also called water egg). Not too sure, actually. We guess you could use this measuring cup to measure other things. It has scale markings showing how much water you need to use:

  • 大熟 (firm) – 60ml
  • 中熟 (medium firm) – 40ml
  • 小熟 (soft) – 20ml

At the undersides of the measuring cup is a plastic poker. This is to poke the egg at one end before cooking so the egg doesn’t crack when being boiled. We don’t usually pierce a hole into the egg shells before boiling eggs, so we don’t use it much. We did give it a go once and we find that either we’re not doing it right or it’s not sharp enough. The poker at the bottom of the measuring cup is of plastic material just like the measuring cup.

Electric Lunchbox - measuring cup with 60ml water
Electric Lunchbox - 60ml of water at the electric lunchbox base

We were curious to know how much of the base the water level of 大熟 – 60ml fills and how long we’re able to cook with this amount of water. We placed that amount of water into the base. It’s pretty much the depth between the base and the element. This amount of water lasts close to 8 minutes.

Cooking Heat Temperature

We tend to only use just the first layer to cook with the electric lunchbox, but we did use the second layer one time to see how well it cooks up there. We put some small frozen red bean buns straight from the freezer up there at the second layer along with food we cooked at the first layer. The red bean buns didn’t really cook through by the time the food at the first layer was done. The cooking we did on the first layer was set to 30 minutes. We ended up using a pot on the stovetop to finish steaming the buns.

We went and measured how long it took to have the second layer reach 100°C / to have the water at boiling point. We had the bottom layer with nothing but a stainless steel container in there. It took 15 minutes for the second layer to have a temperature of 95°C. It took another minute to get to 99°C. The temperature goes up and down a degree after this point, but the 99°C is pretty much maintained up to the end of the 30-minute cooking time.

Auto-shutdown – Safety Feature

There was one time we didn’t pay attention to what was happening with the electric lunchbox. We just left it to do its thing by itself in another room. We came back to find the electric lunchbox suddenly gone quiet and not cooking anymore. It took us a bit of wondering what was going on. Was it broken or something else? Then we realised why it had stopped running. It was because the base was very low on water. We were impressed! This electric lunchbox has an auto-shutdown feature. It stops running and goes on standby/inactive mode when it’s low on water at the base.

Manual Cooking Time Option

This electric lunchbox has the ability to set the cooking time at increments of 1-minute on the shorter programmed cooking functions and 30-minute increments on the longer programmed cooking function. Minimum cooking time is 5 minutes. This means you can set the cooking time for say 32 minutes or 7 minutes with this electric lunchbox.

Electric Lunchbox - cooking function buttons

Steps:

  • Press Function button ‘功能’ (bottom-right button) once.
  • Press Set Time button ‘定时’ (top-right button) to increase the cooking time by 1 minute/30 minutes at a time.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ (bottom-left button) to start cooking.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ again if you want to cancel everything.

Negatives and Issues

Noise level

At the beginning of this post we asked the question of whether you’re able to take the electric lunchbox to work and cook food with it. The size and weight of the electric lunchbox was definitely compact and light enough to bring to work. However, the noise it makes whilst food is cooking away is rather loud and disruptive. This happens when the water level at the base is a level that makes the stainless steel container sit on the water and float. The more water you put in there, the longer the noise lasts. When the water at the base comes to a rolling boil, it makes the stainless steel container knock and bounce around inside. We don’t have a noise level meter handy, but we would say it’s moderately loud. Therefore, we didn’t use the electric lunchbox at work. We’ve been using the electric lunchbox at home only.

Surface rather hot

The electric lunchbox has the ability to cook for 4.5 hours, but personally we don’t use this feature when the electric lunchbox becomes somewhat hot even when cooking for only 30 minutes. We remember times where we had to let go of holding the lunchbox because it was too hot for us. It doesn’t feel so hot during winter when the air is chilly and the heat it produces is okay. (It’s even pleasant because the lunchbox warms your frozen hands.) However, in summer, you really notice the heat on the surface of the lunchbox when the environment is oh so hot. So, we don’t use the electric lunchbox for very long just in case it can’t handle the lengthy cooking time for fear it might overheat.

To see how hot the lunchbox gets, we let it run for 30 minutes and had the full two layers on. The temperature of the electric lunchbox at the external body surface reached to about 45°C. That doesn’t look that hot, but when you keep your hands on the surface for a while, it feels hot and burns a bit. We measured the surface of the lid at the top (furthest from the steam vent) and it reached around 80°C.

Small amounts of water flowing down the sides

Another thing that stops us from letting the lunchbox cook for more than 30 minutes is the amount of times we’d have to pour water to keep the water at the base from drying up. At the beginning, we did try putting enough water at the base so it’ll last the entire cooking time we set. However, we came across the issue of drops of water going down the sides of the electric lunchbox.

It doesn’t seem to be the condensation building up on the lid that makes water drops go down the sides of the electric lunchbox. We tested this. We let the electric lunchbox run without the stainless steel container and placed 5 cm of water at the base. No water drops went down the sides. The issue seems to come from the stainless steel container knocking around and making contact with the perimeter of the electric lunchbox. This seems to be what makes water drops flow down the sides. The location of where the water drops goes down depends on the perimeter the stainless steel container touches, we feel. This means the drips of water can go down any side of the lunchbox, including down the side where the power socket is. This is dangerous. The way to prevent the issue of water dripping down the sides is not putting too much water into the base. We think 0.5mm high is a good amount and then top up when it runs low. Have the electric lunchbox cook at a stationary (and flat) surface as well.

Electric Lunchbox Container – Small capacity

Personally, we find that the height of the stainless steel lunchbox container is a little short. The height of the tallest container is 65mm. Most of the time we find that we have to cook less than what we actually want, especially with something like a noodle soup or congee because we want to make sure we can add vegetables or some meat without the added weight making it overflow.

Containers – Sometimes difficult to open the lid

With the electric lunchbox coming along with lids (plastic ones), the stainless steel containers you use to cook food in the electric lunchbox can be used as storage containers. It’s another convenient thing that comes along with these electric lunchboxes. You’re able to just pop a lid on the container, take it to wherever you’re going. The only thing is, we’ve found that sometimes we have trouble opening the lid. This happens when we try to get the lid off after finishing the food and wanting to wash it. There’s a bit of suction going on at times and we can’t open it without some effort! However, there’s an upside. It’s leak-proof!

What We’ve Cooked with the Electric Lunchbox

Despite the handful of negatives we’ve found with this particular electric lunchbox and this particular brand of electric lunchbox, we still do love using it because it’s so convenient to use for making breakfast and quick convenient meals. We have been using it for two years now and we continue to use it today. We use it quite regularly as well. The foods we’ve cooked using this electric lunch box thus far are:

  • Rice
  • Boiled egg
  • Purple Rice Porridge
  • Instant noodles / ramen
  • Congee
  • Miso Soup
  • Hotpot
  • Steaming steamed buns (steaming on the first layer :oP :oP)

Yup. We have made a few convenient and delicious food with our electric lunchbox. It has helped us out during when we just need to cook something small to eat. It has helped us cook up breakfast whilst we got ready for the day. We also had it cook food whilst we watched our Asian dramas! (That’s our favourite thing to do in our spare time. We love watching Asian dramas!) It’s an awesome cooking appliance! If you ever thought of buying an electric lunchbox, you should! We love using ours!

Specifications

Lunch Box

  • Body Material: PP Plastic.
  • Container Material: 304 Stainless Steel
  • Cooking/Heating Method: Steam
  • Capacity: 2.0L
  • Power: 300W
  • Voltage: 220V~ (Works in New Zealand that have specifications of 230V 50Hz)
  • Frequency: 50Hz
  • External Diameter: 160 mm
  • Full Height: 210mm
  • Weight: 1.5kg

Accessories

  • Main Lunchbox Container – 304 Stainless Steel, Height: 60mm, Diameter: 150mm
  • Soup Container – 304 Stain Steel, Height: 65mm, Diameter: 140mm
  • Vegetable Dish – 304 Stainless Steel, Height: 35mm, Diameter: 150mm
  • Egg Rack – PP Plastic, Capacity: 4 eggs
  • Measuring Cup – Plastic
  • Power Cord: AU plug, Length: 900mm
  • 小玩熊 playbear Bag
  • Spoon and Chopstick set

Lunch Box Features

  • Auto-shutdown function
  • Preset feature. Up to 9.5 hours
  • Ability to manually turn on warm mode
  • Time remaining display (some electric lunchboxes don’t have this)
  • Programmed cooking times: 15mins, 30mins, 1hr
  • Manually set cooking time, minimum 5 minutes from adjusting one of the programmed cooking functions

Programmed Cooking Functions

煮饭 Cook Rice – 30 minutes

  • Press Function button ‘功能’ once.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm 30 minutes of cooking time OR
  • Press Set Time button ‘定时’ to increase cooking time 1 minute at a time. Goes up to 40 minutes then returns to 20 minutes cooking time. Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm cooking time.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ again to cancel everything.

蒸菜 Steam Vegetables – 30 minutes

  • Press Function button ‘功能’ twice.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm 30 minutes of cooking time OR
  • Press Set Time button ‘定时’ to increase cooking time 1 minute at a time. Goes up to 50 minutes then returns to 20 minutes cooking time. Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm cooking time.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ again to cancel everything.

热饭 Heat Food – 15 minutes

  • Press Function button ‘功能’ three times.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm 15 minutes of cooking time OR
  • Press Set Time button ‘定时’ to increase cooking time 1 minute at a time. Goes up to 20 minutes then returns to 5 minutes cooking time. Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm cooking time.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ again to cancel everything.

电炖 Stew – 1 hour

  • Press Function button ‘功能’ four times.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm 1 hour of cooking time OR
  • Press Set Time button ‘定时’ to increase cooking time 30 minutes at a time. Goes up to 4 hours 30 minutes then returns to 30 minutes cooking time. Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm cooking time.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ again to cancel everything.

保温 Warm Mode

  • Press Function button ‘功能’ 5 times.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to start warm mode.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ again to cancel everything.
  • (You can use the Warm Mode without first cooking.)

预约 Preset Timer

  • Press Function button ‘功能’ once.
  • Press Preset Timer ‘预约’ to increase timer 30 minutes at a time. Goes up to 9 hours 30 minutes.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm length of time to wait before beginning to cook.
  • Press Function button ‘功能’ to choose the cooking time.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to confirm cooking time.
  • Press Confirm|Cancel button ‘确认|取消’ to cancel everything.

Showcasing the 小玩熊 playbear Electric Lunchbox

Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox
Electric Lunchbox

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