The sous vide game has changed since Nomiku popped up on the scene. The company launched its first immersion circulator on Kickstarter in 2012, making it one of the OGs of at-home sous vide cooking. Nomiku raised nearly $600,000, which proved that home cooks were eager to cook their food in a temperature-controlled water bath.
Four years later, there's a new wave of sous vide products out there. And this time, they have Wi-Fi. Once again, Nomiku was one of the first companies to include a wireless connection in an immersion circulator when it launched its Kickstarter campaign for the Wi-Fi version of their original cooker. But a delay in getting the final WiFi Nomiku to backers and retail customers have given other products such as the Anova Bluetooth + Wi-Fi and the FirstBuild Paragon Induction Cooktop opportunities to steal some of the connected sous vide cooking spotlight.
Had the $249 (roughly converting to £190 in the UK and AU$340 in Australia) WiFi Nomiku come out earlier, I might have regarded it as a pioneer in connected sous vide cooking. You can pick the temperature for your water bath from an app, along with set a timer and view user-submitted recipes. And food that I cooked with the WiFi Nomiku was delicious. But when you compare the WiFi Nomiku to other sous vide devices, the WiFi Nomiku feels like a dinosaur -- big, intimidating and in danger of extinction if it doesn't evolve. It's much bulkier than its less-smart model, which makes it harder to use. And the app lacks some of the tools I've seen with other products, such as cooking guides that are helpful to sous vide newbies.
When we first reviewed the original Nomiku, we advised you to hold off for the Wi-Fi version or shop around for a cheaper immersion circulator. Unfortunately, the WiFi Nomiku falls short of the competitors that have emerged in the sous vide marketplace. Before you set your sights on this immersion circulator, consider the less expensive and easier to use $199 (roughly £150 and AU$270) Anova Bluetooth + Wi-Fi.
Sous vide is a relatively new cooking method that has been around since the 1970s. You put your food in a plastic bag, get rid of as much air inside as you can (hence the name "sous vide" is French for "under vacuum") then put the food in a temperature-controlled water bath. Some countertop appliances are self-contained water-bath devices designed just for sous vide. Immersion circulators (like the WiFi Nomiku) attach to the side of the container of your choosing, which means they take up much less storage space than the water-bath devices and are often less expensive.
With the exception of the wireless connection, the WiFi Nomiku works the same way as the original version. Once you clip the device onto the side of a container filled with water, you can use a green wheel that surrounds the display to select the temperature you want the water to reach. However, the original Nomiku's turn wheel was small and included notches for your fingers that made it easy to adjust the temperature. The WiFi Nomiku has a larger display and, therefore, a larger turn wheel without finger notches that makes it harder to manually set the temperature. And the dial isn't the only feature to gain heft with the second Nomiku: At about 3.75 inches wide (about 9.53 centimeters), the Wi-Fi version is almost twice as wide as the original. The added girth and bulky appearance make the WiFi Nomiku feel outdated, even though it's a new product.
The turn wheel also makes it hard to interact with the Nomiku's menu screen. You have to scroll the wheel to select different menu options, such as putting the device to sleep or changing the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius, but you can't keep scrolling in one direction to cycle through menu options. I felt like I was adjusting a shower's temperature every time I explored the Nomiku's on-screen menu, which turned me off from the device and made me want to only use the connected app.
Speaking of the app, the connected features on the WiFi Nomiku take baby steps toward making this product more appealing than the original, but they lack the utility I've seen with similar products. The device connects to an app called Tender, an iOS, Android and Windows compatible app with the unfortunate coincidence of having a similar name to the Tinder dating app (searching for the Tender app pulls up interesting results). You can set your desired temperature and a cook timer on the app, and it will send that info to the WiFi Nomiku. The app also provides helpful notifications when the water has reached the proper temperature, if your water level has gotten too low and when your cook time is complete. Unlike sous vide apps we've seen with the Anova Wi-Fi or the Paragon Induction Cooktop, Tender doesn't provide cooking guides that provide recommended temperatures and cook times for common foods. Instead, Tender users upload their own sous vide recipes, and you can send the cook times and temperatures of those crowdsourced recipes to your Nomiku using the wireless connection. I like the idea of user-submitted recipes, but they have varying levels of usefulness: some recipes are skimpy on the details or full of typos. I'd like to see Nomiku include some company-verified, more thorough recipes along with the ones from users so I have some basic guidelines that I know I can rely on.
The WiFi Nomiku does retain one good quality from the original device: The gadget can cook up some good food. I used sous vide to cook salmon, flank steak, strip steak and corn, and the food came out to the correct doneness with each test. The best result was a piece of flank steak that I cooked for 24 hours at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). The meat was cooked evenly to medium throughout the cut.
One point to note is the actual temperature of the WiFi Nomiku's water bath. I inserted thermocouples in the water during each test to compare the actual temperature of the water to the temperature I set on the device. The WiFi Nomiku ran slightly hot -- temperatures reached as much as 0.7 degrees hotter than the desired temperature, similar to the results we saw on the original Nomiku (the company says actual temperatures are accurate within 0.2 degrees). For my tests, the variance wasn't substantial enough to impact the quality of the food. However, the key to sous vide cooking is using precise temperatures to get the results you want. I'd like to see Nomiku hone in on getting those numbers to be closer to the set temperature.
Nomiku might have been one of the originators of at-home sous vide devices, but the company needs to give its Wi-Fi model an overhaul to keep up with its competitors. The WiFi Nomiku is unwieldy to use and looks drastically outdated when you compare it to its competitors -- and its original version. And the Tender app has good intentions with its user-submitted content, but it's only as useful as the folks who upload recipes, which, right now, is limited. And at $249 (or $199 if you order during the pre-sale period), the WiFi Nomiku is more expensive than the Anova Bluetooth + Wi-Fi, a similar product with a more robust app and a retail price of $199. Unless Nomiku overhauls its Wi-Fi immersion circulator for something sleeker and adds more resources to the Tender app, you'd be wise to pass up this product for a more helpful, connected sous vide device.