Best Chinese vegetable cleaver?

Discussion in 'Cooking Equipment Reviews' started by kent wang, Jan 14, 2005.

  1. kent wang

    kent wang

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    My Chinese mother was the person who first taught me to cook so I'm very much accustomed to using a cleaver for most cutting. I'm currently looking to upgrade my cleaver to the best that money can buy. What is your favorite Chinese vegetable cleaver? Essential characteristics are that it is light, keeps an edge and be about 8". Cost is not a major issue.

    The guy at my local pro chef equipment store told me about one that Zwilling Henckels makes that he says is very light, but he did not have it in stock so I didn't have a chance to try it out. I do like the Henckies as my paring knife and 8" chef's knife (which I only use for deboning) are both Henckels. Has anyone had personal experience with this particular knife?

    Looking at the Henckel's website: http://usa.zwilling.com/products/twi...ng/items.html#

    I think I prefer the 7" a bit more than the 8" because the blade is slightly more curved. I probably need to try both out and feel which is lighter.
     
  2. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    The blade on that cleaver is too deep to be a vegetable cleaver.

    Where do you live? Just go to Chinatown.
     
  3. akmike

    akmike

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  4. kent wang

    kent wang

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    Kuan, what do you mean by deep? As in the length from the blade to the top is too long? That's actually the style of Chinese cleavers and is exactly what I'm looking for. It may seem strange to those used to the conventional chef's knife, but I'll leave the discussion of the merits of Chinese cleavers to another thread.

    Just so everyone has a better idea of what I'm looking for, this is the perfect shape of the blade that I'm looking for:

    http://usa.zwilling.com/products/twi...31718-200B.jpg

    I live in Austin, TX where our Chinatown is half of a strip mall. But even if I had access to San Francisco's Chinatown I doubt I'd be able to find a good knife there. Chinatowns are notorious for having low quality everything. I tried to find some decent chop sticks and porcelain soup spoons and turned up with crap that didn't even match the stuff World Market carries. The situation is actually not much better in China. In Shanghai, even with the help of my extended family I came away empty-handed. It's quite sad that "Made in China" still means low quality and that I have to look to Western manufacturers for Chinese-style equipment.

    The only Kershaw knife that fits my description is:

    http://www.kershawknives.com/kitchen/images/6616NRO.jpg

    But the handle looks so cheap. "Real bamboo powder"? The blade also looks not deep enough.

    Can either of you (or anyone else) attest to use and blade quality?
     
  5. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    I wield a cleaver and a chef's knife equally well. I think for most vegetables, a 3" deep blade would be as deep as I would get, just like the one in the kershaw link. It gives you the best combination of speed and accuracy without the added weight of all that metal. You can use it to chop or use it "western style." You can see around both sides so you can do superfine work and oblique cuts are also easier. It is suitable for most fruits and vegetables except for sugarcane of course. :)

    That's just my preference of course. I don't like holding the handle so high and to me deep blades just feel wobbly.

    I've no experience with either of these brands, I use a cheap stainless round handled veg. cleaver from Chinatown. It's stamped "Best Quality!" :D
     
  6. mikescookin

    mikescookin

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    Kent,

    You were looking at the inexpensive Kershaw knives. You want to look at the Shun Classic series. They are made of very high quality steel (many say better than German steel) with a Damascus finish and hard wood handles. I have the 7" Santoku and it is, IMHO, sharper and holds an edge better than my Henckels. And, it really looks great.
    Take a look at this cleaver:
    http://www.kershawknives.com/kitchen/images/712CRO.jpg

    Other fine Japanese knives can be found at
    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/products.html
    and other sites. The Kershaw Shun knives are available at
    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/index.html and many other Kitchen equijpment sites, including Amazon.com.
    I hope this helps.

    Good luck finding what you are looking for.

    Mike G.
     
  7. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Can someone post a link to a Chinese cleaver made of 1095 carbon steel, the kind that rusts. THAT'S the metal I prefer.
     
  8. mikescookin

    mikescookin

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  9. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I'm In Heaven I'm In Heaven I'm In Heaven!!!!
     
  10. mikescookin

    mikescookin

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    Nice to know someone is! But, why are you stuck on carbon blades that will rust and are harder to care for?

    Mike
     
  11. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Try using an old, old Sabatier that's just been properly sharpened and you'll see. The old type carbon steel, called 1095 carbon steel, sharpens to a much better cutting edge than any stainless blade that I've used. It sharpens more easily too but that does not mean that it dulls easier. Quite the contrary. As as to rust, all the blade requires is a quick wipe with a clean dry towel and its ready for storage.
     
  12. mikescookin

    mikescookin

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    Thanks for the informative reply. It seems like I learn something new every day.

    Mike
     
  13. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I've dissected human cadavers with my sabatiers when the supply of scalpel blades ran out. And humans are really tough animals when it comes to dissection.
     
  14. hipjoint

    hipjoint

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    you claim that the chinese knives are not what you think of in terms of quality. well, on san francisco's clement street there is a store called
    "kamei restaurant supply" that supplies a wonderful chinese chef's knife
    under the "shi ba zi" name that is top quality in terms of sharpness, weight,
    balance, and feel. the best part?? UNDER $10.00!!! i will easily compare
    this knife to anything from henkles or woostof or ??? EXCEPT for the
    messermeister vegetable cleaver, which is also (or was) marketed as the
    "martin yan vegetable cleaver" for about $50.00-$60.00. for that price
    you can get 5 or six shi ba zi's and mistreat the **** out of them and still
    come out ahead.
    btw: i bought two of the shi ba zi's ... one i kept as the traditional
    rectangular shape, and the second i cut the blade to look like an extra
    wide santoku. had the work done at the "perfect edge cutlery" shop
    in san mateo for like $4.00. now i have a one-of-a-kind knife that
    my friends are looking all over to find. (didn't tell 'em i had it cut.)
     
  15. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    hipjoint:
    Are yours the kind whose metal will rust if not wiped immediately after using? Those are the kind of blades I seek. And too bad I no longer live in El Cerrito, just a short jump away from SF otherwise I would have gone to the establishment that you recommended.
     
  16. hipjoint

    hipjoint

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    hey kokopuff ...

    this shop supplies lots of stuff to lots of chinese and other asian restaurants
    in the area. great stuff, low prices every day. they also supply carbon
    steel cleavers of the rusting kind in about four or five different sizes/styles
    including some rather serious sizes intended to chop through bbq pork ribs.
    whether it is 1095 carbon or not i have no way of telling.

    btw: i don't know about this carbon=sharper and stainless=not as sharp
    attitude that seems to be gospel around cooking circles. the japanese
    have been alloying some reeeeeeeeeally incredible and incredibly sharp
    stainless steels that i think can rival any 1095 ever made.

    also ... have you checked out any of the japanese knife websites like
    <<japanwoodworker.com>>?? they have "blue steel" knives for under $40.00
    that will rust and are wickedly sharp. might be interesting to you.
     
  17. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    I do my own lapidary and gunsmithing by hand. So I use a lot of abrasives and have found 1095 carbon the easiest to sharpen and takes the sharpest and longest lasting edge, too.

    I haven't, however, worked with real Japanese and Chinese cutlery but would like to try them at some point.
     
  18. ambrosiafood

    ambrosiafood

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    The old carbon Sabatiers are the best knives imho.
     
  19. hipjoint

    hipjoint

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    ===== i wonder why no one has mentioned "old hickory" knives??
    they are made of 1095 carbon steel and are available for (mostly)
    under $10.00.

    well, mebbe there is a reason ...

    i bought three of these knives (the butcher, the slicer, and the
    "french chef's") and have tried to sharpen them and i thot i was
    pretty good with the japanese wetstones but these knives resisted
    sharpening more than any other knife i own!! (and i own more than
    150 knives!) even some cheap "kitchen collection" knives with
    "hamilton beach" stamped on them (all under $12.99) got to get
    scary sharp with the wetstone, but not the old hickory"s 1095
    carbon steel. mebbe there's more to it than simply the 1095 steel??
     
  20. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    ...don't think that Japanese waterstones are meant for sharpening western (hard) knives.