PDA

View Full Version : Should I get a Chinese Cleaver?



iliria
11-03-2012, 10:48 AM
For a while I have been entertaining the idea of buying a Chinese cleaver. At home I prefer to use my santoku and sometimes I feel that a bigger blade would be more useful when cutting. Is a CC indeed as good as its reputation?

I live in the UK and have been looking at some CCs on the JCK website. I don't like Carbon steel because of its susceptibility to rust. I really like the Hattori (especially its handle shape, and the nice 22cm x 11cm blade size) but its price ($390) has made me think twice. The other CCs in there are nice and cheaper but the blade size is compromised. What's people's opinion of Hattori products?
Also are there any other websites (non-US based) that sell to UK and that offer more choice? Thank you in advance for any suggestions and advice.:thumbsup:

mikemac
11-03-2012, 11:44 AM
I no longer have a Hattori blade, and have never had or held a FH series cleaver....but Hattori makes really good product, and the FH series are a cut above the HD series...remember the FH are 'limited production' runs, making them pretty close to semi custom-ish.
The main observation on the FH would probably be that they are heavy compared to similiar size chukas, and I'll bet almost all that extra weight is in the handle. Flip side to that though is that the F&F on most chukas - especially in the handle area - F&F tends to be down right sloppy. So the FH cleaver shines where most others fall down, but it adds weight to the overall package.
If you want a really good stainless alternative at a better pricepoint, the metal handle Tojiro ( I do own this one) is an awesome choice. Cleaver Guru Andy gave the Tojiro really hi marks in his review, and for probably 40% less than the Hattori, as a newbie to cleavers, I don't think you'ld find a huge difference (BTW I think JCK will source that cleaver if you want it)
IF the price tag is still too high for the "I just want to try it out" theme, Dexter Russell and CCK both make full size chukas in both stainless and carbon - most people here have experience with the CCK carbon. Here in Los Angeles there is a restuarant supply store in a heavily Asian area (over 1000 woks OVER 26" diameter) and the only thin chuka they carried in the 220x110 size was the Dexter stainless
Hope that helps

malacara
11-03-2012, 01:52 PM
Yes, you should :lol2:

In my opinion, if you have never used a cleaver before you should buy a cheap one bofore spending that much. As you live in Britain you should be able to find an Asian market close to you where to find one. You could even find a CCK, which, I think, are one of the best starting cleavers I can think of, well, at least the carbon ones which is the only one I have ever tried. If after using one for a while you like it then you can upgrade it, if not, you have only wasted little money.

Regards

Chuckles
11-03-2012, 02:04 PM
+1 for CCK

Lefty
11-03-2012, 02:11 PM
I'd look at the specs on a CCK 1303 and then see what Shi-Ba-Zi has in their stainless lines that are the same size. Well, I'd do that if you're absolutely against carbon. To be honest, you shouldn't be afraid of it. Yes, it can rust and react to certain food items, but in general, I prefer carbon over to stainless for all applications other than parers (50/50) and EDCs.

A CCK is your best entry level option. Since you're curious, I'd say go for it. I've had three cleavers, and I still own two, though I very rarely use them. I prefer a gyuto or even suji for my all-purpose knife, however, the same may not be true for you. Cleavers are great, especially if they click with you.

labor of love
11-03-2012, 02:55 PM
get a cck. if you dont want carbon just do what lefty said. shibazi makes good entry level cleavers. actually, cck makes stainless cleavers ive just never read anything about them.

jaybett
11-04-2012, 01:31 PM
The size and weight of a cleaver make it an ideal knife for chopping or push cutting. If the food you like to prep, requires a lot of chopping, then the cleaver would be a good choice.

A lot of people who have tried cleavers, couldn't get over the size and weight, especially when compared to the gyuto. There is a learning curve with cleavers, especially on the larger ones. Cleavers 220mm and up are considered full size. A pinch grip doesn't work very long on a full size cleaver. The muscles in the wrist will quickly tire. Cleavers are held with the thumb and forefinger extended down the blade. Often times the middle finger is also extended, in what looks likes a peace sign. This provides more control.

When I got my first full size cleaver, I used it exclusively in the kitchen. It probably took a month, before I felt comfortable, using it.

The Hattori KF is an excellent knife. Fit and finish is very good. Cleavers in general are known for having poor fit and finish. I think so much time and effort goes into forging and grinding a cleaver that to keep the price at a certain price point, not much effort goes into the finish. Its something cleaver users know about, but can be quite a shock to a new owner.

The Hattori line, seems to take the middle road on all its knives. They are not too thick or thin. The cleaver is a nice fit between a thin slicing cleaver and a thicker chopping cleaver.

The Hattori is on the heavier side for a slicing cleaver, but not as heavy as a chopping cleaver, again its in the middle. As mikemac noted a good deal of the weight is in the handle. This pulls back the center of gravity. Cleavers are typically nose heavy. By pulling back the center of gravity, the Hattori feels more agile.

The area behind the edge is very thin on the Hattori, making it a very good cutter.

Every Hattori KF knife that I've bought has come with a mediocre edge. Japanese makers operate with the assumption, that the buyer is going to put their edge on the knife.

If you are wondering if a cleaver is right for you. The first step is to pick up a CCK or Dexter Russell, or a cleaver from a local Asian store. The next step is to try a full size cleaver. The Suien VC is a popular choice, because of its price.

If your experienced with cleavers and are wanting to know, if the Hattori is a good choice. It is an excellent choice.

Good luck with your decision.

Jay

Customfan
11-04-2012, 02:53 PM
Yes! It is very fun knife and with some practice, quite efficient as well!

mhlee
11-04-2012, 03:07 PM
Here in Los Angeles there is a restuarant supply store in a heavily Asian area (over 1000 woks OVER 26" diameter) and the only thin chuka they carried in the 220x110 size was the Dexter stainless
Hope that helps

Which restaurant store is this???

To the OP - FWIW, I've had a Dexter Russell carbon cleaver for years. Although I don't use it often, I love having it around. You can do pretty much anything with a cleaver. It's my permanent all-purpose back-up knife. It gets very sharp, but is a little difficult to deburr.

It may also be uncomfortable at first because of the height. If so, try to either lower the height of your cutting board/area or raise the height of where you stand (a mat helps significantly).

keithsaltydog
11-04-2012, 04:13 PM
If you have been using a Santoku,I would not go to a full size cleaver,it will feel huge.It's funny how many reccom. the CCK even tho you want stainless.Cheap stainless cleavers are crap,sorry had to say it.The Japanese do make a stainless clad cleaver.

My vote is for the CCK small cleaver as well.It has a coating on it so only the edge will patina.It is not pretty,but will get very sharp,thin, flat edge profile,light,decent edge holding,fun cleaver to use.There are alot of vegitable cleavers that cost more,but do not work as well as the carbon CCK.

iliria
11-04-2012, 06:09 PM
Hi Mike. Thank you very much for the detailed reply. That is very helpful indeed.

Maybe it is worth for me to provide some more information regarding my preferences, etc. I bought the chef's knife and the santoku at the same time thinking that I would use more the chef's knife. However as time has gone by I have discovered that my most preferred knife is the santoku and one of the reasons for this is the width of the blade. Maybe my cutting style has something to do with this; I use a chopping style (up down) rather than the sliding style (where the knife's tip doesn't leave the board).

Also, the reason that I mentioned non US based website shops is because living in the UK means that anything over the value of US$23 bought from US gets hammered by hefty taxes and custom's fees.

Based on everyone's advice I have done some research and so far have found out that the Tojiro Pro seems to be around the same price as the Hattori (unless I'm looking in the wrong places). And the CCK seems to be sold only by US sites.

iliria
11-04-2012, 06:30 PM
Oh yes, and my cooking includes a lot of acidic stuff such as tomatoes etc and I dont always have the time to clean the knife straight after finishing with it, hence why I think that a carbon knife would be even more in danger of rust.

jaybett
11-05-2012, 07:15 AM
The advice about a CCK or a Dexter Russell cleaver is to try out an inexpensive cleaver, before spending money on a more expensive one. If they are not easy to come by, then a local Asian store, should have some inexpensive cleavers. Try the cleaver out and see if the size and weight is workable. A cleaver can weigh two to three times, what a santuko or gyuto weighs. Some people pick them up, and can't put them down fast enough. To give the cleaver a fair shot, takes about a month, of using it on a regular basis. If you don't like it, after a month, then a cleaver probably is not for you.

Is it worth it, to spend the time, learning how to use a cleaver? A cleaver excels at chopping. No knife is better at chopping then a cleaver. I'd estimate that a cleaver is 10-15 percent better at chopping then a santuko or gyuto. The real difference though, can be seen in the amount of food to prep.

If I am making an average size dish of salsa, lets say 9 roma tomatoes, I can use whatever knife I feel like, from a santuko, to a sujihiki, to a gyuto. When the salsa gets over 20 tomatoes, then the only knife I will use is a cleaver. It sounds odd, to say a knife that weighs over 700 grams, is less fatiguing then a knife that weighs 200 grams. A cleaver by its height allows muscles to be used in the wrist and forearm, versus a lighter knife, that only uses muscles in the wrist. With a light knife, muscles have to control all parts of the cut. A cleaver gets lifted up, and only wants to go straight down.

At the very least, learning how to use a cleaver, will improve your knife skills. If you can use a 500 - 600 gram knife, everything else will seem small in comparison.

There are plenty of stainless cleavers on the market. Mizuno has a stainless, which is stocked by JCK. The blade is suppose to be excellent. I've got the carbon Mizuno. The blade is very good, but the fit and finish is rough, especially compared to the Hattori. Recently I got the Mizuno re handled, the person who did the work, cleaned up the rough areas. It was like getting a new knife back, but the cost was significantly more then $50, the difference between the Mizuno and the Hattori.

The Mizuno stainless is on my short list of knives to pick up. What is giving me pause is the Hattori, fits my needs to a tee. I don't know how much different the Mizuno would be from the Hattori, plus I would want it re handled. That doesn't stop me though from having it on my wish list.

A number of good things have been posted about Ashi Hamono. Jon at Japanese Knife Imports brings them in, under the Gesshin Ginga line. On E-Bay, Bluewayjapan, can also place an order directly with Ashi Hamono.

Andy was quite positive in his review of the Tojiro Pro. Enough people wrote to him, expressing concerns, about their cleavers, that he wondered if their was a quality control issue with them? I haven't heard of any quality control problems with the Hattori.

All high end knives need to be properly maintained, including stainless. Proper maintenance is frequently wiping down the blade. Not letting it sit in a pool of juice. Even if I am going to put the knife down for a few minutes, I'll rinse and wipe it dry. I find keeping my knife, board, and counter top clean, helps me stay organized. As long as a carbon knife is being wiped down on a regular basis, it is no more difficult to care for, then stainless.

Jay

turbochef422
11-05-2012, 03:07 PM
Definitely try a cheaper one before you dive in to the more expensive ones. For some reason I love using a cleaver but its the one knife I've never felt I've had to upgrade. I love the cck for prep or just about anything else.

SpikeC
11-05-2012, 03:24 PM
I picked up a very inexpensive cleaver at a Chinese supermarket, the consensus is that it is a Leung Tim, and after a little smoothing behind the edge and sharpening it is a really nice tool. I've been doing my prep with it just lately and it is shining. It even works well for slicing rustic loaves of bread! It was under 20 bucks.

turbochef422
11-05-2012, 03:51 PM
Yea I wouldn't spend money on one until you feel comfortable using a cleaver

keithsaltydog
11-05-2012, 04:00 PM
Jaybett,agree about giving a cleaver a shot,it takes a little while to develope cleaver skills.For chopping & forward push cuts cleaver is excellent.You can do tip work wt. a cleaver too,just watch a Chinese Chef it's amazing what they can do wt. a cleaver.:viking:

Xuster
11-05-2012, 04:06 PM
All my parents ever use is a cleaver and frankly they're the best damn cooks I've ever known. Therefore...it only makes sense that I need a cleaver...right?:idea2:

JKerr
11-05-2012, 08:24 PM
Re: Mizuno vs Hattori. I personally would go for the Mizuno.

In terms of geometry, I'd say they're pretty similar, i.e. super thin behind the edge, cut through hard vege effortlessly. What I prefer about the Mizuno is the profile and the handle. Weight wise the Mizuno is only about 30g lighter than my Hattori was, but due to the fatter handle I felt it was a lot more comfortable. Personally I found the handle (particular around the bolster) on the Hattori to be just a touch too skinny for a knife that weight. Profile wise, the Hattori also had a touch more belly on it than I'd like.

Having said that, if I was to use the Hattori again, my opinion might be very different. since I started working in a chinese styled restaurant, I've been exclusively using cleavers to the point that I find it more uncomfortable using/gripping a gyuto. It is a truly great knife, steel is good, F+F is top notch (touch sharp on the spine and ootb edge is average) and it looks pretty. I regret selling mine, but chances are I'll buy another further down the line after I've cleared some of my other wish list items :D

I'll once again mention, that it's worth contacting Butcher and Baker (or possibly Pierre) to see if they're getting more Mid techs in. The Pierre cleaver is fantastic in every regard and for the price, even if you did get hit with custom fees, it'd still be an insanely good bargain.

Cheers,
Josh

jaybett
11-05-2012, 09:58 PM
Re: Mizuno vs Hattori. I personally would go for the Mizuno.

I've been curious, on how the Mizuno was working out for you. The person who re handled my carbon Mizuno, said he made it on the small side. Now your comment about the Hattori being small. I think my preference for smaller handles is because, I use, for lack of a better term the peace grip so much.



I'll once again mention, that it's worth contacting Butcher and Baker (or possibly Pierre) to see if they're getting more Mid techs in. The Pierre cleaver is fantastic in every regard and for the price, even if you did get hit with custom fees, it'd still be an insanely good bargain.

Cheers,
Josh

Do you own the cleaver from Butcher and Baker? If so how does it perform? What is the profile like, weight, handle, taper, etc...?

Jay

JKerr
11-05-2012, 10:48 PM
Yeah, picked it up a couple weeks ago. Really pleased with it. Thinnest knife ive eve ir used. There's some pics and my initial thoughts in my thread in the gallery forum.
Been meaning to right a review. It is a tiny bit shorter than most full size cleavers though

keithsaltydog
11-06-2012, 04:10 AM
Thanks Josh,man you have a serious down under knife collection.I like the looks of those Mizuno's both carbon & stainless.I like the handles as well.On a cleaver like um rt up against the blade & thicker,I think it comes fr. all those cheap carbon chinese cleavers I've had over the yrs.

JKerr
11-06-2012, 10:36 AM
Yeah, that traditional handle design is growing on me. I pretty much dismissed it first cause I though it looked cheap and **** (yeah, I'm pretty shallow when it comes to knives) but after picking up the Mizuno, it works really well for something so simple.....still looks cheap and **** though...

Planning to check out a Konosuke #6 tomorrow if they're still in stock. Went today before work, completely forgetting it was a public holiday :whistling:

Cheers,
Josh

samuelpeter
11-08-2012, 04:58 PM
I'll jump in to beat a dead horse. Buy a CCK, or similar, just to get the feel of it. Step up to your dream cleaver after you've decided you like the feel and cutting style. Personally, I stopped at the CCK for that reason.

mikemac
11-08-2012, 05:11 PM
In the CCK price range, why not just find an asin market or restuarant supply house in the UK - the UK is renowned for its asian food - right??
a quick google and what about some place like Hoo Hing?


...Also are there any other websites (non-US based) that sell to UK and that offer more choice? Thank you in advance for any suggestions and advice.:thumbsup:

mikemac
11-08-2012, 05:14 PM
Action Sales, on Atlantic in Monterey Park
I have to stay away from places like that...I can smuggle a new knife into the house and swear to my wife that I've had it for years, but kinda hard to do that with a 36" wok.


Which restaurant store is this??? ...

Timthebeaver
11-08-2012, 05:25 PM
You can buy CCKs in many chinese supermarkets in the UK.

mhlee
11-08-2012, 05:32 PM
Action Sales, on Atlantic in Monterey Park
I have to stay away from places like that...I can smuggle a new knife into the house and swear to my wife that I've had it for years, but kinda hard to do that with a 36" wok.


Thanks! Both locations are relatively close.

iliria
11-12-2012, 08:28 PM
Well, I caved in to temptation and ordered the Hattori cleaver. Chose cocobolo wood for the handle since I quite like the colour and patterns on the wood. I have used the knife quite a few times now and it feels really comfortable and its arrival could really mean early retirement for the rest of my knives (apart from the utility one that is). This beast cuts anything as if they were butter.

Thank you very much everyone for your advice on this topic. :thankyou333:

miketayl0r
11-12-2012, 09:36 PM
cck owner. great bang for the buck. def +1

JKerr
11-12-2012, 09:37 PM
Congrats on the new knife, hopefully you bought the only one so as to remove any temptation I may have towards buying another :whistling: If you're anything like me, you'll be hooked and pondering which cleaver to get next.

Cheers,
Josh

jaybett
11-12-2012, 11:39 PM
Congratulations!

Glad to hear the new knife is working out. Cocobolo is such a great looking wood for handles.

If you haven't sharpened the cleaver yet, your in for a treat. It really performs after a good sharpening.

Enjoy the new knife,

Jay

malacara
11-13-2012, 01:16 PM
Congratulations and enjoy the cleaver!!

As me, you already know that a cleaver and a petty is all what you need in a kitchen (well, maybe you will end up with any other cleaver as well but you get the idea :lol2:)

Regards

hax9215
11-13-2012, 04:28 PM
Congratulations and enjoy the cleaver!!

As me, you already know that a cleaver and a petty is all what you need in a kitchen (well, maybe you will end up with any other cleaver as well but you get the idea :lol2:)

Regards




+1, one of the detriments to a good cleaver is that ends up making you feel silly for having a whole bag of knives! I have been intrigued with the Hattoris, I am interested in a review vis-a'-vis ease of sharpening and edge retention. Be careful when switching back to a french knife, it is easy to shave a knuckle.

Hax the Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!! :D ... Shift+R improves the quality of this image. CTRL+F5 reloads the whole page.

EdipisReks
11-14-2012, 08:51 PM
i just bought a cleaver, a Shibazi from tastepadthai.com. it was listed as a carbon steel cleaver, but ended up being stainless (when i inquired, they admitted the listing was wrong, and offered to refund me half the money if i wanted to keep it: i kept it and thanked them for the offer, but declined the refund). i'd never owned one. over all, it has a nice grind, with just one small hole in the edge, which was easily fixed on a chosera 1k. chosera 1k followed by shapton glass 4k followed by a strop quickly gave it a shaving edge. the steel feels very similar to Victorinox fibrox steel, and i sharpened it the same way i sharpen one of those. man, cleavers are awesome for mincing garlic! an usuba had been my mincer of choice, but this is another thing entirely! much better f&f than i was expecting, too. i'm really very happy with it.

hax9215
11-14-2012, 09:28 PM
See previous post.

Hax the Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!! :D ...

EdipisReks
11-14-2012, 09:38 PM
See previous post.

Hax the Cook CLEAVERS RULE!!! :D ...

good advice, thanks! i've discovered the knuckle shaving after going from my tall Takeda to other knives (including my short Takeda), and i'm sure it's even more of an issue with a big cleaver!

Lefty
11-14-2012, 09:46 PM
Yeah, I even get it going from my Marr gyuto, to my Carter suji, or Misono 210 gyuto. Cleaver to gyuto sounds dangerous!