Best knife for high volume veg prep?

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[subtitle / disclaimer: “high volume” in the context of a home cook :) ]

So my cooking volume increased quite a bit after getting married and adopting a rescue puppy (and deciding to spoil her with home-cooked meals).

I previously cooked for 1-2 people but now I often do meal prep for the week (specially for the puppy). We eat a lot of vegetables, so that’s most of the knife work and includes larger ones such as zucchini, squash, eggplant, large carrots, etc. I’ve always used 210 gyutos (mainly a Toyama) but they are starting to feel small.

I was thinking which knife should I get. The obvious options are:

- Nakiri (180 or 210)
- Cleaver (a lighter one)
- Larger gyuto (270 or 240)

I’ve only tried 165 nakiris so far. Fun, but a bit small for me. Tried a few cleavers but never got used to the weight (>350g), so maybe a lighter one? Never tried a larger gyuto but I think a 270 Toyama would be really fun to use.

I usually push / pull cut. Space (both countertop and storage) is not an issue.

I’m leaning towards a 270 - maybe 240 - Toyama gyuto since that would feel closer to the 210 I’m already used to. Also I think the extra length (compared to a nakiri or cleaver) would be useful on the larger/longer vegetables.

What do you think? Anything I’m missing? Would a 270 be to big? Probably many of you made the transition from 210 gyuto to something bigger at some point.

Thanks!
 
Theres a number of good options for light cleavers. I'd recommend start out with the CCK ones (1303 or 1912) if you want super light, around 260g. You can also check out the chopper king from CKTG. I posted a short review of it in the cleaver thread.

Otherwise, I also really enjoy my 240 watanabe gyuto for this type of task. But lately I've just been using cleavers for everything.
 
I love my 270, but I'd look at one of the Chinese chef's knives that are designed for slicing, personally, given what you've posted above. CCKs are good places to start, or you could hop right into chukkas, depending on your budget (plenty of budget room for one if you're contemplating a 270 toyama).
 
270 gyuto would be my pick, but I’m also not a cleaver guy…

You’ll get used to the size and length after a few larger preps.
 
I find tall gyutos with a santoku-ish profile are very nice for high volume prep. A bigger Toyama like you’re thinking about would be good or a Watanabe and Masashi also comes to mind. They tend to have very gentle, flattish curves to their profiles that allow for easy, fast push/pull cutting without a lot of extra motion. 240 for bulk prep, 270 for BULK PREP, if you get my meaning.

Cleavers are ideal because the weight does all the work, but they have a pretty steep learning curve. With the heavy ones especially, they can feel unwieldy and cause a lot of hand fatigue at first, but it gets much easier with lots of practice. Here’s a video I find very helpful. You can see the guy uses minimal motion and lets the cleaver do all the work. He makes it look easy but it takes a while to build the muscle memory.

 
Thanks, some great ideas here.

@tostadas and @deltaplex - yeah maybe getting a 270 gyuto and a Chinese “light” cleaver would be nice. I get to try different stuff and keep within my budget.

@kpham12 - I was definitely NOT handling my cleavers like that, lol. Should probably give cleavers in general another chance, I never kept them long enough to really learn.

@ethompson and @HumbleHomeCook - mmm maybe I should try a 210 nakiri AND 270 gyuto from Toyama… that nakiri is lighter than most cleavers while still tall and heavy enough to destroy vegetables.

Any idea if Watanabe does a 210 nakiri as well?
 
To add to what I said previously, the weight by itself is not a good indicator of a comfortable cleaver for me. Handle design and balance are more important than number of grams to me. My 260g CCK feels really nice to hold. 310g chopper king is nice but handle a bit too big for my liking. My 330g Shibazi (in stock condition) kinda hurts my wrist after extended use. A 340g grocery store cleaver really hurts my wrist after 5mins. And then I have a 450g Tanaka which I can use for hours without issue.
 
Thanks, some great ideas here.

@tostadas and @deltaplex - yeah maybe getting a 270 gyuto and a Chinese “light” cleaver would be nice. I get to try different stuff and keep within my budget.

@kpham12 - I was definitely NOT handling my cleavers like that, lol. Should probably give cleavers in general another chance, I never kept them long enough to really learn.

@ethompson and @HumbleHomeCook - mmm maybe I should try a 210 nakiri AND 270 gyuto from Toyama… that nakiri is lighter than most cleavers while still tall and heavy enough to destroy vegetables.

Any idea if Watanabe does a 210 nakiri as well?

I don't think so but might be wrong. His 180 is pretty substantial.
 
270 Watoyama is indeed really fun to use. As a push cutter I wish mine was just a little flatter but otherwise it's damn near perfect for big jobs. The extra length vs a 240 is useful (although certainly not essential) for big lettuce/cabbage/bunches of greens and giant squash, etc. Beyond that the extra bulk and height gives it more of that fall-through-food action than the 240.

But definitely get a CCK or similar as well, which are fantastic performers for the price. Interestingly my 1303 is very close in weight to my Wat 270 (about 255g vs 265g) but the Wat feels much heavier due to length and spine thickness.
 
The Gyuto is arguable the only profile you cite that will do everything you describe well.

While somewhat oversimplified, this approach works for me. For a carrot, a stick of celery, an onion, a potato, a 210 is a good fit. For a bag of carrots, couple stalks of celery, a small sack of onions, a bunch of potatoes, a 240 is pretty much ideal. For a case of any of the above, then it's a 270.

I've pretty much been promoted out of the prep side at the day job and only go there to try a new knife. Consequently I think I'm down to two 270 - a SIH K tip gyuto that's too much fun to use to part with and a Gengetsu that's uhmmmmm, a Gengetsu. Now I use a 240 or 180 gyuto at work depending on the amount of work space and product.

At home, I'm liking a 210 a little bit, still reach for a 240 at times. Never (almost) a 270. I've tried a couple 225's and that may be my sweet spot. Will use and enjoy a 180 Wat Pro nakiri when my prep is veg intensive but can't get out the nakiri and do everything with it.

I own a cleaver but have never been a cleaver guy.
 
Thanks, some great ideas here.

@tostadas and @deltaplex - yeah maybe getting a 270 gyuto and a Chinese “light” cleaver would be nice. I get to try different stuff and keep within my budget.

@kpham12 - I was definitely NOT handling my cleavers like that, lol. Should probably give cleavers in general another chance, I never kept them long enough to really learn.

@ethompson and @HumbleHomeCook - mmm maybe I should try a 210 nakiri AND 270 gyuto from Toyama… that nakiri is lighter than most cleavers while still tall and heavy enough to destroy vegetables.

Any idea if Watanabe does a 210 nakiri as well?
https://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/toyama-noborikoi-kasumi-nakiri-stainless-clad-210mm/
 
[subtitle / disclaimer: “high volume” in the context of a home cook :) ]

So my cooking volume increased quite a bit after getting married and adopting a rescue puppy (and deciding to spoil her with home-cooked meals).

I previously cooked for 1-2 people but now I often do meal prep for the week (specially for the puppy). We eat a lot of vegetables, so that’s most of the knife work and includes larger ones such as zucchini, squash, eggplant, large carrots, etc. I’ve always used 210 gyutos (mainly a Toyama) but they are starting to feel small.

I was thinking which knife should I get. The obvious options are:

- Nakiri (180 or 210)
- Cleaver (a lighter one)
- Larger gyuto (270 or 240)

I’ve only tried 165 nakiris so far. Fun, but a bit small for me. Tried a few cleavers but never got used to the weight (>350g), so maybe a lighter one? Never tried a larger gyuto but I think a 270 Toyama would be really fun to use.

I usually push / pull cut. Space (both countertop and storage) is not an issue.

I’m leaning towards a 270 - maybe 240 - Toyama gyuto since that would feel closer to the 210 I’m already used to. Also I think the extra length (compared to a nakiri or cleaver) would be useful on the larger/longer vegetables.

What do you think? Anything I’m missing? Would a 270 be to big? Probably many of you made the transition from 210 gyuto to something bigger at some point.

Thanks!
sang dao (thin Chinese cleaver)
 
I have several war horses. I would recommend any of them any day for high volume prep. A cleaver could be nice in some circumstances, but for me if it's going to be a long chopping session, I would rather have a big brute gyuto.
HSC 270 wrought clad carbon
Shi.han 250 52100 mono
Watanabe 270 iron clad blue
 
Like most of the pro cooks who have already weighed in on this question, I would agree that a gyuto with a longer flat cutting edge makes high volume veggie prep less time consuming. I have never been a rectangle guy either.

Another factor to consider is cutting board size and countertop area. The cutting board I normally pull out of the rack at work is perfectly accomodating for a 240, but feels small for a 270. The reason I like the size of that board is because I like to have room for pans, etc to hold my "mis" So.....if your home kitchen prep area is pretty tight, maybe try a 240 first....🤷‍♂️
 
Home cook here. FWIW, I have a lot of kitchen space and a very big board. I mainly use 240s but have a number of 270s that I use for big prep. It didn't take long to get used to 270mm and they do suit a big prep session better.

Given that you are mainly processing soft veggies, you may want to prioritise food release over thinness.

Ironclad wat 270 is a prep eating monster, especially with some of the softer foods you mention. It does need a bit of force on harder veggies, though. It is a very big knife. Note that the current stainless clad ones are said to be a bit thinner, so I can't comment on them.

The thicker versions of hammered Wakui and hammered Yoshikane are in the same vein, but not quite as extreme. Note that there are apparently some thinner hammered Yoshis around and the Nashiji Yoshi and Hairline Wakui are of course much thinner grinds. Wakui is white2 steel while Yoshi is white2 or SKD12 (which has better edge retention).

Gengetsu has a very well executed trade-off between food release and thinness. Not quite as good food release but noticebly less wedging in hard foods.

There are also some great custom options for excellent food release. Happy to go into some of these in more detail if interested.
 
As a pro cook, if I was going to cook at home a lot in a higher volume, I'd have something longer than 240mm and not longer than 270mm. Something about 250-260mm or so. Something midweight also.
 
I don't think there's a "right" answer to this question, and far be it from me to give a dogmatic answer in a room full of professionals!

However, I am similar to you - ie, a "home cook" that eats only vegetables (whole food, plant-based vegan). While it's just my wife and I, we do prep a LOT of veggies! My answer has settled into a Toyama 240, and 180 Nakiri. I also have a Wakui 165 Santoku with an incredibly fine tip for light chores, and of course, a little 70mm petty for fruit, etc. I can really tackle anything we eat with this lineup. Of course, it could all be done easily with a 210 Gyuto too, but where would the fun be in that!
 
Just got my 270 munetoshi and used it on 10lbs of leeks and 15lbs of potatoes and a side of bacon yesterday and it's got a fantastic grind. Thoroughly enjoyed it for big prep, good through potatoes with minimal sticking, and quite a good value. I'd imagine the edge retention won't be the best and I don't find white #2 to stay usably sharp for dainty things like leeks but in a home setting this should be just fine. I'd recommend it based off one session alone. I use almost exclusively 260-280 at home after 10 years cooking out in the wild.
 
As a cleaver guy, I am absolutely convinced that you need a Chinese-style cleaver here. There is nothing like the whack-whack-whack technique for speed and precision combined. Were I in your position, I would reach for a Sugimoto No. 6 or equivalent. OK, you don't want the 480g weight like I do. So find something lighter. CCK is a good place to look.
 
I don't think there's a "right" answer to this question, and far be it from me to give a dogmatic answer in a room full of professionals!

However, I am similar to you - ie, a "home cook" that eats only vegetables (whole food, plant-based vegan). While it's just my wife and I, we do prep a LOT of veggies! My answer has settled into a Toyama 240, and 180 Nakiri. I also have a Wakui 165 Santoku with an incredibly fine tip for light chores, and of course, a little 70mm petty for fruit, etc. I can really tackle anything we eat with this lineup. Of course, it could all be done easily with a 210 Gyuto too, but where would the fun be in that!
Witch one Wakui ?
 
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