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chinese cleaver with less curve

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  • ronke May 10, 2009 11:55 AM
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I have a carbon steel Chinese cleaver I bought probably 40 years ago in LA Chinatown. It has a standard 8" x 3.25" blade and wood handle. I love this cleaver and use it daily for cooking but somehow over the years it has developed a chip in the blade (proabably due to my spouse whom I just found going after a coconut with my Henckels bread knife!)

I have mostly sharpened away the chip (with the stone I bought to sharpen said cleaver also in chinatown, also 40 years ago) but still... probably time for a new one. When I check out the 99 Ranch Markets, Hawaii markets, etc of San Gabriel, however, I find all the cleavers for sale now have blades that are much more curved. Mine barely has any curve at all except at the far end . I know I'm supposed to embrace the curve but I have always preferred my basically straight cleaver over my French knives which just sit in the drawer. I have looked at the wokhouse website and the cleavers there seem to be what I'm after for but it is really hard to tell from pictures. Anyone with experience? Thanks.

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  1. I have one that I bought a number of years back in NY's Chinatown upon recommendation of a Chinese chef/cooking teacher. It is made by Dexter, in Massachusetts. High carbon, non-stain. Perfectly straight. Reasonably priced. Hope that helps.

    1 Reply
    1. re: markabauman

      Thank you! I will look for Dexter

    2. check here, I see very little curve on some of them.

      http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/Chi...

      1 Reply
      1. re: CACook

        Those look great but alas way out of my price range.

      2. For light duty use a Japanese style vegetable knife might suit your need. One version has a rectangular blade, though it is somewhat narrower than the typical Chinese cleaver.

        3 Replies
        1. re: paulj

          I think I paid about $20 for my Chinese Dexter cleaver a few years back. It was in Chinatown-NYC, so I'm sure now and buying it elsewhere it will be a little more, but still a relative bargain. By the way, I brought my Martin Yan cleaver which had been given to me as a gift to class and the Chinese chef/instructor summarily dismissed it as too "American"- she said "go buy a Dexter".

          1. re: markabauman

            Yes, the Dexter seems to be up to about $40 but still doable. I am going to have to hunt one down.

          2. re: paulj

            Yeah, it was the narrowness that puts me off. I do have a Japanese vegetable knife I inherited from my son that I also use daily but I just prefer the heft and wide blade of the true Chinese cleaver.

          3. Have you tried chinatown in LA? I drive thru there frequently. I recall that there is a restaurant supply store on or near Alameda. Also, even though you wish to purchase a new cleaver, Anzen hardware in little tokyo has a shapening service, 319 first street. Normal rate is $10 per knife but to take out a chip it may be more. They can sharpen asian knives.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bgazindad

              Oh, gee! Talk me out of a new cleaver? But that's a good thought. I'm near Sawtelle in West LA where I know they sharpen lawn mower blades. Maybe I should look for a knife sharpener there.

            2. Is the curve on the Chinese cleavers shown on "japanesechefsknife" (link provided by CACook) too much? If not, I just got a "Stainless Steel Chopping-Knife size N0.2 Genuine San Han Nga" for $13 in the Washington, DC, Chinatown. I don't think paying a minimum of 10 times as much would make any real difference in my kitchen.

              I have a really heavy one that I got for about the same in Beijing long ago.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                The Chuka Bocho has the right curve. I will definitely look for the San Han Nga. Never have used a stainless steel cleaver though. I know people swear by them. I guess I kind of like the stains.

                1. re: ronke

                  I perfer carbon steel and stains as well, but carbon steel is getting harder to find. I have some wicked sharp and mottled carbon steel working knives from Brasil. Each cost about $1.00.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Whew! I am definitely going to have to get to Brasil! But in the meantime I will take a look at your recommendations. Thanks so much.

              2. You're looking for the Chinese chef's knife for doing veggies etc., that looks like a meat cleaver but is lighter-duty, right?

                If you're googling around you might have luck with "chinese chef's knife"

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cinnamon

                  Huh. I didn't think of that. I will try pronto.

                2. Take or mail your clever to Columbus Cutlery in SF. Mark it with a black sharpie showing the curve to be removed. They will get it done. I wouldn't part with my "love" so easily...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: rcspott

                    But if you could get a great new one for $14.00 ....???

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Call me sentimental....

                      1. re: rcspott

                        Perfect answer!

                  2. I recommend you keep an eye out for CCK cleavers (Chan Chi Kee). Unfortunately they are not available online. You'll have to search for them - it could become something of a quest, if that appeals to you. Anyway, they're cheap, well made, and most models don't have much curve.

                    I also recommend you take a look at this page. Some nice cleaver reviews from a knowledgeable reviewer, including some reviews for cleavers that are not too expensive. Pics included so you can see the curve.
                    http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      ^^^ Great cleaver review link - I'm in Calgary and it got me looking around locally within a 15 minute drive - I found a number of Shi Ba Zi cleavers and some Town Food Service cleavers, as well as other style knives manufactured by them for cheap. From $7.00 CAD to $24.00CAD. None of the cleavers were the models reviewed by Andy.
                      My present, 20 year old, knife of choice for slicing looks identical to the Dexter although it has no identification markings and is smaller by 10mm in length and width. I also have a CCK, one solid stainless steel piece similar to the one that Andy rates last but good for camping and abuse. Still, I prefer the CCK to a European chef knife.

                      My 40 year old Henckel and Sabatier chef knives are rarely used.
                      Anyhow thanks for the heads up. Something new to pursue. :)

                      1. re: rosetown

                        I bought a solid ss one like that some years ago, after a wood handle one broke. Since the break appeared to be due to rusting of the tang where it entered the wood, I got the one piece to never have that problem. But I didn't use it much, and ended up passing it to my son. He put a lot of effort into sharping it and is quite happy with it.

                        In the mean time I've moved on to thin Japanese style blades. If I need a heavy duty blade, I have several bushcraft knives. One, a Cold Steel Bushman, has an integral handle, rolled from the same blank as the blade. Another is a Lapp (Finish) leuku.

                      2. re: cowboyardee

                        you can get a number of cck cleavers on line at chefknivestogo.com....

                      3. i got a great cck chinese veg cleaver in toronto chinese town. its my fav knife .

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: dropkick227

                          :) I see you have resurrated an old post, possibly a bit before I joined CHOWHOUND. Yes, CCK makes excellent Chinese kitchen knives. Aside from the universal vegetable cleaver, CCK is also very famous for its slicer (basically a thin version of the vegetable cleaver). See if you can get hold of it, I think you will like it very much. The larger slicers are the KF110X series. The smaller slicers are the KF130X series.

                          http://www.chanchikee.com/ChineseKniv...

                          Man. it is always a pleasure to read Sam's posts.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Wow. I had no idea this thread was still active, but I looked up the CCK cleaver on the website you linked to and it is exactly what I have been looking for! Thank you so much. And also to cowboyardee who brought up the CCK cleavers ages ago but at a time when I couldn't find them online. And thank you dropkick 227 for resurrecting the thread and making my dreams come true.

                            1. re: ronke

                              ronke,

                              Do you live in North America? You can find CCK in some Chinatowns. More so for the west coast ones. You can buy CCK online from Chefknivestogo:

                              http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckclea...

                              Mark does not have the entire array of CCK, but he does have a few selections there.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I am in love with the small CCK cleaver on that site. It's already in my shopping cart! Unfortunately my wayward eyes have also landed on the nakiri which is my husband's favorite knife. My younger son, about to spend the next two years in Monterrey, Mexico and already missing the food of his four years in Beijing, intends to bone up on his Chinese cooking while home next week. I guess I'll be sending him with one or the other knife. Thanks!

                                1. re: ronke

                                  Glad to help, but like will47 said, the selection will probably be better at your local stores and likely to be cheaper too. Have fun.

                              2. re: ronke

                                It looks like you're in LA - here you can get them at Action Sales in Monterey Park, and at T&T Restaurant Supply in Alhambra (on Valley).

                                1. re: will47

                                  Oh, yeah! I'm in the SGV at least once a week. It's where we'll be having Thanksgiving (long family tradition) I was even in T & T once but didn't see them. I'll check out Action Sales. Thanks!

                                  1. re: ronke

                                    I don't know if T&T had them before, but I was there last week - they had a decent selection of cleavers, including CCK ones, and I'm guessing the prices may be a bit lower than at Action Sales. They're on an endcap, on the left (relative to the front entrance), maybe 3 or 4 aisles down. If you don't know, CCK cleavers are covered with a paper wrapper (kraft brown color with red writing) and rubber banded -- see the picture here (not mine) http://media.photobucket.com/image/re... -- maybe that will make it easier to find them. It will be a good idea to figure out which ones might work for you ahead of time.

                                    Both places carry a good selection, from small slicers to heavy bone choppers. I think mine is a 1303. The 130X ones are very thin, and great for vegetable prep and light duty stuff, however, if you want to use the same knife to cut bone and squash as well as for lighter duty stuff, get something a little thicker. The bone choppers are heavy duty - I have one, and it doesn't get much use in our (mostly vegetarian) household, but it's really overkill for almost anything I can think of -- almost like a knife shaped chisel or something.

                                    As you may know, they're lacquered, so if you want a patina to develop, you'll need to strip off the lacquer. I am not obsessive about making the handle look fancy, but I would suggest oiling it every once in a while so that it doesn't crack.

                                    http://www.chanchikee.com/ChineseKniv... has the various models.

                                    1. re: will47

                                      The 1303 was exactly the one I was looking for. T & T is more in our normal stomping grounds so it will be easy to swing by there this weekend. On the other hand, Action Sales seems to be across the street from Jim's Bakery. Hmmm

                            2. re: dropkick227

                              Where in Toronto did you find your CCK veg cleaver? I just heard about them recently visiting chef forums and this thread. I am currently living in LA and won't be back in TO till the end of the year.

                              Perhaps they won't be hard to find. We too have a chain of T&T Chinese markets in TO. Might be the same owner. Taiwanese owned. Very clean and organized.

                              1. re: BDD888

                                <I am currently living in LA>

                                You can probably find one in the LA. What type of CCK are you looking for?

                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                  I found one one at T & T Restaurant Supplies, 530 W. Valley, Alhambra.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    I would be looking for a cleaver with a thin spine used for dicing and slicing veggies. Maybe cutting meat. Don't think I'll buy one to use for the remainder of my stay here in LA.

                                    Any how I've found a CCK shop in one of Toronto's more popular Chinese malls (Pacific Mall). I think the shop belongs to CCK. As it's called CCK (spelled out). Will be visiting them when I return to TO. Not sure if I'll buy a small size or a large size. As the large size will make it easier to transport diced food to the pan. Less trips.

                                    1. re: BDD888

                                      <I've found a CCK shop in one of Toronto's more popular Chinese malls>

                                      Oh good. You will get to have all the selection you need.

                                      http://www.chanchikee.com/toronto.htm

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        Yep. From the 2nd photo it looks like they carry the entire line. But as I said...I'd also like to look at Dexter-Russell. They even have a "soft-grip" line. Rubber handle. Sounds like it might be good to have. In practice? Dunno...

                                        1. re: BDD888

                                          <In practice? Dunno...>

                                          I would at least get one knife from the CCK store if you manage to get there. Dexter Russell makes a decent enough all around Chinese vegetable knife. As such, I would recommend getting the thin blade CCK Chinese slicers since Dexter Russell does not make these.

                                          If you don't mind carbon steel, then get the KF 130X series or the KF111C series.

                                          http://www.chanchikee.com/ChineseKniv...

                                          I have recently been to Vancouver and bought the KF1402. Great knife.

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/850869

                                          Have fun.

                              2. Why not stick with it and look for a good knife sharpener (a person, not a tool)? I have a Chinese knife which is almost 40 years old, and prone to nicks. I had one knife shop botch the repair, so just set it aside for a few years. Then I found another shop and let them have a shot at it. They did a good job with it and now I'm using it again.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: GH1618

                                  Well, actually, in the years since I started this thread that is exactly what I did. But now my son is getting ready to move to Mexico, after living for four years in China (without buying a cleaver) and now that, thanks to this forum, I have a source I want to get him one like mine.