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Dec 18, 2010 03:39 PM

Where to buy a Japanese or Chinese knife for under $100

I'm looking for a well priced knife. 8 inch Santoko or a Light Chinese Clever. For all purpose use.

I know very little about knives, only that I like the feel of asian knives much more than western style ones.

I remember a chef telling me that his dirt cheap knife that he bought in chinatown once upon a time has out-performed all his other fancy knives and it's his favourite. So I am totally open to buying a really cheap knife too.

Is $100 more than enough for a good knife? Can I get something good for more like $30.

What stores in vancouver are worth a look or should I buy online?

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  1. Tinland in Chinatown sells CCK Chinese cleavers ($40-60?). For Japanese made knives - you can try Santoku Equipment Office in Yaletown - not cheap though (>$150, IIRC).

    7 Replies
    1. re: fmed

      Not a fan of cleavers myself a Santoku is a better all round choice and I've seen some in Chinatown that would suit-Tinland is a good place to start.

      While what's on offer is low end if treated right (no dishwasher) they'll last for years. has some budget priced Japanese made Santokus and Gyutos that look great.

      1. re: fmed

        The 7" Shun Santoku is on sale at Cookworks for $109 and the Global G5 7" for $79 if you want to check them out. I have the former and use it constantly.

        1. re: grayelf

          Jogged my memory - I used to see them at Winners/Homesense too at those kinds of prices.

        2. re: fmed

          Nice! Thanks for the tips guys. I heard Tinland in chinatown closed in 09. Can anyone confirm that they are still open?

          1. re: jkhdsf

            The had a secondary location that closed. The original location is still open.

            1. re: fmed

              Oh perfect. Is it at 260 Pender Street then?

        3. I live in the Northern New Jersey/New Your City area and just about all the Chinese Restaurants use Dexter-Russell cleavers. I've purchased them through the years starting at $10 USD, but now they are in the $30 USD range. It's my everyday knife. I use a 3.5 inch mostly

          They are readily available in any Asian Market, especially NYC's Chinatown. I would imagine it's the same for Vancouver.

          1. Mac Knife MSK-65 6.5" Santoku is held in high regard by many. ~$110 USD I think is the going rate. So it doesn't fit your criteria perfectly, but thought it might be worth a mention. While not a mainstream brand (I don't think you'll find this at a Williams & Sonoma), they are pretty serious -- the choice of many top chefs (Thomas Keller to name one).

            1. Yeah I am ready to spend a little over $100 for my knife. I have more or less decided on Shun Classic 7" Santoku. It's just a matter now of getting one in my hand and seeing how it feels.

              I'm also feeling a pull to these two:
              Haiku 7.5" Santoku:
              Zen Chief Santuko 6.5":
              Your thoughts?

              I very much like the look of traditional japanese handles. Has anybody got experience with these? Is there any functional reason for the simple round handle or is it just rooted in a need to throw a chunk of something on that sucker to turn a piece of sharp metal into a usable knife?

              8 Replies
              1. re: jkhdsf

                I have two Moritaka knives with traditional handles. They are D-shaped handles, not round. I find they allow for a little more finesse with cutting compared with western handles. However, that might be those particular knives, as the Moritakas (and most Japanese carbon knives) are super light and scary sharp.

                If you're looking at those other two knives, I'd be tempted to look at Suisin. Stainless, so you don't have to deal with the level of care a carbon knife requires. Super sharp and surgical.

                1. re: peter.v

                  Did you buy your Moritaka in Vancouver? I see I can order them through a Toronto retailer, but I prefer to not shop online.

                  1. re: ixto78

                    I purchased my Moritakas from Kevin Kent at Knifewear in Calgary. He would be quite trustworthy to buy from online.

                    1. re: peter.v

                      Wusthof 6" snatokus are on sale for 1/2-price at the Gourmet Warehouse:


                      1. re: LotusRapper

                        Always cheaper than that on EBay-that's where I git mine for less than $80.

                      2. re: peter.v

                        I agree with peter v. Knifewear would be trustworthy to buy from. I bought a Konosuke from their shop here in Calgary. Kevin and his staff are very knowledgeable and passionate about knives. I own a couple of Shuns as well. After I tried a variety of knives at Knifewear during one of their classes, I wish I had known about these knives before buying my shuns.

                        As a side note, Knifewear is planning to open a location in Kelowna and one in Vancouver later this year.

                        1. re: miss.foodie

                          Thanks for that early intel on Knifewear miss.foodie.

                  2. re: jkhdsf

                    I'm not sure if the Shun handles are traditional but they are not completely round. There is a little bump out on one side.