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Kiwi Knife Questions

j
JVHcook Jul 14, 2011 06:55 AM

Hi everyone.
I am looking to buy some new Kiwi knives, after hearing all the rave about them and I had a few questions. First, this is where I will buying the knives from:

http://www.importfood.com/thai_knives...

Looking at their selection, my first question was would you recommend the plastic or wood handles for the knives? I don't really care about how they look, so if the plastic handle would be just as easy to use and of the same quality, I would rather buy plastic for easier cleaning.
Also, I am new to these kinds of knife, so after some research would I be correct to say that if I want to buy a few (why not because of the price?) should I buy a Thai Cleaver for everyday chopping (not bones), a fruit knife as a sort of paring knife, and the set of 3 plastic knives? Of the set of 3 plastic knives I figure the chef's knife would serve the same purpose as the cleaver, just as a different style to see which I prefer, and then the meat knives would be used for cutting meat (would these be suitable for cutting a small bone)?

Thanks for any advice, I tried to find out as much as I could about these knife styles online, but there wasn't as much as I had hoped for. I just want to be sure I am using the correct knives for their intended purposes.

  1. Chemicalkinetics Jul 14, 2011 07:21 AM

    Then buy plastic. The difference is small. I personally would buy wood just because it looks better. Well, there is a small functional difference. The wood ones will give you better traction, better grip.

    The wokshop also sells the kiwi knives and may give you a different selection:

    http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
      j
      JVHcook Jul 14, 2011 07:35 AM

      I'll check that out also, thanks for the information.

    2. cowboyardee Jul 14, 2011 07:21 AM

      I don't think quality is really a big issue in terms of their plastic or wooden handles. Wood handles, IMO, feel a little nicer. They'll be more of a problem if you leave em really wet for a long time, but generally speaking you shouldn't leave any knife that you care about wet. There's nothing wrong with plastic handles, no quality issues that I know of.

      But looking at the site, it seems as though different knives are offered in different handles - that you don't have choice of handle material for any given knife. In that case, I'd probably make my choice based on the knife type and profile, not the handle material. Some people who are pickier about handles might do otherwise, but you don't sound too picky about handles.

      You'll get more functionality from the Thai cleaver and a fruit knife (used as a paring knife) than you will out of the set of three plastic handled knives. Basically all three knives in that set serve the same function. It might be cool to try out all three since they vary in terms of profile and edge curvature, but yeah - they're functionally pretty similar and interchangeable (all 3 are primarily vegetable knives, with the most rectangular one having the most vegetable bias; still, all 3 can be used on meat).

      So if you don't already have a paring knife or petty that you like, I'd think it would be a better use of your money to buy one cleaver (for on-the-cutting-board use) and one fruit knife (for off-cutting-board use).

      4 Replies
      1. re: cowboyardee
        j
        JVHcook Jul 14, 2011 07:33 AM

        Alright, this makes sense, thanks! Looking at the cleavers, they have a 3, 6, and 8.5 inch. Would the 8.5 be unwieldy for someone with average size hands, and if not would it be worth it getting that size over the 6 inch?
        And would any of these knives be better than the others for say, butchering a raw whole chicken? Sorry if this is basic information, I'm new to knives and I'm not really sure.
        Thanks again.

        1. re: JVHcook
          cowboyardee Jul 14, 2011 08:10 AM

          The handles look to be more or less the same size for different knifes, maybe a bit on the small side (hard to say without holding it), so I don't think hand size is really going to come into play all that much. What does come into play is how comfortable you are with a bigger, longer knife. Part of that is how much space you have - if you're working on an 8 inch cutting board with very little counter space, you probably don't want a huge knife. But it's not, strictly speaking, a pure function of the cook's size. I've seen tiny 5 ft tall women who love their huge, heavy 12 inch French warhorse chef knives, and I've linebacker-looking guys who only feel comfortable with their diminutive 6 inch santokus. That said, a longer knife generally is a little more versatile than a shorter knife - I personally lean towards longer blades. So the question is, do you feel you have the space for and can control 8 inches of cleaver?

          Breaking down a chicken is mostly technique, and someone who has the technique down could easily do it with any of these knives (well, the 2 3/4 inch 'Tiptop' knife might be a little tough). Unless you're buying a specialized knife just for chicken, I'd recommend just picking the knife that you feel will be best as your main chefs knife and then learn to use that for the job.

          If you are picking a specialized knife just for breaking down chicken - depends on whether you chop through bones or not. If you regularly chop through bones, get the biggest thickest cleaver they have (though frankly you'd be better off with just a cheap meat cleaver from somewhere else). If you don't chop through bones, I don't see any that would be a perfect chicken knife. Probably the 7.5 inch fruit slicing knife from the fruit carving set would be the closest to a dedicated chicken carving knife.

          1. re: cowboyardee
            j
            JVHcook Jul 14, 2011 08:21 AM

            Wow, thanks for extensive reply. I think I'll start with the 6 inch as I'm more comfortable with a smaller knife at this point. I don't think I'll get a specialized knife for chicken if most knifes, used correctly, will do the job. This has been very helpful.

            1. re: cowboyardee
              p
              pine time Jul 16, 2011 08:43 AM

              I thank you, too, cowboyardee. While I'm hardly a novice in the kitchen, I've always used el cheapo knives (and I have the scars to prove it). Knife discussions here usually leave me with my eyes glazed over at the complexity of it all, but you've done a great beginner explanation that I appreciate. Gracias!

        2. puzzler Jul 14, 2011 03:07 PM

          Check out Asian grocery stores in your town. I got several Kiwi knives at one of these nearby, and at a lower price, with no shipping -- plus I could handle them first. Kiwis are surprisingly thin and light -- very sharp and nice to slice with -- but you'll be surprised if you're used to working with knives with some weight to them.

          2 Replies
          1. re: puzzler
            cannibal Jul 14, 2011 09:34 PM

            I was going to suggest checking local asian markets as well. At a local place I found a kiwi thai cleaver with a 7.5" blade length which is one of my favorite knives for vegetables. The knive was a little under half the price listed on the sites to boot.

            1. re: cannibal
              j
              JVHcook Jul 14, 2011 11:35 PM

              I've checked or called all of my local markets, with no luck. I did look at some local Chinese Cleaver sizes though to see what I might like best, and decided to start with the 6 inch; can't wait to try it out.

          2. buttertart Aug 18, 2011 10:19 AM

            I got the Kiwi cleaver (narrower blade than a Chinese one, more like a nakiri, which latter I have yet to get) at Kam Man in Manhattan Chinatown a couple of weeks ago for $7.98. They had it and a beak-shaped vegetable knife for about the same price.
            I had to ask the clerk to get it for me (the floor model was behind glass with a number of the more expensive ones). He sent his minion off to get it out of the stockroom, telling him to get the "zui putong de" - the most ordinary one! Cracked us up.
            The knife is very light and man oh man is it sharp. Fun to use.

            7 Replies
            1. re: buttertart
              Chemicalkinetics Aug 18, 2011 10:48 AM

              ""zui putong de"

              :) At least he didn't say, get the crappy one. Glad the new knife is working for you. Let us know if anything new developed

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                buttertart Aug 18, 2011 10:50 AM

                I thought of you as soon as he said it!
                Still dreaming of a nice long nakiri...any new suggestions?

                1. re: buttertart
                  Chemicalkinetics Aug 18, 2011 11:08 AM

                  :) You can make a separate post. You will get a lot of responses. I think you said you like a stainless, but wooden handle and not too expensive, right? I still think the Tojiro one fits your requirement.

                  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toshsa16.html

                  There are cheaper ones if you don't mind using carbon steel blade knife. (as opposed to stainless steel

                  )

                  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toshna161.html
                  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takuna1...

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    buttertart Aug 18, 2011 12:20 PM

                    How much more care does the carbon steel blade require?

                    1. re: buttertart
                      petek Aug 18, 2011 01:09 PM

                      "How much more care does the carbon steel blade require?"
                      It's not that bad.Hand wash and keep it dry,always.It can be very reactive(discoloration,strong odor) to citrus,onions and cabbage until a "patina" is developed.When not in use for an extended period of time,I lightly wipe the blade with mineral oil to add a protective film.

                      1. re: buttertart
                        cowboyardee Aug 18, 2011 05:33 PM

                        It's not even so much care that's the issue. It's about the things you can't do that many people don't think twice about. Namely, you can't go eat your meal and leave your knife unwashed until later in the evening. And as Petek said, a dishwasher is a really awful idea.

                        It also depends on the carbon steel in question. Some carbon steels need frequent wipe-offs, especially if you're cutting acidic ingredients. Others can make it through a good chunk of prep without a wipe, but still shouldn't be left unwashed for an hour or two while you eat.

                        1. re: buttertart
                          Chemicalkinetics Aug 18, 2011 08:53 PM

                          I agree with Petek and cowboy. It does take more attention for a carbon steel knife especially when it is new. It does take much effort if you cut up all the foods in one sitting. However, a carbon steel should be wiped clean when it is done.

                          There are cheaper stainless steel nakiri (in range of $20). You will probably see a drop in quality, but that is probably fine. They are no worse than any other $20 knives you see in typical stores.

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