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Jan 5, 2013 09:02 AM


I've read and enjoyed all the cleaver posts, and still don't know what I want. I want a meat cleaver--should I go for the Victorinox, or go to Chinatown in NYC next summer and buy a cleaver there? If so, where should I go, and what should I get? I was all juiced for the Alpha, then found it was unavailable. :( There is an Alpha all steel but someone said handle is short.

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  1. I'm going to jump in here too for some cleaver advice. I have a heavy 6" Henkels cleaver that I use it a couple of times a year when whacking up meat bones. I just got Pham's Vietnamese Home Cooking and am now jonesing for a lighter cleaver. For vegetables, ginger, garlic, etc. he recommends a "smaller and lighter" carbon steel cleaver. Any recommendations from ya'll?

    3 Replies
    1. re: tcamp

      <For vegetables, ginger, garlic, etc. he recommends a "smaller and lighter" carbon steel cleaver. Any recommendations from ya'll?>

      Absolutely agree. The East Asian knife system is very different than the European knife system, but not any less complex. The Chinese, for example, actually have a very large knife selection, but they look similar from a distance.

      The medium blade Chinese knife (also known as vegetable cleaver) is the most popular because it can handle light to heavy jobs. A lot of Chinese only have one knife at home and that is the knife.

      However, if you already have a meat cleaver for tough jobs, then I agree with Pharm's assessment. You should get a thin blade Chinese cleaver for much better control for everyday's tasks (really isn't a cleaver because it is very thin -- but it looks like a cleaver).

      Now, I don't think you have to get carbon steel. You can. Carbon steel knives sharpen up a bit nicer and holds the edge a bit longer, but it also require more care. I think Pham suggests carbon steel because many Chinese stainless steel knives are too soft to be good thin blade slicers. However, with the right stainless steel, this is not a problem.

      I recommend Chan Chi Kee thin blade slicer -- for its carbon steel or for its stainless steel. You are looking at about $40-50 for the small size slicer.

      I have several Chan Chi Kee knives -- 6 total at this point. The carbon steel KF1303 is a very popular model, and I wrote a review here.

      Recently, I got the stainless steel version KF 1912. I have not had the chance to write a review, but it has been doing very well. Here is a short passage for my friends:

      If you want to get the carbon steel KF 1303, then Chefknivestogo carries it:

      If you want the stainless steel... then I do not know any online store sells it... so you will have to ask around.

      Edited: Actually if you like you can go more high end and get the Japanese made Chinese slicers, but these are a bit more expensive. Actually, a lot more expensive, but you may like them. Scroll down and look for "Suien Chinese Cleaver", "Mizuno Tanrenjo Chinese Cleaver", "Hattori Chinese Cleaver"


      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Thank you, I really appreciate your thoughtful response. I bought a gyuto knife from chef knives to go based on something you had posted. It was my first carbon steel knife and I really enjoy using it. I would like something a big bigger now so am interested in a lighter weight cleaver. I saw a video about the 1303 and was surprised at how big it is - for some reason, as long as I can keep this addiction contained to a single drawer, I feel better about it.

        1. re: tcamp

          1303 is actually on the small size. It looks big at first, and it is not small, but it is light (thin blade), so you won't feel heavy.

    2. Hi Palomalou,

      Just want to be clear. You want a meat cleaver to chop bones and all, right? You do not want a thin blade Chinese slicer, right? The problem is that most of the Chinese knives have the same look from a distance, but in fact they are different in size, thickness, weight and for different tasks. For example:

      If you want a meat cleaver as a beater knife to chop chicken bones and all, then any cleaver in the range of $15-35 is fine. You do want it to be thick though. It does not need to be high quality because it will be a beater knife. You can certainly get a Henckels or Wusthof cleaver if you like, but you don't have to.

      In term of availability, I will suggest that Dexter Russell and Victorinox cleavers are good choices. Just some examples:

      You will also have to decide how large a cleaver you want. A 7 inch? A 9 inch?

      1. Yes, mainly I want it to dismember chicken. Not planning to use it to slice.
        Anybody tried the Alpha in my first post?

        2 Replies
        1. re: palomalou

          I've never even heard of the Alpha let alone seen one but if your after a basic SS cleaver then look at a Dexter. They are cost effective and work just fine for Chicken as long as you don't try chopping a frozen bird or do a Bruce Lee meets RR impression.
          As an added bonus they are made in the USA.

          1. re: TraderJoe

            Just wanted to say thanks for the advice on this thread - I'm looking for a cleaver for chicken bones, etc and decided to go for the Dexter Russell. Looks like a great tool for heavy work.