e-wok store reliability ?
- oleaster Sep 24, 2013 10:37 AM
Based on reviews from this board, I ordered a wok from e-wok last month. I contacted e-wok last week when I still haven't received it and somehow the store did not have a record of my order. I made a dispute claim with PayPal thinking that PayPal will show the store the transaction purchase. Instead, e-wok refunded my money.
I really want a wok from e-.wok. Do you guys think it is a good idea to order from the store again. Does anyone experience any problem with e-wok before?
< Do you guys think it is a good idea to order from the store again.>
Sure, why not. Maybe this time you can write an email ahead of time and state that you are going to place an order and you would like to get an confirmation, and then place the order. Yes, it is more works up front, but probably worth it. It takes about a month before you will receive the wok. You should get a confirmation email after they received your order though. Save it.
<Does anyone experience any problem with e-wok before?>
The e-wok store is a small store and frankly not very efficient, so you will have to excuse them for that. I have had ordered once, and my experience from the e-wok store was fine.
In term of the woks themselves, they are very good. Mine is the best wok I have had.
The Artisan Hammered Wok from Williams-Sonoma is probably just as good and will come much faster. Plus, you know you will receive your wok. They are hand hammered by two brothers, Cen Rong Gen and Cen Lian Gen and one of their woks is even featured on the cover of Grace Young's The Breath of Wok. Read about them here:
Their wok making business was apparently the last of its kind in Shanghai. As their business was torn down as a result of Shanghai's urban redevelopment program, im guessing Williams-Sonoma bought the last of their stock. I like to think one of them restarted their business somewhere else though.
I bought it because it feels like owning a piece of history. I love this wok and will probably have it the rest of my life. I dont use the wok ring but it makes a great trivet if im serving out of my wok.
<how did you learn about the wok's origins/makers>
I know. I heard it here as well, but I cannot find solid evidence for it. That being said, there is no reason to believe the Cen brothers are better than others. Yes, their woks was feathered on the cover of Breath of a Wok, but that does not really mean that much. Grace Young most likely picked the best looking wok in her disponsal. It is a cyclic advertisement. Grace Young used Cen's wok to promote her book. In turn, her book made Cen famous. There is no evidence that Cen is more famous or better at the art than other wok masters. However, it is true that it is more and more difficult to find true hand hammered woks.
<I thought if the WS one was the same/comparable, it'd just be easier to go that route.>
I am sure the WS one is just as good. The good thing is that you can call a WS store near you and see if they have one in the store and inspect it before buying it. I only meant that some people probably thought Master Cen Rong Gen to be head and shoulder above other wok makers because Cen's wok was on the cover of Grace Young's book. I am sure that he is great though.
I have the book: Japanese Kitchen knives by Hiromitsu Nozaki:
The knife on the covered is made under the name 堺忠國. You may able to see that too from the photo. Based on what I have searched. It is a $200-300 (US $) carbon steel knife which is really a normal prized knife in Japan.
I don't think there is anything particularly special about this knife. It is a good knife, but I really doubt it is the very best in Japan.
The biggest thing you may want to consider is that the WS artisan wok has two round handles, and some people prefer a long handle.
Actually Chem, the wok in question, the Artisan Hammered one, isn't available in stores. Supply is probably too low to have them at their retail locations so they only sell them online.
I actually think its amazing how people have gone as far as flying over to China and finding him to get his woks after the publication of her book. Wonder if they really got the idea that it would be that much better than other woks after reading Grace Young.
<Actually Chem, the wok in question, the Artisan Hammered one, isn't available in stores.>
But wouldn't Williams Sonoma do one of those Walmart things -- ship the wok to a local store, and the buyer can go, see and pick it up? If the wok is vastly different than one's expectation, then the buyer can decline the wok on the spot or "return" it on the spot.
Ok, I am reading some of the pages from the Breath of a Wok by Grace Young, and I am a bit scared. Look at this photo of Cen from Breath of a Wok:
and now look at this photo from e-wok:
Doesn't these two dudes look alike?
Also look at this last photo where someone took of Cen's shop: "Finally, my friend had to use his camera phone to take a picture of the Cen Lian Gen and his shop to show me where my wok had come from : )"
Scroll of the way down
Now compare those stairs (in the background) with this e-wok photo again:
I don't know. I know Chinese people all kind of look alike :P, but even the stairs in their backyards?
On top of that, I forgot to tell people this before. The woks from e-wok are from Shanghai. Same city. I know because that is the shipping address.
588 Madang Road
Tel : +86 21 53066739
(all staff are English speaking
well thats disconcerting. at first I thought....maybe the woks from e-woks are Cen's??? But straight from e-woks, in regards to Cen's wok on the cover, "On the hardcover page, our hand made woks are exactly look like it," meaning Cen is not associated with them. Then again, they could have sourced some woks from him as apparently they dont make their products but stock them from "traditional hand hammered ironsmith on every alley and sideways". Given that Cen is in the same city, he is very easy for them to get to, so he could very well be the same man in the picture. Actually I KNOW he is. The same crack in the concrete of the stairs is seen in both pictures. Check the area with the chain on the side of the stairs:
Now check the same area in the e-woks image. A crack is seen right above the two metal "handles on the stairs" where the chain was. And right below that horizontal crack just to the left of the chain holders, you have the same vertical crack. Then there is a Y-shaped crack to the left of that crack that can be seen in both photos. And again to the left, the same slanted vertical crack. Same guy. Or at least, same place. The answer is in the cracks.
Seems to me that either e-woks is misrepresenting itself through a stolen photo or they actually source some of their woks from Cen. The latter seems most plausible.
This is fascinating. Seems that we may very well have had our woks made from the same guy without knowing it.
There are all these rumors about Cen being the last of hand hammered wok maker in the city of Shanghai, not sure if that is exaggerated. If it is true, then it is likely that e-wok actually source their woks from him, and only from him. The two places are very close. 7-8 km from each others.
Yes, I am a google stalker.
"On the hardcover page, our hand made woks are exactly look like it"
That could be a Chinese-English mistranslation. In English, it sounds like our hand made woks look like it, but is not the same. In Chinese, it can mean: if you get the woks from us, it will look exactly like it -- which often (not always) mean they are the same.
<but stock them from "traditional hand hammered ironsmith on every alley and sideways". >
Yes, but keep in mind that, e-wok sells more than just woks. They sell hand hammered utensils and other stuffs. This means that even if the woks are from Cen, e-wok still needs to source from other ironsmiths for other stuffs.
Anyway, I send e-wok an email. Maybe we will get this answered.
Given that they have Cen's photo on their site, it seems more likely he is one of or used to be one of e-wok's sources.
Regardless, I think OP has a win-win situation no matter what distributor is chosen. Even if the artisan isn't the same, I have no doubt they will be nearly identical in quality.
Oh and I am lusting after those hand hammered utensils they are selling. They will match my wok perfectly but the shipping just isn't worth it. Perhaps I'll buy one wok for curiosity's sake.
Please update on e-wok's response. Im interested in what they have to say.
<Given that they have Cen's photo on their site, it seems more likely he is one of or used to be one of e-wok's sources.>
I agree this is the likely explanation.
Ok, I just got an email from e-wok. The person claims that their products are from all over China, and cannot disclose more. I wrote another email to press just a it more, but this is the current reply.
"Thanks for the message.[skipping something]
We are sourcing items from china nationwide. Sorry we cannot tell you more about the wok makers.
< I think OP has a win-win situation no matter what distributor is chosen. Even if the artisan isn't the same, I have no doubt they will be nearly identical in quality.>
Unfortunately, I dont have concrete evidence either but heard it through the grapevine. Cant remember where I heard it but someone contacted Grace Young herself and she informed them that the Artisan Hammered Wok is of the Cen brothers.
I've contacted WS Corporate before and they are far from helpful. Couldn't even pull up a receipt for me so I can have a good copy for warranty purposes rather than the one printed on thermal paper in the stores.
I agree with Chem that their wok may not necessarily be better or significantly better(carbon steel is carbon steel, right???). Much rather, I was attracted to the wok as theres something romantic about knowing the name of the person who made it, how he hand hammered it himself rather than mass produced the woks through the impersonal setting of a factory, how this was one of only 3 woks he would create in a day, and how his business survived so long without being consumed by urbanization. It just makes me love the wok more. Plus, im the type who is always hesitant when buying products made in China. Its just reassuring to know that the wok queen backs their product as one of quality and that it wasn't created in a haste like many other Chinese products just to maximize production. My wok took time to make and thats comforting. We all know that China isn't known for their rigorous standards in quality control.
"Iron wok is one of the oldest cooking utensils in China for over centuries, famous for its sturdy, long endurance, even heating and most importantly good for health. Because of even thermal conductivity, iron can combine with acids in the food which make the iron in the food 10 times higher to accelerate blood creation. To use iron wok has been taken into medical treatment recommendation of lack of iron anemia disease.
In addition, the woks are unusual in that they are made from high quality iron in the traditional way, hand beaten with hammers (as opposed to modern ones which are just pressed in a machine with cheap steel) as most craftsman’s fingers are covered in bandages. A web of indentations in the pan show every hammer strike as the craftsman transformed the flat piece of iron into the woks you buy."
Last time i checked Steel would not give you Iron in your diet...
Just putting out there what i am seeing.
Also as far as i am aware, and i am no expert... Iron does not need to be cast to be used... you have Iron and Cast Iron, both from Iron but not the same... i think... (not an expert).
I emailed them asking "Do you sell any carbon steel woks?" we'll soon see if they do/don't/did/will
Sorry to break everyone's bubble here.
e-woks woks are IRON, 100% IRON.
They are most certainly not in any way Carbon Steel.
My email yielded a cut and paste 1 line response that did not address my question at all. So i called them, as we are on roughly the same time-zone.
The lady i spoke with had remarkably clear English language skills, she confirmed with me 100% Iron, not Carbon Steel at all. I mentioned that people were comparing it to a Carbon Steel wok (i didn't bother to bore who with the forum name or the source of the Carbon Steel wok), she understood me well and said "no, it is not carbon steel, it is Iron, 100% hand hammered Iron".
As you can see from the passage on their website about "iron anemia disease" and the benefits of cooking in Iron giving you Iron in your diet, there should never have been any doubt in peoples minds that it was made from Iron.
So i set about to learn more about Iron. In the process i learned more about Iron, Wrought Iron, Cast Iron and Steels.
There are at least 3 types of Wok to be considered in this debate about who is making which wok from what. (Who's on First?).
1) Carbon Steel
2) Wrought Iron, aka Iron
3) Cast Iron
Cast Iron works ok, but will hold the heat for too long and will be difficult to make instant heat changes to. Cast Iron is well enough understood as Lodge type cast iron skillets etc.
Cast Iron can not be hammered when it is cooled, it is too brittle. It could be hammered after casting when it is still hot, but this is ludicrous, why would you cast a shape and then hammer it, that's cheating (in the world of WokSmithing), like machine hammering a machine spun Wok and calling it "Hammered".
Wrought Iron, this is the missing link. Wrought Iron in Australia (where i lived for many years) is a very common term and Wrought Iron is well understood in Australia, we would call it simply Iron. "He hit me on the head with an Iron bar" (that bar is most likely Wrought Iron, unlikely to be cast iron). You get a sheet of wrought iron, and a hammer, and an uncomfortable low stool... start banging, before too long you have a Hand Hammered Iron Wok.
I have read time and time again people saying they have a "thin cast iron" wok. I suspect many people who say "my wok is thin cast iron" in-fact have a Wrought Iron wok. If you can bang on it like a cymbal with a wooden spoon; and it makes a nice clanging noise, like a carbon steel one would, then you can assume it's Wrought Iron and not cast, though this is not the definitive test.
If it weights a lot, then it is cast. Though this is not the definitive test.
and then we have Carbon Steel, which i did not really research as i just wanted to get a better handle on what i personally want, which is a Hand Hammered Wrought Iron wok.
Anyway, what drew me into this conversation was the fact that people were saying that Cen (a master Woksmith who worked with Carbon Steel, if you believe what i read on CNN) is/was making Woks for e-woks.com. It would seem impossible that he do so, as Carbon Steel and Iron are not the same...
Someone, Somewhere is wrong. It might well be me in the end, perhaps e-woks are using Mild Steel, which is also known as "Blacksmith Iron". It is also known as machine steel, low-carbon steel & soft steel.
I do doubt they are using Mild Steel, that would make for a crappy Wok i think, and e-woks are known for making top grade Woks.
I am not a metallurgist , and i am prepared to be corrected if i am wrong. My info primarily came from here
A 100% iron wok will not work if you mean it in a physics sense. What that statement means is that it is 100% true that it is a iron based won, not it is a 100% iron content wok.
It is a language thing or mistranslation -- depending how you see it.
<I have read time and time again people saying they have a "thin cast iron" wok. I suspect many people who say "my wok is thin cast iron" in-fact have a Wrought Iron wok.>
No, those are really cast iron woks. I have seen those. They are brittle.
As for e-Wok, those woks are carbon steel. I own one and I know what a carbon steel wok is like, and I know what a cast iron wok is like. It is not a cast iron wok.
Well i called to wokshop.com and i spoke with them about Woks in general.
I am correct that there are 3 types of Wok
2) Cast Iron
3) Carbon Steel
She did however say that she had never heard of a "wrought iron" Wok. She said "No i have never heard of a Wrought Iron Wok, but there are Iron woks that are different from Cast Iron, they are made from Iron"
I have emailed e-woks again for further clarification.
FYI, the lady i spoke with at WokShop was super friendly, super helpful and her English is flawless with an American accent, i guess she was born and raised in the US. I think she is the owner, though i did not ask her if she was. I have seen her in some YouTube videos from WokShop.
Her attitude and helpful friendly nature means i can heartily recommend checking them (WokShop) out if your in the market for a Wok.
And no i did not mean it in the "100% pure Iron" sense, i meant 100% sure that it is Iron and not Carbon Steel.
You have used a Carbon Steel, you have used a Cast Iron and you can differentiate between the two... but have you ever seen/used an Iron Wok (not Cast Iron)?
2) Cast Iron
3) Carbon Steel>
The traditional Chinese have a different classification anyway, and I rather not get into that. An iron wok is not exclusive from being a cast iron or a carbon steel wok (more about that later). For most people here, we classify into cast iron and carbon steel.
As for wokshop, I used to go there when I lived in San Francisco. I had the pleasure of doing business with Tane Chan in person and through mailing. More than half of my woks are from her shop. My kiwi knife, my Dexter Russell Chinese knives, my cutting boards, and most of my woks....etc are all from her shops. She is nice.
<but have you ever seen/used an Iron Wok (not Cast Iron)?>
Well, I have no idea about your definition. Can you tell me what is an Iron wok? In modern English, cast iron has more than 2% of carbon, and carbon steel has less than 2%. Some use 1.5% as the cut off. In Chinese, the word "iron" refers to either cast iron or carbon steel. When a Chinese says "this is an iron wok", it means either (i.e: iron based) Just do a google search on iron wok and you will see all kind of carbon steel and cast iron woks.
<i meant 100% sure that it is Iron and not Carbon Steel.>
I also have an old email from e-Wok:
Its: 熟鐵. The thickness is 1.5mm.
Why don't you try translating 熟鐵. It is Wrought Iron, aka Iron. It is not Cast Iron (鑄鐵), nor is it Carbon Steel
<Well, I have no idea about your definition. Can you tell me what is an Iron wok?>
Wrought Iron. Wrought iron is practically pure iron with only very small amounts of carbon or impurities. It is made by removing the carbon and impurities from pig iron.
If the Wok you are claiming is made from Carbon Steel then it would have this Char in it. 鋼.
When i spoke with Tane, she agreed with me, saying "You are right, there is a lot of misinformation about what Woks are made from circulating".
We then went on to discuss her IRON woks, the ones she sells that are NOT Cast Iron, that are Iron, made from something that is NOT Carbon Steel or Cast Iron.
<Why don't you try translating 熟鐵. It is Wrought Iron, aka Iron. It is not Cast Iron (鑄鐵), nor is it Carbon Steel>
Because it is not a correct translation when it comes to Wok. If you don't believe me, then try to shop for a wrought iron wok. I doubt you can buy one.
You know. You don't have this wok.
<If the Wok you are claiming is made from Carbon Steel then it would have this Char in it. 鋼. >
No, because that is not how the Chinese language works.
<When i spoke with Tane, she agreed with me, saying "You are right, there is a lot of misinformation about what Woks are made from circulating".>
Yes, but the misinformation is not from me.
You still have not tell me what is a "iron wok" if it is not a cast iron or carbon steel. Tell me: what is an iron wok.
Apparently, a lot of posts were removed. I can only assume that some people feel comfortable about the exchanges you and I were having.
I did read your last reply.
First, I will say that it is your choice to believe, but keep in mind that wrought iron is no longer in production.
Second to answer your other question:
<Does anyone know how to say "Please turn these into a Wok" in Mandarin?>
It can be written like this:
You can use the google translator to teach you how to pronounce it -- if you want to speak it.
I agree that e-woks is likely selling carbon steel. You believe what they are selling is wrought iron. Unfortunately, there is a problem with this term. Wrought iron doesn’t always refer to the material and refers mostly to metal that has been "wrought," or like you mentioned, "hammered". Pretty much, most of what you see today that is advertised as wrought iron pretty much refers to any type of worked/hammered metal. Most wrought iron is actually carbon steel.
"Anyway, what drew me into this conversation was the fact that people were saying that Cen (a master Woksmith who worked with Carbon Steel, if you believe what i read on CNN) is/was making Woks for e-woks.com. It would seem impossible that he do so, as Carbon Steel and Iron are not the same..."
As mentioned previously, the man pictured on e-woks website is one of the Cen brothers. It would seem very odd for e-woks to include a picture of him when speaking about the production of their woks. It seems more than probable that he is one of their sources, especially given that he lives within the immediate vicinity of e-woks. Now what came to your mind was, "No...e-woks cant be selling Cen's woks. He works with carbon steel and e-woks sells iron woks." The thing is when Grace Young traveled to Shanghai and spoke to him, he referred to his woks as a "traditional carbon steel fire-iron wok". Now isn't that odd, calling it both a carbon steel and iron wok? This only supports my initial statements.
My thoughts on their statements as to the inclusion of the health benefits from iron is that it can be attributed to the fact that holistic medicine is big in China. They like to hear that something will give you energy, vitality, and cure ailments. Apothecaries can be seen throughout China so this is no surprise. Take shark fin soup for example. They will tell you that it is an aphrodisiac and increases your qi energy. E-woks speaks of some health benefits such as how their woks can help prevent vitamin loss. They like to talk about how other materials are toxic to our health and speak about chrome and aluminum. I believe the fact that carbon steel is predominantly iron is enough for them to even want to include the health benefits of iron in their advertising. Claims like these are very appealing to the Chinese consumer.
Please bear in mind as clarified by me just now, the WS Wok is Carbon steel and good. The e-woks wok is Iron, not Carbon Steel. Iron has different heat properties and also the benefits of Iron in your diet.
I know from their rep that the e-woks woks are second to none unless you go to China, even then you might not come back with a better Wok.
The WS wok is probably Cen's last stock (though this could be a TOTAL rumor with no substance), and Cen is/was a master Wok maker, but please be aware Cen was using Carbon Steel and e-woks are Iron, both are good. Both are going to outperform a Stainless or Aluminum wok, this is for certain.
I am not going to say that "Iron is better", because there is nothing wrong with a Carbon Steel wok. I have never used an Iron wok as far as i am aware, but i have used a few Carbon Steel ones. I am a big fan of Cast Iron, which is not the same as Hammered Iron, but i know Iron will hold heat very very well and so for ME, "iron is better". I also want Iron in my diet.
Me, i am ordering my e-woks Iron wok now.
The lady was very nice and cheerful, they are not joking about "we speak English".
Can't wait to get my Wok and my tools, i am closer to China than many people here and so it will not take long to arrive.
Sneef -- I'm thinking of buying a wok and would be interested in your experience with this wok.
I tend to think that if the wok is hand-hammered it's probably carbon steel, but if you find that it has different properties from either carbon steel or cast iron woks, that would be interesting to know.
I did not receive the wok from e-wok after placing an order from them. The store refunded my money. I decide to buy one from William Sonoma, but I am waiting to see if I can get it on sale during Black Friday.
As to your question if a round bottom wok can be used on a gas stove without a ring, I am not qualified to answer your question because I have no experience in using a wok. I am sure someone else will give you an answer.