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A chef’s knife is supposed to be helpful, versatile, and suitable for pretty much any situation. A Chinese chef’s knife is way different from a regular western chef’s knife. Instead, based on its shape and size, it could be compared to a regular cleaver knife. Its versatility is unchanged though.
The knife can perform all the tasks done by a complete set. You can use it to grind, pound, slice, chop, and mince with no issues at all. Both Chinese chefs and home cooks rely on it – pretty much every kitchen in China have one. With time, it has gained notoriety all over the world. Now, what should you know about these knives, and what is the best Chinese chef’s knife on the market?
What is a Chinese chef’s knife?
The Chinese chef’s knife originated in china and made it to Japan in the 19th century. The Japanese refined it, made a few adjustments and reached perfection with it. However, the Japanese version is referred to as a Chuka bocho and features more delicate features. Serbian chef knives also look similar.
The knife is similar to cleaver knives. It features a rectangular and wide blade – usually up to 11 inches in length. However, when compared to a modern meat cleaver, it is way thinner. At the same time, the blade tends to feature more weight towards the tip, so the balance goes towards the end of the knife. It is usually straight throughout, but it also features a very slight curve for other activities.
Another big difference between the Chinese chef’s knife and the traditional cleaver is the handle, which is usually lighter in chef’s knives. It is most commonly made of wood and features a round appearance. You can find metallic alternatives too. Usually, the chef’s knife features a full tang construction for sturdiness and strength; the full tang style also allows more control.
It is worth noting that modern Chinese chef’s knives come in three main categories.
The so-called slicer has a thin blade and is mostly used for vegetables. It is also extremely sharp and shares some common features with Japanese Nakiri knives. The thin profile makes this knife suitable for meat, but not for bones and other hard parts.
Choppers are more common though. The chopper has a relatively thick blade and can be used to chop, mince and slice. It is great for continuous work because it is strong, yet lightweight. Some choppers can cut through thin bones too – such as fish or chicken bones.
Finally, cleavers are also referred to as bone choppers. Such chef’s knives are mostly used for hard meats, including bones. They can cut through connective tissues with no problems at all.
Now that you have some clues about these knives, what is the best Chinese chef’s knife on the market, and why?
2021’s 5 Best Chinese Chef’s Knives
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Signature
A superior piece of cutlery – Made in Germany, this robust Chinese chef’s knife is excellent in terms of precision and balance. It is relatively lightweight – about 10 ounces, but its profile will not compromise on strength and power. It features a stamped construction and a solid three rivet design. It can be used for all kinds of applications in the kitchen – pretty common in commercial kitchens as well due to its versatility.
Versatile blade – The blade is made of a special combo of high carbon steel and stainless steel, which grabs the best from both types. High carbon steel has impressive edge retention, while stainless steel is rust and corrosion-resistant. The blade is ice-hardened for top-notch resilience and a Rockwell hardness of 57. The blade measures seven inches in length and it has a very slight curve on the belly.
Ergonomic handle – Made of polymer, the handle will last for a lifetime. It is ergonomic – shaped with the hand in mind, so it ensures a good grip. The large knuckle clearance ensures your hand will never slip on the blade. Other than that, the knife features a full tang construction for even more strength. In terms of sizing, the handle is slightly shorter than the blade for the balance to go on the edge.
Care and maintenance – The great edge retention ensures you will not have to sharpen this knife too often. If you need to do it, an electric sharpener or a stone will do. Stick to a 15-degree angle on each side for sharpness. While dishwasher safe, the manufacturer recommends hand washing this knife. The dishwasher is likely to affect the edge retention.
- Strong full tang design
- Well balanced
- Durable blade and good edge retention
- Dishwasher safe
- Ergonomic handle
- Not intended to cut through bones and joints
Tuo Fiery Phoenix Series
Versatile applications – Tuo’s Chinese chef’s knife is extremely versatile and often advertised to be a cleaver as well. It has a broad blade and a comfy handle, but it can also be used for all kinds of applications in your kitchen – chopping, mincing, and cutting, among many others. At 10.4 ounces in weight, it is relatively lightweight when compared to a classic cleaver knife.
Superior steel – The blade is wide, but it also features a slightly curved belly to allow slicing with no problems. It is made of high carbon German stainless steel – X50CrMoV15. It has good resistance to rust and corrosion, but it is also easy to sharpen and maintain its edge over time. Moreover, it is treated to reach a 56+ hardness Rockwell. The blade is razor-sharp out of the box. It measures seven inches in length.
Excellent handle – The handle looks classic and modern. It is based on pakkawood, which is likely to face the test of time. The wood is sourced from Africa. You can admire the wood grains throughout the handle, but you can also ensure a solid and nonslip grip. The handle measures five inches in length. Given the width of the blade, you have great knuckle clearance and good handguard protection to prevent injuries.
Care and maintenance – The blade is made of high carbon stainless steel. High carbon is not as good as stainless steel when it comes to rust and corrosion resistance, so you might have to oil the blade when not in use for long periods of time. When it comes to sharpening it, do it at 18 degrees on each side – use a sharpener or a store. As for cleaning it, do it by hand and never in a dishwasher.
- Good looking design
- Durable nonslip handle
- Excellent for all kinds of uses
- Razor-sharp blade with great edge retention
- Easy to look after
- The blade is too short for very long pieces of meat
Mueller Chinese Chef’s Knife
Versatile capabilities – Mueller’s Chinese chef’s knife is made with quality in mind, so expect a great performance whenever you take it out of the drawer. It is a multipurpose knife with numerous applications – it is great in commercial kitchens, but it is just as handy in a residential one. It is durable and can easily slice, dice, mince, or chop. Its versatility makes it one of the best-reviewed options on the market these days.
Premium blade – The blade will surprise you the first moment you use it. It measures seven inches and has slight curves on each side. It is made of German stainless steel, meaning you should never face any issues with discoloration, corrosion, or rust. It is pretty wide and it comes sharp out of the box. Other than that, it is easy to sharpen, whether you use a stone or a sharpener.
Comfortable handle – The handle will support your hand whether you use the knife for five minutes or five hours. It is about six inches in length – great for both small and large hands. It is based on pakkawood and treated after. It has a smooth profile, but it will never slip out of your hand. Plus, there is great knuckle clearance and handguard protection. In terms of design, you will love the visible wood grains.
Care and maintenance – Based on stainless steel, the blade does not require too much maintenance. You will face no problems sharpening it, while edge retention is quite impressive. Make sure you use the knife for its intended purpose though, i.e, no bones. Wash the knife by hand after each use and dry it thoroughly before storing it away.
- Designed with quality in mind
- Well balanced
- Easy to control
- Versatile applications – both commercial and residential kitchens
- Slight curves for easy operation
- Better for larger foods than small foods
Kiaitre Chinese chef’s knife
Perfect knife design – Some people want versatility and high-quality construction when it comes to their knives. Some others are not so bothered about the quality if the knife looks amazing. Kiaitre has managed to get both of these worlds together with its best Chinese chef’s knife. It is made with the highest quality standards in mind, it is versatile and can be used for everything, but it also looks amazing.
Multipurpose knife – Kiaitre’s Chinese chef’s knife works for anything in the kitchen. It is sharp and designed to cut meat, vegetables, fruits, fish, and so on. However, while shaped like a cleaver and often advertised to be one, it is not. Therefore, it is not recommended for joints or bones. Unlike the cleaver knife, this one has a slightly curved blade that makes it great for chopping, mincing, and slicing.
Excellent blade – The blade has a curved design on both sides. Measuring seven inches in length, it is suitable for both small and long cuts. It is made of HC German stainless steel. It will never rust and corrode – no maintenance required. Given the treatments the blade goes through, it features a 56 Rockwell hardness, so edge retention is another plus. It is sharpened at 15 inches per side.
Beautiful handle – Admire the natural grains in the pakkawood handle, but also discover a comfortable grip due to its ergonomic design. Despite the size of the knife, it is comfortable to use for hours with no tiredness or fatigue. It has a nonslip surface and can withstand corrosion. It is slightly shorter than the blade, so the balance should never be an issue. Just like the blade, it does not really require any maintenance.
- Attractive design and style
- Versatile blade with a curved design
- Lightweight and well balanced
- Easy to look after
- Super sharp out of the box
- Glass cutting boards might dull the blade
Mercer Cutlery Chinese Chef’s Knife
Versatile applications – If you are after quality, simplicity, and value for money Mercer’s best Chinese chef’s knife will not let you down. The versatile knife is great for all kinds of applications – dicing, cutting, mincing, slicing, chopping, and so on. It is a universal knife that will always be by your cutting board, regardless of what you cook. While it looks like a cleaver, it is not recommended for bones or joints.
Solid blade – You can never go wrong with high-quality Japanese steel. The blade measures eight inches in length – a bit above average. It is razor sharp out of the box. It features good resistance to rust and corrosion. Since it is high carbon steel, it will pleasantly surprise you with the edge resistance. It is made of one piece and it has an almost invisible curve on its belly – great for applications like slicing.
Comfortable handle – Compared to the blade, the handle is quite short. Most of the balance is towards the tip of the blade. Throw the weight in and you have a knife that does most of the work by itself – you just need to guide it. It is triple riveted and based on handle. It has a non-slip profile, a great knuckle clearance, and a natural feel. You can use it for hours without feeling any discomfort.
Care and maintenance – While the blade has rust and corrosion resistance, it is made of high carbon steel. It is great for edge retention, but it requires maintenance. Make sure you never clean this knife in a dishwasher. Do it manually after each use. Wipe it dry once done. Sharpening is relatively simple – about 15 degrees on each side.
- Good looking classic appearance
- Wide and long blade with multiple applications
- Impressive edge retention
- Comfortable handle
- Balance goes towards the tip of the blade
- Handle not designed ergonomically, but still comfortable to use
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do some Chinese chef’s knives have scalloped blades?
You may find a few varieties out there with scalloped blades. They could help, but they are not essential. Such hollow-ground indentations usually go along the edge. Their primary role is to come up with some pockets between the food and the blade. When you cut through meat, it may fill up with fat and juices. They reduce friction, so they help with straighter cuts. Plus, they prevent the meat from sticking to the blade.
What is the difference between a cleaver and a Chinese chef’s knife?
There are more differences between these two knives. The overall appearance is the only common thing. Chinese chef’s knives are lighter, thinner, and sharper. They are strong, but they are not meant for heavy-duty operations. In other words, they should not be used for bones or joints, as blades could go dull.
Are there more types of Chinese chef’s knives?
Yes, they can be categorized based on their applications – slicers, choppers, and cleavers. Despite the name, none of them works as an actual cleaver knife. However, such slight specializations are often overlooked – you are less likely to find them in commerce, but a professional Chinese chef might be able to tell the difference.
Apart from cutting through bones and thick joints, the Chinese chef’s knife will handle anything in your kitchen. Of course, there are a few varieties that can take more heavy-duty tasks too. Any of the options we mentioned are great choices in their price bracket. If you don’t have budget constraints we suggest going for the Zwilling chef’s knife.
Hi, I am Jay. I am the creator of Knife Guides, your one-stop site for everything related to knives. I am a computer engineer by profession, knife aficionado by passion. Here I work with a group of people who’ve always had a passion for knives and blades. Over the years we’ve kind of become experts and decided to share our knowledge and ideas. I am also an avid hiker and enjoy offshore gamefishing.