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Shun Chinese cleaver: moving on or complementing?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

This is my first post - I'm so excited! :roll:

 

I'm a homechef and have been using the Shun classic Chinese vegetable cleaver DM0712. At the time I didn't know about knives and it was a good deal. Now after a few years of using it, I am in love with the geometry but recognise that it is not the sharpest knife. I do however sharpen it myself now with whetstones.

 

I use my cleaver for 90 percent of all my kitchen tasks. The only thing I'm worried about is using it on hard objects like bones, lobster shells etc. So now I take out a cheap Kiwi brand cleaver for those tasks. My only other knife is a Herder carbon steel paring knife.

 

So I'm thinking: I can either add one or two knives to complement my Shun for heavy duty cutting tasks, like a honesuki or maybe even a gyuto? I've been doing some research and then I'd probably go for Masamoto VG.

 

Or I can improve upon my Shun by going for a Sugimoto cleaver (in the small size) or a Takeda banno bunka. But can I use this for cutting up a chicken carcass? So do I then still need to get a honesuki?

 

In the end I see myself owning (or at least having tried) the Sugimoto cleaver and/or the Takeda. And perhaps owning a few Masamoto VG specialty knives. So this whole exercise might be futile anyway.

 

But still, anyone with strong opinions on how to progress from my Shun?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 11
The Shun veg cleaver runs small compared to almost every veg cleaver I've seen or read about. Make sure you're okay with something that runs 8-9 inches long and possibly a bit taller.

The honesuki's strength is more about jointing than breaking down carcasses as one might use a thicker cleaver.

Are you okay with having a full carbon steel veg cleaver? Not sure if you're referring to Sugimoto #6 or their #30 small cleaver. 190mm seems kind of meh though.

Cheaper options include CCK (comes in a variety of sizes) and Suien. I have a Suien and I like it quite a bit. I'll probably like it more when I can get an edge on it that it deserves and after it gets thinned a bit.

I hope others chime in on the suitability of cutting up chicken carcass/other hard tasks. My feel is yes if you put a conservative edge on it and are willing to attend to any microchips that may arise, but that there are better tools for the task.
post #3 of 11

Depends what you mean by cutting up a chicken.  There are two basic ways (and many variations)

 

1) You cut around bones and through joints and take the meat off.  The backbone, breastbone, and ribcage are intact

2) You chop through those bones

 

A slicing cleaver lacks the "pointyness" for #1 and is not intended for #2 (think chipping and extra sharpening and repairs)

 

Get a cheap heavy meat cleaver and sharpen it at 30+ degrees if you want #2.  Any number of knives can do #1.  Chefs knives, boning knives, honesuki, anything pointy

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone so far.

 

By cutting up a chicken I mean around bones and through joints, that is how I use my cleaver now. However, I do need a heavy duty cleaver for the occasional bone cutting, and after having thought about it I will indeed choose a cheap one in chinatown or a Western cleaver probably by Zwilling.

 

As for moving on from my Shun, I'm considering upgrading to a better one, maybe a Suien or Sugimoto. I'm just torn between size (small like I have now or the standard 220x110mm) and material (stainless or carbon). Do you guys have an opinion on this?

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by wahnamhong View Post
 

Thanks everyone so far.

 

By cutting up a chicken I mean around bones and through joints, that is how I use my cleaver now. However, I do need a heavy duty cleaver for the occasional bone cutting, and after having thought about it I will indeed choose a cheap one in chinatown or a Western cleaver probably by Zwilling.

 

As for moving on from my Shun, I'm considering upgrading to a better one, maybe a Suien or Sugimoto. I'm just torn between size (small like I have now or the standard 220x110mm) and material (stainless or carbon). Do you guys have an opinion on this?

Like Millions has said, if you're cutting by going around bones and through joints, knives with some taper and a defined 'point' work much better than cleavers, which are fairly close to completely rectangular and have a hard time tracing around curves/bones cleanly.

 

I vote for get a cheap chinatown meat cleaver. No point in spending much money on something whose purpose is to be hefty and durable as opposed to elegant and that you only use occasionally. 

 

My bias is towards 220mm length. At 190 or so you're just an inch longer than a lot of nakiris, which on account of their smallish size and length feel to me like they have functionality limitations. Fun, though. If you have the budget, board space, workable counter height (would an extra inch or so on a cleaver force you to bend your arm at bad angle while cutting?) and aren't super intimidated by the prospect of going a bit bigger then I'd say give it a try. Not to mention that I get the impression you're pretty limited in options by looking for <200mm. 

As for the material, that's more on you and your maintenance habits. If you're prepping food for a while, would you remember to wipe the knife 5-15 minutes? Are you okay with rinsing and drying it immediately after usage? It'll cause you extra work in terms of needing to scrub off rust spots if you leave the knife dirty/wet and unattended for a while. Carbon feels nicer on the stones though, and tends to abrade more quickly than stainless :)

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks!

Yes I am leaning towards the larger size Chinese cleaver, also because I already have the smaller Shun. I've seen a good price for a Sugimoto #6 and will probably go for that. I've never used an expensive carbon steel knife but from what you are telling maintenance should not be a problem. The alternative would be a Suien VG or the Sugimoto stainless.

I've also thought about adding both a gyuto 210mm and a petty 150mm, to make my set complete for all tasks. Here I'll probably go for a Masamoto VG.

So in the end I would end up with a stainless small size Shun cleaver, normal size carbon steel Sugimoto cleaver, heavy duty cheap cleaver, VG gyuto and VG petty. Sounds like a good collection to me! smile.gif
post #7 of 11

I have the Suien VC, CCK1103,  and Sugimoto #6.    CCK is the thinnest,  then Suien, and Sugimoto #6 is pretty thick all around.  Sugimoto tapers but even the front is thicker than the Suien VC by a lot.  I'll post a comparison pic later

 

For your heavy chopper  consider this one.  I've used it for bones, lobster, and even coconut without any chipping

 

http://www.ebay.com/itm/THAI-KITCHEN-KNIFE-ARANYIK-CLEAVER-HIGH-CARBON-STEEL-BLACK-CHOPPER-CHEF-COOK-2-/131516446793?hash=item1e9efdb849:g:JfsAAOSwBLlVW1hf

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks! Just bought two of those Thai cleavers, one for me and one for my father.

 

I'm not really looking for the thinnest knife, just a knife that can handle a plethora of different kitchen tasks. I've heard that Sugimoto is the top choice among Chinese chefs so I'll probably go for that first. If it doesn't work out I can always sell a Sugimoto #6 quite easily I presume. Do you have any experience with the Suien VG stainless?

post #9 of 11

I have the carbon Suien, never used the stainless.

 

As far as versatility,  Sugimoto is up there.  It is heavily tapered so the heel is thicker than the tip.  You can do your heavier chopping tasks at the heel and your slicing tasks at the tip.    This is more in line with how chinese chefs would use their knife.   Every part of the cleaver is used for a different task,  including the spine, the front, and the flat side of the blade.   If you learn to use it, it's very versatile.  I use my cleaver for anything that doesn't have bones.

post #10 of 11
@MillionsKnives are you liking the Sugimoto more as time goes on?
post #11 of 11
It cuts well, but not nearly as good as the suien vc. I hate the handle. Its too narrow and yet round at all the wrong places. Only my pinky and ring finger are under the handle supporting it and they are constantly slipping around. I think I am going to rehandle it this summer when my workshop isnt 10 degrees. The only thing it improves over the suien is the profile which is flatter
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