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  • Chinese Cleaver and Chuka Bocho Comparison Guide

    March 21, 2023 2 min read

    Chinese Cleaver and Chuka Bocho Comparison Guide

    How to Choose a Chinese Cleaver or Chuka Bocho

    Chinese cleavers have a well-deserved reputation for versatility in the kitchen, but they actually come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses that are each tailored to a different range of tasks. Some are amazing slicers but not for chopping bones, while others can chop through bones with ease but will wedge when cutting dense vegetables. The Japanese version of a Chinese cleaver is called a chuka bocho, and such knives add even more options to choose from in terms of harder steels that can stay sharp longer but are not as tough and durable. In this blog, I’m going to break down the factors that determine what a Chinese cleaver can be used for and help you pick the right one!

    What's The Best Chinese Cleaver?

    People will be happiest and most satisfied with a cleaver that is fit for purpose, so first ask yourself this: what do you want out of your knife? If you want to be able to cut bones, what is the biggest one you’ll ever need to chop? Do you prefer a lighter knife or a heavier one? How much does design, fit, and finish matter to you? Will you be ok with wiping off a rust-prone carbon steel knife as you use it, washing it as soon as you’re done, and letting a stained patina develop; or would you prefer the easy maintenance of stainless steel?

    For your convenience, I’m going to rank the cleavers sold by Knifewear according to the following criteria: 

    • Slicing will be determined by thin-ness and sharpness. This category is about how well the knife will cut boneless meat and vegetables.
    • Chopping will be determined by thickness and durability. This category is about how well the knife will cut bones and other hard materials.
    • Edge retention will be determined by the hardness of the steel. This category is about how long the knife will stay sharp.
    • Corrosion resistance will be determined by steel type, construction, and finish. This category is about how much the knife will stain and how easily it can rust. 

    Rankings will be made on a five-point scale, with a higher number meaning better performance in that category. Please bear in mind that these numbers are relative to the other knives that we carry. A “low” ranking for edge retention at Knifewear will still stay sharp for a surprising amount of time! I’ll also include point-form text descriptions of more qualitative factors. For those who prefer to watch and listen, check out my Chinese Cleaver Super Comparison video on our YouTube channel

    Chan Chi Kee (CCK) Chinese Cleaver Rankings and Buying Guide

    Hailing from Hong Kong, CCK is one of the top Chinese producers of cleaver knives. If you’d like to know more about them, head on over to their brand profile blog post!

      CCK Cleaver "Mulberry Knife" Small Slicer 210mm - KF1303

      song dou桑刀 

      • CCK 1303 (a.k.a., “small slicer”)
      • Carbon steel with black “kurouchi” finish
      • Lacquered finish protects against rust but wears away over time
      • Super thin, featherweight, no bones
      • “Mulberry” means as thin as a mulberry leaf, or able to cut things as thin as a mulberry leaf, or suitable for cutting mulberry leaves into threads fine enough to feed to silkworms.

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping
      Edge retention
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      CCK Cleaver Stainless Steel Small Slicer 205mm - KF1912

      siu peen dou,小片刀

      • CCK 1912 (a.k.a., “stainless small slicer”)
      • Stainless steel
      • Thin, lightweight, no bones

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping ⭐⭐
      Edge retention
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      CCK Cleaver "Vegetable Knife" Stainless Steel Chopper 195mm - KF1904

      choi dou,菜刀 

      • CCK 1904 (a.k.a., “chopper”)
      • Stainless steel
      • Dual purpose, welterweight, chop fish or chicken bones near heel
      • “Vegetable” here actually refers to food in general

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping ⭐⭐⭐
      Edge retention
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      CCK Cleaver "Civil and Military" Kitchen Chopper Knife 215mm - KF1203

      manh mouh dou,文武刀

      • CCK 1203 (a.k.a., “kitchen chopper”)
      • Carbon steel
      • Lacquered finish protects against rust but wears away over time
      • Workhorse, jack-of-all-trades, middleweight, chop bigger poultry bones (turkey and goose) near heel
      • “Civil/Military” means able to do fine and rough jobs

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐
      Chopping ⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Edge retention
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      CCK Cleaver Kau Kong Chopper 205mm - KF1411

      Kau kong dou,九江刀

      • CCK 1411 (a.k.a., “kau kong chopper”)
      • Carbon steel with black “kurouchi” 
      • Lacquered finish protects against rust but wears away over time
      • Heavy duty but versatile, light heavyweight, chop bigger bones (pork ribs) at heel
      • Nine Rivers refers to the shape of the blade, which looks like a city in China of the same name

      Performance Rating

      Slicing
      Chopping ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Edge retention
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      Japanese Chuka Bocho Knife Rankings and Buying Guide

      As with most Japanese blades, chuka bocho are made from very hard steels that allow them to be sharper and to stay sharp longer than many other knives. The trade-off is that they are typically more brittle. Some chuka bocho can be used for cutting small bones, but these are either made from a slightly less hard steel than other Japanese knives or are somewhat thicker than an equivalent Chinese cleaver—sometimes both!

      Moritaka Ishime Mega Nakiri 165mm

      • Carbon steel with textured black kurouchi finish
      • Will stain and can rust, but very easy to hone and sharpen
      • Very hard steel and an incredibly flat edge profile
      • No bones or other hard materials

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping
      Edge retention ⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Corrosion resistance

      View more

      Moritaka AS Kurouchi Chinese Cleaver 180mm

      • Carbon steel with black kurouchi finish
      • Will stain and can rust, but easy to hone and sharpen
      • Super hard steel and an incredibly flat edge profile
      • No bones or other hard materials

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping
      Edge retention ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐

      View more

      Mcusta Zanmai Becho VG10 Damascus Chinese Cleaver 180mm

      • Stainless steel
      • Thin and hard but won’t stain or rust easily
      • No bones or other hard materials

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping
      Edge retention ⭐⭐⭐
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      Sugimoto No.2 Chinese Cleaver 220mm

      • Carbon steel
      • Will stain and can rust, but super easy to hone and sharpen
      • Very hard steel but with a thicker spine to allow for cutting fish bones or deboning a chicken while still slicing nicely

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping ⭐⭐
      Edge retention ⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Corrosion resistance

      View more

      Sakai Takayuki INOX Chuka Bocho 195mm

      • Stainless steel
      • Relatively thin but tough enough to cut small fish bones or debone poultry

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping ⭐⭐
      Edge retention ⭐⭐
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      TOJIRO "Wanhutei" Chinese Cleaver 175mm

      • Stainless steel 
      • Slightly thicker and tougher than other some chuka bocho, so it can cut fish bones, smaller chicken bones (ribs, wishbone), or debone poultry

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐
      Chopping ⭐⭐⭐
      Edge retention ⭐⭐
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

      View more

      Tsunehisa SK4 別誂 Chuka Bocho Chinese Cleaver 220mm

      • Carbon steel
      • Dual purpose, welterweight, chop fish and chicken bones near heel

      Performance Rating

      Slicing ⭐⭐⭐
      Chopping ⭐⭐⭐
      Edge retention ⭐⭐
      Corrosion resistance ⭐⭐

      View more
         Colin McQuire
      Colin McQuire

      Back in the day Colin cooked at a couple restaurants in Edmonton, and he used to make knives too. He later moved to Toronto and was seduced by a career in music, though he continued sharpening knives for friends and family. By night, he DJ'd and produced beats as Ronin E-Ville, and by day he taught music at several universities, all while training to become a kung fu master. Colin eventually moved to Ireland, working as a music researcher for a couple years and learning to make shillelaghs. Since returning to Canada, Colin is stoked to be getting back to his roots with knives, happily nerding-out on steels, blacksmiths, and sharpening. If you want to know about Chinese-style cleavers (chuka bocho), Colin’s your guy!