Shi Ba Zi S203
Made in Yanjiang city, Guangdong, one of China's knife and scissor-making hubs, this hefty stainless steel knife is made by modern techniques that cut forged metal sheets into shape. The heaviest and thickest of the lot with a wooden handle, it's not ideal for the dainty or beginner when it comes to fine slicing, but the weight gives good leverage for easy cutting through small bones, and the curvature of the blade makes it a decent replacement for a mezzaluna when chopping herbs. HK$116, Wing On, 211 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan
Burgvogel Household Chinese Cleaver
Although a stamped knife, seen as inferior to its forged cousins, this large cleaver from Solingen, Germany, from which the well-known 'twin' brand Zwillig J.A. Henckels also hails, is a great everyday knife. Not too heavy, with a sturdy plastic handle, the tip and front portion are great for slicing. The bottom of the blade is slightly rounded, which reduces the chances of accidental scratching but is good for working through bones and cartilage.
HK$390, Chan Chi Kee, 316-318 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei
Suncraft Woodytime Cleaver Knife
While the small, round, polished wood handle seems comfortable when you first pick it up, in use, gripping could be rather difficult, especially with damp hands. Considering its weightiness, a slip would be a little frightening. It is, however, the only knife out of the five to have a separate front bolster, which makes balancing easier. Like the other Japanese knife in this column (Kai Chinese Knife), the blade is also chisel ground, and is curved, good for cutting long strips or movement that requires a see-saw motion.
HK$298, Wing On, 211 Des Voeux Road Central, Sheung Wan
Chan Chi Kee
In one seamless piece of metal, this classic Chinese cleaver, made by popular local knife retailer and producer Chan Chi Kee, is not a feather-light affair. Despite this, and the seemingly slip-prone elliptic cylindrical metal handle, it is surprisingly pleasant to use, especially for mincing meat and chopping larger, hard items such as a pumpkin. However, detailed work with the front tip of the blade might be difficult for the inexperienced, owing to the weight. Made of forged stainless steel, this is an extremely hard metal that is easy to sharpen on a whetstone. Its durability makes it a local family favourite.
HK$165, Chan Chi Kee, 316-318 Shanghai Street, Yau Ma Tei
Kai Chinese Knife
This compact cleaver is only about two-thirds of the width of the others mentioned, and the lightest. The thin, shiny blade is made of carbon stainless steel: strong, rust resistant and said to stay sharp for longer. This straight blade is chisel-ground (ground on one side), a little flexible and very sharp, in a grip-friendly black plastic handle. The front and middle are easy to manoeuvre and great for dicing vegetables, but the base, which is usually used for heavier-duty cutting, is less effective. A breeze for the novice home cook, it is made by Japanese kitchenware giant Kai, which also produces the Shun series, coveted by chefs and culinary enthusiasts worldwide.
HK$140, Piago, shop 401-402 & 501-502, Telford Plaza II, Kowloon Bay