There seems to be an entire modern cutlery subculture centered around the Chinese chef’s cleaver. What someone trained from an early age with one of these rectangular blades can accomplish is truly amazing. TV chef Martin Yan likes to boast that he can bone out a chicken in something like 15 seconds flat with his!
As a general rule of thumb, real made-in-China cleavers are intended to be adequate quality knives that can be produced in huge numbers for cooks that, by western standards, live on a very limited income. As a result, you will seldom hear anyone brag about the superiority of their steel or excellence of their workmanship. The one possible exception to this is Chan Chi Kee Cutlery of Hong Kong. According to every web expert, this company’s products are far superior to the average run of Chinese cleavers. But despite their supposed popularity, no one seems to know where you can buy one.
For reasons I don’t fully understand, Chan Chi Kee cleavers are not wholesaled in the U.S. by the usual restaurant supply houses. The demand for these knives is high enough that you actually find people trying to “scalp” them on the web. Given the Hong Kong office of the company does have an official website, it eventually occurred to me to simply e-mail and ask if I could buy their products direct. The answer quickly came back “yes” and they would be glad to accept Pay Pal.