Disclosure: MUSASHI provided Blog of Dad with the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm for the purpose of review and ongoing use. Any thoughts expressed about MUSASHI products in this article are based on my own experiences. For more information, visit my disclosure statement.
MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm
In my ever-expanding knife collection, the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm has quickly reached favourite status! It is a stunning knife to hold and look at, but more importantly, it has the credentials to be the go-to knife for a wide range of daily food preparation tasks. The size and versatility of the 220mm MUSASHI blade means it edges out my previous favourite kitchen workhorse…
Authentic Japanese Craftmanship
May have slight differences to picture, due to being handmade
May have to adjust to technique
I have reviewed a lot of products from some of the biggest global brands in tech, kitchen and household appliances over the years, but nothing has made me feel like I did when I held the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver (Pure-Molybdenum 220mm) for the first time.
The reason? Because I was holding an item of pure craftmanship – a knife not perfected through factories and mass production, but instead crafted through handmade forging and intergenerational blacksmithing knowledge. I’ll admit to spending quite some time soaking this blade in. Everything from the weight to the supreme sharpness of the edge, to the branding etched into the metal made me marvel and smile.
Japanese knives have been on my wish list since I first became aware of the importance of quality knives in my kitchen. When we travelled through Japan with our two year old in 2017, I distinctly remember looking through windows and displays of beautifully crafted, chef-grade knives and dreaming of the day I could have one in my hands.
I don’t need to tell you that Japan is famous for its legendary blades forged during the time of the samurai. But it’s not just the samurai legacy that makes Japanese blade craftmanship so appealing, it is also the profound knowledge of the impact of the blade in the preparation of food. MUSASHI alone sell over 250 different blades, each purposefully crafted by blacksmiths across Japan to meet specific needs of chefs and cooks around the world.
In somewhat of a paradox, the Chinese “cleaver” is a surprisingly versatile, multipurpose knife that is almost ubiquitous amongst a typically narrow selection of knives within Chinese kitchens. It is also not actually a cleaver – a western knife defined by its ability to split bones and make light work of tough fibres – but it shares the same shape and therefore has adopted the name. In practical terms, the Chinese cleaver has more in common with a western chef’s knife or a Japanese santoku. It is a workhorse of the kitchen, brilliantly crafted to streamline the process of most common food preparation involving vegetables, herbs and boneless meats.
So, the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm offers Japanese craftsmanship in the form of Chinese versatility in the kitchen. Sounds like a brilliant entry point for those seeking to enhance their kitchen setup to me!
MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm – First Impressions
Normally when a new product arrives at my door, I go through a methodical process of carefully unpacking, photographing and note-taking for the review. The enjoyment of “experiencing” the product comes after.
But, with the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver, I couldn’t help but admire the product in my hands for a good while before setting to work. For a product as simple as a knife, there is plenty to take in.
I also took some time to appreciate the included letter, which explains a bit about MUSASHI and the musashihamono website (“Hamano” means “edged tool” in Japanese). In it they explain that the MUSASHI E-commerce venture started from a desire to keep alive and revitalise the amazing craftmanship of Japanese knives, and to allow more people to experience their charm.
From what I can tell, MUSASHI have brought together craftsmen from across Japan to handmake knives under the single brand. This explains why there is not a homogonous look to the MUSASHI range and it is an approach that I absolutely love! Even within product lines, MUSASHI state that “colour, weight, pattern and size can differ as each product is handmade.”
MUSASHI list the origin of the Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm as Sakai City in Osaka Prefecture. As Osaka has one of the most incredible food cultures in the world, I’m very pleased by the idea of having a hand forged blade from the region.
Weight and Balance
The MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm definitely has substance, without feeling overly heavy to hold. Despite the size of the large, flat blade, a traditional Chinese-style chef’s knife should be lightweight and easy to manoeuvre.
At 220mm, you certainly get a whole lot of blade! This is accentuated by the surprisingly short handle.
Those used to a neutrally balanced chef’s knife might find the blade-heavy design a different sensation to begin with; however, after a bit of practice they should come to appreciate the positive impact this has on the task of chopping. For my hand, the balance and weight of the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm is fantastic!
Blade and Handle Construction
The Molybdenum Stainless Steel blade is eye-catching to say the least. The vast flat surface is key to the versatility of the Chinese cleaver while the 220mm length provides a fantastic cutting edge.
That edge is razor sharp! Like many Japanese knives, the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver has been sharpened at a 15 degree angle for supreme sharpness. It is stunning to look at, and even more impressive when viewed through a macro lens.
The edge (and related blade thicknesses) is primarily what separates the Chinese cleaver from a meat cleaver. It is designed for precision chopping. The Molybdenum Stainless Steel is advantageous for edge retention, corrosion resistance and should make sharpening easier than some other blade materials. Despite the “Pure Molybdenum” name, Vanadium is also incorporated into the alloy which further improves its strength and edge retention. This is great for knives that experience heavy use and/or those which are in the hands of beginners.
The handle is described as a “Western Handle”. This refers to the familiar three-riveted, full tang with squared wooden grip. “Full tang” refers to the extension of back portion of the blade into the handle. It runs the complete length of the handle, adding strength and helping to perfect the balance of the blade.
It is a little shorter than I expected, but I think that is because I am very conditioned to the mid-balanced style. That being said, the handle is perfectly comfortable in my hand for extended periods and I am quickly coming to appreciate the advantage this gives me when chopping.
Like the vast majority of knives you will ever use, the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm is double edged. It is, however, worth remembering that a few specialist Japanese knives are single edged, which has implications for left- and right- handed use. Keep that in mind as you browse the rest of the extensive MUSASHI catalogue! MUSASHI thoughtfully offer a range of single-edged knives specifically for left-handers.
The handle is without flair, but beautiful in its simplicity. The dark lacquered wood is pleasant to both look at and hold.
The blade is also a simple design, although it’s vast flat surface is broken by what looks to be hand-etched Kanji symbols. It is a beautiful detail in a stunning knife, the blade of which otherwise speaks for its self.
MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm – Use
Chopping, mincing, slicing and dicing are the core tasks of the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver. It is this everyday workhorse quality that makes it such a desirable addition to any knife collection.
The first hurdle to overcome is training yourself to use an appropriate grip for ergonomic comfort or fine control. After a bit of practice, this becomes both comfortable and enjoyable! You may find that, as you grow in confidence and experience with using the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver, you adjust your grip depending on whether the task calls for monotonous chopping or detailed slicing.
However you hold the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver, the next adjustment to make is in chopping style. When compared to a chef’s knife, the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver has a very subtle curve to the cutting edge. This requires a very different chopping action to a western chef knife, with smooth vertical motion the key to success. It feels very different to the rocking motion that I use with my other knives, but it is not overly difficult to get used to. Take your time and master the action, and the rewards are plenty!
The remarkable thing about such a huge blade is the fineness and consistency that it can produce. That is largely thanks to the brilliant sharpness of the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver.
I started my testing with red onion, which I intended to very finely dice. Most parents with young children know the secret to increasing vegetable intake is to make it difficult to spot in a meal! I was thrilled with how easily and finely I was able to chop the onion. The sharp blade made cutting thin slices of onion easy, while the 220mm length of the blade made fine chopping a breeze. In no time, and with seemingly little effort, I had tiny, consistent pieces of red onion that blended perfectly into a zucchini fritter mix.
I had a similarly enjoyable experience with finely chopping the zucchini. While my first attempts are a long way off the kind of perfection that can be achieved by a skilled chef, I was still very impressed with the thinness and uniformity of my slices. The sharp MUSASHI blade was not inhibited by the softness of the vegetable, it cut through confidently and cleanly on each slice.
Another benefit of the flat, wide blade is its ability to scrape down a surface. Using the dull edge of the blade, I could quickly and easily scrape a large amount of finely chopped vegetable from my cutting board into my mixing bowl. I was initially a little worried that 220mm may be just a little too large, but after using the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver I feel it is a great size.
The story was the same no matter what vegetable material I threw at the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver. With a bit of practice, I was able to carve wafer-thin slices of apple and pear, or consistent cubes of tomato. It is often said that a sharp knife is a safe knife, and anyone who has ever tried to cut a tomato with a blunt knife knows what this means. Proteins also pose little challenge – from thick cubes of beef to thin, delicate slices of chicken breast – the MUSASHI Chinese blade can do it all easily!
MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm – Care and Maintenance
The Molybdenum Stainless Steel construction of the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver should make it a reliable workhorse for daily use in the kitchen for many years to come. It is, however, important to know the strengths and limitations of the design. Chopping, slicing and dicing meat and vegetables is the main game with this knife, although the unique blade design holds quite a few more tricks. The flat part of the blade can be used to give garlic a good whack, which makes the job of peeling it much easier! The dull edge of the blade can also be used to tenderise meats.
The limitations lie in working with hard ingredients. The MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver should not be used to cut bones, frozen or hard items as these can damage the fine cutting edge. Users should also make sure the preparation surface is a soft plastic or wooden cutting board, as hard surfaces can cause damage. As with any quality kitchen knife, the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver should be cleaned and dried by hand immediately after use in order to maintain it properly.
I can’t comment on how long the blade will hold its edge because I haven’t yet had it long enough to find out. The choice of alloy gives me confidence that it should be a while between sharpening. MUSASHI suggest a double-sided King Sharpening Whetstone with a #1000/#6000 grit when purchasing the Chinese Cleaver.
MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm – Final Thoughts
In my ever-expanding knife collection, the MUSASHI Chinese Cleaver Pure-Molybdenum 220mm has quickly reached favourite status! It is a stunning knife to hold and look at, but more importantly, it has the credentials to be the go-to knife for a wide range of daily food preparation tasks. The size and versatility of the 220mm MUSASHI blade means it edges out my previous favourite kitchen workhorse, the fantastic WÜSTHOF EPICURE Santoku! Japanese craftmanship with Chinese versatility is an absolute winner!