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Shi Ba Zi Zuo – Chinese Vegetable Cleaver F208 Review

The Shi Ba Zi F208 is made with an 80cr13 core material with softer stainless steel 10cr17 cladding. The knife also comes with a rosewood handle with grooves for extra grip. Now let me get something clear this knife is not a traditional All-purpose cleaver but a vegetable cleaver. It does not mean it is only for vegetables. You can use it on meat and fish too, as long as it is boneless meat.

Core Material & Cladding

80cr13 is a high carbon core material; therefore, the knife can take a sharper edge while maintaining good edge retention. The 10cr17 outer cladding helps by adding toughness and corrosion resistance. Using a three-layer cladding protects the middle core from constant impact damage and prevents it from breaking.

Shi Ba Zi Version F208-1
Shi Ba Zi Version F208-1

Knife Rockwell Hardness

I find it strange that the seller specifies the knife with a Rockwell of 55 to 57. But During my testings, it feels and performs like a knife with a Rockwell of 58 at the minimum. Therefore with regular honing sessions, you can get away with 3/4 month before needing a whetstone touch-up.

Shi Ba Zi Zuo My version had a Rockwell of 58 at the minimum
Shi Ba Zi Zuo My version had a Rockwell of 58 at the minimum

Blade aesthetic and food release

They included a non-stick coating, which helps break down water content, and the food will stick less on your blade. I also like the look of the debossed logo. It is not deep and nicely smoothed out. The finish on the blade is also very nice to see. It is what I love to see on more knives. Since it masks the scratches of regular use, and the knife slowly builds up a different aesthetic over time.

Shi Ba Zi Debossed Logo
Shi Ba Zi Debossed Logo

Blade profile

The Shi Ba Zi F208 has a slight belly in the middle, but the front and the heel have a 90-degree angle great for up and forward motions.

Shi Ba Zi 90 degree angle at the front
Shi Ba Zi 90 degree angle at the front
Shi Ba Zi 90 degree angle at the heel
Shi Ba Zi 90 degree angle at the heel

Weight and Spine tapering 

Once you grab the knife, you will immediately notice that the knife is quite light for a Chinese cleaver with a weight of 382 grams. And that for their biggest version ”F208-1” with a blade length of 23 centimeters. The spine thickness is 2.3mm, but it feels thinner since they thinned the blade a lot under the spine. The front profile taper is very thin, but the heel area is slightly thicker than the front.

2.3mm thickness
2.3mm thickness
Front profile taper is thinner than the heel
Front profile taper is thinner than the heel

Knife balance point

The balance point is at the logo, and with the pinch grip at the metal cap, the knife would be front heavy. It is what I expect and wants from a cleaver style knife. Since we use the front part to slice and use the heel for thought food, this knife has no distal spine taper, but the knife profile taper is extremely well done.

Front-heavy balance point
Front-heavy balance point

Knife handle

Now on to the handle of the Shi Ba Shi F208 knife, they are using a rosewood handle with grooves on the handle. The grooves work extremely well with adding extra grip. The knife grooves were slightly noticeable sharp out of the box. But after multiple times of use and washing, the grooves smoothed out nicely and became less noticeable during each use. Eventually, it will be smoothed out enough that you won’t notice the grooves anymore.

Rosewood Handle
Rosewood Handle

Handle Maintenance

I would advise to oil the handle once you get it out, out of the box. And when the handle starts to become dry, I would apply oil from time to time. Do not forget to regularly oil the handle since this prevents the wood from drying out and splitting from temperature swings. And you also build up a water-resistant layer over the rosewood handle by doing it regularly.

Use Miniral Oil (or a neutral oil that can't get ransid over time)
Use Miniral Oil (or a neutral oil that can’t get ransid over time)

Handle Design and Comfort

There are two things I want to point out with the handle design. The front cap works extremely well, and they have a well-thought design. Not only helps it from preventing any water damage at the wooden handle, but it also sits very comfortably at your index finger and thumb. They also have added a wired hidden full-tang handle, which adds extra durability and prevents the knife from coming to lose. You can see the wired steel at the endcap, which adds a rustic aesthetic to the knife.

Comfertable cap
Comfertable cap

What you can’t do with this knife

Do not go through frozen-food, chop through bones, chop through anything hard with this knife or twist the knife since this can cause chipping. It is a ”vegetable” or a Chinese ”slicer” cleaver, meaning it is suitable for boneless meat and vegetables. Smashing garlic etc. should be fine using the spine to tenderize meat too.

Wired Hidden Full-Tang Design
Wired Hidden Full-Tang Design

Conclusion

There are a few things that Shi Ba Shi could improve. The first thing is to remove the annoying stickers. Out of the box, sharpness could have been better, but this is not a big deal since I encourage everyone to learn to sharpen themself. For the rest, I would recommend this knife to anyone. If you are looking for a Chinese vegetable cleaver, look no further!

Version F208-1 reviewed in this article
Version F208-1 reviewed in this article

Two Versions F208-1 and F208-2

They offer two versions. As a home cook, I recommend the smaller version. Go for the F208-2, and for cooks that work in a Chinese restaurant. The longer versions should suit you better. And my advice is to go for the F208-1. The key difference is the length and weight between those two. Of course, this knife comes with all the benefits that you would expect from a Chinese cleaver. The blade width makes it great for scooping, flattening, crushing, and more. You will also have plenty of knuckle clearance and a great knuckle guide. And the spine can be used as a meat tenderizer.

F208-2 is my recommendation for home cooks
F208-2 is my recommendation for home cooks

🛒 S H O P

For a Chinese vegetable cleaver, I recommend Shi Ba Zi Zuo F208
(they have 2 sizes I recommend the F208-2 for home use that is the shorter version)

Shi Ba Zi Zuo F208-2

Official Shi Ba Zi Zuo Amazon store

Amazon Version F208-1 (9 inches)

8inch version F208-2 (my Recommendation)

Another Chinese Vegetable Cleaver I like is from Dengjia. This one is mainly suitable for home use. Sharper performance but less durable than the F208.

Manufacturers Name:

 Chongqing Deng’s Kitchenware Manufacturing Co., Ltd

🛒S H O P:

Denjia TM-9080

Dengjia Official AliExpress Store

My Recommendation for a ”Dual”/”all-purpose” Chinese Cleaver is the Shi Ba Zi P03 or P04.
(*Make sure you select the correct one since P01 and P02 is very heavy and big and mainly used in restaurants):

Shi Ba Zi P03 or P04

Note: The above version is a ”Dual Purpose” or also known as an ”All-Purpose” Chinese cleaver. It means that you can use the heel to go through smaller bones like a chicken bone or duck carcass.

Review about the P01 can be found here.

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ChefPanko

Hi, I'm ChefPanko, I have worked for multiple restaurants and have decided to share my experience with you guys. I will share recipes and techniques that I have learned, taken, and improved from the French, Japanese restaurants that I have worked for. I will also explore other cuisines with you guys.

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