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Xinzuo & Hezhen: Redefining Knife Manufacturing

My Top Choice Among Chinese Brands

Xinzuo, the manufacturer behind the Xinzuo (Amazon, AliExpress) and Hezhen (Amazon, AliExpress) branded knives, is leading the way in redefining the Chinese kitchen knife manufacturing industry. They have experienced significant growth as a company and stand out as one of the select few brands that have impressed me with their quality control and precise heat treatment of their knives. What truly sets Xinzuo and Hezhen apart is their commitment to transparency regarding the origin of their knives. With clear labeling on their product packaging and sales pages stating ‘made in China,’ they avoid any misleading claims of Japanese craftsmanship. Additionally, the use of Chinese VG10 steel, known as 10Cr15CoMoV, in Xinzuo and Hezhen knives surpasses other brands that utilize the same steel in my testing, making Xinzuo and Hezhen one of the top choices.

Xinzuo & Hezhen packaging

So who is Xinzuo or Hezhen?

Xinzuo is an established manufacturer and trader that has been operating for over 20 years, with a primary focus on researching, developing, and producing various types of kitchen knives. Located in Yangjiang city, known as the “city of knives” in China, Xinzuo has continuously enhanced its quality management systems and expanded its production facilities during its extensive history. As a sub-brand of Xinzuo, Hezhen places greater emphasis on creating premium knives with a focus on aesthetics, design, and materials, resulting in a more luxurious offering compared to the main Xinzuo brand.

Xinzuo Showroom
Xinzuo Showroom

My Experience with Chinese-made knives

After testing many Chinese-made knives and experiencing issues like cheap materials, poor heat treatment, questionable design choices, inconsistent sharpening angles, and inadequate quality control, I almost gave up on exploring Chinese-made knives if it wasn’t for Xinzuo. If I had given up, it would have meant that this website or my YouTube channel wouldn’t exist.

My Exprience with Xinzuo

I discovered Xinzuo at a time when there was very little information available about the brand on the Western internet, and since I don’t speak or read Chinese, I faced difficulty in finding relevant details. Xinzuo didn’t have an English website at that time. Despite these challenges, I decided to try a Xinzuo-branded knife, and it turned out to be a game-changer. The Xinzuo 440C Gyuto, in particular, addressed all the issues I had previously encountered with Chinese-made knives. Its performance was exceptional, and I have consistently recommended it ever since.

Xinzuo 440C Gyuto
Xinzuo 440C Gyuto

However, while Xinzuo impressed me with its knife’s functionality, I found some of its knife series to have daring design elements that were difficult to assess solely based on pictures. This aspect raised some questions for me, but it didn’t diminish the overall positive experience I had with Xinzuo knives.

Exciting news From the Co-Founder of Xinzuo

Xinzuo approached me and told me that they were following me and my content for a while, and asked if I was interested to test their newest knife series. They were curious about my feedback on the newest series that they have released and wanted my honest opinion on them. To my surprise, the Co-Founder of Xinzuo did not want to try or test me out by sending just one knife but instead asked me to choose whatever series I liked and he would arrange it for me if it was in stock.

Hezhen Elegant Series Santoku (Powdered Steel), Xinzuo Lan Series Santoku (10cr15comov), Xinzuo Zhen Series Chef's Knife (ZDP-189)
Hezhen Elegant Series Santoku (Powdered Steel), Xinzuo Lan Series Santoku (10Cr15CoMoV), Xinzuo Zhen Series Chef’s Knife (ZDP-189)

Previous brand experiences

Having had previous experiences with other brands where my critique points were ignored after the video review, I was thrilled to receive all the requested knives from Xinzuo/Hezhen and get my first impressions of them. I must say, I’m extremely excited to discuss these knives because they have showcased what Chinese-made knives are capable of in terms of design and blade grind variations. Of course, being me, I did have some critique points for a few of the knives that were sent to me. I genuinely hope that Xinzuo takes these critique points seriously and incorporates improvements in their future knife series or updates the current ones. I believe Xinzuo has the potential to be the best, if not already the number one, kitchen knife manufacturer in China, especially when comparing them to the 100+ knives I have tested, particularly in terms of quality control, materials, and heat treatment.

Elegant Series Santoku (!Powdered Steel)
Elegant Series Santoku (Powdered Steel)

Excited about the Xinzuo and Hezhen knives

After seeing some of the grinds combined with the unique design and good heat treatment I believe that they have surpassed even some manufacturers outside of China. And with a slight design change, they can be so much better which I hope they will adjust after my review of those specific knives.

Xinzuo Zhen Series Santoku (10cr15comov), Xinzuo Zhen Series Chef's Knife (ZDP-189)
Xinzuo Zhen Series Santoku (10Cr15CoMoV), Xinzuo Zhen Series Chef’s Knife (ZDP-189)

My timeline with Xinzuo:

  • November 10th, 2018
    • I bought a white-label brand that does not exist anymore but according to the seller of that brand, the knives were made by ‘’Yangjiang Xinzuo Industry & Trade Co., Ltd.’’ which I could not entirely confirm. But it also piqued my interest in Xinzuo branded knives once I discovered the manufacturer’s name but I was not able to find their branded knives until months later when they appeared on AliExpress.
  • April 25th, 2019
    • I finally saw the Xinzuo branded knife available on AliExpress.
    • I bought my first Xinzuo branded knife at that time there was no official website active.
    • I bought the 440C Xinzuo Nakiri which had good QC, but it looked like a Nakiri but had a profile of a Gyuto which was a strange concept and the reason for me not to recommend that particular knife. That specific knife was shortly out of production. (Is Xinzuo watching my videos?)
  • December 4th, 2019
    • I bought the German 1.4116 Steel Utility knife from Xinzuo as I have tested various 1.4116 steel knives from various Chinese brands before, I wanted to know what Xinzuo could bring. The QC was good as I discovered from the Nakiri knife. But the German 1.4116 steel that Xinzuo offered is to this day one of the best I have tried and tested compared to other 1.4116 steel types from various other branded knives that are made in China. The heat treatment along with the good QC sets the Xinzuo knife apart. While I wasn’t too sure about the design choices again since the knife is sold as a utility knife but sometimes also as a 5-inch chef’s knife (very loved by those with small or extra small hand sizes according to the comments I received on YouTube).
  • June 4th, 2020
    • Due to the good QC and heat treatment of the 440C Nakiri, I have decided to buy the 440C Gyuto which is still one of my most recommended Chinese knives to this day. The knife was anatomically correct along with everything else from the handle to the blade everything was good without any flaws. The handle was also comfortable compared to other Japanese-made knives with Western-styled handles. When it comes to Japanese-made 8-inch knives it often is too narrow for my large hand size. But Xinzuo was a tinny bit thicker/contoured better and rounder making it not too beefy and comfortable for my large hand size and still could accommodate those with small to medium hand sizes.
  • October 11th 2020
    • A new Chinese brand was discovered by my viewers on YouTube and asked me to check them out, since the information at that time was not complete I had no idea who Hezhen was. There was no information and the information I got from my viewers and the resellers were mixed. Some said they are not related and some said it was a sub-brand from Xinzuo.
  • November 11th, 2020
    • Bought a Hezhen knife which was comparable to Xinzuo knives, but with daring design elements. Previously, when asked about Xinzuo or Hezhen, the following responses were given:
      • ‘Xinzuo also does a great job with other steel types like the 440C, 1.4116 besides the 10Cr15CoMoV’
      • ‘Hezhen is pretty much similar if not the same as Xinzuo in terms of QC and heat treatment’
      • ‘The 10Cr15CoMoV from Xinzuo and Hezhen is currently one of the best I have tried compared to other brands.’
      • ‘The design choices on both are sometimes questionable and very daring, especially on the Hezhen branded knives’
  • March 2021
    • Well, the YouTube comment section would not be YouTube, the first comment that I got was that there is plenty of information about Xinzuo and ironically nobody checks the video upload date before telling me of the new information. This was strange since the website was in Italian and had a .it domain name which does not exist anymore.
  • August 31st 2021
    • Looking at my timeline here you can see that my Experience is all before the year 2021, but indeed on August 31st, 2021, the Xinzuo website was active and in English. The domain name was registered on the 9th of December 2020.
  • November 1st 2022
  • March 20th 2023
    • Xinzuo contacted me and asked if I was interested in testing more Xinzuo and Hezhen knives from the newer series where they added a lot of new elements and focused a lot more on the knife grinds besides the newer designs.
  • May 5th 2023
    • I received 12 knives from Xinzuo that are currently being tested before I release the full review of those knives.

The knives I received are and will be reviewed:

Xinzuo Knives
Japanese SRS13 Steel – Feng Series Chef’s Knife (Review WIP)
Japanese SRS13 Steel – Feng Series Nakiri (Review WIP)
10Cr15CoMoV Steel (Chinese VG10)- Lan Series Santoku (Review WIP)
10Cr15CoMoV Steel (Chinese VG10)- F2 Series Nakiri (Review WIP)
10Cr15CoMoV Steel (Chinese VG10) – PM8 Series Tall-Nakiri (Review WIP)
ZDP189 Steel – Zhen Series Chef’s Knife (Review WIP)

Hezhen Knives
Sandvik 14C28N Steel – Master Series Chef’s Knife (Review WIP)
14Cr14MoVNb Powdered Steel – Elegant Series Santoku Wood Color (Review WIP)
10Cr15CoMoV Powdered Steel – Elegant Series Cleaver White Color (Review WIP)
10Cr15CoMoV Powdered Steel – Elegant Series Santoku White Color (Review WIP)
Coreless 110 Layers Damascus Steel – F2 Series Chef’s Knife (Review WIP)
X9Cr18MoV – YM3L Series Chinese Vegtable Knife (Review WIP)

Xinzuo Knives I bought before Xinzuo contacted me
14Cr14MoVNb Powdered Steel – Lan Series Santoku (Review WIP)
10Cr15CoMoV Steel (Chinese VG10) – Xinzuo Zhen Series Santoku (Review WIP)

There will be a Q&A with the Co-Founder of Xinzuo if you have any questions for Xinzuo and Hezhen (The Q&A is finished and can be read here).

If you have specific knife-related questions for me or Xinzuo please feel free to add that in the comment section too as I might be able to answer them directly.

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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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  1. I’m interested in purchesing 14Cr14MoVNb Powdered Steel – Lan Series Santoku – when can we expect the review? Or is it possible to receive ony brief opinion privately, so I could buy these knives, or look for something else?

    1. Hi, the review is finished but there will be a few other videos/articles posted before the Lan Series Santoku get uploaded.

      So here is a brief summary: In terms of the Steel-type 14Cr14MoVNb Powdered Steel vs 10Cr15CoMoV. It is in my opinion a good steel, it is just as durable or even more durable even at a higher-rated Rockwell hardness. In terms of maintaining/sharpening, I find the powdered version easier to get the edge back.

      The blade in terms of shape is well done, I like the extra details like the rounded spine, and the heel has been rounded to prevent accidental cuts (I don’t mind the traditional normal heel but this is a nice add-on).

      Things to note for a Santoku I find it on the heavy side but the blade is also taller than your typical santoku styled knives.

      The handle is something that is not for me, I have a large hand size and I could not get adjusted to it. I find it a bit on the bigger side and the belly is not for me. So imagine those with a small to medium hand size., the reaction I got from them is it is heavy and big, and those with a small hand size could not enclose the handle with their hand.

      In the Q&A Article I did with Xinzuo I asked them about the larger handle size as the 2023 collection is a bit on the large side. You can read the article here.

      Hope that this help feel, free to ask more questions as I’m slowly finalizing most of the knife reviews as it has taken a lot of time for me to evaluate and film.

      There will be a ”First Impression Article/Video” For both the Xinzuo and Hezhen 2023 collections very soon.
      Unfiltered first impressions straight out of the box. (Unfortunately, the Lan Series will not be covered as I already finished the review when I did that video since I requested the 10cr15comov version so that I could compare it to the powdered version that I bought myself).

      1. Yes, that handle will be an issue, as it will be mainly used by my Wife, and she has a pretty small and delicate hands. I will wait than, maybe they’ll come up with some more comfortable models within next 6 months.

        1. Yeah, hopefully, the 2024 collection has more knives catered to smaller hand sizes. As I asked them if they would accommodate the smaller hand sizes in the newer series or specific knife styles like the Santoku and they replied that they will have upcoming designs and series featuring smaller and lighter handles.

          So hopefully they are smaller as I find the 2023 series on the bigger side.

  2. Pingback: Unveiling Innovation in Chinese Knife Manufacturing - ChefPanko
    1. I’m waiting for a follow-up reply, most of the Questions have been answered. Once I get the follow-up questions answered, I will publish the Q&A article.

      1. Quick Update: The Q&A section has been finalized, and I’m excited to share some valuable insights about Xinzuo/Hezhen’s knife manufacturing process and quality control standards. The upcoming article, which will be ready within the next week.

        I’d like to mention that the Q&A is quite long because I wanted to gather as much information for a better understanding of Xinzuo/Hezhen and their commitment to producing qualitative knives.

        I’ll provide the link to the article here and in a comment once it’s uploaded.
        EDIT:Q&A can be found here!

  3. The Feng Series with Japanese SRS13 Steel sounds very interesting. I am curious if the quality surpasses that of the knives crafted from 14Cr14MoVNb steel.

    1. I will be comparing them with each other along with R2/SG2. If that is done I can add my final takeaways about the steel in the final review. Currently also waiting for the questions to be answered from Xinzuo/Hezhen, as that will reveal a few more things about some of the knives and Xinzuo/Hezhen as a manufacturer.

      Just like the 10cr15comov which was their equivalent version to the Japanese VG10.
      The 14Cr14MoVNb is their answer to the powdered version like SG2/R2/SRS13.

      The results are that the prices of their own powdered version can be offered for a lower price since it takes away the extra cost of importing, MQO, contracts, etc.

      I am very curious about how I will perceive the sharpness, edge retention, ease of sharpening, sharpening result, and other factors. (need more testing time to get a final conclusion).

  4. I saw in another post where you mentioned Dalstrong, but I didn’t see any sort of full write up on them. A friend (who owns a restaurant) was recently raving about Dalstrong’s quality and durability. Any comments?

    1. Dalstrong is a brand that I haven’t been following for a while so I can’t comment on them. While they are on my to-review list I just haven’t got the time or review slots available since I have my hands full right now (all review slots for 2023 are all taken). As it takes around 2-4 weeks of testing time before I can release a knife review.

      As you may have read in the past, is that I had to rectify a few things since I have spoken to an OEM that used to be in contract with a few known brands with proof. I won’t go deep into specifics, I had rectified that information as those brands contacted me and told me that they no longer use that specific OEM and changed to a different OEM.

  5. Some questions from the YouTube comments and emails I have gotten are already asked for the Q&A if I see any new questions I will try to get them in the same article. But once the article has been finished and uploaded I won’t be adding any general questions. Xinzuo & Hezhen knife-specific questions can still be asked, as I might be able to answer them directly or ask Xinzuo about them before the full review has been published.

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