What are the best chopsticks?
July 3, 2012 1:37 PM   Subscribe

If I were a chopstick connoisseur, which chopsticks would I have?
posted by djgh to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: This is a highly personal question, and depends on what you eat and where. There are as many varieties of chopsticks for different occasions and types of food as there are spoons and forks! Length and shape and price point and material are personal and cultural preferences. Personally, I would suggest a minimum of
- one long pair of cooking chopsticks
- a pair of round Japanese chopsticks with tapered ends
- a pair of the blocky plastic Chinese ones often found at restaurants
- a bag full of the cheap wood break-apart chopsticks

If you want to stress your fellow diners, add round tapered metal chopsticks, and the Korean ones that look like spring steel (long, thin, flat metal). Never got the hang of either of these and would always be offered a pair of break-aparts instead. My personal preference is for the Japanese ones, so strongly so that I brought my own chopsticks to China. Yes, I know.

Chopsticks can also be really whimsical. My favorites look like colored pencils, sharpened at the non-food end. So. Many. People. have attempted to color with them. They are from this store in Kyoto's Teramachi. In the linked pictures you can see the variety and imagination that goes into chopsticks at all price ranges.

Other things that might intrigue you:
- chopstick holders/rests
- chopstick carrying cases
- chopsticks for training/kids
- portable chopsticks that unscrew in the middle to collapse

I am inclined to say there is no short or correct answer to this question, but I love chopsticks.
posted by whatzit at 2:01 PM on July 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

Portable chopsticks, to always have on hand? There is quite a range if you look at the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section of this.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:03 PM on July 3, 2012

I would think that the ultimate chopsticks would be ivory.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:54 PM on July 3, 2012

I'm not an expert I guess, but I do appreciate a nice chopstick. My personal preference is for the unlacquered, dark wood Japanese style of chopsticks. These have an elegant taper to them that allows for more delicate manipulation of foods, a gentle square shape at the large end that helps to stabilize the stick in one's hand and tapers down to a tight cylindrical shape at the small end that prevents food from catching a hard edge and twisting the stick in one's hand. Further, the naked wood provides a slight texture to the stick that both helps one grip their food, and prevents the stick from slipping in one's hand. The unlacquered type of sticks will also not flake off lacquer after being used for a long time or put through the dishwasher too much, and while not as flashy as some other types of chopsticks, they are just lovely to look at IMHO.

I've seen unlacquered chopsticks that look as though they had been whittled from sticks of black hardwood, and while those are very nice I still prefer the more elegant (though perhaps less 'romantic') square-to-round type that I've described above. Simple, effective and lovely.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:08 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I like Japanese chopsticks, plain ones made of porous wood.

The laquer or plastic ones make it harder to grab the food.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:19 PM on July 3, 2012

Best answer: I... have a chopstick obsession. Seriously, I have more than 50 pairs. I don't think I would call any of them "best". I like different things about all of them.
Most of the time I use one of the many pairs of cheap laquered ones I own.
The ones that are best for picking up food are the ones that have a matte finish and a grippy bit at the end, like they were dipped in glue and then sand before they were painted.
The ones I like looking at best are the wooden pair with mother of pearl tips that my father brought back for me from a trip.
The ones I am most likely to take with me somewhere are these collapsible ones from ThinkGeek.
For no particular reason, I have several pairs of Hello Kitty chopsticks, in both adult and children's sizes. I adore them, though I rarely eat with them.
In grad school I would sometimes make chopsticks- they're a great small woodworking project, they can be made quickly and simply and don't require much wood. I can make a pair of the square-to-round ones Pecinpah describes in about 45 minutes. I finished them with mineral oil, the kind you use on cutting boards. It helps keep them from drying out. Having done some experimentation, I can tell you that cherry and ebony make wonderful chopsticks, oak and walnut do not, the grain is too open. Poplar and pine are too soft. I think I settled on 8 1/2" as the proper length, and 1/4" square for the tops. You want to get the end pretty small, but not too pointy- it will become fragile, and also you don't want to spear yourself in the mouth. This kind of chopstick lasts a long time with proper care, looks elegant, and provides enough friction to pick up food easily.
Chopsticks I have not loved:
Shiny plastic ones are too slippery.
I had two jade pairs, but they were slippery, and too heavy to really use easily, and it turns out that when you drop them on the floor they break. The little carved jade dragon chopstick rests they came with are still awesome, though.

Yeah, I love chopsticks. They live at the intersection of decoration and utility, and that is a great place to be.
posted by Adridne at 7:44 PM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

Korean stainless steel chopsticks - not the very cheapest ones, but say $10 for a chopsticks/spoon set - are the best. Everything else is bendy or slidey.
posted by scruss at 7:49 PM on July 3, 2012

please give an update about what you will actually use them for.

if you want to actually eat with them i suggest plain-old wooden ones. in my experience the korean stainless steel chopsticks are too slippery to eat noodles with.
posted by cupcake1337 at 8:13 PM on July 3, 2012

That's why you don't buy they very cheapest ones, cupcake1337. More expensive ones have a satin finish that you can slurp those noodles right up.
posted by scruss at 7:09 AM on July 4, 2012

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