205 of 209 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2008
I purchased this wok about 1 month ago. I spent some time researching woks before I made the purchase, including going to stores to look at them, and reading reviews on the internet. I ended up choosing this one and am very happy with my selection. I like the fact that it has bamboo handles and thick carbon steel. It is also well made.
I looked at woks at stores and found that most of them were poorly made. At one box store there was one for about $20. It looked okay, but upon inspection, the metal was thin and the handles were not made well.
I also went to a cooking store only to find poor quality too. The wok I looked at was about $39. Very thin material.
I will agree with one cooking expert who said not to buy an expensive wok. You can spend up to $100 on one, but you don't need one that expensive. In fact, a good carbon steel wok with decent thickness should cost you about $20 to $30. I got mine for a little over $22.
This wok is about the thickest one you can buy on the market. 1.8mm. I think Helen Chen sells another one that is 2mm thick too. The thickness of this one is just perfect. Compared to others I looked at, this one doesn't flex when you pick it up.
As far as seasoning the wok. Use a gas stove. An electric stove doesn't get hot enough. I initially used my electric stove, but was not satisfied with the glaze, so I got my white gas Coleman camping stove out. It worked just perfect! The electric stove works fine for cooking though.
If you have an electric stove, like I do, and need to season your wok, go to a friend's home that has a gas stove, or use a camping stove like I did. Open all the windows, it does get quite smokey and the smoke will set off the smoke alarm.
In conclusion, I recommend this wok. If you like stir fry like I do, you will be very satisfied with your purchase.
Thanks for reading my review.
162 of 165 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2010
I have this wok and was surprised at the number of negative reviews...especially as regards rusting. I treat this wok in the same manner that I treat my cast-iron. Living in the South, everyone has a cast-iron skillet and knowledge of how to properly treat one, so maybe that give me an advantage, who knows? The fact is that you should dry this wok immediately after use and cleaning. I like to clean mine as soon as I'm done cooking b/c the residual heat makes it very easy to remove any leftover bits of food or sauce. To clean, I don't use any soap, so as not to disturb the seasoning...merely run hot water over it and scrub away any food particles with a stiff bristle brush. A bit of manuevering is needed b/c of the size of this wok and the small sink in my house, but all in all it takes no more than a minute or two to get it clean. Afterwards, I use a single paper towel to get the water off and wipe the inside with a bit of oil. In the two years I've owned this wok, I never had a bit of rust show up. I do, however, concede that the seasoning instructions that came with the wok aren't as good as what you can find online. I used the onion method (found a great vid on Youtube), and my wok developed a nice, brown seasoning that has, over the last couple of years, developed into a pitch black, non-stick area. The only down side to this is that I'd really love to start steaming some meals, and I worry that repeated use of boililng water would degrade the seasoning over time. In that respect, I suppose a non-stick variety, which didn't require an outside process, would be better suited.
Yes, the lid is thin and easy to ding, but the wok is heavy enough that I already need two hands to move it from point A to B, I don't want a heavy lid to contend with either. That's just personal preference; however, having Chinese friends whose woks (some actually brought over from the mainland) have lids just as thin and look like they've been through meteor shower, I believe this trait is actually motivated by functionality and authenticity than just the company trying cut corners.
My favorite part of this wok is how it cooks. I have a little 10 inch nonstick model that I love because it's so light and easy to work with, however, the nonstick never gets hot enough to add that bit of char that I find so tasty in stirfries. I recently made some shrimp with vegetables and white sauce, and (when done right) the shrimp have these wonderful little singed edges that add such a wonderful nuance to the dish. The trick to to stirfry each group separately and then join them together at the end so as not to disperse the heat too much. Will post pictures soon. I've cooked squid stirfry, fried rice, shrimp stirfry, bitter melon with pork, and a host of other things that turned out really well.
85 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2010
I bought this wok based on the good reviews and attractive design. I've had it for 6 months now and the bamboo helper handle has dried out and fallen apart in pieces literally. Lesson learned - I would recommend buying the plastic handle woks instead of these glued bamboo handles especially if you use high heat for stir frying.
It's not worth the shipping for warranty and have it rejected to say that it's been abused due to using high heat, which is how you are suppose to cook with a wok anyway. Additionally, I don't want to bother going through trouble of re-seasoning a new wok again.
The exposed helper handle is actually composed of two L-shaped metal pieces with a gap in-between them instead of one solid U-shaped handle. so it loosely rotates a little and is rendered useless without the bamboo wrapped around it - bad design I'd say. For now, I've made a fix by wrapping a makeshift pipe around those two metal pieces to serve as a handle.
I would never buy wooden handle cookware, especially glued bamboo types, again.
88 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2007
This is a great wok. The carbon steel is easy to season, making it virtually non-stick (without the chemicals), the flat bottom means it is stable while sitting on a burner, and the heft keeps it from slipping around. The domed lid is great for steaming, and there is ample space inside for a bamboo steamer.
I priced these in retail stores in the area, as well as other outlets online, and this sells for at least a competitive price.
59 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2011
Carbon steel is definitely the way to go; I've used nonstick & cast iron, which have problems when trying to do stir-fries. I especially like the handles on this wok; being wood, I don't need a potholder, and the combination of long handle & helper handle makes this pan easy to work with. The pan comes with the long handle detached, which I prefer because I like to initially season the pan using the oven. Since the helper handle has a bamboo handle which can be harmed by high oven heat, you must protect it during the seasoning: first wrap the wood with damp washcloths, then cover them with aluminum foil crimped all around the washcloths. Grace Young, who has written several great stir-fry cookbooks, has a very helpful video online on how to season a wok. The part that this pan's instructions leaves out is to initially season the outside of the pan along with the inside when doing the oven part of the seasoning; this protects the outside surface from rust & gives it a great patina color. I also line the oven rack with foil & turn the wok upside down so the applied coating of shortening or oil does not pool in the bottom of the wok. After three trips into the 450 degree oven to season the pan, I followed Grace Young's instructions to stirfry green onions & ginger slices in the wok until they were black (they are then discarded). As I've used the pan, some of the seasoning has scraped off using the recommended wok "shovel", but it still performed beautifully. A wok seasoned like this can be cleaned by putting hot water in it for a few minutes to soak, then wiping it out with a sponge, rinsing with hot water, & placing back on a low burner to bake off all moisture. I usually wipe a small bit of peanut oil on the inside while the wok is still warm. Grace Young says it takes a year of cooking in a carbon steel wok to fully develop its patina, and I can see this happening. She recommends popping popcorn in the wok as a way to speed up the seasoning process, and this works for me.
61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2011
I am an Asian housewife and I do my share of stir fry cooking several times a week. I have several carbon steel woks already but I was looking for a less heavy one, so I bought the Helen Chen's wok. It is lighter, but everything else about this wok has been a disappointment. Despite a careful seasoning process I did before I used this wok for real cooking, the wok turned brown and black in its first mission, and it rusts so easily, I have to rush into cleaning it, drying it, and hanging it right after the food is out of this wok. Carbon steel woks do rust, but shouldn't be in such a lightening speed, my other woks made in Japan or Taiwan are so much better. What makes it worse is, even if I clean and dry the wok in time, the next time before I cook with it, I'll be sure to find new rust, so I have to clean it again before using it.
If this is not bad enough, there is further news. The helper handler broke into three pieces within 2 weeks. Because it was broken, I got to look inside how it was built, and that just tells me why this wok has so many problems --- because it was made cheaply. Underneath the bamboo handler, there is supposed to be an iron piece that really hold the wok, guess what, that piece of iron is not really in one piece ! I saw two fractured iron stick there, they are not even connected to each other ! So I was actually using the bamboo to hold the wok, yet the bamboo is made of four pieces that were glued together. No wonder it didn't last forever.
It was such a disappointment, if I could have given it a zero star, I would. This wok is certainly not up to the duty of high temperature stir fry dishes. The price is low, but its performance is much lower. Not worth the money.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on October 13, 2007
This is a great wok for the price. Be sure you follow the instructions and "season" it well first so nothing sticks. Also you need to immediately dry it after washing. Other than that I am thrilled with the wok.
56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2007
I honestly felt like I was stealing from somebody when I clicked the "purchase" button. After researching the best equipment for Asian cooking, the experts concluded that the carbon steel flat bottom wok scored top marks with professional chefs. The idea is to season the wok (you can find out how to do this on about.com) instead of purchasing a teflon coated one. I cannot emphasise how important this step is if you want to create the perfect Singapore Noodles or Chow Mein! You will be cooking like a pro in no time, for almost no cost at all.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2014
this is a pretty heavy wok. I find this a positive attribute however since it distributes the heat evenly and will hold up to time. the handles are nice and thick and the hardware is adequate; meaning you will have to tighten the end screw (hook) occasionally since it will loosen. this should not be a problem unless it is stripped over time. it arrives with the usual anti rusting coating which MUST be cleaned off entirely; not only for health reasons but for proper curing of the entire inside and outside of the wok. it arrives shiny and new and quite beautiful. if your intentions are to keep this thing looking shiny and new... you don't know woks... they should be dark, hardcore and discolored after you cure the metal to give it that great 'non stick' finish you want in a wok. also don't buy a traditional wok if you are somewhat lazy and don't have patience. seasoning (curing) a wok takes time and effort. for the first few months I would pull it off the hooks and put some peanut oil in it (not much) and put a very slight coating on the outside. since I don't have an outdoor grill in the city; I had to use the gas burner on my stove to SLOWLY heat up the wok to slowly burn in the oils that create the layers of non stick material. I would dry it with a paper towel and do the process over again. you'll learn to turn the wok and angle it so that the dark layers SLOWLY cover the entire inside of the wok. the outside will darken and the inside should be pretty evenly seasoned. it takes LAYER after LAYER of this process to give you the long lasting patina you need. food may stick to areas at first and I resorted to washing it while warm and getting the chunks out.. BUT you need to re-season it immediately to make up for any materials you may have taken off... after a while a quick wipe down or very simple washing is all you need... but oil it up, heat it up and wipe it down before putting it away.. it will rust unless you pay attention. the longer you do this the less you'll have to work on it. lastly; BEFORE you do ANYTHING... follow the directions and clean the heck out of this wok before you use it... I used the bathtub and scouring powder (I didn't have scouring pads) and made sure to remove all the coating.. I had to rinse and do this multiple times inside AND outside. if you don't remove it; the fumes and coating will inhibit the patina from building up. just take your time and try and enjoy this ancient practice. you're buying a traditional wok for a reason; it takes time and a bit of effort but in the end you'll have one of the most maintenance-free cooking vessels you can have.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2009
I purchased a wok for my sister for Christmass. I purchased a non-stick coated wok. After receiving the wok my sister went on the net to see reviews of several woks. She decided not to keep the wok I bought because of cancer reports due to TEFLON coatings. After reviewing many woks on AMAZON, I decided on the wok by Helen Chen. After receiving it both of us were very satisfied with the quality of the product. Being the first wok we ever seasoned, we got it wright on the second try. It works great on a flat top electric stove.