People have been using chopsticks for millennia, and these days Asian-inflected dishes are a common component of modern cuisine. So it’s high time you picked up a few pairs for your humble kitchen.
Originally invented in China around 1200 B.C., the first chopsticks were more twigs than utensil, and quickly became popular for their ability to reach deep into pots of boiling water or oil. The trend spread to the rest of the Asian continent, and now, they’re used the world over, favored by many Westerners because they encourage healthier, slower eating. That is, eating with chopsticks means you eat a smaller portion with each bite.
But not all chopsticks are the same. Chinese chopsticks are thick, with a blunt end, while Japanese chopsticks are slightly shorter and taper to a fine point. Korean chopsticks, on the other hand, are often made of metal and textured at the ends to ensure a strong grip. Your preference will vary depending on the qualities you value most. Regardless, here are four great options to choose from.
1. Ryu Mei Chopsticks Set
Ryu Mei’s chopsticks are a great gift for the seasoned traveler in your life. A set of Japanese chopsticks, they’re made of lacquered wood and taper off at the ends, with textured grips so you can get a better hold on food. What makes them a great on-the-go pick, though, is the box that they come in. Bring them with you if you’d prefer to use chopsticks at a dinner or lunch—you’ll likely get compliments on the charming design, too, which features rabbits leaping over tiny hills.
Pros: Accompanying box means the chopsticks can be easily packed up.
Cons: Because of the intricate design and the material, hand washing is recommended.
2. Zomchain Chinese Dragon and Phoenix Chopsticks
Zomchain’s chopsticks are truly gorgeous. They are Chinese chopsticks so they are longer, have a blunt end and are made of wood. What makes them stand out, though, is their design: a dragon is carved on the grip of one pair; a phoenix is chiseled on the other. The different designs have different wooden holders to match. Plus, they come in a similarly inspired gift box.
Pros: Wood carvings make this set a real standout.
Cons: Blunt ends may be tricky for newbies to negotiate.
3. JapanBargain Bamboo Chopsticks
Chopstick rests are usually pretty simple in design—their primary purpose, after all, is just to keep the ends you’re eating off of from touching the table. JapanBargain’s set is the exception, as their set of five bamboo chopsticks comes with five colorful origami cranes to hold them. The chopsticks are noteworthy enough in their own right too—they’re made in the Japanese style, so they come to a finer point, and are nine inches long.
Pros: Cranes are a real standout on the table.
Cons: Chopsticks are more spare in design.
4. HuaLan Fiberglass Alloy Chopsticks
HuaLan’s five pairs of chopsticks are all made of fiberglass, which essentially makes them much more durable. It also means that, unlike many wooden chopsticks, they’re completely dishwasher safe, so cleaning up will be a much easier task. Even with all of these functional elements, the chopsticks don’t skimp on style, though: Each has a different, colorful design on its base.
Pros: Chopsticks are dishwasher safe.
Cons: Fiberglass material may be too slippery for some.