Some people say that Asian knives are must-haves in the kitchen as they are sharper and lighter, ergo a pleasure to use.
Two modern Asian cutlery brands that have deep roots in the ancient forging methods are Kamikoto and Shun.
Everyone can see it in the knives they make – beautiful in the zen-like, quiet way and unusually functional.
But what is better?
Which of these two should adorn your kitchen?
Read on to find out more …
Kamikoto: Holder Honshu’s Tradition Alive
A knife that is often thought to come from Japan is Kamikoto.
This company is owned by the Chinese and operated in Yanjiang, China.
However, they honor and have decided to adhere to the tradition of Japanese knife making.
Compared to other more well-known products, there is not much information about its basic history.
They let their products speak for them.
Currently, there are only a few series and fewer kinds of magazines in the entire Kamikoto line.
Their Kanpeki, Kuro and Kumo sets have e.g. Only three knives.
Creating the knife
Kamikoto follows a 19-step knife manufacturing process.
The whole procedure is so thorough that it takes quite a long time to complete a piece.
Again, they have adopted traditional methods so that their knives are thrown individually, cooled down and polished to astonishing sharpness in the hand.
Although the factory is in China, the steel they use is allegedly extracted from Honshu, Japan.
These are 420J2 (HRC 53), SLD (HRC 62) and YSS (HRC 60).
All of these are extremely hard stainless steel, resistant to corrosion and even wear.
Kamikotos are quite tasteful in their simplicity.
Apart from the ebony-colored blades in the Kuro variant, most of their knives have the same appearance:
The thickness of the knife (from the spine) depends on the type of knife you have (Santoku vs clover), but some say this is almost as heavy as its German counterparts.
It has a full pair of pliers that extend out of the handle.
The support is thick but does not extend down to the heel so you can sharpen the entire length of the edge.
The heel and buttocks (end of the handle) are flat.
The cylindrical Kamikoto handles are made of G10 fiberglass and then coated with a special resin.
This material is resistant to water, moisture, mold and rust.
It does not go soft or brittle compared to ordinary plastic or natural wood.
This brand is not cheap with pieces that go as high as $ 300.
But in addition to the lifetime warranty offered, your purchase comes with a nice box and a brooch.
- No frills, just functional knife
- The handle is made of a durable material
- The set is packed beautifully with useful additions like a Toishi broom
- HRC of 53 in most knives means you will need to sharpen often (probably why a breast is given for free)
- A bit too expensive, according to some
Best-selling variant: the Kuro series
This three-piece set includes a Santoku, Nakiri and Utility knife – everything you need in the kitchen.
The black zirconia steel is not only hard, which ensures a long-lasting edge sharpness, it is also very beautiful.
The whole set comes in an Ashwood box.
Shun: The Japanese power plant in Bladesmide
When the legendary and formidable katanas only became artifacts in history, the swordsmen turned to cutlery instead.
And because the Japanese are nothing but committed, these talented craftsmen put all the traditional knowledge they knew into their new task.
One of them is Saijiro Endo, the founder of Shun.
His modest shop in 1908 has grown into a famous company all over the world and creates excellent knives that have received awards as soon as it was introduced in the West and are enthusiastic about professionals and home cooks everywhere.
Creating the knife
Shun uses different kinds of steel alloys: ASU10A, AUS8A and VG10, just to name a few.
The latest blend of super steel and used exclusively by the company is VG Max.
The work in their top variants it is not just strong, durable and sharp.
It is also flexible so it does not break as easily.
While true to their heritage, they do not shy away from technology to speed up production and ensure accuracy.
However, they still make sure that most of the 100-step process is done manually, especially polishing and refining the knives.
Shun wings are unmistakably Japanese: the spine is thinner, the belly more linear and the edge sharper (16 degree angle on both sides).
The length of the pliers depends on the series: entry-level shuns have a rabby pliers, while high-end variants often have a complete composite.
All have thick, half supports.
The narrow or columnar handles are made of different materials – basically TPE, PakkaWood or Tagayasan.
The price and warranty vary.
Again, this depends on what series you are getting.
But what sets Shun apart from its competitors is its free grinding service for all variants.
- Hard, but does not break so easily
- Long lasting edge
- The entrance series (Kai, Sora) is cheap
- Free sanding service
- All the other Shuns are too expensive
Best selling variant: Classic blonde Santoku
Made of VG Max core and layered several times with micro-thin stainless steel, this Damascus-style blade is artistic and works in one.
With its strength, this works both as a cutting knife and a clover.
The cylindrical handle is made of light PakkaWood, which gives it a light and airy look.
And with its amazing balance, it also feels light and airy.
It is undeniable that both Kamikoto and Shun offer beautiful knives that can withstand the test of time.
However, these two have also been called out to be a bit too expensive.
If you have a short budget, buy a versatile knife – maybe a Deba or a Santoku instead of wasting on a set.
If you are hard pressed to pick just one, go for a Shun.
Their knives tend to be sharper and if these get dull you can send it back for sharpening without paying extra.
And to be honest, it’s a lot.
Last updated on February 19, 2021 by Andy Wang