sharpening and caring for your kitchen knives

Quality Kitchen Knives on Sale

Bob Kramer Meiji chef knife_feature
Here are some of the latest deals on high-quality kitchen knives. We’re talking name-brand blades that will get sharp, and stay sharp, for a serious amount of time. As long as you treat them right, of course (see my Top Ten Tips). They should feel great in your hand and make you want to have fun in the kitchen. And most are priced at around $100 (though prices fluctuate like airfares)!

I’ve culled a list that covers a variety of styles and knife makers, but leans toward Japanese made. Which means many of these kitchen knives have thinner blades and are made of harder steel than their German counterparts. They will take a super-sharp edge and keep it longer—but you need to be more careful with them. You won’t get away with powering through a bone without cracking an edge. Capice?

Any one of these chef/santoku knives would make a wonderful gift for someone who loves to cook and loves beautifully designed things.

Global Ni Santoku, 7-Inch (rocking)

NOW ONLY $80–100 (Reg. $140) @ Sur La Table
Global santoku_7-inch_rocking
 
global_chef8Global kitchen knives are made in Japan and look like an artifact from the future. They are precision-machined, lightweight, and finished to perfection. (Celeb chef, Anthony Bourdain, swears by Global.)

The “rocking” santoku (above) is from Global’s newest line which has a slightly new look, but the same dependable quality. Because the blade is curved you can easily rock it back and forth when dicing herbs and onions and whatnot—thus “rocking.” (Very similar to the G-48 santoku on my Best Chef Knives. . . list which is an older style and currently sells for a similar bargain.)

Global Chef (G-2), 8-Inch

NOW ONLY $100–125 (Reg. $125) @ Sur La Table / Amazon
The G2 classic chef (above right) is one of Global’s most popular models. The shape of the blade is just about as close as Global gets to a traditional chef knife—which is very close. It has a slightly slimmer tip and belly than your average German chef’s, but, nonetheless, has the potential to be a serious cook’s go-to.

Zwilling Henckels Pro (Traditional) Chef, 8-Inch

NOW ONLY $100 (Reg. $130) @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Zwilling Henckels Pro Traditional chef knife, 8-inch
 
The Henckels Pro line is a snazzy redesign of the German chef knife, comparable in quality to the Professional S, Henckel’s flagship line. The big difference is the lack of bolster and a slightly different shaped blade. If you’re accustomed to pinch-gripping, you might prefer this bolster-free design because it helps eliminate the rub and also makes it easier to sharpen. Plus, it looks pretty moderne, no? (Note: the blade width of the Pro “traditional” chef is slightly slimmer than the regular Pro chef.)

Shun Classic santoku, 7-inch

Shun Classic Santoku, 7-Inch

NOW ONLY $100 (Reg. $140)
@ Sur La Table / Amazon

Shun, along with Global, has become one of the giants of the Japanese kitchen knife world. With its pakkawood handle, unassuming simplicity, and wavy Damascus blade pattern, the Classic line echoes traditional Japanese knives blended with a Western design. The construction of the blade riffs on Japanese swords—a core of harder steel (VG-10) sandwiched between layers of softer stainless. The core does the cutting while the outer layers protect and decorate. Elegant, but sharp! I’ve test-driven this santoku and I love the feel. Snug and balanced. It’s nimble. . .yet the broad blade has enough umph to handle hefty jobs.

Miyabi Kaizen II Chef, 8-Inch

NOW ONLY $100 (Reg. $170) @ Sur La Table
miyabi_kaizen2_chef2a_kitchen knife
 
The Miyabi Kaizan II is one of the best bargains of the moment—a high-performance, beautifully-styled Japanese blade, matching the price of your standard German workhorse. Improvements have been made in the Kaizen II over the original Kaizen—which include a higher-quality steel (FC61) and a heftier handle and bolster. It’s easier to grip! And, like the Shun (above), it’s constructed of a hard core that’s been wrapped in layers of softer steel that protect and produce the Damascus patterns. Can a $100 kitchen knife really look this sexy? (Pssst: If you have a weakness for hammered steel, the Miyabi Artisan SG2 is on sale also.)

Miyabi Evolution chef, 8-inch

Miyabi Evolution Chef, 8-Inch

NOW ONLY $100 (Reg. $175)
@ Sur La Table

Miyabi’s Evolution chef knife is an alternate approach to East meets West. Although, like the Kaizan, the blade is Japanese-thin and razor-sharp, the handle is more Western and substantially slimmer. Also, the shape of the blade is a touch broader, and it’s one piece of steel (FC61) without any layers. So remember—though the Evolution is designed to look more like a traditional German chef knife, it will still perform more like a Japanese. What’s not to like about that?

(Please note: The FC61 steel the Miyabi knives are made of is a touch more wear resistant and ductile than the VG-10 steel of the Shun santoku.)

MORE ON CHEF KNIVES To learn more about kitchen knives and the brands I recommend, please check out Best Chef Knives — Six Recommendations and How to Buy a Great Chef Knife.

Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef, 8-Inch

NOW ONLY $120 (Reg. $160) @ Amazon / Sur La Table

Wusthof Classic Ikon chef knife_2The Wusthof Classic Ikon is one of my favorite kitchen knife designs. I love the curved, ergonomic handle; it’s not only beautiful, but comfy as a handshake. This is German steel, so—unlike the Japanese knives in this post—it’s not as brittle and you don’t have to be quite as careful. It’s also a touch weightier, which some may prefer. Me, personally? I like both German and Japanese. (There’s a Classic Ikon 7-piece block set that’s also a bargain.)

If you’re on a tight budget or think a certain someone will appreciate a more classic-looking handle, the Wusthof Classic chef is on sale as well for $20 less. NOW ONLY $100 @ Sur La Table / Amazon

• • • HIGH END JAPANESE • • •

Bob Kramer Meiji Chef, 8-Inch (Zwilling-Henckels)

NOW ONLY $250 (Reg. $300) @ Sur La Table
Bob Kramer Meiji chef knife_2
 
Designed by Bob Kramer—near legendary American bladesmith—the Meiji collection melds East and West at a whole new level of quality and style. Believe it or not, from start to finish, they are handcrafted. In Seiki City, Japan, home of the samurai sword. Similar in concept to the Shun and Miyabi—German blade meets Japanese handle, blade composed of a sandwiched core. But the blade is wider and the balance and feel different as well (more knuckle clearance for one thing). If you want to dip deeper into the Kramer/Henckels collection, click on over to Bob Kramer Knives — Why Spend $300 on a Chef Knife?

Miyabi Birchwood Chef, 8-inch

NOW ONLY $230 (Reg. $280) @ Sur La Table / Amazon
Miyabi Birchwood chef knife_sale
 
Simply said, the Miyabi Birchwood is a babe among kitchen knives. But, to continue the metaphor, it’s a babe with brains. For, it’s not only gorgeous, but comes from the factory probably sharper than any knife on this page (well, maybe the Meiji). And it will stay sharp longer because the steel it’s made of (SG2) has been heat-treated to a Rockwell hardness of 63 (two points higher than any knife on this page). I’ve felt the Birchwood handle in my grubby mitts and it feels like. . .well, like, unfinished wood—earthy and real. Gift this to a gourmet cook who has an appreciation for the finer things in life—they will never ever forget the moment they opened the box.

KNIFE CARE Please do not buy any of the Japanese blades in this post unless you’re willing to care for them properly (see Top Ten Tips).

• • • KNIFE SETS ON SALE • • •

Global Prep Set, 3 piece Set

NOW ONLY $200 (Retail $300) @ Sur La Table
global_prep_3set_7chef_kitchen knives
Set includes: 7-inch chef, 3-inch paring, 8-inch bread knife |
What’s most unusual about this 3-piece set is that it offers you an actual bread knife (most 3-piece kitchen knife sets do not). So you start off with the core three, the three most useful knives to have in your kitchen. A most excellent wedding gift. The only trade off is that the chef knife is a bit short—ideally, it should be 8-inches. If you do a lot of big jobs in your kitchen (chopping large onions, etc), then you may not be happy with this chef knife as your mainstay.

Henckels Pro, 7-Piece Set

NOW ONLY $265–300 (Reg $350) @ Amazon / Sur La Table
henckels_pro_7set_8chef_kitchen knives
 
Set includes: 8-inch chef, 4-inch paring, 5.5-inch santoku, 5-inch serrated, shears, steel, block |
As mentioned above, the Henckels Pro line is a stylish retooling of the classic German kitchen knife. What’s nice about this set is that instead of the obligatory utility knife (which is rarely used), you get a santoku which is super-useful for smaller jobs. And by having two all-purpose knives—the chef and the santoku—it allows two cooks to be working at the same time in the same kitchen. The only negative, of course, is the missing bread knife. But you can pick up an inexpensive one for a song that will easily do the trick and fill out the set: OXO Good Grips, 8-Inch Bread Knife / Henckels International Fine Edge Pro, 8-Inch Bread Knife.

Happy shopping!
 
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7 Comments
  1. I really like Shuns! They seem to fit my hands the best. But they are a bit expensive. . .

    • The price for the Shun knife on both sites is out by 49 dollars.

      • Thanks for the catch, Doug (they’re actually out by $40). The sale is no longer on for the Shun or for the Kramer Essential either for that matter. But I’m not sure if it’s worth changing the copy yet because the merchants often play with prices. That happened with the Kramer Meiji which was on sale during the holidays, then came off sale (and they ran out of stock to boot), but now is on sale again :)

        Best, KKG

  2. We have been using Wusthof before, but as the time comes we shifted to using the cheaper ones like the Victorinox. Though Victorinox is good, it would still be best if we were able to buy some Wusthof knives. Is there any discount on this, aside from the free shipping on Amazon?

    • Hi Josh,
      Although I realize Victorinox performs very well in the kitchen, and may have a sharper factory edge than many Wusthof knives, I would just find it depressing to use an inexpensively made knife with a cheap plastic handle in my kitchen day after day :)

      Sorry, but KitchenKnifeGuru does not offer any special discounts. The point of the above post is simply to highlight great deals on high-quality kitchen knives. (BTW, Sur La Table also offers free shipping on any order over $59.)

      Best, KKG

  3. Hi, any experience with the Enso hammered Damascus Japanese prep knife?

    • Hi Valerie,

      No, I haven’t had any personal experience with Enso knives. But my research tells me that the knives in the Enso HD, Hammered Damascus line, should qualify as a high-quality kitchen knives. They are made in Seki City, Japan, one of the knife-making capitals of the world, famous for its quality, and the manufacturer has supposedly been in business since 1932. The company makes what looks like identical knives under two different brands—Enso and Yaxell. Not sure why, but they both look to be high-quality.

      The Enso HD Hammered Damascus line is similar in design to the Shun Premier (see them both below), with a hard steel core, sandwiched between softer stainless steel that has been hammered. But a comparable Shun knife will be twice as expensive, thus Enso offers terrific value.

      Here are what I see as the major differences between Enso HD Hammered Damascus and the Shun Premier:
      Core steel (that forms the cutting edge): Enso uses VG-10 which is respectable and is what Shun used to use in their Classic line. But Shun has now upgraded to VG-MAX alloy (a proprietary name) that should be more wear resistant and tougher than VG-10, yet still hold a very fine edge. Both steels come heat-treated at HRC 61—which is significantly harder (and more brittle) than most Western-made knives.
      Layers: Enso has 17 layers per side, while Shun has 34. This could make the Shun a bit stronger, but 17 layers per side doesn’t strike me as skimping.
      Sharpitude: Both come sharpened at 14-16 degrees which is razor sharp.
      Handle: Enso is made of micarta, a highly compressed composite made of linen and resin. Shun uses pakkawood, a highly compressed wood composite. Both handles should hold up well.
      Feel: I can guarantee you that they will each have a different feel . . . but this is something you can adjust to if you choose to, or let it drive you crazy.

      Conclusion: I assume the Shun Premier, with a dramatically higher price tag, will have more spit and polish and may also simply retain its good looks for a longer time. It also may perform better and should require less sharpening. But the Enso HD Hammered Damascus is no slouch and comes for less than half the price of Shun. From the reviews I’ve read and from what I can extrapolate, it would be hard to go wrong with this puppy! Heck, I might add it to my recommendations above. . . :)

      Enso HD Hammered Damascus Prep Knife, 5.5-inch: VG-10, 14 layers per side, micarta handle, $70

      Enso HD Hammered Damascus Prep Knife

      Shun TDM0727 Premier Santoku Knife, 5.5-inch: VG-MAX, 34 layers per side, pakkawood handle, $165

      Shun Premier Santoku, 5.5-inch

      Best,
      KKG

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