Best Chef Knives: Three from Japan

This is not a Top Ten List. This list should help you to understand the world of kitchen knives and give you some ideas. Each knife is made by a different Japanese Knife Set. The prices vary from $120 up to $170. These knives will last 30 years or longer, so don’t panic!

Global 7 inch Santoku (G48).

Global revolutionized kitchen knife world in 1980s. It created a line of high-performance knives that were trendy (forgive the pun) and affordable. These knives are very light and have a razor-sharp blade, just like traditional Japanese knives. However, their blade design owes more to Western traditions than Japanese. Because they combine two traditions of knifemaking, I call them Japanese hybrids.

There is no major knife brand that stands out so modernly – 100% pure steel from tip-to-base, with the trademark pebbledsteel handle. Global uses the correct amount of sand in the hollow handle to balance it. Global knives aren’t forged. They are made of high-quality steel, which has been heat treated and tempered to achieve new levels of sophistication.

The G-48 is the perfect model for anyone who wants performance but also wants to be agile. The short, yet broad santoku design allows for the ease of a wide knife (you can pick up chopped celery), without the bulky length. Global offers many options for Western-styled chefs’ knives. A G-2 or G-61 is a good choice.

I have this santoku, and it is my pride and joy. Amazingly, it does!

MAC MTH80 – Professional Series Eight 8″ Chef Knife With Dimples

MAC knives appear to be one the most well-kept secrets in the consumer kitchen knife market. Famous chefs, such as Charlie Trotter or Thomas Keller, seem to have a lot of knowledge about them. They’re considered the best cutting tool. However, chances are that your average home gourmet has never heard of them.

These knives are Japanese made and designed. They aren’t quite as elegant as Global but they are probably sharper. They’re not forged like Global, but are highly machined.

The MTH-80 Professional is MAC’s workhorse. I think it is because it offers the highest level of sharpness for the price. A welded-on bolster makes the MTH-80 Professional a unique combination of a super-thin blade and added weight, which allows it to feel more like a German-style knife. Gourmet Magazine states that a MAC knives is “the difference in a minivan from a race car.” You want to give it a spin?

( Warning: Don’t confuse the MTH80 Pro with the TH80 – Chef Series 8″ Chef Knife with Dimples. It is a lower-level model, which sells for as low as $40.

Shun Classic 8 inch Chef Knife

Global and Shun are probably the most famous and well-known Japanese brands here in the U.S. Shun Classic is their flagship product and it’s easy to see why. They are manufactured in Seki, Japan which, along with Solingen Germany is one of world’s top knife-making cities.

Do not let the lovely wavy pattern of the blade fool your eyes. It is much more than a pretty head. A thin, hard core creates the edge. It is sandwiched between 32 layers softer steel with swirly patterns (16 layers per side). Rockwell 61 is made of hard steel. This gives it the ability of holding a 16-degree edge very well for a long time.