Last updated: August 9, 2021

Welcome to our big Kai Shun test 2021. Here we present all the Kai Shun knives that we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best Kai Shun for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of if you want to buy a Kai Shun.




Summary

  • The Kai Shun chef's knife can be used in many situations. You can use it to cut meat, poultry and fish. It can also be used for chopping fruit and vegetables. Even the grinding of herbs is no challenge for the Kai Shun.
  • One of the reasons for its versatility is the high-quality blade material with its special grind. Damascus knives in particular are extremely sharp due to the hardness of the steel.
  • A high-quality Japanese chef's knife is more expensive to buy than an all-purpose knife. However, it convinces both professional chefs and hobby chefs with its durability and quality work.

The Best Kai Shun: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a Kai Shun

What is a Kai Shun chef's knife?

Kai is a traditional kitchen knife manufacturer. Its chef's knives are made using Japanese forging techniques with European quality. Kai Shun knives are available in a variety of designs. You can buy both small and large knives with short or long blades.

The Japanese chef's knife from Kai Shun is characterised by its corrosion resistance. They are the only non-European knives that can convince with this feature.

Messer neben Fleisch

With a Kai Shun knife you can easily cut meat, but also vegetables and herbs. (Image source: 123rf.com / 48231704)

The chef's knife series of the Japanese manufacturer Kai includes an extensive range of knives made of Damascus steel blades. They are used and appreciated by professional chefs as well as hobby chefs. With around 30 different blade shapes available, you can choose the right one for your work.

The numerous versions in different sizes and blade shapes are each designed for a specific purpose. In addition to the all-round chef's knife, the manufacturer Kai Shun also offers vegetable, peeling, bread and carving knives.

What distinguishes a classic Kai Shun?

Kai Shun chef's knives are carefully made with excellent materials. The inner cutting layer of the knife is made of high-quality V-gold steel. This core is sheathed in several layers of Damascus stainless steel.

This steel variant is an enormously hard material. At the same time, it is extraordinarily sharp and is resistant to dirt and debris.

The sharpness comes, among other things, from the special grind and the manual production of the blade. This makes the knife easy to use, even with difficult cuttings.

The handle of the Kai Shun knife made of laminated pakka wood offers you a special ergonomic shape. This makes the knife visually special and gives it a pleasant surface to grip.

With the traditional chestnut shape of the knife handle, the cutting tool fits perfectly in your hand. The centre of gravity between the handle and the blade ensures a balanced and comfortable weight ratio, which in combination with the extreme sharpness allows you to work for a long time without tiring your arm.

What can you use Kai Shun knives for?

When preparing food, the chef's knife can be an essential helper for you. It is versatile and functional, allowing you to handle a variety of different cutting tasks.

To make the best use of your chef's knife, you need the right size for you. Professional chefs prefer knives with a blade length of at least 20 cm. For private use, knives with a blade length of 15-20 cm are used.

The middle part of the blade can be used to cut both soft and hard food. You can also use this part to chop and weigh herbs. You should avoid cutting hard food or bones, as the blade is very sensitive.

The sturdy tip at the front of the knife can be used to chop small foods. Small vegetables such as onions or garlic are particularly suitable.

The back of the blade can be used to break up shellfish or crustaceans. In some cases, you can also use it to chop smaller pieces of bone.

You can optimally shift your centre of gravity to the rear part of the blade and thus use your strength to process food that is difficult to cut.

With the wide blade you can flatten and shape foods like meat. Re-functioning as a pallet, you can also use it to pick up finely chopped food and transport it to the pot if necessary.

What are the advantages of a Kai Shun knife?

  • Very sharp
  • Stainless
  • High-quality materials
  • Special look
  • Ergonomic handle

The special use of Damascus steel gives Kai Shun knives a special look. The manufacturing process is a combination of modern and traditionally proven samurai forging. This makes every knife from Kai unique and one of a kind.

Japanese or European knife?

Both Japanese and European knives have their advantages and disadvantages. Both types of knives follow their own concept.

Classic European chef's knives are robust and designed for normal household use. The U-shaped grind gives them long-lasting edge retention and makes them less sensitive to misuse.

This makes them easier and less complicated to use than Japanese models.

Japanese knives, on the other hand, are characterised by their incredible sharpness. This is due to the special grind. The sharpness of the V-shaped grind is caused by the hardness of the material and can only be maintained because of this. For this reason, you should only use this type of knife for the recommended areas.

What manufacturers are there?

When choosing a chef's knife, you can choose between several manufacturers and brands. Many manufacturers mainly offer knife versions with steel, ceramic or damask in their assortment.

The traditional Kai Shun chef's knife is made by Kai or Kai-Europa. You can also buy a Kai Shun from the professional star chef Tim Mälzer.

Other manufacturers of good chef's knives in general and chef's knives with Japanese quality include: Victorinox, WMF, Günde, Zwilling, Global, Lauterjung, Fiskars, Haiku, Wasabi and Wüsthof.

What does a Kai Shun cost?

The prices for chef's knives are variable and depend on the manufacturer, the brand and the quality. Often, you can infer an equally good quality from an expensive price. The more expensive a knife is, the higher the quality of the materials used for the handle and the blade.

Especially with handmade products, you also pay for the effort of the handwork. The price also depends on the geometry of the blade and the grind, as well as the materials used.

You can get a good quality steel chef's knife for as little as 40 euros. However, you should reckon with some sacrifices in terms of edge retention and sharpness. Nevertheless, you can perform all kitchen tasks with ease with such a knife.

Model from Manufacturer
Japamic model from 40 euros Haiku Home, Wasabi, Kanetsugo
European knives from 20 euros Windmühlen, Maserin, Felix Cuisinier

From a price category of 50 euros upwards, you can buy a professional model that is also used by top chefs. Normally, these knives are equipped with very sharp blades and are well balanced in their grip.

Their cutting ability is also particularly good and long-lasting. With good care and occasional sharpening, they can give you a lifetime of pleasure.

Model prices from Manufacturer
Japamic model from 50 euros Haiku, Global, Nagomi, Kai
European knives from 35 euros Güde, Dick Premier Plus, Burgvogel, Wüsthof Classic

At a price of 100 euros or more, you could talk about a luxury model. For this price, you are usually offered exceptional quality. In addition, the edge retention is particularly high and the sharpness can be further increased by proper sharpening.

The blade material in this price range is almost exclusively Damascus steel. This blade is harder, finer and more robust.

The purchase of such a model is often driven by fascination rather than functionality. With such a chef's knife, the pleasure begins with the preparation of the meal. The aesthetics and the taste are in direct harmony here.

Model priced from Manufacturer
Japamic model from 100 euros Kasumi, Kai Shun, Tamahagane, Kamo Shirou
European knives from 70 euros Dick Series 1778, Windmill Series 1922, Jamie Oliver

Why should you use a chef's knife?

The term chef's knife covers all types of knives that are used to prepare food. Most of the smaller tasks in your kitchen can be done with a simple all-purpose knife.

With special chef's knives, you can optimise this process for some foods. This can make your work easier when cutting.

Working without a suitable tool is exhausting and not much fun.

You can use a chef's knife to cut vegetables, fruit, fish and meat. It is suitable for weighing, chopping and cutting. It has a good balance and is handy. It is also robust and has a long-lasting sharp blade.

How do you care for a Kai Shun properly?

Like every knife, the Kai Thun chef's knife needs special care and storage.

After each use, you should clean the knife with clean water to remove any food residue and then dry it. Acids from fruit and vegetables can otherwise damage the blade. Aggressive detergents and water can also damage the sharpness of the knife.

To ensure that you can use your chef's knife for as long as possible, you should store it properly. If you want to store high-quality knives in a drawer, you should equip it with a special drawer insert.

This prevents the kitchen tools from hitting each other and being damaged.

Alternatively, knife blocks are also suitable. You can store your knives safely in them and keep them within easy reach. A decorative and practical option for knives with steel blades is a magnetic rail. Here, too, your knives are ready to hand and neatly stored.

The durability and sharpness of your knife is also supported by the right cutting surface. A base made of plastic or wood can dampen the impact of the blade when cutting and prevent damage.

How do you sharpen a Kai Shun chef's knife correctly?

In general, you can tell the difference between sharpening and honing a Kai Shun chef's knife. Sharpening is used to even out imperfections in the blade to create a straight cutting edge.

Sharpening is the process of maintaining the edge retention of a Japanese chef's knife. Since every knife wears out with use, this should be done at regular intervals.

If the sharpness of your knife decreases, you will notice this by applying more pressure when cutting to achieve the same result.

The choice of the right sharpening medium is particularly important for Japanese chef's knives. Many manufacturers offer the right sharpening instrument for each knife. The sharpening stones have different grits that are recommended for the respective steel type of the Kai Shun knife.

A coarse grit is used for sharpening, a medium grit is preferred for sharpening and a fine grit is suitable for the finishing touch.

In this process, you work your way from the coarsest grit to the finest. The knife should be held at an angle of about 20 degrees when sharpening to get the best result.

Hold the Kai Shun firmly by the handle with one hand and apply even, light pressure to the upper side of the blade with the other. The sharpening movement is exclusively from the handle to the tip.

If the blade is sharpened on both sides, you only turn the knife in your hand without changing it. This gives you an even sharpening result.

Japanese chef's knives are particularly sensitive and special when it comes to sharpening and grinding. Traditional manufacturers recommend an individual sharpening stone for each of their kitchen knives. These are individually adapted to the needs and properties of the steel.

What alternatives are there to a Kai Shun knife?

Due to the great popularity of the chef's knife and its many possible applications, they are produced in numerous versions. They can differ in shape and size, as well as in region and country.

In general, you can distinguish three categories of chef's knives:

  • Classic chef's knives
  • Ceramic chef's knives
  • Santoku knife

The classic chef's knife

The classic chef's knife has a medium-length blade of 20 cm and is relatively heavy. It fits well in the hand and has a stable centre of gravity. You can use it to cut fish, poultry and meat. You can also chop fruit and vegetables and chop herbs with cradle movements.

The ceramic knife

The ceramic knife is a hand-ground version of the chef's knife. The careful manufacturing process and the material used give the blade a long-lasting sharpness.

With this knife, you can chop fish, fruit and vegetables precisely and effortlessly. It is often used for the preparation of sushi.

The Santoku knife

A santoku knife is a Japanese chef's knife. The Japanese all-purpose knife is particularly suitable for cutting meat, fish and vegetables. This gives it the name "knife of the three virtues". With its blade made of Damascus steel, it is considered enormously sharp and has a high level of resistance.

Every feature of a Santoku knife is designed to meet the needs of cutting meat and vegetables. The 20 cm long blade is also suitable for cutting and portioning roasts precisely.

The handle is also adapted to the function of a chef's knife. It is typically made of round wood. It is designed and balanced to prevent arm fatigue. This ensures safe handling even during long use.

The shape of the blade is very similar to the blade of the classic chef's knife. The back of the knife runs in a straight line from the handle to the tip. The cutting edge, on the other hand, becomes progressively narrower towards the tip. With the bow, you can use a cradling motion to grind herbs and tubers.

A special feature of the Santoku knife is its special blade material, which is carefully handcrafted. This is not a special type of steel but a special forging process.

The blades are traditionally forged smooth by hand several times and folded again and again. This results in a special hardness of the material. With this enormous sharpness, you can cut fine slices or even large pieces of meat.

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What Types of Kai Shun chef knives are available and which is the right one for you?

The decision on which chef's knife to choose depends largely on your cooking habits and personal taste. If you like to prepare large quantities of meat, you should choose a Kai Shun chef's knife.

In addition to meat, you can also use it to portion fish and vegetables and finely chop herbs. Essentially, you can choose between two types of chef's knives from different categories.

European chef's knife

  • Relatively heavy and approx. 20 cm long
  • Straight back
  • Utility knife
  • Ergonomically shaped handle
  • Cutting edge curved upwards towards the tip
  • Suitable for: Fish, meat, vegetables and herbs

Japanese chef's knife/Kai Shun

  • Blade length approx. 18 cm
  • Flat blade
  • Straight blade back
  • Pointed cutting edge ensures good contact with the cutting surface
  • Suitable for: Fish, meat, herbs and vegetables

Due to different traditions, various forms of chef's knives have evolved in several regions. These take on the appropriate functional roles depending on cultural conditions.

For example, you can observe a difference in food preparation in Japan and in Parisian kitchens. In Japanese cultures, short, flat blades are preferred.

Japanese chef knife: Kai Shun

Japanese chef's knives are always handmade. You can rely on the use of high-quality materials. One feature of these knives is the multi-layered steel. This ensures the special hardness and enormous sharpness of the blade.

By combining different degrees of steel hardness, your Japanese chef's knife becomes softer in the blade structure and cannot break as quickly.

Damascene:

Damascening refers to the process of special folding technique, fire welding and hammering out different steel alloys with different degrees of hardness. This process was also used for samurai swords.

Japanese knives such as the Kai Shun are becoming increasingly popular thanks to their sharpness. The sharpness is due to the culture of Japanese cooking.

If you are concerned about not damaging your food and protecting the nutrients in it, a Kai Shun chef's knife is a good choice. For maximum flavour, you should also use the extremely sharp chef's knife from Japan.

Special features and appearance

You can recognise the Kai Shun by its distinctive patterns and decorations. This is caused by a special polish and hydrochloric acid treatment.

With the help of this elaborate process, a knife is obtained for you that has excellent sharpness and breaking strength. The light wooden handles provide a pleasant balance, which means you have to use less force when cutting.

The special features of the Kai Shun include the hand-forged and hardened steel in two or three layers. The enormous hardness and the wooden handle, which is usually made of grey magnolia. And the incomparable cutting surface of the blade.

You should note that traditional Japanese chef's knives with a high carbon content are sensitive to moisture and can rust. For this reason, you should pay attention to proper care to maintain longevity and sharpness.

Japanese Kai Shun Chef knife: an overview of its advantages and disadvantages

Despite the similar blade shape, you will notice a slightly higher blade shape in Japanese forged knives. The higher weight provides more stability when cutting.

An additional advantage of the Kai Shun is that it is easy to handle when chopping herbs. The high blade of the knife helps you to handle the disciplines of cutting and weighing more easily.

Advantages
  • Particularly robust
  • Flexible and versatile
  • Balanced and easy to handle
Disadvantages
  • Easily susceptible to rust
  • Requires special care
  • Hand wash only recommended

One of two disadvantages is due to the type of steel used. The special steel gives the knife fabulous sharpness, long edge retention and high resistance, but they cannot be called stainless due to their composition.

With the right care and storage, you can counteract this disadvantage and help your knife live a long life.

Another disadvantage for you can be the high price. Japanese chef's knives are of a high quality, which is reflected in the price.

Buying Criteria: You can use these Factors to compare and evaluate Kai Shun Chef Knives

To make your purchase decision easier, you can use the following criteria to evaluate and compare:

Below you can read what each criterion is about and find out why it makes sense for you to buy a knife based on the criteria or not.

Length of the blade

When deciding which appliance to buy, you should pay attention to the length of the blade. Depending on your preference and the food you want to process, your decision will be based on a knife with a shorter blade, such as a blade that is about 18 cm long, or a blade that is about 20 cm long.

Sharpness

Another criterion is sharpness. A properly sharp knife should be able to slice a tomato easily without crushing it. The material of the handle and blade should also be considered in your decision.

A high-quality material of the blade also gives information about the quality and can allow conclusions about the sharpness.

Handle material

The handle of a Kai Shun is usually made of wood. Your decision should be based primarily on the feel of the handle. A good balance between the blade and the handle will give you a precise and comfortable grip.

Messer neben Gemüse und Kräutern

The special thing about Kai Shun knives is their long blade. (Image source: pexels.com / Nikolay Osmachko)

Price

Ultimately, price is always a criterion you can and should use to guide your purchase. Japanese knives often have a higher price range, but here too you can find the best possible price-performance ratio by making comparisons.

Customer reviews

Finally, it is also recommended to pay attention to the reviews of other buyers. You can use them to form your own opinion and weigh up whether the model suits you or does not meet your requirements.

Facts worth knowing about Kai Shun

Japanese Knifemaking

Japanese cutlery has been practised for more than 2000 years. From the middle of the 13th century onwards, it became more widely known. The Japanese community of Seki is considered the central place of this art.

All the raw materials necessary for the production of Japanese chef's knives were to be found there.

Even the first Gifu company based there employed more than 300 cutlers. The Japanese community of Seki was then, as it is today, an important centre for Japanese cutlery.

The life's work of the grand master Deinbei Shoami, was the forging of weapons. He was the first to discover that the metals used could be welded, coloured and also rolled.

This process developed into the basis for the distinctive chef's knives with their special characteristics. The folding of steel resulted in a special structure in the metal. This is still considered the typical grain of Damascus knife blades today.

Japanese cutlers and leading manufacturers of special Japanese knives, such as Global Messer and Kai Shun, produce their products according to this principle. They ensure high quality and at the same time guarantee a high degree of functionality.

The Kai company was founded in Seki in 1908. In a tradition of over 100 years, they produce and develop knives, scissors and other cutting utensils. Their cutting products are characterised by excellent workmanship, durability and enormous sharpness.

With a selection of more than 10,000 items, they offer a wide range of high-quality products.

Around 70 years after its foundation, Kai is also establishing itself on the European market. The different product focuses convince with functionality, technology and appearance.

All products are manufactured according to the tradition and culture of the Japanese Samurai swordsmiths. In them, you can recognise perfection and quality through excellent craftsmanship.

Image source: 123rf.com / 40498879

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