The Ken Onion Chef Knife looks a little… different. The first time I saw this knife, I thought it looked gimmicky and ridiculous. Then I looked into it a little more, and now I think it’s a work of art. I highly recommend this knife.
Made by Kershaw Shun, the Ken Onion 8-inch chef knife has a number of unique design features. Despite the food-related name, Ken Onion is not a chef. He is an award-winning knife designer, and while culinary purists may not appreciate this, his complete re-design of the Ken Onion chef knife is getting rave reviews.
The steel of this knife is hardened Japanese steel (high-carbon stainless) at the core, forming the cutting edge. The core is then coated with 16 layers of folded Damascus steel on each side, giving the knife blade a distinctive ripple effect on the flat of the blade. The rippled effect is not just for show, as the irregular surface prevents food from sticking to the blade during chopping.
The handle is made of PakkaWood, a hardwood further strengthened with resin. The handle’s shape is usual among chef’s knives, and may appear overly short at first. However, the bolster has been designed to easily allow the thumb and forefinger to pinch the blade. This means that though shorter, the handle is supposed to give more actual hand-handle contact, and therefore offers more control.
Ergonomics – The Shun Ken Onion 8-inch Chef’s knife is meticulously designed to be balanced, comfortable, and easy to use. The handle and bolster especially help release tension in the arm, wrist and hands. The blades belly is round and it rocks back and forth on the work surface beautifully.
The Edge – This knife takes an incredibly keen edge and holds that edge for a long time. Right out of the box, it’s razor sharp and stays that way for quite a while (even without maintenance). Some chefs are even saying that it’s the sharpest knife they have ever used.
Aesthetics – With its unique shape and patterned steel, this knife is undeniably beautiful. It typically comes with a custom stand that cradles the knife in such a way that the blade doesn’t dull itself against the wood. And it’s a beautiful way to showcase the knife.
Price – The Shun Ken Onion 8-inch chef knife doesn’t come cheap. Many of the greatest complaints about this knife are that it’s just a chef’s knife, and that cheaper ones will do. It is certainly one of the most expensive knives we have reviewed. If cost is an issue, another simpler, less expensive knife may work better for you.
Maintenance – The manufacturers recommend honing the knife every week, especially if it’s seeing regular use. The handle is wood, so it cannot be left in water. The Damascus steel outer layers are not stainless, either. This means that the knife must be carefully dried after washing or used, or it could rust. Though it’s dishwasher safe, it’s recommended to wash it by hand.
Heavy – This is a knife with some mass to it. It’s about 2 pounds (just under a kilogram), and this may be a little heavy for some people. There is some debate as to whether it’s perfectly balanced at the bolster or not, as well. For chef’s who prefer a lighter knife, the Global range is an excellent, modern choice.
This is an excellent knife, and you get what you pay for. It’s both beautiful and utilitarian, and is a great addition to any kitchen. However, it may not be for everyone, especially those who prefer more traditional blades or people on a budget.