Published on June 9th, 2009 | by Greg0
Pare Away with Kai Shun Knives
A few months ago, we got our hands on the Kai Shun Ken Onion kitchen knife, and are happy to report that it still holds up as the best knife we’ve had a chance to test out in our kitchens. Impressive in both form and function, it has held up well despite daily use.
But this article isn’t about that- it’s about two specialty knives from the same company, Kai Shun. One of them is the Ultimate Utility knife (their name), and seems custom-made for sourdough bread, the ‘real’ San Francisco treat. Another is the Perfect Paring knife (again, their name) and is available exclusively from Sur la Table.
OK, so the names certainly set a high bar, as does as previous experience with Kai Shun blades. We’re happy to report that they both hold up under scrutiny, though we certainly weren’t as blown away as with the more general-purpose chef’s knife.
The Ultimate Utility is 6 inches long, and also features that sexy Damascus look. But the handle isn’t as nice to look at, or hold, as some other knives. The serrated blade is certainly sharp enough, and we liked the curve, but didn’t like the blunt tip so much. Designed to serve as a spreader, it made for a little less all-around usefulness. Certainly, it’s a pretty great bread knife- and makes quick work out of tomatoes- but “utility” goes a bit far. Interestingly, there appears to be no perfectly standard definition, as Wikipedia brings up the far-more-utilitarian box cutter and other firms show a wide variety of styles and sizes bearing the name. At $100, it’s nicely priced… but steep for a bread knife.
The Perfect Paring knife, on the other hand, is about $60, and despite it’s small size has grown to have a large part in our chopping. At 4 inches, it still lacks the “do everything” capability of the chef’s knife, but often serves as a smaller and nimbler version of the bigger cousin. The Damascus-clad steel isn’t as striking on a smaller surface, but the shape of the blade- curving inward and then out- is useful and attention-grabbing. Razor sharp, you can slice, dice, and core with ease. Gouging eyes out (of potatoes, of course) was never simpler, and a few flicks of the fingers can remove the stems from fruits and vegetables. It’s easier to use than a larger blade for most smaller tasks.
As always, take good care of your knives, and they’ll take care of you- our breads are no longer destroyed upon slicing, and for that Boudin is sure to be happy.