Ken Onion Knives

It doesn’t look like these knives are from the Ken Onion Rain series. I’m not able to find any information on the Chef Works website.

These are definitely not the same quality as the Ken Onion Shun knives. The material is described as “high carbon stainless steel”. Doesn’t sound like the usual VG-MAX steel core encased with 32-layer Damascus stainless steel.

The handle is also made of some sort of plastic. Brand it however you like, it looks like plastic to me.

This reminds me of when Wusthof created the “Gourmet” line. Lower quality and lower price…

Yeah,that is confusing. At first I thought: wow! then I realized these knives were definitely not up to the Shun Ken Onion level, and (sigh) too good to be true.

Thank you. We’re so glad we read this before we spent hundreds of dollars in cheaper then expected knives. The wife thought those prices were too good to be true for the Gourmet line as you call it. Thanks Marcus.

I don’t feel these are fair statements. Firstly, knives made from VG-MAX (which is practically no different than VG-10 and whose purpose is very likely a branding advantage) have their own strengths and weaknesses that do not necessarily make them superior to other knives. I cannot say precisely, but I imagine these are made from some 400-series steel. Where the VG-10 types are going to have superior edge retention, they are going to be less durable and tend to chip. 400-series and similar steels tend to be tougher, and while they won’t hold so sharp an edge for as long, do stand up much better to abuse.

Differences in knife steels are much like those between glass and plastic. Glass is very strong; but plastic is very tough. Knives like this (if they are what I suspect them to be) and the German brands tend to have a balance of strength and toughness that is much more friendly to most chefs, both at home and professionally. On the other hand, some prize the Japanese trend with a balance favoring strength over toughness. Such knives offer incredible performance, but must be kept sharp and used with care.

You’ll see professionals who use a $40 Dexter Russel, a $400 Shun, or both. Some prefer different steel types for different types of knives and tasks. They all have their merits.

As for the Damascus-pattern steels, these elements are mostly aesthetic, and you’re not paying for more performance. It’s the core of the knife that does the cutting.

Regarding the handles, composites should not be rejected, and ‘plastic’ doesn’t just mean ‘plastic’. G10 is a highly desirable handle material made from fiberglass Micarta. It is a strong, durable material found on both mid-range and high-end cutlery. The hygienic advantages of such materials should not be ignored and sometimes are the only options permitted in professional environments.

I have not used these knives; but I suspect they are fine performers. I can tell they won’t have the edge-retention of the Shun Ken Onion knives they resemble; but it looks like they share similar ergonomics and should be much more durable.

As a personal user of knives from all price ranges, I would advise you not to discount their quality, performance, or value simply because they’re comparably less expensive to some others.