The word “shun” in Japanese is that moment when food reaches the peak of perfection. So it would make sense that a Shun knife set would be a perfect tool to own to capture this moment in your cooking.
Shun knives are handcrafted in Japan and require at least 100 steps to create a single knife. These knives are renowned the world over for their sharp edge and their beauty. But does a Shun knife set really stand up to this lofty reputation?
Shun Knife Set: An Overview
Shun is a Japanese cutlery company that specializes in high-quality knives for professional chefs and home cooks. Kai USA Limited brought the Shun brand to the United States in 2002. Now it sells the brand in over 30 countries.
Originating in Seki City, Japan, a city that has a long history of blade making, Shun knives are hand-crafted and are forged rather than stamped out. Shun knives also come with a lifetime of free sharpening services.
Types of Shun Knives
Shun offers a variety of knife product lines which vary in material, construction, and price point.
These are the original line of Shun knives and are well-known throughout the world for their quality. Shun’s classic knives feature a high-quality, proprietary blend of steel that includes 68 microlayers of Damascus steel. They have a full composite tang with a handle made from ebony pakkawood.
The Shun Kanso line harkens back to Japanese simplicity. This line features blades made from Japanese AUS10A, high-carbon stainless steel with a rustic finish that helps to hide scratches.
Kanso knives feature full-tang construction with a hardwood tagayasan handle.
The Sora line is Shun’s more affordable line of knives. These knives use composite steel made of a VG10 san mai cutting core with a Japanese 420J blade upper.
Unlike most Shun knives that feature a hardwood handle, the Sora uses a polymer blend to create its textured handle.
Shun’s Blue product line features a core of blue, high-carbon steel, sandwiched between two layers of highly polished, stainless steel. Blue knives have a gray pakkawood handle with a rabbeted tang.
The Shun Premier line is an eye-catching line of knives that are as beautiful as they are functional. Premier knives use a VG-MAX steel core with 68 layers of Damascus cladding.
They feature a tsuchime finish that gives the knives a distinct, hand hammered look. It has a full tang with a walnut pakkawood handle.
What comes in a Shun knife set?
Shun offers a variety of ready-made knife sets designed for home cooks and professionals. In general, a Shun knife set features products from a particular product line. These sets include various knives as well as any accessories.
For example, the Block Sets include a wooden knife block to store your knives when not in use. Student Sets include a cloth knife roll, often used for safely storing and transporting knives to and from classes.
Current Shun knife sets have a variety of knives to do various cutting jobs in the kitchen. However, Shun previously offered two knife sets that were for specific cutting tasks.
The Classic Fillet Prep set came with a fillet knife and tweezers to help take out delicate fish bones from a finished fillet. The Classic 2-Piece Carving Set included a carving knife and a carving fork.
These two sets are no longer available on the Shun website though they often still available via individual retailers.
Shun knives are high-end, Japanese knives and command a premium price. For example, the Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife is available on the Shun website for $169.
The Classic 5-Piece Starter Block Set that comes with four Classic knives plus a wooden storage block will cost you $520 on Shun’s own website. However, you can find that same block set online for between $300 and $360 from retailers like Knife Merchant, Sur La Table, and Amazon.
A Shun Knife Set vs. Other Brands
To best compare a Shun knife set to other knife sets, we have chosen the Shun Classic 5-Piece Starter Block Set to represent the brand.
How we compared
To compare the Classic 5-Piece Shun knife set to other available knife sets, we first looked at comparable manufacturers of premium knives, in particular, Japanese-style where available.
Then we looked at the type of construction each knife set featured including materials, edge, tang, and handle assembly.
Finally, we looked to see what professionals and home cooks had to say about each knife.
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Miyabi is a brand of JA Henckels cutlery, featuring Japanese style knives for professional and home cooks.
The Miyabi Koh line features FC61 carbide stainless steel, with cutting edges sharpened at a 9.5 to 12-degree angle and an ergonomic pakkawood handle.
The Miyabi Koh 7-piece Knife Block Set comes with a 10-slot bamboo block that can hold a 3.5-inch paring knife, 5.5-inch santoku, 8-inch chef’s knife, and 9-inch bread knife, along with kitchen shears and sharpening steel.
This knife set is available for between $500 and $750 from various online retailers including Cutlery and More, Sur La Table, and Amazon.
Professional chefs on the Reddit chefknives are somewhat divided on the Miyabi Koh line for work. The consensus is that the Miyabi Koh is a good knife.
However, one user notes that the knives are not their “personal favorite, but for the price, I wouldn’t be upset owning them.” Another chef in the thread did not like the weight, saying it was “heavy as a brick.”
Customers from Sur La Table gave the Miyabi Koh Chef’s Knife high praise, calling it a very balanced knife that is razor sharp. Reviewers seem to like the knife’s weight and feel in hand.
Global is a Japanese cutlery company, well-known for their unique all-steel construction. Their Classic line of knives is a single piece of forged, Cromova 18 steel, sharpened at a 12.5-degree angle.
The handle features Global’s distinctive dimple pattern, allowing for a comfortable yet secure grip.
The Global 6-Piece Classic Knife Block set comes with a stainless steel knife block that holds four knives: an 8.25-inch carving knife; an 8.5-inch bread knife; a 7-inch hollow-ground santoku; a 5-inch chef utility knife; and a 3.5-inch paring knife.
You can find this knife set online for between $400 and $600 at online retailers including Cutlery and More, Williams-Sonoma, and Sur La Table.
Global knives are a mainstay for kitchen professionals and home cooks alike. A poster on the Reddit chefknives said, “My chef calls them the Honda Civic of knives. It’s not a Merc, but it will take a beating and last forever.” Other posters on the Reddit note that the handle can slip when dealing with oily foods such as meat.
Food and Wine named the Global Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife their Best Lightweight Chef’s Knife pick. New York Magazine also named the Global its top chef’s knife pick.
Customers also seem to be happy with Global knives. Both reviews on the Williams-Sonoma website for the 6-Piece Classic Knife Block set were positive.
They both gave the set five out of five stars. The reviews noted that the set was durable, easy to use, with good sharpness, shape, and weight.
Wusthof is a German cutlery brand that has been family owned and operated since 1814. Their Classic line uses a single piece of high-carbon steel. It also features a full-tang, triple riveted handle.
The Wusthof Classic 6-Piece Knife Block Set features a nine-slot knife block that holds a 3.5-inch paring knife, 8-inch bread knife, 6-inch cook knife, 9-inch steel, and a pair of kitchen shears. This knife block is available online for between $280 and $350 online from stores like Cutlery and More, Everything Kitchens, and Chef’s Resource.
On the chefknives Reddit, professional and home cooks seem to like the Wusthof Classic line. One user called it a “great multi-purpose cooking knife.” However, the same user also warned that the edge does seem to go quickly, a sentiment that was echoed elsewhere on the chefknives Reddit.
The Knife Wizard highly recommended the Wusthof Classic 6-Piece knife set for people who like solid knives with a balanced heft to them. Blog Deliciously Plated also recommends Wusthof for its styling and weight.
No matter how you slice it, a Shun knife set is a hefty investment. However, a Shun knife set is comparable, if not a cut above, some of its other premiere competitors.
Are you looking to graduate from a budget knife to more professional knives? Then a Shun knife set may be well worth your attention.
Do you have any favorite Japanese-style knife sets that didn’t make our list? Or maybe you’d like to share your experiences with your Shun knife set? Tell us about it in the comments!
Last update on 2022-12-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API