The One

This Kitchen Knife Is Both Functional and Frameworthy

Miyabi's chef knife marries the best of Japanese and German engineering.
Photographer: Meredith Jenks for Bloomberg Businessweek, Prop styling by Jojo Li

The Characteristics

Miyabi makes its knives in Seki, the home of Japanese samurai-sword makers. The brand’s $280 chef’s knife—usually an 8-inch-long blade with a 5-inch handle— is a favorite among professionals, including Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, who endorses two Miyabi cutlery series. A scalpel-sharp blade is protected by 100 layers of stainless steel, forged into a Damascene pattern, that provide added durability. It’s immersed in liquid nitrogen, a strengthening technique known as cryogenic tempering, and hand-finished in the Honbazuke three-step method to give it a polished edge. The Karelian birch handle offers a beautiful, easy-to-grip surface.

The Competition

Miyabi is owned by Zwilling J.A. Henckels, a cutlery manufacturer based in Solingen, Germany. (Henckels also sells knives under its own name.) Its biggest Japanese competition, Shun, which is owned by Kai USA Ltd., sells similar models for $240 and is also based in Seki. German-made Nesmuk uses a special Brazilian metal to justify the $550 price tag for its 7-inch chef’s knife. Another German brand, Wüsthof, offers a $150 model that’s popular and well-respected. For a more exclusive experience, sign up for one of knife master Bob Kramer’s auctions, where cutlery connoisseurs bid on five-figure, one-of-a-kind items.

The Case

Combining the heft of a Wüsthof, the strength of a Henckels, and the swiftness of a Shun, Miyabi knives effectively fuse Japanese design with workaday utility. The lightweight handle can withstand frequent use; the birch doesn’t get slick when wet or oily. The blade’s fine edge and thin profile enliven tedious duties, whether precisely removing rhubarb stems for your favorite pie or splitting chicken breasts from thighs before a weekend grill session.

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