Misen knives review
In September 2015 Misen launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised nearly $1M to introduce the Cook's knife at affordable prices. Misen tried something very different – their knives were $30 and rivaled their competitors at two to two times the price.
In this article, we're going to take a look at Misen as a brand and its products to see what Misen knives are all about. We'll also review whether or not they are worth the price that they currently sell them at.
All about Misen knives.
Misen 8-inch chef knife
The Misen 8-inch chef knife only costs $65. Premium knives usually cost around $150-200. Misen manufactures its knives at the Chinese market, traditionally without a significant cost of production. The knives don't have added accessories. Rare handles or specialized bladework such as hand hammering or Granton corners are not found in Misen's collection. This range has been designed for performance and clean styling and offers quality performance. In some ways, the collection can compete with other knives that cost twice as much. However, Misen does not produce a wide range of different products to meet all needs of cooks. Whether or not this is an advantage depends on your budget and preferences.
Misen Paring Knife
Misen's paring knife follows the same design of construction with an affordability of just $30. Both right and left-handed users can use this knife. The pressure point lies on the user’s fingers and moves against the back of the blade. Reviews seem to like the flattened edge at the top of the paring blade but the basic grip of the handle is different from the knuckler's edge. Misen Paring Knife has a sharp edge and it cuts through the soft flesh of fruits without much effort. As for every paring knife, delicate vegetables require more caution than hard produce such as apples and carrots.
Misen Serrated Knife Review
The girdled knife is made of high-performance Japanese steel. The blade features 32 pointed edge points with thick and wide serrations for optimized grip and smoother cuts. This knife costs around $60 and you may soon find that you’ll start using more of it each day. The blade is made of premium steel with enhanced edge retention. Infusing the blade to soft materials, the blade can cut through soft foods such as squash and pineapple, yet it is so easy to cut hard foods as well.
Misen Knife Material
The harder steel used in MIsen knives is more durable, however, it becomes stiffer as well. Harder steel is harder when sharpening and honing and usually takes twice the time. This steel is used for most medium-size Japanese kitchen knives. Moreover, Misen knives don't have a bolster. The blade and handle join together at the front end of the knife. A bolster offers extra control while working with precise but tough ingredients such as ginger root, garlic, or lemongrass.
Misen makes knives in China, which can prove problematic for cooks. The steel is good enough for home cooking but professional cooks may prefer something more durable and that holds a better edge.Also, Misen doesn't offer much transparency about the materials they make their knives from. It's also unclear if the knives are made of one chunk of steel or two pieces that are forced together.
However, a Misen Knife offers a lot for the price. The 8-inch chef's knife is good enough to compete with other high-end knives even though it has no bolster and doesn't hold an edge forever.
Is Misen Cookware worth it?
Misen is a solid product to start with when starting to build up your kitchen. In fact, Misen proves you don't have to spend a lot of money to find well-built cooking tools and expertly designed kitchen utensils.
In general, the Misen Chef knife is sharp and holds the edge well. It handled big foods easily and I liked the way it was cut and diced. It's so durable it needs no sharpening for about 90 days. Overall this knife delivers. It is clear and easily cleaned and sharpened.
Also, Misen offers a lifetime of free sharpening so you can go ahead and use this knife as much as you like.
What should I look for when buying knives?
The steel: Soft steel takes on out more damage but is easier to sharpen while harder steel holds an edge longer, has swiffer sharpening time but cuts down on your arm strength.
The handle: Wood handles are classic in kitchen tools but they get dirty and need care and maintenance. Plastic handles are something you should avoid because they absorb germs and bacteria easily. Rubber doesn't offer as much comfort as wood does and metal is tough on many types of foods.
The bolster: A bolster provides stability and control as you cut. If a knife doesn't have a bolster, it's probably western style or Japanese style which can handle both right and left-handed users easily.
Weight: Weight is also important. Heavy knives are great for crushing but cause tired arms when chopping vegetables all day long. Light knives work well with tough meats and onions but are less strong to slice bread carefully.
Balance: Remember that the blade always needs more weight than the handle so it doesn't waver while cutting through foodstuffs.
What’s the difference between a German chef's knife and a Japanese knife?
Both knives are designed with a high carbon steel core for durability and a stainless substrate. Japanese knives are much thinner in design, allowing you to slice through food more easily while the German chef's knife has thicker edges so it's able to take on more carrots or potatoes in one chop.
Neither blade style is better than the other. Many professional cooks prefer the lighter weight of Japanese knives but many people like the heavier weight of German blades because they feel as if they're getting more power and control when chopping vegetables or cutting pork loin into medallions.
Another difference is the blade design. The Japanese knife features a flatter edge while the German blade has a curved contour along the length of its edge.
German blades are great because you can cut your food a bit faster but Japanese knives offer more mobility and control when slicing, dicing, or cutting with precision.
What makes an exceptional kitchen knife?
Some factors to consider are how it handles weight, whether it holds an edge easily and how easy it is to sharpen and clean. Also, some cooking tools feature specialties such as hollowed blades for easy chopping of green onions ( scallions) or cleavers for pounding meat down flat.
Remember that these are just guidelines to help you when choosing your knives so you can get rid of all the guesswork. Many manufacturers and retailers offer free sharpening for their products, so you should be able to test drive a knife at your local cooking store before buying it.
Final thoughts on Misen knives
Misen is a good knife brand with sharp blades and a comfortable handle. The knives have enough quality for home cooking as well as the commercial kitchen. However, there are more professional knives on the market that offer better quality steel, durability and are equipped with bolsters.
With that said, Misen is just perfect in terms of value for money so it’s definitely a company to keep in mind if this is important for you.
Finally, check out this Misen Pans review article if you’d like to know more about various products made by this company.
Among all the tools and gadgets that can fill a kitchen, knives are without a doubt the most personal and indispensable. Admire one in a chef's collection and prepare for an unsolicited earful of its history, but do not expect an offer for you to try it. My own collection is modest but I'm proud of it. Among them, my favorites are a Wüsthof Classic Cook's Knife and my Tadafusa santoku. The Wüsthof capably does everything from mincing a shallot to cutting up a chicken and the sharper blade angle of the santoku cuts through vegetables like a scalpel.
A new chef's knife from Misen promises the best of both knives, making giant-killer claims about innovative geometry, high-grade steel, a santoku-style blade angle, and free sharpening for life. Most impressively, it brags of what it calls the "honest price" of $65, a number that's less than half the price of the high-end knives it calls its competition.
Intrigued, I called one in to test. Misen started as a Kickstarter but is shipping its knives this fall. Days later, I had my chef's knife, my santoku, and the Misen chef's knife lined up next to one another on my cutting board. The most striking feature of the Misen was the side view, which looked a bit like both knives, combining the flatter belly of the santoku and both the handle and upward sweep at the tip of the chef's knife, a sort of westernized version of a Japanese knife known as a gyuto.
I bought a bag full of groceries to chop and declared the game afoot. The differences between the three knives were immediately apparent. While the Misen most resembles a traditional chef's knife, it doesn't really behave like one. The Wüsthof has a large, curving 'belly,' a German style that encourages a rocking cutting motion with the tip of the knife planted on the board, the back end moving up and down, while the whole thing slides back and forth with each stroke. The santoku style relies more on keeping its flatter blade parallel to the cutting board, gliding forward with each downward movement.
For me, the Misen often felt most comfortable using a santoku-style stroke. It was particularly noticeable when I was working my way through something tall like a wedge of cabbage or chopping up a pile of herbs. Try a stroke that allows the Wüsthof to power through that kind of work with the Misen and it'll feel like a flat thud every time the length of the blade hits the cutting board. That said, I felt confident that the best stroke for whatever I cut with the Misen would become apparent with use, and I'd get better with it over time.
In my three-knife showdown with a bag of groceries, the Misen never became my weapon of choice. The first thing I worked on was cutting bacon into a quarter-inch dice for a potato and leek soup. Cutting the thick slices into long strips was fine, but when I switched to the crosswise cut, things got ... dicey. The Wüsthof sliced through cleanly, creating nice, neat corners and edges. The Misen needed an awkwardly exaggerated stroke to get the same result, otherwise it slightly crushed the cubes. It had similar difficulty with the final strokes that cut a red pepper into the tiny cubes of a brunoise.
Like the Wüsthof, the Misen used its weight to slice easily through a russet potato and just like the Wüsthof, the slices stuck to the side of the knife with suction-cup force, a common problem my santoku sidestepped thanks to dimpling on the side of its blade. All three knives blazed through leeks and chives. The Wüsthof and the Misen both performed admirably cutting a chicken into pieces, including powering through the breastbone, something I wouldn't do with my santoku.
On the other hand, the santoku is my go-to knife for most veggies, unless it's something really firm that I need to lean into, but here I noted something peculiar. Misen touts its santoku-like 15-degree blade angle, as opposed to the wider angle of most chef's knives, but just like my Wüsthof, the Misen never felt like my scalpel-like santoku.
Despite these misgivings, that attractive price tag loomed large and I called a pair of bladesmiths to decode what was happening.
"Most people will evaluate their edge in the first 10 minutes of use," said Daniel O'Malley of Epicurean Edge in Kirkland, Washington, who explained that a diligent knife sharpener can put a fairly sharp edge on most knives, but poorer blades just won't hold that edge for long. "Really, what we should care about is how they feel about it 12 months down the line."
Over the phone, I steered O'Malley toward Misen's website, where the company talks about what makes its knife special and how it says the knives measure up against their higher-priced competition. He went quiet for a while.
The first thing bladesmith O'Malley got hung up on was the kind of steel Misen uses. There's nothing special about AUS-8, O'Malley says. It's mid-level Japanese steel. He got hung up again on the percent of carbon Misen uses in its comparison: 0.8 percent in the Misen versus 0.6 percent in the competition. "Carbon's just one player," O'Malley says. "Too much carbon makes it brittle. They're playing loose and fast with what 'premium' means."
The makeup of a knife's steel determines characteristics like how well it takes and holds an edge, and how rust-resistant it is. More carbon makes a blade harder, which is generally a good thing, but more likely to rust, which means you have to dote on it a bit more. Molybdenum, for example, is another hardener that also makes a blade less brittle. The composition is a balancing act. My Wusthöf blade, for example, is made of the well-respected X50CrMoV15 compound, which creates a knife with a good edge and great corrosion resistance. It's a 56 on the Rockwell scale of hardness, pretty much the lowest you want to go on that scale. Misen claims an impressive score of 58-59. Most knives in the low 60s will retail at close to $150 and often much more.
"Really, though," said O'Malley. "Misen's innovation is on price, and 65 dollars is what I'd expect for a well-made knife out of China." While Misen's four-page site mentions Japanese steel three times, there's no mention of China, so I emailed a representative who replied that, "the primary manufacturing partners for heat treatment, assembly, polishing, sharpening and other knife construction processes are located in China."
O'Malley had already expressed warnings about Chinese-made knives; most of them tend not to maintain the hardness they claim. Suddenly, things felt a little loose and fast for a knife claiming to stack up with $140 knives.
Wheel of Pain
O'Malley was about to get on a plane for a week-long knife-making trip to Japan, so he put me in touch with master bladesmith Bill Burke in Idaho in an effort to peer 12 months down the line.
Burke's findings were damning. He used a Rockwell hardness tester to verify Misen's hardness claims.
"The performance of this knife is very lacking," Burke says. "Just on par with an old Chicago Cutlery piece. Hardness tested at 51.5 [Rockwell] at the heel, 51 mid point, then going up to 56 near the tip."
Chicago Cutlery slight aside, the results were so surprising, the hardness so much lower than the 58-59 that Misen claims, that Burke recalibrated his machine and re-tested using a different method, but it produced the same results. He even ran the machine one more time on an industry-standardized block of steel, which came out exactly where it should have.
Burke realized that the varying hardness numbers—not a good thing—were likely the result of improper heat treatment and cooling, meaning the thicker parts of the blade would be softer. (See my photo.) This means that while you could put a decent edge on it, like you could do with any knife, it would dull quickly and have the very undesirable trait of becoming worse with every sharpening, as you worked into the thicker, softer center of the knife.
Once Burke started testing how it cut, he texted me a picture of the blister that was forming on his finger where it came in contact with the spine of the knife. He also found edge angle discrepancies with Misen's claims, which explained why I was having chef's knife-style results instead of something more like a santoku. He also performed a blade-cutting test that involved a scale to learn how much pressure was necessary to repeatedly cut through a hemp rope. He compared it with a pair of Japanese knives that retail for $129 to $189, and those needed only 10 to 22 pounds of pressure over the course of repeated cuts. The Misen needed between 19 and 32 pounds. The Chicago Cutlery knife, which Burke bought for $12 at Walmart, needed almost the same pressure as the Misen—between 21 and 32 pounds.
We reached out to Misen, and the company says it was surprised to learn of our results from the hardness tests. Misen says it aims for a hardness of 58-59 for its knives, and that when the batches of steel were tested for hardness during production, each batch fell within this range. As for our findings about the edge angle, the company says its edges are hand-sharpened, so some variance is to be expected. The company says that over time it will tighten the tolerance ranges for hand-grinding, and that in time, consumers will see less variance from the 15-degree goal.
It's also worth noting that O'Malley runs a knife shop and Burke makes knives, so to a very small extent Misen, which sells knives direct from its website, is a form of competition.
In the end, it made me think of cars. At home, I had my Wüsthof, which felt like a dependable, tank-like Mercedes E-Class. Next to it was my Miata-esque santoku for when I wanted something a bit more sporty. The bladesmiths' warnings about the Misen gave me feeling like it was a car that looked and handled great when you drove it off the lot, but ended up spending a lot of time in the shop, something like a Ford Probe.
My advice? If you're short on cash and need a chef's knife in a hurry, try the Forschner/Victorinox Fibrox, which you can get for around $40. If you've got a bit more money but still less than $100, try the hybrid style with a Mac Superior or the Tojiro DP. And if you want something like my Wüsthof, it's pretty easy to find on sale for less than a C-note.
Food writer Joe Ray (@joe_diner) is a Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of The Year, a restaurant critic, and author of "Sea and Smoke" with chef Blaine Wetzel.
RS Recommends: How to Find a Good Kitchen Knife Online
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A good-quality knife is an crucial part of any kitchen arsenal. But home cooks don’t need to shell out hundreds for professional chefs knives better suited for a five-star restaurant. What if you just want to chop some lettuce for your salad, or debone chicken thighs and get dinner on the table at a reasonable hour?
The best kitchen knives give you the versatility of chef’s knives—letting you cut into meat, chop veggies, and even slice bread—in a more accessible package. Sure, there are a variety of solid knife sets out there, but sometimes you don’t need all the extra steak knives and cooking shears (and every other variety that comes in a set). You need a do-it-all, workhorse tool you can reach for to make a meal without piling up the sink with dishes.
If you’re looking for that one special knife, we’ve got you covered. There’s still a lot to know if you’re going to invest in a kitchen knife, especially if you’re a novice cook. After all, the best knives can last for years with proper sharpening and maintenance, so here’s how to find your best culinary companion without having to break out an entire bulky set.
What to Know Before Buying a Kitchen Knife
You should really do your research thoroughly before getting a kitchen knife you know you’ll use daily. Everything from the origins of the knife’s materials, to the weight and grip of the handle can make a big impact when you get down to slicing and dicing. Since you won’t be able to test these knives out yourself, if you’re shopping online, here are the most important factors to look for in a new kitchen knife.
German vs. Japanese: When it comes to kitchen knives, the two main categories are German (otherwise known as ‘Western’) and Japanese-style knives, but it really comes down to cooking style and personal preference. German blades tend to be thicker, and their unique curve is better suited for rocking motions (think, mincing garlic). They’re also heavy and thick enough to cut through chicken bones, but their soft blades mean you’ll have to sharpen them more often. Japanese blades are harder, and therefore can tend to chip and crack, but they’re also incredibly lightweight, with a sharp blade that’s perfect for precision cutting.
Hardness: If you’re buying the knife online, see if the brand lists the blade’s hardness. The Rockwell hardness scale is used to calculate the texture of knives—low to mid 50s is generally softer, while mid-50s to low-60s is harder.
Materials: Look for knives that feature all, or mostly stainless steel blades, since those will last the longest. Knives with a full “tang” are actually made from high-quality steel that run the full length of the knife from tip to hilt. A full tang can help maintain balance, but if you’re a beginner it’s not necessary. Knife handles vary in quality, but it does make a difference in handling, so it’s up to personal preference. Depending on whether the handle is steel, wood, or plastic, the weight and durability can be different.
Grip: Speaking of handles, you may want to look for a specific ergonomic handle if you know you’ll be doing a lot of carving, or heavy-duty chopping. But a simple, solid handle can allow for more versatility with your knife cuts (you can hold it in more positions), so again, the choice is yours.
Length: Most kitchen knife handles range from five to nine inches long, although some go up to 12 inches. You should pick a length according to the size of your hand, since the knife should fit securely in your palm, with enough room for maneuvering.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up our top picks for the best kitchen knives that anyone can use, regardless of culinary skill.
1. Misen Chef’s Knife
Wannabe chefs might spring for a Wüsthof—but in-the-know home cooks recognize that Misen Chef’s Knife performs just as well as the bigger players, all at a fraction of the cost.
The direct-to-consumer may be known for their affordable kitchen tools, but they make an almost legendary chef’s knife as well. Their knife is made from AICHI AUS-10 stainless steel (Japanese-style) that’s super sharp, and durable enough for you to de-bone meats like a pro. The company says it offers longer lasting sharpness than similar brands (about 30%-50% more), so won’t have to worry about sending it back too often for a tune-up.
Experienced chefs will appreciate that the blade is sharpened to a 15-degree angle, which is more than traditional Western-style knives, and delicate enough to slice thin ribbons of basil. But home cooks and casual beginners will also get a lot of milage from the unique sloped bolster, which helps you naturally master the “pinch grip” you’re supposed to use when cutting.
Although it’s Japanese-style, it’s on the heavier side at around half a pound. That being said, it truly is the best of both worlds, with enough heft to manage well, and a blade sharp enough for precision slicing. If you only buy one knife for your kitchen, this should be it.
Buy:Misen Chef's Knife at$65
2. Shun Classic 8-Inch Chef’s Knife
BEST FOR PRECISION
Shun’s elegant knife is used by professional chefs everywhere, with a precision blade that’s backed by more than 100 years of Japanese tradition. The knives themselves are handcrafted in Seki City, combining Japanese tradition with modern advancements to create a knife made for intricate cutting.
The blade is made from a stainless steel formula exclusive to Shun, which includes cobalt and carbon for extra durability, chromium to protect against corrosion, and tungsten for a sharper edge. Shun’s knife also features Damascus steel cladding to make cuts even sharper, and also adds an elegant marbled look to the sides. The metal is also heat-treated so your blade stays razor sharp, longer.
While the handle is less ergonomic than the other knives on our list, the pakkawood material makes it sturdy, with a D-shape that fits well in the palm (one drawback: it’s mainly made for right-handed users). This also gives you a lot of grip versatility to make smaller, more delicate cuts, like preparing fish for sushi, or fine dices.
Buy:Shun Classic 8at$159.95
3. Mercer Culinary Millennia 12-Inch Knife
Mercer’s 12-inch knife is one of the greatest knives for the most average cooks—and we mean that in the best way. This accessible knife is below the price point of most high-end kitchen knives, but it excels in comfort and durability, but its length makes it useful for kitchen newbies and hardcore chefs alike.
The knife’s blade is made from a high-carbon Japanese stainless steel, that gives it a razor-sharp edge (and also resists rust and discoloration). In fact, reviews say that the knife can stand up to years of daily home use without fading, or getting too dull from washing. The blade has quite the edge, and it stays that way even if you’re cutting into a pineapple, or digging into tough steaks.
What we like: when you have a knife as long as this, the grip on Mercer’s knife is what really makes it stand out. The handle is ergonomically-designed, with textured finger points that provide great slip resistance. A combination of Santoprene (almost like rubber) and polypropylene (plastic) gives you enough grip to make it through cutting pounds of onions, while remaining durable.
The knife is well-built for sure, but a little longer than most kitchen knives, at 12 inches, which some may find too bulky for finer work. That being said, Mercer’s knife is a great value for the home cook that wants a solid performance out of their knife every time.
Buy:Mercer Culinary Millennia 12-Inch Knife at$23.49
4. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Kitchen Knife
A high-quality German option is this chef’s knife from Zwilling. As an old, established brand you expect their knives to pull some big punches—and they absolutely do. An all-around powerhouse, the weight and balance of this thoughtfully-designed knife are incredibly even.
Speaking of weight: at just 0.6 pounds, the Zwilling knife is definitely on the lighter side for a Western-style knife. Combined with its 15-degree edge, this just means you can utilize it for more precision tasks too, like chiffonade cuts. With a 57 Rockwell hardness, it’s tough enough to retain its edge in between honings.
The Zwilling blade is made from a specially-designed high-carbon steel, and the blade is hardened in ice for a rock-solid construction. The ergonomic handle is similar to Shun’s, with a D-shape for comfortable grip, welded to the single-steel piece full tang. At eight inches, the length is right in the sweet spot for most people.
This knife is a top-notch upgrade if you’re just getting into cooking, with enough heft for tougher jobs (think, cutting through a whole butternut squash) and versatility for a lighter finesse, regardless of skill level.
Buy:ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Kitchen Knife at$107.99
Misen Knives Product Overview
Misen started with a single chef’s knife after an impressive Kickstarter campaign in 2015. Now the brand sells a steak knife set and six different kitchen knives, including:
- Chef’s knife
- Paring knife
- Utility knife
- Santoku knife
- Short chef’s knife
- Serrated knife
Misen knives promise the same excellent quality and functionality as premier knives but less than half the price.
Their knives are all made in China with AUS-10 steel. This is a relatively new type of steel that is produced by a Japanese company called Aichi Steel. This material is highly sought after for knives and cookware because of its high carbon steel content.
The high carbon content makes these knives more long-lasting for everyday use and repeated sharpening. But it also means more effort in the care and maintenance department because carbon steel is more prone to rusting than stainless.
Most Misen knives come with a 15-degree blade angle. This angle is more acute than the typical 25-degree angle you find on most Western knives. The acute angle means that Misen knives are sharper and cut with more precision.
All Misen knives are full tang utensils with smooth, ergonomic synthetic handles. They are available in blue, black, gray, and salmon.
Misen talks a big game about their well-priced knives, but do they live up to the hype?
I had a chance to try the Misen Essentials Kit, which included a chef’s knife, paring knife, and serrated knife. Keep reading to see my full Misen knives review to find out if these knives are indeed a cut above or just another dull deal.
In addition to knives, Misen also sells cookware and prep tools. The intention behind all their products is the same: create premiere quality utensils and sell them at a more reasonable price by cutting out the middlemen.
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How Misen Knives Perform
The Essentials Kit from Misen is the perfect introduction to their knife products.
The highly versatile chef’s knife can handle most of your dinner prep needs. The serrated blade is perfect for crusty bread and fruits and veggies with hard skin and soft flesh. And the paring knife is nice to have on hand for peeling, coring, and manipulating fruits and vegetables in a more precise manner.
So how did these knives perform? Keep reading to find out.
It is clear from the moment you pick these knives up that they are not your typical bargain-priced utensils.
For one, they are heavy. The handle and tang have a substantial weight to them that is nicely balanced by the length and breadth of the blade. This weight gives the immediate sense that these are well-made knives that are built to last.
Beyond the weight, these knives have an incredibly comfortable feel. The finish is smooth in every sense of the word. The handles are neither too bulky nor too thin.
Each knife also features a sloped bolster that helps encourage the correct grip. As the included directions explain, these knives are meant to be gripped high, with your thumb and forefinger placed above the bolster. This grip gives you ultimate control over the movement of the blade that isn’t possible on knives with the more typical hard-edged bolster.
I’ve never had a knife that I loved so much just because of how comfortable it felt in my hand.
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I was equally impressed with the cutting performance of these knives.
The weight and balance add a lot to their performance and take the effort out of cutting anything. And, when you use the correct grip, these knives give you great control.
Equally crucial to a knife’s performance is how sharp the blade is.
Misen brags about the unique 15-degree angle of their blades. This acute cut should give them a razor-sharp edge that cuts with the precision of a scalpel.
While I didn’t get the sense that the blades were quite that sharp or precise, they performed well.
The chef’s knife was sharp enough to slice through the tough skin of tomatoes without squishing the tender flesh inside. It had no problem tackling thick carrots, corn on the cob, or any other hard veggies I threw at it. And it quickly minced green onions and garlic without much effort.
The other knives performed equally well for their slated tasks. I especially liked how effortlessly the serrated knife cut through tender tomatoes.
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It did take some experimentation to get the correct cutting motion for the chef’s knife. It has a shape somewhere between a German-style chef’s knife and a santoku knife. The proper cutting motion, not surprisingly, is somewhere in between the two—a lift with a slight rock.
Once I got used to this motion, I was able to cut quicker and more efficiently than with my cheaper chef’s knife.
Overall, I was impressed with the performance of these knives. However, I am skeptical that the blade edge is as fine or as uniformly sharp as it is marketed to be.
Like most premium knives, Misen does not recommend putting these knives into the dishwasher. The high carbon content of the AUS-10 steel does make them more prone to rust, so this is probably good advice to follow.
Luckily, these knives are easy enough to clean by hand. The handles are perfectly smooth without gaps or cracks around the rivets or tang. And the sloped bolster means there are no right angles for food to get caught in.
All I needed was a little soap and water and a clean towel to keep these knives looking great through my weeks of testing.
With the right care, I expect these knives to last for a long, long time.
Alternatives to Misen Knives
Misen knives offer a great compromise between quality and price. But if you are looking for truly premiere knives or a much more affordable set, you have some options.
For the serious chef, the Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife is about as good as you can get. This classic is hand-honed, incredibly sharp, and built to last. But it will cost you quite a bit more than the Misen chef’s knife. Wüsthof knives are available in every shape and size as well as sets.
If you are looking for something more affordable, the Imarku Chef Knife is a good choice. These high-carbon steel knives are more durable than others in their price range and highly functional. The grip isn’t as comfortable as high-end products, but they will get the job done. Imarku knives are also available in multiple models and sets.
|Material||AUD-10 high-carbon steel||High-carbon stainless steel tempered to 58-degree HRC||Stainless steel with increased carbon steel content|
|Warranty||Lifetime warranty||Limited-lifetime warranty||180-day warranty|
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Things to Consider Before Buying a Premiere Knife Set
A nice set of knives can transform your food prep experience. But how nice those knives need to be and what features they should have will depend on your expectations. Here are a few things to consider before investing in a new knife set.
- Durability. Even cheap knives can be functional and fun to use, at first. But lower-quality knives tend to dull quickly, rust easily, and break after repeated use. Premiere knives will cost more but are likely to last you years.
- Frequency of use. If you only use your knives a few times per week, a quality, affordable knife set is likely to be all you need. But if you find yourself cooking frequently, a premiere set is a much better investment.
- Available options. Most brands offer different types of knives and set sizes. Some even have knife handles in multiple colors and add-ons like blade covers.
Misen Knives Review – Conclusion
A good set of knives can be the difference between dreading cooking dinner and looking forward to the task.
Misen knives offer the experience of premiere knives without the inflated price. These quality knives are insanely comfortable, well-balanced, and functional enough to tackle any task.
To see what knife options are available from Misen or if you want to pick a set out for yourself, click here.
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About The Author
Sara Seitz is a freelance writer and novelist. She lives with her husband and wildling toddler in Colorado where she spends her days working on their house, gardening, and reconnecting with nature.
Review misen knives
The Victorinox Fibrox Pro isn’t full tang, meaning the metal of the stainless-steel blade doesn’t extend all the way to the base of the handle—generally said to indicate a lower-quality, less-sturdy knife. For such an inexpensive tool, however, that isn’t a cause for concern; it still produces beautiful knife work. It’s smart to have an inexpensive chef’s knife around—one that’s low-maintenance and can take a trip through the dishwasher. As test kitchen director Chris Morocco told us, “It’s probably the best chef’s knife out there for the money. It’s one we keep around the test kitchen and it sharpens nicely.” Sold.
How we tested chef’s knives
The first step in evaluating a knife is getting a feel for the tool: We looked for an ergonomic knife with balanced weight. We some spent time with each of the 17 chef’s knives we tested just holding them in our hands, observing the quality of the metal and sharpened edge, the feel of the handle, and the overall weight of the knife. We then used each knife to chop raw sweet potatoes and onions and mince a pile of herbs. We evaluated the knives on the following factors.
1. How heavy is the knife?
To some extent the ideal weight of a chef’s knife is a matter of personal preference. If you tend to use a rocking motion while cutting, a heavier knife with a curved blade will keep your hand stable in one place; if you prefer a slicing motion, a light thin-bladed knife will be easier to maneuver back and forth. As a team, we preferred a lightweight knife.
2. How thin is the blade? What shape is it?
From the start we were looking for a thin, razor-sharp blade, which makes slicing easier and smoother and also weighs less overall. In testing we found that we preferred the flatter belly characteristic of a Japanese or French knife more than the pronounced curve of a German-style knife; the latter is more conducive to rocking and requires a bit more force. Thinner blades do have a catch, however: “Chips are going to happen to any knife after a while, especially to ones that are thinner and have less metal behind the edge when you’re slicing through tough vegetables like butternut squash,” Morocco says. You can combat this by taking extra care of your knife and having it sharpened regularly.
3. How does the handle feel? How responsive is the knife?
Naturally, we wanted a knife with a comfortable handle, which we interpreted as lightweight and smooth rather than heavy and long. When it comes to responsiveness, Morocco explains that you want a knife that feels “alive in your hand.” You can determine the responsiveness by tapping the blade against the cutting board or counter—a responsive knife will vibrate in your hand. When you chop something, you’ll feel like you have greater control over the cutting motion and more of a connection with the knife.
4. How sharp is it? How effectively does it slice through tough vegetables?
We sliced through raw sweet potatoes to test each knife’s sharpness and smoothness. We didn’t want blades that would catch on the veggies—we wanted the clean, easy slicing that comes from the sharpest chef’s knives. We also tested onions to examine the knives’ precision when slicing and dicing. Certain knives yielded thinner, more even, and more precise slices than others.
5. How does the knife handle delicate herbs?
In addition to handling the heft and toughness of something like a potato, we wanted a knife that could handle mincing herbs without crushing them. A good chef’s knife shouldn’t muddle or mash a pile of parsley.
6. What’s the finish quality like?
How nice is the steel? How are the transitions between blade and handle? Is the handle made of a high-quality material? Is the blade smooth and even? Again, understanding the difference between a German-style knife and a Japanese one is important here: German knives tend to have a thick cuff, or bolster, that runs between the knife blade and the handle. This makes the knife heavier and better suited for rocking motions. We ultimately liked a smoother transition without the cuff as it resulted in a lighter knife that made for an easy and comfortable slicing motion.
Other chef’s knives we tested
The Misen chef’s knife ($65) is a good option for people who prefer a heavier knife. It has a thinner blade than many German-style knives and a half bolster, which makes it easy to choke up on the blade. Ultimately, we found it was a bit too heavy and not as nicely finished as we wanted, but it handled the job of cutting through hefty vegetables just fine.
Kitchen knives don't have to be expensive to be good, but quality knives are among the most important purchases a chef will make, right up there with quality cookware. If you're serious about cooking, you should take some time to build a small, deliberate collection or find a preassembled set of sharp and sturdy kitchen knives that will do the job, feel comfortable in your hand and last for years. Direct-to-consumer knives generally give you a bit more bang for your buck, so we've wrapped our fingers around some of the best kitchen knives you can buy online in case you're looking to upgrade your blades.
Speaking of which, if you're still contemplating whether or not you should spring for a nice set or improve your current kitchen knives, let me save you some trouble. You should. You may use your Dutch oven, cast-iron skillet or pots and pans often but I can almost guarantee you don't use anything as often as your knives, so definitely find some you really love. Personally, I've found that great kitchen knives not only enhance my abilities as a cook but also make the experience of cooking more enjoyable. All of that inspires me to cook more often, which means saving money and eating better, so the butterfly effect from leveling up your kitchen knives may actually be more significant than you'd think.
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But deciding that you need good knives is the easy part; finding the best kitchen knives in an endless sea of choices takes a bit more work. There are seemingly endless knife brands to choose from, all made in different styles and from different materials and sold at wildly disparate prices. Direct-to-consumer suppliers generally offer quality cutlery at better prices than third-party retailers, even if you're not as familiar with some of these sharp new startups. Even better -- and just our little secret -- you don't really need that 15- or even 10-piece knife set you find in most stores. So instead of plopping down hundreds on a bloated set from the mall, find a few knives or a well-chosen set online that will give your slicing and dicing a serious boost.
And if you're looking for consumer brands that are more widely available through major retailers, we have you covered with our overall list of best chef's knives.
How is direct-to-consumer different?
It's natural to think that less expensive kitchen knives and cookware are somehow inherently lower in quality, but that's not the case with direct-to-consumer knives. Much of the cost of traditional knives and cookware comes by way of distribution and all its inherent costs: marketing, shipping logistics, storefront costs. Products pass through the hands of resellers, distributors and retailers, all of whom add a markup to the base price in order to make money. By the time knives land in a store, the price has increased dramatically and you end up paying a whole lot more than what the knives cost to make.
The consumer kitchen knife market skips the aforementioned distribution chain, bypassing the middlemen and going straight to the customer. This often means you have to buy the products online (unless the supplier has an outlet or flagship store), but the upside is you're getting the same high-quality goods without added costs.
Types of kitchen knives
As you might imagine, you can buy almost any type of knife directly from these brands, including full knife sets. A more important question you should start with is, What type of knives do I actually need? The answer depends somewhat on the type of cooking you're planning to do. If you are an avid fisherman, for example, who will be preparing your catch regularly, that might require a different set of knives (and skills) than someone who is mostly preparing meal kits from Blue Apron or recipes from a cookbook. That said, there are some knives that you'll absolutely want in your arsenal, and a good chef's knife sits firmly at the top of this list.
Chef's knife:This is the most important and versatile knife you'll own. If you have enough money to buy just one good knife, this is the one to get. Chef's knives are very sharp, with (typically) about an 8-inch blade, but you can find them in bigger and smaller sizes too. A chef's knife can be used for chopping, slicing, mincing, trimming (e.g. fat) and a whole lot more. Chef's knives also generally have a bit of heft but some brands make smaller and lighter versions, as we'll explore in the details below.
Santoku knife:A santoku knife is similar to a chef's knife, with some slight variations. The style is Japanese in origin. While they are usually about the same length as a standard chef's knife or just a little shorter, santoku knives are generally lighter and have a thinner blade with a dull back spine and no sharp tip. The thinner blade aids in more refined slicing and dicing, so if you work with lots of fish or certain types of vegetables, a santoku is nice to have, but you can absolutely get away with just a good chef's knife. Many santoku knives also have what's called a Granton edge -- those small divots or scallops on the blade -- to prevent food from sticking.
Utility knife:These versatile little knives are generally about 4 to 7 inches long, and you can think of a utility knife as being like a mini chef's knife for jobs that require more dexterity. Utility knives are great for getting into tighter spaces and working sharp angles, or for cutting smaller fruits and vegetables with greater precision. You'll want a utility knife if you're looking to make a specific type of cut for aesthetic purposes, too, as with an avocado or tomato for a pretty summer salad. Utility knives can be serrated but are more often not.
Paring knife:Paring knives are similar to utility knives, although generally a bit smaller. They are also great for intricate cuts, as in making garnishes for food or cocktails or taking the seeds out of fruits. You typically don't need both a paring knife and a utility knife, but if a set includes both it's certainly not a bad thing.
Serrated or bread knife:This one is likely self-explanatory. A long serrated knife is ideal for cutting into soft things like crusty bread or large, ripe tomatoes. You don't need to spend a ton of money on a serrated knife as long as it's functional and feels good in your hand. Chances are you won't need to sharpen it as often either.
Boning knife:If you don't do a ton of deboning of meats or filleting of fish, this knife may not get a lot of use, but it's nice to have when you need it. The blade is generally a bit more flexible so it can adhere to the curvature of whatever you're working with and get under skin and around bones. Boning knives can also be used to peel fruits and vegetables in a pinch.
Kitchen shears:I have a little secret: After my chef's knife, I probably use kitchen shears more than anything else in my knife block. I love how dexterous they are so you can get right into a stir-fry and cut up any big pieces you missed or trim chicken and other meats safely and in seconds. Though not technically a knife, make sure your new set of blades includes a pair of shears, or buy a pair separately.
What to look for when buying knives
There are a lot of fancy, flowery adjectives and descriptors floating around when it comes to knife construction, materials and design. Confusing as it may seem, there are really just a few things that are actually important to know and will greatly simplify the knife-buying process.
Blade material:Most knives are made from stainless-steel composite and that's the first thing you should be looking for. Some knives are made from slightly stronger carbon steel but beware: They will rust and stain and if you're not diligent about upkeep they may not be worth it. Ceramic knives are also an option, but they are much more likely to chip or break and prove more difficult to both care for and sharpen -- and a sharp knife blade is essential.
Blade construction:Forged stainless-steel knives are ones that have been crafted from an individual piece of metal and are generally considered to be of better quality and stronger construction. Forged steel knives will also keep their sharp edge for longer (again, no one wants a dull knife). Stamped knives are punched out of a flattened sheet of stainless steel. Stamped knives are generally lighter, weaker and overall lower-quality. They may not hold their edge as well.
Full tang:This is another construction term to look for when buying knives online or in a store. A full tang means the metal from the blade extends through the length of the handle (you can often see it but if not, be sure to research). A full tang gives you better balance and also more strength and durability against the pressure and torque of daily use.
Handles:The type of handle is more up to your own personal preference with regard to feel, fit and comfort. Wooden handles are beautiful but can wear out faster and might stain or discolor. Metal handles -- often made from aluminum -- are sturdy but not terribly comfortable and can cause your hand to tire and ache faster. I personally like composite handles, which are a mix of synthetic plastics and are the most popular material used by modern knife producers. Composites come in a variety of aesthetics, too, including sheer, matte and bone. They're durable and often comfortable to grip.
Trying knives you've bought online
There's no substitute for holding a knife in your hand. Most of these direct-to-consumer knife companies are aware of that and so offer risk-free home trials, which we wholly encourage you to take advantage of. We'll call out the specifics in each description, but most allow you to try the knives for at least 30 days and then send them back if they're not to your satisfaction.
So, are you ready? Grab your cutting board and ready the knife block; here are the best direct-to-consumer kitchen knives for 2021. We update this list periodically.
The best direct-to-consumer knives for 2021
Best overall kitchen knives
Made InMade In
Made In is our favorite direct-to-consumer cookware brand, but it makes some excellent kitchen knives too. The 8-inch chef's knife ($89) is on the heavier side (which I happen to like) and feels solid in your hand while still affording plenty of dexterity for whatever job you've got in front of you. These knives are also sharp -- probably the sharpest on the list, in fact.
Beyond the sleek chef's knife, Made In sells a 7-inch santoku knife ($99), as well as a paring knife and serrated utility knife duo. Each is made from fully forged, nitrogen-treated steel and sports a full tang through the handle. The full set of four knives, available in red, black and gray, is $275 and can be paid for in installments. You'll have 45 days from delivery to return your knives if you're not satisfied.
Best affordable 3-piece knife set
Material KitchenMaterial Kitchen
Material Kitchen is another producer of DTC cookware -- including some frying pans we really dig. The brand also makes sturdy kitchen knives you can order directly and are my top pick for the best affordable 3-piece kitchen knife set with all the essentials.
Though it's a full 8 inches long, Material Kitchen's chef's knife is a bit slimmer and lighter than those from Made In and a few others in the category. It has a smooth composite handle with a matte finish and is very comfortable to grip. The 8-inch chef's knife clocks in at just $75, while the 6-inch serrated utility knife goes for $60 and the paring knife, which they call the "Almost Knife," sells for $50. You can get the trio of kitchen knives for $155.
Beyond the knives, Material offers a pair of sturdy kitchen shears and a sharpener. The knives are available in four colors: black, bone white, blush pink and gray. Material Kitchen will allow you to try the knives for 30 days risk-free. You can also add a knife sharpener ($15) or a handsome blade stand ($75) -- a must for keeping your new knives sharp and available, in walnut or black.
Misen has a small collection of impressive knives made from a material called Aichi AUS-10 steel, which has a higher carbon content. That means these knives should theoretically be a bit stronger than others in the category. The knives also have a good heft if that's what you're looking for. There is also something about the ergonomic blade and design of Misen's blades and also the soft matte finish of their blue, black or gray handles that we just love.
Misen's 8-inch chef's knife goes for a reasonable $65, but the brand also makes a santoku (also $65), a larger-than-normal utility knife ($45), a paring knife ($30) and serrated bread knife ($60). The Misen Essentials Set features the chef's knife, paring knife and serrated knife all for just $130, which is a good price for three quality knives. The full set of five Misen kitchen knives will run you $200.
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