Misono Knives (UX10) are our choice for best overall Japanese knives on the market today. The knives have excellent balance, are scary sharp out of the box and are very pleasing to the eye. Other than cost, there is no downside to these special knives. These are difficult to find but several online cutlery dealers carry a good selection of these superb knives. This is our overall favorite Japanese brand. A-
Masahiro Knives: get runner up honors for best Japanese kitchen knives we have tested. The line is new for 2007. Masahiro's MVH's thin blade is constructed from MBS-26 stainless steel which we found to be easy to sharpen and holds its edge very well. The cutting edge is asymmetrical: 80% on the right side of the blade and 20% on the left side, then polished to a mirror finish. This tapered style edge takes pressure off food for a perfect finished cut. Because of the asymmetrical edge, these knives are only suitable for right handed users. The handles are incredibly smooth and rounded using a composite resin handle which feels great in your hand, plus it's much longer lasting than wood options. Overall we like these knives very much. They are also less expensive than Misono knives. If you are left handed, you should consider something else. A-
Masamoto Knives (VG) are renowned in Japan among Sushi Chefs and other professionals. They developed
the VG line to be geared toward the western market and the knives are outstanding. Masamoto knives are
very hard to find but they are worth the effort. Masamoto uses a combination of Cobalt, Molybdenum and Vanadium and we found the steel to be excellent for edge retention and surprisingly easy to resharpen. Fit and finish are good but there are no English care instructions, only Japanese. We think these knives are a step above Mac, Global and Hattori but below Misono. We give this a grade of A-.
Shun Knives (Classic). These are excellent quality knives and are more readily available. Shun is distinctive for their Damascus style blades and D shaped handles that fit snugly into the hand. Shun has one main advantage over many other Japanese knife manufacturers since they give a lifetime warranty on their knives. One disadvantage is that you need to have either a right or left handed version so knife sharing is not an option for households with both a right and left handed person. Overall we give this line an B+.
Mac Knives are the value choice in this segment. Mac consistently gets high ratings in national magazines because they offer great knives at a good price. Once people own a Mac knife they tell their friends and Mac has benefited greatly from word of mouth buzz. If you are looking to build a collection of high quality knives at a good price these are the ticket. They do not perform as well as the Misono or Shun but the difference is not substantial. B
Global Knives have been available in the US market for 10 years. Their distinctive style is easily recognizable by their stainless steel handles with small black dots. The knives are good quality and are both lightweight and easy to resharpen. Many professionals love them for this reason. They are also reasonably priced and come with a 5 year warranty. We like these knives very much and if you like the style, Global knives are a great choice. B
Hattori Knives (HD) are well liked by professionals. Like the Shun, Hattori uses Damascus steel which is very attractive. They are super sharp out of the box, perhaps the sharpest knives we have tested. However there are a couple drawbacks. First, the knives are in short supply. Second, the knives have no warranty which is generally not a problem but we have occasionally had complaints that the edges are somewhat fragile so if you chip the edge you are on your own. For these reasons we think it is wise to choose from the other knives above for most home cooks. B
Hiromoto Knives are somewhat obscure knives and are the least popular in the United States compared to the
others. However we really like the edge retention on these knives. They have a unique water mark on the blade which separates the 2 types of metal used on the knife. This allows for easier sharpening and we also find this an attractive feature. If you can find them, we think these knives make excellent additions to your kitchen. Handle fit and finish is uneven. B-