Being one of the most established knife manufacturers in the world, Kai Knives has cemented itself as an industry leader with over 100 years of experience. The company is based in Japan’s Seki City, which is known for knife manufacturing.
Kai Knives combine affordability and functionality, making them a favorable option for pretty much any kitchen. But since there are dozens of models out there, picking the right one for your particular needs can be tricky.
For over 15 years, I’ve used a wide range of knives from dozens of manufacturers and tested them under all conditions. And Based on my expertise as a knife enthusiast, I’ve shortlisted 7 of the best Kai knives you can use.
If I had to pick a favorite, I’d go for the Kai Wasabi, simply because it’s comfortable to use and has an extra sharp blade. So, on that note, let’s get into it right away and review each of the knives in detail.
The Kai Wasabi Black Chef’s Knife boasts a 1K6 high-carbon stainless steel blade, which provides you with unmatched edge retention. What’s more, the blade has excellent corrosion resistance properties, thanks to the high chromium content in its blend.
With the very impressive Rockwell Hardness of 58, the Wasabi can handle anything you throw at it. In addition, the polypropylene handle is pretty sturdy and provides a solid grip, and its blend contains bamboo, providing it with antibacterial properties.
Additionally, the Wasabi integrates a full-tang design that ensures top-notch performance and ease of use even with increased hand pressure.
The only downside to this knife is that it doesn’t have a bolster. Nevertheless, this can be a good thing depending on your preference. Knives that don’t have a bolster allow you to use the entire cutting edge at the expense of compromised strength and durability.
The Shun Classic 8-Inch Kiritsuke Kitchen Knife is yet another high-end knife from Kai that takes food cutting to the next level. The blade is made of VG-MAX steel, with a whopping 68 layers of Damascus cladding, providing excellent sharpness and edge retention properties.
Even when the edge starts to get a bit dull, the Shun Kiritsuke is very easy to sharpen with any stone. Plus, the slightly rounded belly allows you to make rocking cuts effortlessly.
The handle is made of pakkawood, a resin-infused material that resembles the feel of natural wood, thus making it durable, water-resistant, and far from slippery. Plus, the D-shaped design fits nicely in your hand, offering an exquisite grip.
The downside here is that the blade is over-hardened, which compromises the knife’s toughness.
The Kai 8-Inch Pro Chef’s Knife offers you the functionality of a chef’s knife at a very attractive price. Sporting a full-tang design, the Kai Pro can handle anything you throw at it, even when applying high pressure. In addition, the knife’s design ensures more balance.
The blade is made of AUS6M steel, which has similar properties to 440C steel. And while this isn’t necessarily a high-end material, I’ve found the Kai Pro knife to perform pretty well in everyday use.
The 16° double-bevel blade is hand-sharpened, and resharpening it is very easy since the AUS6M steel has excellent resharpening properties.
The blade’s hammered finish minimizes knife drag and makes food release a whole lot easier. Not to mention, it looks spectacular.
The icing on top is that the handle is made of riveted POM, making the knife even more stable and easier to grip and use.
The Kai 10-Inch Pro Chef’s Knife is yet another model from the Kai Pro series. The difference between it and the previous model is that, with a blade length of 10 inches, it has the longest blade of all the knives in this round-up.
The 10-inch blade offers you all the bells and whistles you could need in a chef’s knife. Hand-sharpened and made of AUS6M steel, this 16° double-bevel blade is a real beast; it can cut through anything in your kitchen.
In addition, the blade’s Hammered finish lets you release food more easily with minimal knife drag. And not only is the knife’s riveted POM handle durable, but it also provides you with a firm grip that makes it easier for you to use the knife for extended periods.
The 10-Inch Pro also stands out because it’s actually NSF certified, meaning that professional chefs use it to prepare delicious meals for their customers. And while it isn’t necessarily for home use, you’ll definitely appreciate the difference it makes when trying to cut meat.
The icing on top is the full-tang design that extends the lifetime of your Kai knife while also allowing you to add more pressure for easier cutting.
The Kai Wasabi Black Santoku Knife features a grazed finish protecting against corrosion and providing an aesthetically pleasing look.
On top of that, the blade is hand sharpened, ensuring that nothing stands in the way of your to-be-prepared meal.
The high-carbon steel construction guarantees that the blade can withstand day-to-day use without compromising toughness and durability. And with a 16° cutting edge, the Wasabi Santoku’s single bevel blade ensures smooth cutting for all types of poultry, meat, and vegetables.
The polypropylene handle provides a good grip without overworking your fingers. Not to mention, it’s pretty much impossible for it to become slippery thanks to its textured finish.
At just 3.52 ounces, the Kai Wasabi Santoku is one of the lightest Kai knives out there, allowing you to use it for hours without experiencing pain.
If you’re looking for a premium Kai knife, then the Shun Classic 7-Inch Hollow-Ground Santoku should be at the top of your list. This knife features a VG-MAX steel blade with a blend rich in carbon, chromium cobalt, vanadium, and tungsten.
The result is a blade that’s strong, durable, sharp, and has unmatched corrosion resistance.
On top of that, the blade features a Damascus pattern that prevents food you cut from getting damaged or crushed. It also makes morsel-sticking a thing of the past. And, of course, it just looks pure awesome!
There are also 10 indentations on each side of the blade, allowing smoother cuts while keeping friction at bay.
Further, the Shun Classic knife integrates a pakkawood Japanese-style handle with a slight ridge on the right side, allowing your fingers to rest comfortably for a good grip. Not to mention, the handle is durable, waterproof, and has excellent antibacterial properties.
I also appreciate the full-tang design as it makes the knife more stable and comfortable to use.
The Kai Seki Magoroku Damascus Gyutou is no ordinary knife. It’s actually a replica of a knife used to separate meat from bones in ancient times. But what makes it any different from the other knives on this list?
Well, for starters, the Seki Magoroku flaunts a durable VG-10 stainless steel blade that exhibits excellent hardness, sharpness, and corrosion resistance. Therefore, there’s nothing in your kitchen that this blade can’t handle.
The blade’s finish features a beautiful Damascus pattern that adds extra protection to the cutting core. In addition, the blade is forged with 16 layers of altering steel, ensuring that its stain-resistance properties aren’t compromised.
But the Seki Mogoruku’s blade isn’t the only star of the show here; I’ve got a lot to say about the handle, too. The handle is made of premium composite wood that has a nice feel and ensures an excellent grip. I also like that it’s triangular-shaped, which provides a higher level of control.
Oh, and if you prefer knives with bolsters, you’ll definitely love how the stainless steel bolster in the Seki Magoroku guarantees top-notch balance. Not to mention, the end-cap adds even more support.
Here are some of the factors that you need to take into consideration when shopping for a Kai knife:
Do you need a kitchen knife for cutting some vegetables and fruits? Or are you looking for a knife that can chop through thick pieces of T-bone steak? By asking yourself questions along these lines, you’ll be able to pinpoint the best Kai knife for your needs.
If you need a knife for light vegetable cutting, a low-end knife with a short-medium length blade will get the job done. But if you need something more robust, consider going for a full-tang knife with a sharp, hammered-finish blade for the best performance.
You don’t want to buy a new kitchen knife every couple of months, but the good news is that almost all Kai knives are designed with durability in mind.
Of course, some would be more durable than others, depending on several variables like the blade material and finish. Also, keep in mind that full-tang knives tend to last longer.
A knife’s handle makes up about 95% of how comfortable it’ll be in daily use. Some Kai knives have molded contours to fit your hand, while others have rubberized finishes. So, maybe walk into a store and test out which type of handle feels more comfortable to you.
Also, consider getting a Kai knife with a bolstered handle where you can rest your forefinger for better balance.
The handle’s material plays a big role here, too. Wooden and polypropylene handles are good choices, but make sure that there aren’t any sharp points on them for maximum comfort.
Another thing to keep in mind is the knife’s weight; while lightweight knives tend to be easier to use since they won’t strain your wrists or fingers, heavier knives tend to perform better and even last longer.
Kai knives can be as light as 4 ounces and as heavy as +8 ounces. So, if you prioritize comfort over durability, pick a knife that’s closer to the 4-ounce mark.
As for tang design, it’d be best if you opt for a full-tang knife since the blade extends all the way through the handle for a better balance and a more robust design.
Rat-Tail-tang and half-tang designs don’t last as long because the handle may come loose or snap with continuous usage, especially when too much pressure is applied.
It’s obviously easier to cut vegetables, meat, and other foods with a sharp edge rather than a dull one.
And yes, many Kai knives come very sharp right out of the box, but the tricky part is how easy it’ll be to resharpen them after a while. For example, higher-end materials, like VG-10, are very easy to sharpen. So, keep that in mind.
Kai knives come in variable price ranges, and generally speaking, the more you spend, the better materials and performance you’ll get.
The price difference mainly shows in the blade material choices. For example, a budget Kai knife will likely have an AUS6 blade or something similar, while higher-end Kai knives may feature a VG-10 or VG-MAX blade.
Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with any Kai knife, even the more affordable ones.
So that was my take on the best Kai knives out there.
The Kai Wasabi seems like a pretty solid all-around choice for most users, but if you want something more professional, the Shun Hollow-Ground Santoku and the Shun 8-Inch Kiritsuk are good contenders.
On the other hand, the 8-Inch Pro knife would be your best bet if you’re on a tight budget. It’s super sharp, and it won’t let you down when cooking large meals.
All in all, Kai Knives make some of the best Japanese-style kitchen knives you can put your hands on, and I’d pick them over any other brand with my eyes closed.
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