Pros: Excellent handling
Cons: Not ideal for the pinch grip
The Kikuichi Swedish Damascus Warikomi 9.5 inch is a fine example of Japanese craftsmanship. Everything from the hand forged blade to the precise, yet, simple handle drips with quality. With a price tag that tops $265 dollars, this is not a knife that should be thrown into the knife drawer. It comes with a plastic sheath and its own box that should be used as the storage place for this knife.
The craftsmanship of the knife more than justifies its hefty price tag and will be self evident from the first moment the knife is held in the hand.
The appearance of the knife is beautiful. The ripples and character of the Damascus forged blade really catch the eye and lead to the simple and elegant Rosewood handle (Note: there is a version of the knife that is made with a traditional European three rivet handle. I recommend the Rosewood handle).
The Rosewood handle fits comfortably in the hand. The balance point of the knife is located just in front of the handle for excellent control and precision.
But, the real beauty of this knife is the hand forged blade.
Out of the box, the sharpness of the knife is excellent. The blade is made of a hard outer layer of steel with a softer inner core that provides reasonable flexibility. The hard outer layer of steel allows the blade to hold an edge even under heavy use (Note: It is not recommended that this knife be used to cut bone or be used on plastic, glass, metal or stone cutting surfaces as these surfaces could damage the blade).
This blade will accomplish all manner of cutting techniques with ease and precision.
For use with meat, fish and poultry, the blade is excellent, especially with delicate seafood. The blade is thin and precise enough to be used as a filet knife in the right hands with good results. It does not tear the flesh and it resists sticking. The knife is also very good for precision trimming of meats and poultry.
However, the blade really shines in the preparation of fruits and vegetables. The blade leaves an extremely clean cut and will not tear or crush the flesh of the fruit or vegetable. In fact, the blade will pass through a ripe tomato pretty much under its own weight with little or no pressure from the user.
The blade is versatile enough to be used to chop herbs such as basil and parsley with excellent efficiency. The hardness of the blade will withstand the impact of chopping on a wood surface reasonably well.
For the uninitiated, it will take a little bit of time to become accustomed to the feel of the blade as it passes through whatever it is cutting. However, once accustomed to the blade, it will be difficult to return to average knives.
Washing the blade is simple and yet, must be done by hand. Avoid harsh soaps, especially on the handle. A mild dish soap and hot water is all that is needed. Do not use any harsh scrubbing materials on the blade as it will likely scratch the surface and mar its beauty. Use only a soft cloth or sponge when cleaning the blade.
The Rosewood handle requires oiling periodically depending on how often the knife is washed. Washing will remove the natural oils in the wood over time and could cause it to become brittle and crack. Use only good quality wood oil.
The blade cannot be resharpened by the average user. It must be resharpened by a professional or someone who truly knows what they are doing. Otherwise, the blade could be irreparably damaged and the knife rendered useless. The manufacturer does provide a resharpening service. However, it requires the knife to be sent back to Japan. The turn around time can be quite lengthy. However, there are professional sharpeners here in the US that will sharpen the blade properly and in shorter time.
The measure of the knife from blade to top is about an inch and a half at the handle. Therefore, is not optimum for the pinch grip, especially for those of us with larger hands. Ideally, I would prefer another 1/4 inch or so of vertical width in the blade for it to be ideal for me. However, those with smaller hands should have no problems or complaints using the pinch grip with this knife as it is.
The 9.5 inch blade requires a good measure of care, especially when it comes to the tip. It is easy to catch the tip on the cutting surface or when washing which could break the tip. The shorter blades are a bit easier to handle and do not have as much risk of the tip catching. So, be careful.
Due to its high level of sharpness, I would not recommend this knife for beginners, weekend warriors or the average home cook. I would only recommend this knife for cooks who have good knife techniques. If you are a beginner or do not have good cutting skills, use this knife at your own risk. With this knife, the test comes first and lesson after.
Overall, this knife is superb and with far more pros than cons, this knife is well worth the money.