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Shun Elite 10 inch Chef knife

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
So I am considering buying a shun elite! I would like some feedback on the knife. Has anyone used this blade and does anyone currently use this blade? I own henckel and global. I have used a variety of european knives. I am interested if anyone has an opinion on the powdered steel as opposed to the vg10. Any thoughts are appreciated
post #2 of 10
I googled that knife and the price is ridiculous, I mean the steel is the standard vg-10(at least that's the info I am finding about it), but for that price range you can get established brands japanese knives:
People highly prize this one as very functional, inexpensive and reliable:
Misono gyuto(molibdenum or swedish steel)
The swedish steel also has a dragon engraving for style pts.:bounce:
there are other brands on the same site:
The blade of the Shun itself is good holds edge better than the german knives.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
So i beleive the elite by shun is a powdered steel. Either way thanks for the suggestion. I have spent some time looking around at some of the other options on the website provided! I have a few options I would like to know more about. They are masamoto hc, Ryusen (blazen), Hiromoto (gingami no. 3), and Misono. Any thoughts about these knives, and how they may compare to the sun elite! Thanks
post #4 of 10
this forum Fred's Cutlery Forum - Foodie Forums, has reviews and
also a lot of japanese knife enthusiasts that will gladly answer your questions. You can find some reviews too.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Very helpful thanks
post #6 of 10
This thread ended up with a lot of questions.

Let's start with a personal disclaimer: I don't like very many Shun knives, especially not the Kershaw designs, most especially not the chef's.

The Elite isn't quite as bad as the Classic, but still has an extended top line which means a lot of lift to get the point down. They both have too much arc (for my taste) in the belly. This usually means the cook uses more rock in a chop, than the straight down "push cut" of a very flat Japanese gyuto, or the combination "push-slide" typical of French chef knives and most Japanese gyuto (same edge profile).

Also, with a few execpetions, I don't care for "san mai" or "warikomi" knives in general and suminagashi in particular. Somehow suminagashi strikes me more as "faux damascus" than what it is -- traditional Japanese ornamentation. But even then, I don't care for a lot of adornment on my tools. And, it's a minority view, but three-layer Japanese lamination almost never has a good feel to me -- the blades either feel too dead or too pingy compared to the single layer carbon steel knives I prefer.

Moreover, Shun-Kershaw handles do nothing for me. Nothing.

All three things are very idiosyncratic, but needed some explanation you had some sense of the prism through which I formed my other opinions.

The Elite is an extremely well made knife with excellent fit and finish. It's on the expensive side for a metallurgical powder (SG2), but not unduly so. It's more expensive than Akifusa, but cheaper than Ryusen -- to name a couple of knives available through Epicurean Edge.

The cladding surrounding the hard steel core makes sharpening easier by absorbing vibfration and keeping the edge flat on the stone. But you need to be a good sharpener with a good kit to get the knife sharp. The quality of the edge will not be quite as good as a VG-10 edge, but still very good. Once sharp it will stay that way for a long time and not need much maintenance. Supposedly, SG2 knives don't run the same danger of chipping as some earlier PMs. So that's a good thing. Also good: the knife is light with good; and has a nice, thin edge geometry.

If you love Shun, want their best, and are willing to pay a premium for it, an Elite chef's is a legitimate choice. For all the reasons mentioned earlier, I wouldn't consider it.

Fred's Cutlery Fourm is well worth visiting, and I'm a regular contributor. You can learn a lot there, but I fear Shun is so controversial there, if not quite polarizing that it's hard to separate information from vituperation. The reaction ranges from mildly positive to extremely negative, with the majority of the sentiment antipathetic.

What about the other knives you mentioned?

To my mind the Masamoto HC is the best western-handled knife on the market at anywhere near a realistic price. It feels as natural in my hand as a Sabatier carbon, had better feedback, better steel, and a genuine ebony handle with great ergonomics. Masamoto won't say what steel they use, but I have good reason to think it's the ultra-pure version of Takefu V2; slightly purer than Hitachi Shiro2, without being as highly engineered, but fairly equivalent. At this level of quality in a mass produced knife, the only real competition may be the Ikanshi Tadatsuna in Shiro2. I have nothing negative to say about the Masamoto; it's as good as mass-produced cutlery gets. I toy with the idea of replacing my entire core set with them. You're aware HC is carbon and not stainless?

The Blazen is available in two flavors. The one available through Epicurean Edge is an improved and more expensive version of the original. Changes include a slightly harder SG2 core (which supposedly sharpens better) and a better fitting saya. The regular Blazens are available from several sources -- notably Japanese Chef Knife ( These are excellent knives, but they're either more expensive or not as nicely made as their primary competition -- Misono UX-10 and Hattori FH (Forum Knife). They also compete with Akifusa (avaliable at Epicurean Edge) which is pretty much a clone. Ryusen are one of the few sanmai knives I've tried which I didn't detest. Still, not for me. You, maybe.

The Misono UX-10 is a great knife. I like it for its agility, it's streamlined good looks, and its great handle. There's some question about which particular Swedish steel is used -- speculation coalesces around two Sandvik steels, either 19C27 or 13C26, hardened to around 60. Both are excellent steels. The chef's profile is a little more streamlined (too low in the heel) than I like. Easy to sharpen, takes a great edge, holds it a long time.

Just in case you're serious about carbon... The Misono Sweden Series is also a great knife, but made with an excellent and very pure Sandvik carbon. I like Misono Swedens quite a bit, including the engraved dragon (which I tolerate better than suminagashi -- go figure).

The Sweden shares a quality/performance/value niche with a few other Japanese and Euro carbons: Masamoto VC and Kikuichi Elite from Japan; and K-Sabatier au carbone, K-Sabatier antique Canadian, Thiers-Issard Sabatier carbon, Thiers Issard Sabatier Nogent, and Thiers Issard Sabatier Massif from France. My own knife set is (almost) entirely antique French carbon from one Sabatier or another. Great for me, they are not for everyone.

Compared to the Japanese knives, the French take as good an edge and lose it more quickly. However, the edge is very easy to maintain on an apporpriate honing rod, sharpens on inexpensive oil stones. Overall, I'd rate edge quality as a near push with a slight edge to the Japanese. The French knives have roomy, comfortable handles but are made with fingerguard bolsters, which a lot of people find inconvenient. The French knives are significantly more robust than the Japanese, the edges hold up to far more abuse, and can be sharpened to angles nearly as acute. The French chef's profile is perfect, with an enormous amount of history behind the design. I'm not sure where or how they source high quality, good-purity carbon, but they do. The modern K-Sabs and T-Is are somehow made with excellent steel. Ergonmics and intangibles to the French. Admittedly, a big part of the reason I continue to keep mine (as opposed to the Japanese knives which have worked their way through my block) is sentiment. If I didn't have a long personal history with them, I'd use Masamoto HC and Tadatsuna Shiroko -- which may end up happening yet.

Ginsan aka G3 is a very lively, Hitachi stainless with excellent all-around characteristics. At similar hardening it's livelier than VG-10, takes a similar edge, and maybe a little less robust. Smallish, narrow handle -- that most find very comfortable, even those (like me) with large hands. Excellent value.

If you're considering carbon, think about the Hiromoto AS. Even more of a bargain than the G3.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have narrowed down my search. After much thought and research, I think the masamoto vg, or the misono ux10 will suit my needs! I wanted to stay with stainless. After years of heavy german steel I am sure either knife will be an upgrade. Thanks for all you help. Bdl a big thanks for all the time spent on your post (very informative.)
post #8 of 10
As 10" chef's go, Masamoto VG is on the flexible side. If you're looking for something robust, it ain't it. Nice knife though, I like it a lot, but think it's on the high-priced side of the class.

Misono UX-10 is without a doubt one of the best stainless, mass production knives available. Awesome handle, beloved by westerners (like us). As I wrote earlier, they're on the "streamlined" side -- too much for me. They're a little stiffer than the Masamoto VG, not much though. While I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to a home cook, I've heard two or three pros call it "too whippy." I agree, but you may like a little flex.

Expand your horizons a little and take a look at the Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff, MAC Professional, MAC Ultimate, Hattori FH and Ikkanshi Tadatsuna.

Hattori FH: As good looking as a VG-10 knife can get. Beautiful, comfortable, micarta handle. Great and attractive blade geometry. Introduced not long ago, and very well received. Whatever teething problems a few of the early knives might have had, there has been almost none to zero negative posting over the past year. Not cheap.

Sakai Takayuki and MAC Professional: I'm going to put these in the same class because they really go after the same ethos. They're no BS professional knives. Both are very comfortable; the Grand Cheff's handle is a little larger, while the MAC's is a slightly slicker design. The Grand Cheff is 13C26 and sharpens as well as you'd expect from high-end razor steel. The MAC sharpens well also, but sharpens best with a double bevel (15/10). If you like smashing garlic with the flat of your knife and generally hacking about, MAC is the knife for you. It's the only high end Japanese knife I'd call robust. Neither knife is going to win a beauty contest. Both of these are a little, but not much, more expensive than the Hiromoto G3. Less looks, more pro performance.

MAC Ultimate: MAC's top of the line. Gorgeous knife. Stays sharp forever.

Ikkanshi Tadatsuna: If you're interested I'll supply you a link to the company. Tadatsuna's knives are just starting to come into the west, and whether Western or Japanese style, they are of the very highest quality. G3, very thin (which says something about how sharp they handle, as well as putting them on the flexible side), beautiful and comme il faut. Priced similar to UX-10 and MAC Ultimate. Great knives.

Have fun with your choice. You can't go wrong,
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
After much thought I went with the hattori hf! It came in the mail today. What can I say except wow! After 10 years of my trusty henkel four star, I put her away today. Though a nice heavy german knife will always have it uses. I am amazed by the lack of fatigue from prep work. I feel like I traded a caddilac in for a porche.
post #10 of 10
I've used but don't own.

The Shun is better than the Henckles, not as good as Global -- except it's harder, and you may prefer the handle.

VG-10 is extremely good knife steel. SG2, the metallurgical powder used for the middle, edge section of the san mai sandwich in the Elite is significantly harder, but otherwise no better. Not to say that it isn't good knife steel -- but so is VG-10.

The extra hardness has some drawbacks. To some extent, there's a trade off of toughness for strength. In English: An Elite's edge is more likely to chip than to bend. That means reprofiling the knife, as opposed to running it down (or up) a steel a few times. That doesn't mean that an Elite isn't very tough as well as strong, just that the same action which would cause a VG-10 blade to deform can chip an SG2.

The SG2 core isn't nearly as easy to sharpen as VG-10. Depending on your curent sharpening kit you may need to upgrade -- and that ain't cheap. Handled properly, it does sharpen well though and holds the edge for an extremely long time.

The Kershaw designed Shun chef's have what I consider to be really lousy geometry. Both on the edge which has too much curve, and on the topline which is too straight -- resulting in too high a tip. This makes certain everyday cuts awkward -- dicing an onion for instance, you have to lift the handle up to get the point down. Also, Shuns just rock too much for my taste. I prefer a much flatter French-type profile, typical of Japanese knives without all the up and down handle action you get with a round belly. Now that's all personal preference. I'm not trying to create your opinion just sharing mine.

On the other hand, Shun does excellent F&F. Some of the best in Japan.

The "Damascus" design (actually suminagashi) on the outer cladding is very fragile, and doesn't hold up well. With normal cleaning, it scratches to near invisibility within a few months, and it's not easy to restore. That's not unique to the Elite, though. The Classic is the same. I'm sure you already know that the design is not part of the actual cutting steel, and does nothing to improve performance. In other words, the blade isn't actually damascus steel.

Finally, there's the price. The Elite is priced at the top of the market for mass produced, Japanese knives. There are any number of better ones for the same or less money. Akifusa, for instance, has PM core, and runs about 25% less. Hiromoto AS, has an Aogami Super core, and is much cheaper. Then there are the real top of the lines, like Misono UX-10, Masamoto HC, and Ikkanshi Tadatsuna Inox which are similarly priced.

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