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Kasumi vs. Shun

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

What say you? The blade is similar using VG10 steel in the center. Is the difference only in the shape of handles offered? The Kasumi handles look round whereas the Shun I believe all typically have a tear shape. Which I'm guessing feels more natural in the hand. Opinions? Which do you prefer and why?


I admit I do like the look of Shun Premiers better than the Kasumi's boring narrow round black handles. 

post #2 of 7
Shun isn't really the manufacturer of Shun, that would be Kai. I guess the best way to describe Shun is both as a division of Kai and as a partnership with Kershaw, making mostly western style knives at a Japanese quality level. The Kershaw influence leads to some interesting decisions regarding blade styling and profiling.

Many Shuns have a "D" (not tear-drop) shaped handle. D shaped handles are generally regarded as comfortable and secure, but are very one-handed -- which as a practical matter means that they're by and large, right-handed. Left handed handles are available. While a few lefties claim they're not uncomfortable with right-handed handles, the knives aren't at all ambidextrous.

For most chef's knife purposes (and a few others, too) I use a very light, pinch grip that's very adaptable to most shape and size grips. However, as a lefty I find D shapes less comfortable than ordinary western, "yo" handles or "wa" octagons. I also slightly prefer round to D shapes.

With the exception of a couple of Shun lines, the chef's knives are an exaggerated "German" profiled with a high tip and deep belly. Most Japanese interpretations of western chef's knives (gyutos) use a flatter, French profile. A lot of people find the German shape comparatively awkward, but tastes vary. I hate it.

Kasumi tends towards the French, which I much prefer.

Your underlying question about whether all san-mai VG-10s are equal is a little more complicated. By and large they are, but sometimes not. In the case of Kasumi vs Shun, I'd say that they're about equal in that respect; but also that there's a lot more to a knife than that.

My general experience with Shun is that they're overpriced, over styled and over hyped; but they have much better edge characteristics than traditional German knives and are well supported by both Kai and their retailers. I'm not a hater, exactly; but almost always recommend against anyone buying them. I don't have enough experience with any Kasumi to give you a knowledgeable comparison between their knives and Shuns -- but expect that I'd prefer Kasumi.

In my opinion, the best bang for the buck in san-mai VG-10 is the Tojiro DP line; while the best construction, quality and support are probably found with Henckels/Miyabi.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 5/26/12 at 6:54am
post #3 of 7

I have been a personal chef for 8 years, while in cooking school I purchased a Solingen, a few IVO's, and a few Rottgen's. Total cost about $400, and I still use every one of them most everyday. I sharpen them before every use and they still work perfectly.


Their handles fit my large hands, they are solid without being heavy and their profile suits my cutting style, when I compare the costs of all of my personal knives to the cost of just 1 Shun...

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks BDL. I am actually also considering Tojiro knives. I was just curious how "Shuns" compared to Kasumi's. What ex or working chefs thought of either or both. 


As for the D shaped handle of the Shuns i'm guessing I'd find them more comfortable than a narrow round handle using a pinch grip. And I am a rightie.


I didn't notice that that the Kasumi''s have a more French profile. Will look at them again. Though, i have tended to put weight on the tip and rock the knife when dicing (probably because I've never had a truly sharp knife in my hands..knives as sharp as a working chef requires) so for me I think a German profile would be more for me. Guess it comes down to are you a "rocker" or sllicer.


So between the two I think I'll prefer Shuns. 

post #5 of 7

I have several Shun's, a couple of Kasumi's, and a few Mac knives for several years now.

I can say a few things:

-- All the Shun's are back in the cupboard.  Once I discovered Mac, I stopped using them.  They are bulky and lose their sharpening too quickly.

-- The Mac MTh-80 is  the absolute Chef knife  Its edge sharpness is beyond reproach, can be resharpened and stays sharp (easily passes the tomato test) for a month or two (I use Kasumi 8000 Grit whetstone for sharpening).  I tossed all other Chef knives I had (Shun Santoku and French) once I got it. I also have a Mac Santoko, which I hardly use since the MTH-80 is more versatile.

-- I bought Kasumi short (3 Inch and 4 3/4 Inch) knives for jobs that a chef knife is too big for, and I am very happy with them.  They are very convenient to handle, sharpen well and stay sharp (though a notch below the MAC).

--- I also bought later a Mac 3 Inch, since I thought this would be an upgrade to my Kasumi, but to my disappointment it was a downgrade.  It is a different series than the MTH knife, the design is bulky and it does not cut as well as the Kasumi.


And while I am at it, there is another amazing knife from Mac -- the last bread knife you would ever need.  Once you use it you don't understand how could you have cut bread without it.


Hope this helps.


post #6 of 7

I like the Shun knives and the German profile.  I have 2: a Premier and a Classic.  Shun Premeir is my "go to knife", followed by a no-name American carbon-steel chef knife.  Both are sharp and fast to use.  The Premier handle is more comfortable to me than the Classic handle.  Both Shuns cut just as good as each otehr, but hte Premier gets more attention (which is generally unwelcomed... but it happens).

post #7 of 7

I should add that one drawback I find in the wide wedge of the Shun (I think this is referred to as "German profile") is that when you cut stiff fruits and vegetables (e.g. apple, persimmon, sweet potato), then the wide wedge has to be forced through against the fruit/vegetable, irrespective of the sharpness of the knife's edge.  This problem does not occur in the Mac and the Kasumi, which have a much narrower ("Japanese") wedge, and therefore cut stiff fruits and vegetables effortlessly.




p.s.  The links in my previous post were editorially removed, so I should add that the (diappointing) Mac short knife I referred to is 3 1/4 Inch not 3 Inch, and the (excellent) Mac bread knife is called "Superior Series Bread Knife" (they also have a  cheaper "Chef series" and an expensive "Damascu Series"  which I have no experience with).

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