I finally made it down to the high-brow mall that houses both a Williams-Sonoma & a Sur la Table. The goal (for the past year) has been to directly compare the Shun Kramer Meiji line with the Shun Kramer Euro line. Since the Euro line most closely resembles Kramer's original custom knives, I expected to like these best. But I already own a couple of Shun Classic knives with their asymetrical D-shaped handle & love the way they fit my hand. I wanted to compare the two lines & let them speak for themselves.
First of all, let me say that the pictures do NOT do these knives justice! Both lines are superbly finished, with polished blades that look like they were forged from flowing mercury & somehow frozen into these beautiful, perfect blade shapes. Absolutely stunning. The wood used in both lines looks rich & feels substantial, with perfect contours & glass-smooth finishes. Of course, with both lines now being made with SG2 powdered steel cores, they each cut & slice beautifully.
First up was the W-S Meiji line. Nice balance, but the asymmetric handle has a pronounced ridge that the Shun Classics do not. The ridge was almost sharp. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't something I'd want to pay $400 to use for the rest of my life. I could always sand it down, I suppose. But would I want to after spending that much? Uhhhh, no, I guess probably not. Also, after a year of using my Kanetsune gyuto, I thought the cutting edge had too much curvature/belly for something promoted as an Asian-style knife. Not as much as the Shun Classic chef's knife, but more than what I was expecting.
So, over to the SLT Euro line. These were even worse for me than the Meiji. I didn't like the balance & I thought they were very heavy. Worst of all were the handles! They were way too fat, bulbous & bloated. It was like trying to hold some kind of mutant fruit or veggie. I honestly could not comfortably pinch-grip these knives, as the handle felt like it was continually pushing my palm forward onto the blade. And these blades got belly! Overall, I was crushed. I mean, these were the beauties I'd been waiting a year to see in person! I really wanted to like these knives.
Oh well, I guess my Kramer Lust is gone. Not a terrible thing, I suppose.
I thought the Miyabi Birchwood line was very comfortable, light & well-balanced. And with its SG2 core & 100 layer cladding, it seems like a much better value at $250 than many other SG2 knives. If I were going to buy anything here, it would definitely be from this line.
I also liked the new Shun Classic gyuto "Asian chef" knife. It's only 7" long, but it's got the smaller diameter handle found on their 6" utility knife. This makes it much more maneuverable than the large diameter handle used on the 8" chef's knife. It's also a great deal at $100 for now-standard VG-10 core & 32 layer cladding.