It’s light and nimble, with a thin, flexible blade that’s supersharp.
The rounded tip means you can’t use it for peeling silver skin from meat, or when you want a precise point for tricky tasks. And it doesn’t have the weight to get up a good rocking motion when you chop.
This is a knife that does an amazing job of peeling and slicing vegetables. For most other tasks, you'll probably reach for a different knife.
Most ceramic knives are made by pressing and firing powdered zirconium dioxide, then grinding the blades with a diamond-impregnated wheel. Technically, ceramic knives are harder than steel and should rarely need sharpening; black ceramic blades go through an additional step that makes them even harder. But there’s bad news, too: Ceramic knives are prone to chipping—you can’t use them to hack through bones or a frozen block of peas.
Founded in 1959, the Japanese industrial manufacturer Kyocera makes a range of ceramic kitchen tools, from knives to peelers. The knives are made in Japan, and they come with a lifetime warranty and lifetime sharpening (you have to pay $10 for shipping, though that 10 bucks will cover as many ceramic knives as you care to send off at one time).
Kyocera knives are fabricated from a proprietary material called Zirconia 206. The black Revolution Series 7-inch Professional Chef’s Knife (FK-180 BK) comes with a black molded plastic handle (white blade with a black handle is the only other option). Like all ceramic knives, the FK-180 BK is superlight, weighing an astonishing 3.25 ounces.
To test Kyocera’s claims that this chef’s knife is razor sharp, easy to handle, and versatile, we gave it four tests: cutting basil into fine strips (a chiffonade); chopping parsley; cutting through multiple raw bacon slices; and—something Kyocera doesn’t recommend—cutting through something hard.
Cutting basil: We plucked leaves from a bunch of basil, rolled them into a bundle, and sliced crosswise to make a fine chiffonade. With a thicker blade this can bruise the delicate leaves, but the Kyocera handled like a dream: We got a fine mass of strips without bruising. We did notice that the contour of the handle had a relatively small finger area—if you have large hands, your pinkie might not fit on the handle. Score: A-.
Chopping parsley: We shaved the leaves from a bunch of flat-leaf parsley, then used a rocking motion to chop through them. The relatively short height of the blade made this a little tricky—even with small hands, our fingers got in the way of the cutting board, meaning it was hard to get a good, fast chopping rhythm going. And frankly, the knife felt a little flimsy to perform this style of vigorous chopping. In the end our parsley was reduced to a nice, fluffy mass, but it didn’t feel totally easy to get there. Score: B+.
Slicing bacon: It can be hard to cut through a sguidgy pile of bacon slices with a typical chef’s knife; we wanted to see how the Kyocera would do. First, since this knife is rounded at the end, we couldn’t use the tip to open the bacon package the way we normally do (and it would be difficult to perform a task with the Kyocera 7-inch that we rely on a knife tip for, like peeling the silver skin from pork tenderloins). We stacked three slices and went to work. The Kyocera did about as well as a stainless steel knife, meaning it didn't quite cut all the way through the bottom slice. Score: B-.
Cutting hard vegetables: First we sliced carrots, which are moderately firm. The Kyocera 7-inch cut coins and roll-cut pieces like a champ. Still, the more we worked with it, the more its lightness translated as flimsiness—we missed the secure feeling of a more rigid and substantial knife in our hand. Next, we cut the hardest vegetable we know: butternut squash. We trimmed off the blossom ends, cut through the neck, and started peeling. Here’s where the thin, light blade was a definite advantage. It nimbly peeled the curved squash, far better than a heavier chef’s knife. And even dealing with a large squash, we could maneuver the blade just fine. Score: B+.
Photos by Chris Rochelle