This is a very in-depth review for the Kitcheekat 8" Chef's Knife. There should be enough detail here to answer any questions that you may have. I will provide information on packaging, fit and finish, blade material, handle material, out of box sharpness, balance, design, construction and overall performance. I own many (very nice) knives but I am always looking for knives that push the boundary of performance -vs-price. This is my take.
Country of origin:
China. There is a lot of very fine product coming out of China these days. And if you have something against Chinese manufactured products, take a look at your, IPads, IPhones, appliances etc., rest assured the majority are manufactured in China.
I don’t care much for elaborate packaging. After all it just ends up in the trash. All that I require is the packaging is adequate enough to get the knife shipped to me without damage. It costs companies money to use elaborate packaging (think Dalstrong, way over the top) and you end up paying for it. When companies can save money by minimalizing packaging, those savings are passed on to you via a lower cost for the knife. Kitcheekat’s packaging did the job for me and is nice enough for gifting.
Fit and finish:
The first thing I did was perform a VERY scrutinizing visual and tactile inspection of the fit and finish. I checked the spine of the knife for sharp edges. The spine could have been relieved better and was slightly rough. However I have seen the same issue on $200 hand crafted Japanese knives. Some fine grit sandpaper fixed it right up. That being said, I contacted the company about it, the owner (Kat) responded and offered to send me a new knife. I declined the generous offer because I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Companies are always touting their customer service but it’s not often these days that you see them not only talk the talk but walk the walk. If you have any issues (which I doubt you will) I am sure that Kitcheekat will make sure they are resolved to your satisfaction. Excellent customer service! I give them 5 stars for that. The choil was nicely relieved. The handle to bolster junction was smooth. The handle to butt cap junction was not perfectly flush (You can see it in the pictures) but nothing that would pose any comfort issues. The pakka wood handle was nicely polished. This is a very good looking knife and the fit and finish, while not perfect, was good, especially for a knife at this price point.
Kitcheekat is using 7Cr17 steel in their knives. This is a step up from the more commonly seen 1.4116 steel or X50CrMoV15 used on knives in this category. The carbon content is higher in 7Cr 17 (.60% to .75%) compared to .45% to .55% in X50CrMov15. That small percentage may not sound like much but makes a significant impact in hardness. If properly heat treated 7Cr17 should be able to attain a hardness of 57 to 59 HRC. (Think better edge retention). I also has a higher chromium content. (Think better stain resistance). Wusthof uses the lower carbon X50CrMoV15 steel in their high end knives. If cared for properly you should only have to sharpen this knife about twice a year depending on how heavily the knife is used. And it will take a razor sharp edge.
Let’s talk stainless. Stainless is just that. StainLESS, not stain free! All steel will rust if given the chance. Chromium is added to steel to help in rust resistance. For a steel to be categorized as stainless it must contain at least 13% chromium. 7Cr17 contains 17% chromium and is very stain resistant.
Bottom line: 7Cr17 is a very good steel for a knife at this price.
Kitcheekat has chosen to use pakka wood for their handle material. If you go looking for a pakka tree you won’t find one. Pakka wood is constructed using phenolic-impregnated layers of hardwood veneer, often dyed, combined with plastic resins. Dye is impregnated into the wood using a vacuum process, and then the resin is added using a very high pressure environment. Pakka wood is a good choice for knife handle material. It is one of my favorites (POM and micarta handles, not so much). Pakka wood is the same handle material that Shun uses in their knives.
Out of box sharpness:
I was fully expecting to have to take this knife to a stone when it arrived. Most factory edges aren’t that great and certainly don’t meet my standards for sharpness. I was pleasantly surprised when I checked the edge. I did not take it to a stone but I did hone and strop the knife to refine the edge. Coming from me that says a lot about their factory edge. Kudo’s to kitcheekat!
The knife balances at the very front of the bolster. It’s neither handle heavy nor blade heavy. The balance is a tad bit behind the spot where you would pinch grip the knife but nothing that would keep the knife from being a nimble, agile performer. Great balance.
The blade has a good amount of belly to it and should be a rock choppers dream. You can get the heel of the knife quite high before the tip starts to dig into the cutting board, so cutting larger items should be no problem. There is about 3” of flat at the heel and if you vertically chop that’s where you will want to concentrate your cuts. Push cutting and pull cutting should present no issues. The radius transition from the bolster to the blade could have been a bit larger for my taste, however it’s every bit as big as my Shun’s and pinch grips comfortably.
The in hand comfort is very nice. The handle is oval shaped and maintains the style of a Japanese handle which I like, rather than a western style handle
The weight of the knife is 8 ounces. It’s neither heavy or light for a knife and should be comfortable and non-fatiguing for long sessions.
The blade length is 203 mm (8”) from tip to heel.
The spine of the blade is 2.2 mm thick at the bolster and starts to taper about half way down the blade to the tip. This is not a thick blade and should be a nimble performer as opposed to a thicker German style brute force blade.
The height of the blade heel is 44 mm and gives plenty of room for cutting board/knuckle clearance.
The handle circumference is 80 mm (just over 3”) at the middle of the handle and should be comfortable for most users.
This blade is stamped and the bolster is welded to the blade then ground down to make the transition into the blade. Contrary to popular belief there is nothing wrong or substandard with blades that are stamped. Most mainstream knives are stamped. The purpose of forging is to compact the grain structure in steel to make it denser, but with the advent of modern alloys forging is really no longer necessary.
As with most knives of this design they are using a “rat tail” also known as “stick” tang. A rod is welded to the front bolster and runs through the entire length of the handle where it is attached to the butt.
There is a saya (sheath) that is available from Kitcheekat that is THE best plastic saya design I have seen. If you don’t use a knife block I highly recommend it.
I have used this knife long enough to establish my opinions. I have thrown a ton of food at it and the performance was impressive. I have nothing but good to say about this knife. Does it out perform my Shuns? No. Does it perform as well as knives at double the price? Absolutely.
Lots of reasons to follow these guidelines, but to keep this review shorter I won’t go into them. Just trust me
Use the softest cutting board you can find. Food doesn’t dull knives, cutting boards do.
NEVER put fine knives in the dishwasher.
Lightly hone your knife before or after each use, or every other use, to realign the edge. This will keep it sharp for a long, long time. (I prefer a ceramic hone but steel will do).
Store your knife in a counter top or “in drawer” storage block.