After dominating the professional cutlery market for many decades, German knife companies have found a strange thing happening to them in recent years. Suddenly, Japanese knife lines were all the rage in gourmet cooking circles and European cutlery was considered “old fashioned.” Not only were the Japanese traditional patterns gaining wide acceptance, they were turning out German-style knives that many users felt were an improvement over the originals.
The Japanese knives had several things going for them. For starters, Japanese makers have long set a higher standard for the steel alloys used in their knives than have Western factories. Along with a wide variety of laminated iron/high carbon steel blades, BG-42, VG-10, and Hitachi White and Blue steels were all first offered in Japanese food prep lines. As a general rule, Japanese knives are also made from thinner blade stock than German knives and they are given a higher Rockwell hardness. A thinner blade tends to cut more efficiently and the greater hardness translates into better edge retention. It also creates a lighter, easier to maneuver blade that some chefs like and others don’t. On the down side, a thin, ultra hard blade will not stand up to the same abuse a classic German chef’s knife can handle so the end user really needs to be “into” knives to really appreciate Japanese cutlery.
After dominating the professional cutlery market for many decades, German knife companies have found…
by Gary Paul Johnston / Mar 1, 2008