Product review: Kamikoto ‘Kanpeki’ knife set

Let’s see how the Kamikoto ‘Kanpeki’ knife set does after a two-week hands-on test!

Note: A lot of people call the knives and the brand fake. Truth be told, the Kanpeki Set (Genten series) is made from Japanese steel, but sharpened in the Chinese town of Yanjiang with a long history of knife and swordmaking. Kamikoto’s HQ is based in Japan and they mark their Genten series products as a “Product of Japan and China“.

When  Kamikoto first offered to send me a knife set to review I was quite skeptical because this is the first sponsoring deal that I got. They stumbled upon my first cookbook on Amazon by accident. Trying these for about 2 weeks now I have to say that you’re really pleased with the overall quality and handling. The knives have a really solid weight to them but are really well balanced. They feel good in your hand and truth be told: They are sharp as f***! This is a set of knives that will probably keep me happy for years to come. You can find the more extensive review underneath.

 

What you get // the ‘Kanpeki’ knife set:

I shot a small little introduction video for Instagram when I received the set.

When you open the box you will find:

The 5″ utility knife

This is the versatile one. The short utility knife can be used for all kinds of cutting tasks. In my kitchen I usually end up using it for prepping jobs that do not require vigorous chopping. Think for example of de-seeding bell peppers

 

The 7″ Nakiri vegetable knife

This one kinda looks like a meat-cleaver but is actually for veggie chopping. After a quick google search it turns out that Nakiri is short form of “nakiri bocho” which translates to “knife for cutting greens”. The broad blade enables one to swiftly chop using the back of your fingertips as guide

 

The 8.5 ″slicing knife

If you are in need for a long, thin knife for slicing fish and meat, this will is the go-to option. This incredibly sharp knife will slice through meat and fish with ease

The three knives are delivered in a nice wooden box, alongside a certificate of authenticity and a lifelong guarantee.

 

Looks and feel

When it comes to first looks – this knife set is sure to impress! The shiny steel with the mat black handles sure looks nice in your kitchen.

For some reason, I really quickly had some discoloration on the small utility knife. Even after washing the blade with dishwashing liquid and a sponge it seemed to stay kind of stained. You can see in the picture below.

Cocoa-crusted pork chop with garlic, leek and hazelnut gremolata. A recipe I came up with when writing my second book “Flavor Math” about flavor combinations

After washing it a few more times, that stain disappeared though. However, others showed up, making the knives look a bit patchy at times. Don’t know yet what I’m doing wrong here.

All three knives feel sturdy and reliable. The handles are smooth and seamlessly go over to the blade. From a tactile point of view, I expect that they will serve well for years to come.

 

Handling

If I compare the knife set to my regular €5 supermarket knife that I normally use, I have to say that they cut in a very very different way. I’m not referring to sharpness in particular but to the actual edge of the knives. Kamikoto knives are single-beveled which is typical of Japanese-made knives. This means that they are sharpened on only one side, while the other side is straight.

Western knives, on the other hand, have more of a V shape, with both sides being sharpened at an angle.

Western knives:           \/

Japanese knives:          |/

This small little difference, take a lot of getting used to. The only time I ever used Japanese knives before, was when I was actually cooking in Japan last year. (They call Japanese knives just knives there. Weird…). However, the longer I use them the more I actually enjoyed cutting with this different style of knives.

As I normally never use small utility knives, the 5″ Utility Knife took the most time for me to actually get used to. Usually, I always use a chef’s knife for everything. A broad chef’s knife is, in my opinion, is by far the most versatile utensil you can have in your kitchen. While different knives have different purposes a chef’s knife will pretty much always do the job.

The 7″ Nakiri vegetable knife is ultimately the one knife that I prefer and use the most from the set. Especially for veggies like cucumbers and carrots, it makes chopping stuff just so easy. Cutting into julienne (matchsticks) is usually a task that I absolutely hate, but with this cleaver, it becomes kinda fun. The straight knife-edge on the one side makes it so easy to slice wedges and then cut them into the thin strips afterward. Chopping herbs is also a breeze with this knife.

 

Versatility

With the three knives you are getting in the set, you are set for most tasks in the kitchen.

Even though the 7″ Nakiri knife looks like meat-cleaver it is not. If you would try to use it to chop through bones, you would probably ding-up the blade. If I need to chop through a thin bone, I still use my regular chef’s knife, otherwise, I still have a meat-cleaver laying around somewhere.

The only thing that I can’t do with this knife set is peeling. The knife most suited for this would be the utility knife, but with the single-beveled, I always end up cutting way too deep into the fruit/vegetable I’m trying to peel. If you are as clumsy as me, you will therefore still need either another small utility knife or a simple vegetable peeler.

Sharpness

I am more than definitely not an expert on knives. For exact degrees of hardness and measures of sharpness, you can better consult other sites. My layman’s evaluation of these knives is: They are sharp as heck!

If you use a semi-sharp knife for vegetables like tomatoes and spring onions you sometimes get that one thin skin-like layer at the bottom where your knife did not fully get through. With these knives, you never have this problem because there are so razor-sharp that they easily cut through squishy vegetables with ease.

How well the blades will actually keep sharp, only time can tell. Usually, I use a honing steel to straighten the edge on my cheap €5 knife. For Japanese knives, you would usually use a whetstone (aka. water stone). Even if you have one, I would still prefer to definitely leave this to the experts.

 

Price

My main critique point for the knife set is the actual price. In all fairness, these are really sturdy and well fabricated hand-crafted knives, but I think that at $1,400 these are clearly overpriced.

To be honest, I would never pay this much for this knife set. Kamikoto regularly prices off these knives with a whopping 70-80% discount. Meaning that you can buy them for around $300 – Which is a lot less than the recommended/usual selling price.

My personal opinion is, if you are able to regularly sell the knives in the $300 price range, that’s probably the price that most people should actually pay for the set.

 

Critical note

There are several people out there calling these knives fake and just a marketing ploy. The same goes for the rather high amount of 5-star reviews you will find on Amazon and similar sites. Truth be told, Kamikoto is a Chinese-based manufacturer. Still, they make high-end Japanese-style knives handcrafted from Japanese Honshu steel.

Overall rating [4 out of 5]

All-in-all, I would give the knife set a 4-star rating out of 5. I am really pleased with the look and feel as well as the sharpness and handling. The main critique point is the price. If I would need to choose between my €5 knife and this knife set, I would most definitely prefer the Kamikoto knife set. But then again if you are a chef on a budget: Your supermarket knife (if sharpened regularly) will probably easily do the job for you as well.

I think you can somewhat compare this to buying a car. You can buy a cheap car that gets you from A to B if you are just looking for a tool that gets the job done. However, if you have the money to spend and you are after experiencing a Ferrari,  -okay, maybe BMW- you will need to spend the money accordingly.

At the end of the day, you get what you’re paying for. If you’re taking the cheaper route, you will get essential tools that simply get the job done. If you have money to spend, you can enjoy the luxury other people probably want experience.

Would I recommend that you buy these: I would say ‘Yes – if you have the money to spend!’ I would still probably advise you to wait until the knives are priced off again.

[13-05-18: At the time of writing this review the 79% discount code 79OFF is still working on eu.Kamikoto.com]

 

And as I helped you to save a solid 800 bucks, you might want to spend these on my second book Flavor Math, which is available now digitally (PDF) for only €10! Pick up some creative ideas and put your chopping skills into practice!

 

Have you tried knives from Kamikoto and can compare them to other Japanese knives? Let us know in the comments below what your experiences are!

PS: I am actually thinking of doing a series of videos about knife and cutting skills. Let me know if you would be interested to see this!

 

By chance, local discounter LIDL just had 3 different Japanese knives for a measly €8,99 per knife.

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3 Comments

  1. August 8, 2018
    Reply

    Comparing these knives to a Ferrari is a HUGE stretch, Maybe something like a Hyundai would be more appropriate.

  2. James Meabrod
    February 26, 2019
    Reply

    I got that knife set for$25. 97 … Great Buy!!!

    • johnny
      February 26, 2019
      Reply

      Woow, that’s ridiculously cheap! Where did you find that deal, James?

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