NEW KNIFE FROM SHUN — design is dubious

Shun this Shun!

A couple of weeks ago a cheffie friend of mine gushed with excitement over the new Shun line. I’m a knife junkie, it’s true, so this news gave me shivers. It’s revolutionary, she said. It’s totally unique, she bubbled. It’s called the Ultimate Utility, she practically raved. Now, she’d never seen one, never held one, but had been transfixed by the photo in the new catalog.

Of course I absolutely had to get one. On my next visit to my good friends at Ross Cutlery I ordered two, with the idea that I’d have one for me, one for my friend. When I finally got the knife I marveled at the beauty of the blade. Shun makes remarkable (and remarkably expensive) knives. This knife is interesting and unique. In design it reminds me of Japanese carpentry saws, with an ovoid blade and large, rounded serrations.

I tested the blade against my thumb — the blade scared me a bit. It was incredibly sharp. My first test was on an overripe tomato. I shaved a slice 1/16 of an inch absolutely perfectly. I cut an onion. Beautiful action!

However, the knife feels awkward. You can’t rock it — the serrations don’t permit it. Since the blade has a pronounced curve you really can’t saw with it, as you would with a very good bread knife. You can’t use it like an Asian veggie cleaver, which normally have extremely straight edges suitable for up and down slicing.

I’m perplexed by this knife. It has great novelty appeal, but for a $100 I expect more versatility, especially for a knife billed as the Ultimate Utility!

It is excellent for slicing tomatoes and soft pears, and for cutting small sandwiches in half. Otherwise I’ve found very little use for it. However, it looks really, really cool!!

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