I often cook in other people's kitchens, and the first thing I check is the sharpness of their knives. This isn't because I'm a knife snob—it's because after years of dull cutlery in my own kitchen, I finally realized the joy of a sharp kitchen knife in my hand.
This realization came after my knives were so dull I had to hand them over to be reset and sharpened by a pro. While I waited for their return, I decided I should expand my knife collection anyway. Affordable prices and a reputation for thoughtful construction convinced me to buy a Misen Chef's Knife.
The knife handles heavy-duty tasks, too, like cutting the ends off a bundle of asparagus in one motion or smoothly slicing open a pumpkin.
Misen Chef's Knife
Sharp out of the box
Full tang AUS-10 steel blade
Easy to keep sharp with regular honing
Prone to water spots if not hand-dried
As soon as I pulled it from its box, this blade supplanted my other kitchen knives because it was so incredibly sharp. The best part is, the knife has stayed that way: 18 months later, I have yet to need it professionally sharpened.
That sharpness comes from some quality materials and craftsmanship. Misen puts a high-carbon steel blade in its chef's knife, with a 15-degree angle that's narrower than that of many similarly shaped knives. The blade extends the full length of the handle, holding it securely in place. This chef's knife hits the sweet spot between flexibility and firmness that lets me halve a melon or winter squash without worrying about blade damage.
I have cared for the knife to keep it as sharp as the day it arrived. (Misen recommends hand washing and then immediately drying.) It was obvious to me that knives kept out of the dishwasher lasted longer, but hand drying seemed less crucial until I noticed water spots along the blade. A soapy rubdown took them away, but I now hand wash and dry all my knives before connecting them to their magnetic strip.
To avoid professional sharpening this long, I also made honing my knives as habitual as brushing my teeth. The analogy may seem odd, but this is the image that made me improve my haphazard knife care: You know that fuzzy feeling when you rub your tongue along your teeth after forgetting to brush them? I imagine my knives get that same fuzzy feeling without regular tuneups. Now I can't stand to let my knives go too long without honing.
These days, I take Misen knives with me if I know I'll be cooking in someone else's kitchen.
I'll eventually want to have the chef's knife professionally sharpened. Misen makes this easy, too: For a $14 postage fee, the company will sharpen its knives as long as you own them.
Until then, the quality blade and a little maintenance have gotten me through two harvest seasons, when I process box after box of tomatoes, peppers, corn, and apples. The knife handles heavy-duty tasks, too, like cutting the ends off a bundle of asparagus in one motion or smoothly slicing open a pumpkin. I use it to chop, dice, and thinly slice onions, tomatoes, and potatoes. I've even used it to break up chocolate blocks and slice pumpkin pie.
I prefer this chef's knife to my other stay-sharp knives, made of ceramic, because I can use the side of its 8-inch blade to crush garlic loose from its peel and then switch to a rock-chop motion that turns the cloves into a fine mince. When I need to cut out tomato cores, hull strawberries, or peel ginger, I grab the Misen paring knife before returning to the chef's knife for slicing and dicing.
These days, I take Misen knives with me if I know I'll be cooking in someone else's kitchen. They're affordable enough that I've gifted them to family members I cook for often. They're that sneaky gift that benefits both the giver and the recipient—now I know what I'll find when I check their knives.
Material: AUS-10 steel blade, composite handle | Blade Style: Traditional Western-style curved | Tang: Full | Blade Length: 8 inches | Total Length: 13.5 inches | Weight: 8 ounces | Handle Colors: Blue, black, gray, red | Dishwasher Safe: No
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Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and is the author of the weekly newspaper column and food blog, Twice as Tasty. Every kitchen tool and gadget must earn its place in her 500-square-foot home as she bakes, preserves, ferments, grills, and eats well year-round. Julie published her first cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Pickling," in 2020.