Top positive review
35 people found this helpful
A pretty decent knife set for the price
on January 26, 2012
FIRST IMPRESSIONS - I've used many different kitchen knives and cutlery sets before, and one of the main problems with some of them is that they give you too many knives and they're low quality. Most home cooks should be able to get by with a chef's knife, paring knife, kitchen shears, and steak knives. I also have a tomato knife, a boning knife, and a bread knife in my personal collection. However I am a bit of a knife snob, so right away, I was looking for faults in the Ginsu knives. I replaced my regular knives with the Ginsus and used them for one month to evaluate their effectiveness.
SHARPNESS - Ginsu advertises these knives as "never needs sharpening." This is a bit misleading. One would think that they never need sharpening because they are made of some type of fancy space-age steel that never dulls. Many knives make this claim, and you will notice that all of them are serrated. These knives are made of high carbon stainless steel. ALL knives will get dull eventually, and Ginsu serrated knives are no different. They claim they never need sharpening because when you use a serrated blade, you are actually sawing through the food rather than cutting with it. Once some of the serrated teeth start to dull, the knife will still cut fairly well, giving the appearance of being sharp. But what is actually happening is that the knife is now tearing and shredding the food, and while some of the serrated teeth are sharp, others are bent, misaligned, and dull. You can sharpen serrated knives, but you have to sharpen the teeth individually and it's easier just to replace the knife. I tested the sharpness of the knives by using the chef's knife to make several hundred cuts through PVC pipe, which is softer than bone, and I think a good approximation for normal wear and tear that you can expect to put these knives through over time. I then examined the teeth through a magnifying glass, and did notice evident wear on some of them and some slight misalignment of the teeth, although it was less than I expected (I will try to post a close up picture of this). Finally, I tested the cutting ability using a tomato, and it seemed to handle it just fine. So you may wonder why this matters at all, if the knife can still cut well? For most people, it probably won't. I don't like using them because dull serrated knives will leave a rougher edge on your food, and for a lot of things I make, I want a clean cut. Additionally, I use my chef's knife a lot to cut raw meat, and this knife does not handle raw meat well at all. The serrated blade pressed the meat in on the upstroke, requiring me to use downward pressure and saw through it. You shouldn't have to use much pressure at all with a good sharp knife, letting the weight and sharpness of the blade do most of the work.
QUALITY - For the price, the knife set is actually fairly decent. The blades are full tang, meaning that the metal runs all the way through the handle, so it's unlikely that they will break easily. They are made of high carbon stainless steel, which is an alloy of carbon, iron, and chromium and slightly stronger than stainless steel. The blades appear fairly strong and do not look cheap. The knives are a bit lighter than brands like Wusthof and J.A. Henckels. The handles are unfortunately made of plastic, but you're not going to find anything different at this price, and the handles are pretty nice. They are also ergonomic so they conform to my hands well. They look much better than I would expect from a knife set at this price.
USE - Right away, one of the best things I liked about these knives is that I didn't need a separate bread and tomato knife. For most applications, the santoku knife handled both with ease. It did take some getting used to the knives, but I don't think most cooks will have a problem with this. The scalloped edge of the santoku is great for preventing onion and celery from sticking to the knife blade, so you don't have to slide your hand down it to get all of the pieces stuck to a traditional knife. I used the boning knife on a few whole chickens and to de-bone some thighs and was a bit disappointed with it, as I think it is too light. Almost all of the knives are very well balanced, with the exception of the paring knife, which I think needs a little more weight in the blade. The kitchen shears are some of the best I've used, and are great for removing fat from chicken breasts or cutting through sinew.
CARE - Do not put these knives in the dishwasher (you should not put any knives in the dishwasher, regardless of what the manufacturer says). Do not store any of these knives in a drawer, which will bang up the edges. Keep them in the block when not in use, and wash the blades with hot soapy water and dry immediately. Even though they are stainless steel, they can rust and will rust if you don't take care of them. The knives do come with a limited lifetime warranty.
OVERALL - If you don't make a lot of very fine cuts and don't need to cut raw meat, I can't really say anything bad about the Ginsu Koden series. They handle the majority of food with no problem. Just be aware how serrated knives work, that they will dull eventually, and that they don't handle raw meat very well. But if you're okay with that, I think it's a fairly decent mid-quality knife set.