Customer Reviews: Shun Premier Chef's Knife, 8-Inch
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Size: 8 Inch|Change
Price:$179.95+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on April 20, 2012
A little background. I've cooked professionally for the vast majority of my adult life.. so roughly 20 years now. A bit of a late bloomer, I'm just now going to culinary school at the age of 36. That said, I've been around the block a couple times and I know a quality product when I see one.

This knife is a bad ass. You know that guy that seems cool, but has that weird look in his eye and you're fairly sure he could end you if he really wanted to? Yeah, that's this knife. Compared to the knives that are provided by the vast majority of restaurants, well its like putting Butter Bean versus Jon "Bones" Jones. I've put this knife through its paces and here are my observations. Take it as you will.

(1)Beautiful. I get alot of "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" from people who haven't seen it before. "Oh my God" is a common phrase by people who hold it, and "Holy s*** I want one" is common by those who take a couple swipes with it.
(2)Sharp. Out of the box you can cut ripe tomatoes, apples, onions, etc extremely thin very, very easily. Thin enough that light passes through it. Can you shave arm hair with it? No. You cannot. You'll need to sharpen it yourself or have it sharpened professionally for that. Nevertheless its night and day what this knife can do when compared to your average professional kitchen knife.
(3)Comfortable. I've tried quite a few different lines from quite a few different knife companies and this knife ranks right up there in the top for me. I'm 6'2" 255 lbs, mediumish hands and I have plenty of room on this handle. Fits very well to my hand and is easy to maneuver. I didn't think I would like this rounded handle as much as I do the "D" shape of the Shun Classics, but I find I prefer the Premier weight/handle.
(4)Weight. I've used German-style knives pretty much my entire career and I was fairly certain I would hate this knife simply because it doesn't have the heft that a German brings to the table. I was wrong. I hate to admit it, but I was. The blade is so thin and so sharp that heft becomes nothing more than an unnecessary entity under most circumstances. Not only is the heft unnecessary in most cases, but this blade allows extremely precise cuts. On a lark, I wanted to see what it would do versus a plastic 3 1/2 oz souffle cup. It went all the way through it in a single pass without even the slightest crinkle in the cup. Quite literally hot knife through butter. Cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc are a freaking joke. Quite literally effortless.
(5)Durability. I'm putting this as a pro mostly because the steel holds an edge decently well under normal usage. Cutting vegetables, breads, deboned meats etc this knife will make you giggle with glee. It is not however designed for bones or for being a can opener. It is a precision tool. If you want something that will smash through product then you are probably looking for a higher end Henckel, Wustof or F.Dick knife. With a simple daily honing after use the blade will hold a close-to-factory edge. Sharp enough to shred paper, but not quite as sharp as when you pulled it out of the box (obviously).

(1)Price. If you're like most cooks, buying a knife at this price point is an investment. Its beautiful and performs extremely well, but you're always nervous its going to get dropped or misused by some idiot on the line that has no qualms about using items that aren't his/hers when you're not looking. Or it magically walking off. There are some pretty respectable SETS of knives that can be had for the price of this single knife.
(2)Blade height. Honestly, most of the time the blade will simply slice through things making this con inconsequential, but there are times where it is necessary to use the heel to cut through something and in this circumstance the blade isn't tall enough to accomplish the task without you smashing your knuckles into the product. There are only really one or two items in my current menu where this happens, but it absolutely makes me cringe when it does.
(3)Debris. While the handle is beautiful and very comfortable to the hand, it tends to collect pretty much anything it comes in contact with. The blade isn't much better. The "hammered" texture doesn't seem to have as much impact as one would think.

To say that I'm not in love with this knife would be a complete lie. It is easily the best knife I have ever owned and I would recommend the knife whole-heartedly. That said, the price point that this knife can be had at will make the vast majority of professional cooks cringe simply because of the environment that it is expected to survive in. Even as I write this review I am seriously considering buying a cheaper set that hopefully performs pretty close simply because the idea of this knife getting ruined makes my fists clench. Also, don't let water or acidic products sit on the blade for extended periods of time. Its kind of a no-brainer, but when you get used to abusing house knives, seeing the discoloration on this knife can make you a sad panda even though it wipes off pretty easy if caught in time.

UPDATE January 20, 2013: I've been using this knife for almost a year now. I have since purchased several other chef knives, including a $240 gyuto made with CPM-154 steel. I still keep coming back to my Shun. It is my go to knife for 90% of the stuff I do in the kitchen. I still have not experienced any of the chipping that some reviewers were complaining about, so it makes me assume they are mistreating this knife. For me, the Premier is the perfect balance of weight, utility, and beauty at a very competitive price. The blade is rigid(no flex) and while noticeably heavier than most gyutos and lasers, it is also noticeably lighter than German-style French knives. The VG-10 is about as good a steel as you're going to find at this price point. Good edge retention, but not superb. One of the best investments I have ever made.

UPDATE March 21, 2013: I figured I should mention my absolute favorite trait about this knife, and that is the finish and the geometry of the blade create a surface with virtually no drag. The combination create a performance trait that I have yet been able to replicate with another knife. It is particularly evident when doing your horizontal cuts for dicing an onion. With the grinds on other knives (Henckel/Miyabi products especially) they seem to create alot of drag and you almost have to rip the knife through the cut. The Premier is nearly effortless and it has caught some experienced cooks by surprise who had their hand on the back of the onion instead of on top where it belongs. Caution is warranted while you get used to this knife's characteristics.
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on January 22, 2014
I've had this knife for a couple years now and love using it. Knives are very personal, so be sure to try it out in a store to see how it feels in your hand. This knife fits my hand well in a pinch grip, particularly so because it doesn't have the typical Western bolster. This is a little ironic since the pinch grip isn't as prevalent with Japanese chefs, but it works well for me. I also find it to be light and maneuverable, especially when compared to my Wusthof and Henkels knives.

The real point I wanted to make for prospective purchasers who've never owned a Japanese knife is that it's important to understand that this is not the same as a Western chef's knife. The edge is ground at 16 degrees vs 20 degrees (typically) for your typical Western chef's knife such as Henkels. The lower angle aids in the perceived sense of sharpness. But as cutting angles get lower, the hardness of the steel must increase if you want the edge to last. Think of the profile of an axe vs a scalpel. The axe has a very steep cutting angle so there's plenty of support for the edge when chopping wood. The scalpel is only cutting very soft materials so it doesn't need a steep edge.

The next thing to realize is that as you make steel harder, it will generally (not always) become more brittle. There are more expensive knives than the Shun that are as hard or harder, but also more flexible. Unfortunately they'll generally cost quite a bit more as well.

So where I'm going with this is that typical Western knives (there are of course expensive exceptions) are made of a softer steel which is also more flexible than the Shun. This is why you steel your Western knives regularly - you're not sharpening them, you're straightening out the edge of the blade where portions have folded over during use. This is both the strength and weakness of Western knives - under stress the edges don't break, they fold over and can be easily straightened and sharpened.

The Shun by comparison is very tough but brittle. The edge won't fold, but under heavy stress (particularly laterally) it will chip rather than fold. Hence the title of this review - know your tools and you'll understand when and how to use them. Use your Shun for softer ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and meats without bones. If you rock-chop, don't drag your Shun sideways across a tough cutting board. A Western knife will just fold slightly at the edge, but the Shun risks chipping because although the steel is harder it is also more brittle. Don't toss your Shun in the dishwasher or let the edge bang against hard objects like pans, glasses, etc. When you need to chop through joints on a chicken or whatever, get out the Wusthof/Henkels. Cutting through a butternut squash? Use the Wusthoff. On the flip side, the toughness of the Shun steel will give you an edge that's really, really long-lasting compared to typical Western knives.

Understanding why your Shun is so light and crazy sharp will help you understand how to use and care for it appropriately. If your cooking style involves a lot of chopping up whole chickens, or you like to heavily drag the edge of your knife across cutting boards, then this particular knife is probably not for you. In my case I very rarely need to cut hard things so I use my Shun for 95% of my cooking chores, and I have both Wusthof and Henkels chefs knives that I reach for the rest of the time.
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on September 30, 2011
I am a pro chef at a large hotel in downtown Seattle. I use my knife for at least half of my day (3 to 4 hours), 5 days a week. I own both Japanese and German knives, all the best and most well known. I purchased a Shun classic 8 inch and was blown away at the quality and overall ballance of the knife. I decided to upgrade to the Premier...Wow, wow, wow!!! This knife is the best knife I have ever owned and I cant remember someone else I worked with having anything close to mine. Its like a scalpel or an exacto knife sharp...scary even for me and I do this stuff all day, Im trained. I must admit, I have cut myself twice already, because all the blade has to do is make contact with skin and it cuts...I know, im a wimp... Should you buy this? If your serious about culinary arts this knife is no joke. Not to mention, your gonna have a piece art on your cutting board, its a beautiful and worthy example of a real pro knife...I highly recomend. This knife should be kept far away from novices. I almost forgot to mention, it comes with a kick a** blade shield. Love Shun knives!!!
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on May 5, 2012
Professional chef, I don't like most japanese knives because I feel the handles are too small. Never crazy about most German or American knives because they are too heavy and don't hold an edge long enough. This is the first knife that is the best of both worlds, and I really feel it has no drawbacks. Julienne'd 50 pounds of onions yesterday and could not believe how it felt in my hand, (incredibly comfortable) like an extension of my arm, and how incredibly sharp and thin the blade is to give a perfect cut. The blade is really strong. I cut raw chuck rolls a few days ago and it was a breeze. No weakness from the metal at all. Someone was really thinking when they created this. For years I've said a chef's knife should be like this, and I feel my prayers have finally been answered. If your a professional chef this is a must to take a serious look at, and if your a home cook who wants to spend the money you'd be foolish not to buy this!
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on August 15, 2011
Like all Shun knives, this is truly a piece of art and a pleasure to work with. It holds an edge exceptionally well and has peerless balance. The 6" size is perfect for 90% of prep tasks. I get much less hand fatigue when performing large amounts of prep with this knife versus the more traditional 8" model. So why 3 stars? This knife, like every piece of the Premier series I've purchased, seems to have very poor quality control. The first two I received had multiple defects including chips in the blade (both), marks in the finish (both) and a cracked handle (just one). The third was acceptable, but was still imperfect (small nick in the handle). Unacceptable for a product in this price category. This is the last Shun Premier series I will buy. In the future I'm sticking to the Classic series.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon August 16, 2014
I hesitate to make negative reviews on Amazon due to some of the responses and comments I have gotten which are unprofessional and rather hurtful. So sometimes I find myself not making a review at all if I did not like a product. If someone disagrees with my assessment, I kindly ask you to disagree with me in a professional manner, and I will likewise show you the same courtesy.

I used this knife for a brief period, and my personal opinion is that at the price, much better options exist. It isn't that the knife is terrible, but more so that it is priced higher than other knives with the same level of performance. For example, a Tojiro 8in Chefs Knife costs less than a third the price of this Shun, and, while not as cosmetically pretty, I think it performs much better and that Tojiro produces better VG-10 steel than Shun does. If this Shun was around $60-80, it would be an awesome addition to the kitchen. But at this current price range, I think there are better options available.

Being a bit of a knife nut, I have purchased many different style kitchen knives over the years. Some have been less than $5 and some over $500. There are many knives closer to the $5 side that I like a lot, and when looking at a less expensive knife, I try to form my opinion keeping in mind it has greater value than very expensive knives. For example, I really like my Mercer chef knife and while I do not like it as much as my 270mm Konosuke Fujimaya or my Takeda, it costs 1/6th of the Kono or Takeda.

As noted above, I think pricing affects the assessment of how well a knife does or does not perform, and the Shun is priced competitively with knives that are better in every which way. The price of the 8 inch Premier puts it in a price range with the Konosuke HD, but there is a gigantic performance gap that makes it impossible to even compare the knives. Consequently, I find it hard to justify the Shun given within the hardcore chef knife communities that Konosuke is considered to be one of the best or THE best.

As some other reviews show, Shun knives are sometimes known for being a little more chippy than others. I had a different 8 inch Shun chip on me and I was cutting a soft surface over an end grain maple butcher block (widely considered to be the best material for a cutting board.) Shun makes it very clear that the Lifetime Warranty DOES NOT help you if chipping occurs, and Shun tends not to cover chipping that occurs even from normal usage. So I feel at this price you can get a knife in the same (or better) steel with a superior heat treatment, resulting in a tougher blade that holds an edge longer and is less likely to chip.

I also find that I prefer the Eastern rounded or octagonal handle (seen on other Shun models and most every Japanese knife more than this handle, and that this handle makes the classic pinch grip hard, which in parts make the fulcrum cutting motion rather difficult to do. Some people may prefer this asymmetric style (kind of a hybrid of the Western handles), but if you use the pinch grip a lot, chances are you will find you get more control and comfort with an octagonal handle.

So if you are considering this knife, my personal advice is to consider some of the other options before buying this Shun, such as the Konosuke HD or HD2 given the Kono is priced the same. There are many brands that make knives for the less than or the same price as the Shun, which I think you will like much more. Just a few makers include: Hiromoto, Kikuichi, Masamato, Kaneshige/Konosuke, Yoshihiro, SETO, Suisin, Misno, Tanaka, Takamura, and Tojiro. For a budget knife, Tojiro is probably my favorite brand and their $55 8-inch DP chef's knife is a fantastic performer.

Your mileage may vary.
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on June 30, 2015
Not so great.
Very expensive and fragile.
Not for the everyday cook.
Chips quite easily.
review image
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on November 29, 2013
Like some, I collect different kitchen knives as I see fit, all high quality and well reputed. I'd started with Wustof years ago. I have a nice high carbon knife I ordered direct from Japan, and several other knives with each having a specific purpose. I worked in kitchen retail with cutlery as my focus and received a Shun "Classic" paring knife as a "try me" piece. At one point is was the only knife I used in my kitchen. I worked with it exclusively for 4 years and it never needed sharpening (though I've had it professionally sharpened since because it seemed the thing to do). I also own the original Ken Onion Shun Chef's Knife.

The last knife mentioned, and my 8" Wustof Classic Chef's knife were too large, heavy and not super agile for my female hands. I very much wanted a 6" Chef and fell in love with the Premier the instant I saw it. Covered my female sensibilities (shiny! pretty! quality feel! really the design is amazing.), and my practical sensibilities (super sharp! durable- as known by reputation and experience! easy to handle and light as a feather!). It is an extremely impressive knife. Though it is not technically "hollow ground" the texturing design very much acts as a "non-stick" surface. The handle fits beautifully in one's hand. However, I'll point out that this knife is not exactly comfortable to hold as one traditionally holds a chef's knife (slightly on the blade) as the bolster does not have a rounded finish at the back end (as does my Wustof)- so I hold it by the handle only and it seems to work best this way, for me. I'm in love!
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on February 17, 2012
I'm a large guy(6'6" 270)from Louisiana. I have a mixed bag of knives... Cutco, Wusthof, some handmade knives, and a few specialty cheapo knives (like a nutria skinning knife...basically a paring knife). I can say that, out of the box, this is the sharpest knife I've ever purchased for doing vegetable prep. In Louisiana you chop A LOT of vegetables. My hands are large, and it feels very comfortable. I also love the weight; it is very light. I just made a large pot of duck and andouille gumbo, and I can happily report that this knife cut my prep in half. It's a bad boy, and I like it. I wouldn't use this knife for anything other than precision dicing and slicing. I'm glad a purchased it. Cest si bon. I hope it holds this edge.
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on May 19, 2012
I looooove this knife. So much sharper than my heavy (but trusty) German knives, beautiful to hold and to look at. My shallot fine dice looked like the work of a pro. Have bought a ceramic honing rod for it that I can use in between professional sharpenings (by hand). I've been recommended NOT to use a steel honing rod, as they are too coarse for Japanese blades. Now, what else can I go and slice up....?
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