Review Brief: Miyabi Kaizen II Chef's knife

I saw this beautiful Miyabi Kaizen II 8" Chef’s knife on sale at my local Sur La Table, and I bought it as a gift. Because this is a gift, I want to keep it as new as possible. I did sharpen it to improve the edge and I got to test a little. Compared to the previous Kaizen I, Kaizen II has a symmetrical handle which is thicker too. The core steel has been changed from VG-10 to FC61. It is said to be tougher than VG-10. Exactly what is FC61? Many speculate it to be AEB-L. It is definitely not VG-10. I personally like VG-10, but this steel seems fine.

First, as mentioned, the pattern is beautiful, and it is on sale for $100.

Second, I compared this knife to my Tojiro DP 210 mm gyuto (pretty much a Chef’s knife)

Weight
Tojiro DP: 195 g, Kaizen II: 202 g

Length
Tojiro DP: 210 mm, Kaizen II 200 mm

Blade width (spine to edge distance at heel)
Tojiro: 42 mm, Kaizen II 50 mm

Spine thickness
Tojiro DP: 1.8 mm, Kaizen II: 1.9 mm

Thickness above the edge
Tojiro DP: 0.9 mm, Kaizen II: 0.7 mm

As you can tell, the Kaizen II is not vastly different than the Tojiro DP. However, it has a much wider blade width and it has a noticeably thinner blade thickness above the edge – which many people like.

A couple of interesting things to be noticed. First, while the handle is symmetrical, the cutting edge bevel is not. It has a flatter edge angle on the right side and a steeper edge angle on the left side. Second, the burr raised up very easily and noticeably compared to my VG-10 knives.

Overall, I think it is a good buy for $100. It cuts well. It sharpened up nicely and takes on a good edge. I don’t know about its long term edge retention or chip resistance – due to my short term experience. It is a great gift if anything for its beautiful appearance and relatively low price. Moreover, it is a solidly functional knife.

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Thanks for the review, Chem. I’m sure the recipient is going to be over joyed with such a beautiful knife. I know I would! The only downside I see is that it wasn’t ready to go OOB. It’s wonderful you took care of that, but shouldn’t have to.

I appreciate the details/specs and your post is timely for me as I’ve just started considering dipping my toes into the waters of Japanese knives ( I don’t think my KAI Pure Komachi’s count, but I really do love them! ).

Would you recommend this knife for a newbie?

Thank you for your kind feedbacks. I should be clear that knife was sharp out of the box. It can cut foods and slice paper. I just wanted to make it even slightly sharper. Partially I did this because I want to see how this knife fares compared to my Tojiro DP (both sharpened at the same time in the same way). Another reason is that Sur La Table in the store ran out of this knife. This knife is actually in the display case. While it was mostly untouched, I just wanted to give it a touch-up. I got another 10% off for this knife because it was a display knife. ($90). :grin:

Yes, I would recommend this knife for anyone new to Japanese knives for a few reasons.

  1. The price right now is good. It is $100, so it is not a deep investment like a $200+ knife.
  2. You have the option to test drive this knife at a brick and mortar Sur La Table store. I did. This will give you a first hand experience how this knife really looks in person and how it cuts.
  3. Because this knife is under the Zwilling Henckels umbrella and sold by Sur La Table, you will get a good warranty and easy return policy. I know this is useful for people on the fence.
  4. I don’t know if this is absolutely true, but if this FC61 is indeed slightly tougher than VG10 as the store employee has stated, then it makes it easier for newcomers to use.

By the way, Kaizen I is also on sale in Cutlrey and More and Amazon.com (not from Sur La Table though) if you are interested in the narrower handle with a VG10 steel.

Finally, if price is a concern, then it is very difficult to beat the $52 Tojiro DP 8" (210 mm) Chef’s knife:

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Thank you for the response and the links.

While I can’t do it for a for a few weeks, I think I’ll go to Sur La Tab to check it out. I’m familiar with Tojiro, but only through reading through the CH archives and looking for recommendations. It seems to be a good knife at a value price.

“4) I don’t know if this is absolutely true, but if this FC61 is indeed slightly tougher than VG10 as the store employee has stated, then it makes it easier for newcomers to use.”

Could you clarify why a tougher steel would be easier to use?

The guy said that the sale will only be there for a month or a month and a half, so stop by and give it a try (and try a few other knives at the same time)

A tougher steel would mean the knife is less likely to chip, so it will be easier for people new to Japanese knives

Thank you!

That’s good to know about the length of the sale and trying out knives for weight and feel is so important. Maybe between now and the time I can go, I’ll get a coupon. Wouldn’t that be great? :grin:

I don’t want to take up your review thread anymore, so I think I’ll start another for recommendations.

Thank you so much for the specs on this knife - it’s definitely under consideration.

Thank you for your feedback. Have fun searching for your next knife.

Good review Chem,

Nice Damascus pattern. I think I have seen similar patterns in other knives with different steels.

So I’m thinking if is is AEB-L Swedish steel, similar grade to Misono UX 10 and Takayuki Grand Chef, but with Damascus pattern not mono-steel. It would maybe be 59-60 on HRC. definitely not “chippy” then and close to same hardness as VG 10.

Seems like a pretty nice deal to me and an upgrade for sure from Tojiro DP.

It does seem to cut with less resistance than my Tojiro DP. I did some cuttings comparison. This is probably due to the “thinner behind the edge” than anything else. Again, I wouldn’t able to comment the long term edge retention though. For a pattern knife, it is a pretty good deal for $99.

Thank you Chemicalkinetics. Your post inspired me to finally get serious about owning a couple of nice knives and learning to care for them.
So I went to SLT & bought a chef’s knife from the Miyabi Koh line. Also purchased a Wusthof universal sharpener and a steel sharpening rod on recommendation of SLT sales. (yes, my knife maintenance program has been The Pits.)
In searching through YouTubes on knife care I noticed one blog saying that his Japanese knives require a ceramic honing rod because the steel one is not aggressive enough.
Would you agree?
I did look at the Chefboyardee knife sharpening matrix but. . . ? Too many variables for my poor head to wrap around?
And piling through the interwebs is like leaping headfirst into the vortex. If you have a favorite source for knife care tutorials, well, let 'er rip. I’m not likely becoming a knife junkie but I respect the new knife. It’s so beautiful and wonderful to hold and use. Sort of a revelation, really.
(Also: bought a good maple end-grain cutting board. . . And am practicing on the knives I bought at Tuesday Morning.)

PS: Going here because you specifically address the Miyabi knife line. Sorry to mod if I missed the correct thread target!

Hi Jammie,

If you have the medium grooved steel (like below), then I do recommend against using it on your Miyabi Kohn knife.

In fact, grooved steel is not something I prefer for any knife. There are two main reasons why you don’t need a grooved steel. First, the idea of honing steel is to straighten a bent/rolled edge back. However, a harder steel knife like Miyabi Koh is less likely to roll, so there is not much use for that. Second, a grooved steel can damage the edge of a knife if you use too much force or coming in a the wrong angle. This would be true for any knife: Japanese or Western. In this sense, a ceramic rod is better because a ceramic rod can both realign and sharpen a knife (just a little).

Does your Wusthof universal sharpener looks like this:

If so, it has a tungsten carbide for coarse and ceramic rod pair for fine. Try to avoid the tungsten carbide part (coarse). Tungsten carbide is effective, but it also tends remove more material than needed. So what you will find is that initially the knife sharpening is very effective, but then gradually the knives no longer feel as sharp as before. Not sure if you can return these items at this point.

If you want an easy to use sharpening tool, I would recommend something along the line of:
Chef Choice Pronto (there are a few different version) or Spyderco Sharpemaker

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Chemicalkinetics, thank you! Yes the steel rod is very returnable. If I understand you correctly, I should exchange it for a ceramic rod - not to be used on Japanese steel, but for my other softer steel knives, just to keep the cutting edge aligned on a routine basis.
The sharpener (yes the one you show) is not returnable. Perhaps I can use the aggressive side to put an edge on my softer steel knives? And then stick to the ceramic side to keep them sharp?
In any case I’ll invest in the Spyderco sharpener. Chalk it up to shop first, ask questions later!

I would return the steel rod since you can. A ceramic rod will be good for both your Miyabi Koh knife and softer steel knives. A ceramic rod has duo function. It can serve as a rod to realign “rolled” edge, but it has a fine grit surface which does small amount of sharpening which is useful for both your Miyabi Koh and regular softer steel knives.

Oh one more thing, I know a lot of people recommend honing your knives before or after every use. For your Miyabi, you don’t need to use the rod every day. Only use it if you feel the knife is starting to get slightly dull.

For your Wusthof pull-through sharpener (since you cannot return), I would advise you to mainly rely on the “fine” setting for both your Miyabi knife and any other knives as well. Only use the coarse setting when you need to. In addition, don’t try to press too hard when you use the tungsten carbide side.

Ok, now I know what to do. Thanks!
Used the Miyabi Koh for about an hour tonight. Such a pleasure!

Oh, by the way, you don’t have to buy the ceramic rod now. The fine setting of your Wusthof pull-through sharpener is made of two tiny ceramic rod. Similar rod. Now, a full ceramic rod will last longer and probably work faster.

Glad to hear your Miyabi Koh knife is working out for you. When you notice the knife is start to be not nearly as sharp (probably a few weeks), then you can pull it through the fine setting of the Wusthof sharpener a few times.

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Wouldn’t the Wustoff pull-through sharpener be problematic with the Miyabi Kaizen II knife? Based on the Sur La Table web site, the Kaizen II is factory sharpened to an angle of 9.5 to 12 degrees. From what I hear the Wustof pull through has a preset angle. If that preset angle doesn’t match the angle of your blade, wouldn’t you end up putting a different wider angle on your Miyabi?

It has both Asian and European-style slots.

Ah, OK. I had not realized that. Though, the Wustof models that I’d looked at only had the one pair of slots. Though now I see that there are indeed models with two pair of slots as well as models specifically for “Asian” style bevel angles.

To me, another problem is the tungsten carbide in many Wusthof knife sharpeners. Tungsten carbide can be too aggressive for a good quality knife.

That’s why you suggested using the ceramic slot only. Which I do and so far so good, the edge is holding up well. Thanks!

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