Published on March 8th, 2014 | by Greg0
Sharp Steel: A Mean Half-Dozen Knives From Chroma (Part Two)
Yesterday, we took a look at three very different knives- a designer blade from a big name (Porsche), an American-manufactured knife, and an ultra-light Japanese piece of cutlery- all of which impressed, and especially considering their price points. Today, we have another trio from the same company, Chroma.
The first are a pair of Chroma Haiku knives, their Original version and their Damascus style. The Haiku line are manufactured in small Japanese factories from high-quality steel- and they use an unusual method, adding a bamboo peg (“mekugi”) where the tang and handle are joined for added stability. They also call them ‘cnifes’- don’t ask us- and claim that they are the only ones with a honoki-wood handle. It’s easy to shrug, until you hold one- we found both versions to be remarkably light and sturdy, while also being easy to hold- pretty much an ideal form for lighter chopping work. The line includes everything from Santokus to ones meant for bread slicing and sushi prep.
The Haiku Damascus version switches woods, using Cherry instead, for a bit of a darker color that still matches the theme and overall vision of the set. The blades themselves also got an upgrade- to “32-layer Damascus VG-10 core steel with a hardness of HRC 59-60°”. The Damascus appearance always looks better, but it also lasts longer and tends to be sharper in our experience as well, especially after a bit of time. We took both blades out for a whirl, starting with tomatoes and heading for the hard stuff, taking our turns with everything from fine work (herbs) to trimming steaks and everything in between. Versatile, the Haiku were natural fits for most hand sizes and had the best rhythm of any blades recently tested, ergonomic in a few grips and with several different motions. They feel a little more fragile than your traditional German knives (they warn you never to cut bone), and should always be washed by hand and never in a dishwasher. The Haikus range from $20+, but the Chroma Haiku Original 8-inch Chef’s Knife is under $100, and the Damascus Edition is about twice the price, at $180 (and every bit worth the premium).
Finally, we’ve also been testing out the Robert Irvine 10-Inch Chef’s Knife, a bold and beautiful blade that stands out in the world of celebrity tie-ins. As a basic Western knife, it fulfilled- but didn’t manage to excite. You might call it a “man’s man” piece of steel, hefty and a bit blunt- with an edge that wasn’t nearly as fine as the Japanese blades though not meant to be. Rough and tough, it didn’t feel as comfortable as some others we’ve tried, and it did seem like the price was in the signature (which is highly visible on the blade itself). That said, the finish was pretty nice, and it cleaned easily and held up well to more serious uses that would strain the more delicate blades above. And, at $70 or so, it’s still a good deal, especially for any fan.