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Fri Jan 03, 2014 10:29 pm
Any of you guys know about zhen knives? A buddy at worked offered me his nikiri as he bought himself a new one.
Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:58 am
IIRC they're VG10 with plastic handles(?)
I have not used zhen nakiri; but I suspect he purchased a new one because the zhen is sub par.
CKTG has several affordable nakiri options:
Link to the Yamashin-http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1na16.html
Link to the Tanaka-http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takuna16.html
Link to the Kajihara-http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tskakuna16.html
Link to the Murata Buho-http://www.chefknivestogo.com/mu16na.html
Sat Jan 04, 2014 9:14 am
Was more just wondering about the knife/steel since I've never heard of the brand
Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:04 pm
I have a Zhen paring knife. It is ok...I guess. I don't think I would recommend it. I got mine at woodcraft and made the handle myself. It is VG10 steel. I have gotten decent edges on it, but had trouble maintaining them (this may be me more than the knife). It is a reasonably thin knife, so even without a great edge it performs better than my pairing knives from western manufacturers. I agree with atang there are better knives out there.
Sun Jan 05, 2014 1:45 am
Nice link Jeff. I thought they came from Texas, I am not 100% sure where they are imported from, now I'm wondering if they have factories in countries other than Taiwan.
Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:08 pm
First a bit of basic production information: Zhen knives come from Taiwan and are made by a company called EverGood Hardware Products Co., Ltd, which is part of "Wan Zhen Enterprise Limited by Share Ltd" and has been in business since 1995. The EverGood product line is strictly kitchen cutlery related. They have 3 factories, in Taiwan and also on Mainland China. This information can be verified by Googling "Evergood Hardware Products Taiwan", going to the company website and clicking on the English-language part of their website.
A viewing of the information about their knives indicates that the knives are mostly copies of better-known knife brands, down to the point where the steels chosen are hardened to reflect close to the same characteristics of the target "copied" knives. Zhen knives made as copies to Global knives have Rockwell hardness ratings virtually identical to Global knives, Zhen knives made as gyuto's with laminated blades are also claimed to be hardened to the same extent (Rockwell hardness of 61) as Tojiros and other VG-10 steel core san-mai knives.
A number of their knives are ciaimed to use VG-10 steel in their cores. Whether this is true or not, I cannot verify. It might not necessarily be false, since there very well might be a secondary market for VG-10 production overpurchases from Japanese steel middlemen. Possibly to confuse the issue a bit more, some of the older Zhen knives say "VG-10" while some of the newer 3-layer Zhen blades just say "Japanese Steel". ????
I have purchased and used their 270mm 3-Layer VG-10 steel gyuto, as listed on Amazon.com. There are various handle materials available: the handle on the knife I bought is micarta (a lamination of multiple layers of linen and binding resin). My cost (before sales tax) was below $65. For a 270 mm laminated blade gyuto, that's very inexpensive. However, I'm only half-impressed.
Before getting into details on my opinions on the knife, I should note about purchasing through Amazon. First, there are multiple sellers on Amazon.com, and Amazon is just one of the sellers. Second, when Amazon is the seller, they have a tendency to float prices around - so you should check on where prices are running for a few days, or maybe hold off for a month to see if prices have either stabilized or have yo-yo'ed. Third, when Amazon is the seller, they have also combined different lengths of the same line of knives on the same web page - you need to be careful to check which knife blade length you are looking at or purchasing.
Now for the good points about the knife: First, it does outperform almost all non-Japanese Henckels and Wusthofs. I won't say that as a selling point, since almost all the knives at CKTG can claim the same. Second, at that price, it's a bargain compared to the European knives. It's whether the knife is a bargain compared to Japanese knives that's the issue.
Now for the issue points. Quality control seems to be a problem. The blade has a very slight curve at the tip, though at that length (270 mm, or 10 5/8"), controlling such a curve is a bit of a problem. The handle is polished, to the point where the rivets on the handle can be slightly felt on direct fingertip inspection - though they are not felt with a pinch grip or with a baseball bat grip.
And then there's the edge grind. In a nutshell, it's a problem. You really want a uniform edge grind/polish. The factory grind just doesn't do it. Inspecting the edge by reflection shows a multitude of angles. I have an Edge Pro (with Shapton Glass Stones), so I could re-finish the edge, but how many people could or would do that?
Another problem is the surface of the flat of the blade - it's a deliberately roughened matte surface. I know the theory - minimize surface tension by allowing for minimal points of contact between food and blade - but it can act like a drag on performance. If desired, you can just use ultra-fine sandpaper to remove it - but that is a bit of work. (The matte finish is not present on the Damascus versions of the knife - though at a premium, compared to the 3-layer Zhens).
It's not too difficult to make the knife more serviceable - re-bevel the edge, possibly use shellac on the handle around the rivets, finish-grade sanding of the flat of the blade to remove the matte finish and recognize that you might not be using the tip of a 270 mm blade knife all that much.
However, a different knife, such as a Richmond Artifex or a Tojiro DP or a Fujiwara FKM, might not be that much more and will not need the same level of effort to bring to quality serviceability.
One thing I cannot tell you about (since I have not had the knife all that long) is the heat-treatment quality of the core and the edge. I do not know if it will hold up against chipping.
I probably should also comment about "rader8888kimo", an eBay vendor. That seller seems to be a principal seller of Zhen knives. However, that seller also sells other items which are not related to EverGood, so my guess is that Rader is just a reseller, and is not a principal in EverGood.
Hope that helps.
Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:25 pm
I know a few cooks that have them and hate them.
If it's a gift, take it re-edge it and beat the crap out of it until you can replace it with something superior in quality and performance.