Kudamono is one of those knives that ended up with me for edge restoration, and as a subsequent result I had a couple weeks to play with it and do more thorough evaluation. Being a small, paring type knife I didn't really need that much time to do whatever the tests I usually do, but there were other knives in the bunch to work with and in the end, I had it for quite a bit, until I returned them all. Funny, by this time I've had most of the various Henckels Miyabis go through my hands, yet none of them were actually mine, even though I did like a few of them, in fact I liked some of them a lot. I don't think I'd buy Kudamono for myself, mainly because of the VG-10 steel. That's not to say VG-10 is a bad steel, it's no longer interesting to me and that's all. I have had a few knives made out of that steel and I was pretty happy with their performance, so unless you have very strict requirements about having exotic and super high end steels in your kitchen or other knives, VG-10 will do fine. Kudamono model in is only produced in Miyabi MD series, which uses VG-10 steel, but it's not present in 7000MC series which is using ZDP-189 steel.
General- Officially, Henckels 34541-090 Miyabi 7000D Kudamono is a small vegetable knife. I don't know what exactly Kudamono is in Japanese, roughly (or strangely) it translates into English word fruit. So, if you translate literally, you have fruit vegetable knife. Well, regardless of the exact name translation, you can say it is a small paring knife, with a sheepsfoot blade. Like I said, the knife came to me used, so I haven't seen its original packaging, but if you have seen one for the series, you've all of them. So, to summarize, it comes in a nice box. Build quality on all of the Miyabis I have never seen is very high and I've never found production defects on any of them. Kudamono was no exception, nicely made knife, and even though the edge was really damaged, you could still tell the quality was there. Overall, it is a small paring knife, nicely designed and made. It's pretty light for its size, which I consider to be a positive quality. Other than that, there are no unusual or original features on this knife. I'll review the rest in details below.
Blade- The blade on Miyabi Kudamono is 90.00mm(3.54") long, and 20.60mm wide at the heel. Well, it's pretty much the same width through the whole length, except at the tip. As for the thickness, it is relatively thin for a paring knife of its size, just 1.80mm thick. Actually, all of the Miyabi knives are on the thin side in general, relative to their lengths of course. Considering that the blade has Warikomi Awase type cladding, its thinness is even more respectable. Generally, I really appreciate thin knives, unless the specific task calls for the thick ones, which is rather rare. To complete the description, let's mention that the jigane is made out of damascus stainless steel, and the hagane is made out of the Takefu VG-10 steel, at 60-61HRC. The blade geometry is called sheepsfoot and general consensus is that it is safer to handle, compared to more pointy cousins. If you need a paring knife on the boat, where you plan to cook, especially during the storm ;), then that's perhaps your choice. Anyhow, I don't cook on the boats, but I do have a few of sheepsfoot knives, sometimes they are more convenient to use, besides it's not always waves and boats that need more safety, working with wet or oily stuff may also call for safer. The original, factory edge on Miyabis should be around 12° per side, convex grind. I doubt it'd be thicker than that on a small knife like Kudamono. I did rough measurement, and calculations came out to 12°-14° per side. I had to resharpen the blade, the edge was way too damaged, and given its condition, I've figured I had to make the edge a bit more obtuse, to avoid the same from happening. 15° per side was a standard choice, any thicker than that is way too detrimental for cutting performance, even if the edge becomes stronger, it's not really worth it.
Sharpening VG-10 steel is fairly easy work and even though the edge was severely damaged I've managed to fully restore it in just under an hour, including finishing on 0.25µm diamond loaded strop and plain leather strop. Obviously, I've had to start with considerably coarser stones, given the damage to the edge. Still, I didn't have to resort to something as drastic as 120 Grit DMT D8XX, just started with Beston 500 grit Japanese whetstone, and moved up gradually with King 1200 grit Synthetic Japanese whetstone, then Aoto 3000-4000 grit synthetic whetstone, and the last two were naniwas as usual, the 5000 grit Naniwa synthetic whetstone, and 10000 grit Naniwa synthetic whetstone. The result was high polished, very sharp edge, which was still very suitable for paring knife works. As far as sharpening and maintenance goes, it's pretty easy as you can see, because if it takes less than hour to restore badly chipped edge all the way to 100K finished edge, regular touchups and resharpenings are far quicker.
Handle- The handle on the Miyabi Kudamono is a standard handle for Miyabi MC and D series. Pakkawood, oval, D shaped handle with stainless steel bolster, including characteristic squares on the bolster. I said in many other kitchen knives reviews that I'd rather have an octagonal handles on the kitchen knives, but as far as non octagonal handles are, Miyabi handles are pretty good. Handle durability is not a question, Pakkawood is a dense, tough type of the wood, and can stand up to quite a bit of abuse. Stainless steel bolster is also protecting the wood from moisture, and makes the knife looks a little better, well I think so. Anyway, there's quite a few people out there who consider Miyabi handles too flashy or badly designed, but in my opinion they are neither. The rest is up to you though. If you like them visually, then there is no reason to reject them, in terms of grip security, durability and comfort, they are well designed and performing.
Usage- As stated above, the knife was in my possession for a few weeks, although I've actually used it during only two weeks. As I said in other paring knives reviews, their use is rather limited, at least compared to Gyutos and chef's knives, but still, there's plenty to do in the kitchen. The most rigorous test was the usual prep work of the vegetables of about 20 different types. I've described it for many other paring knives, and I did the same with Kudamono as well. Plus, small cutting chores here and there during those two weeks I was using it. If you are interested, next few paragraphs are detailed description of the tests, otherwise you can jump straight to the conclusions section. Also, so it happened that I've ended up with the Wusthof Grand Prix 4005 paring knife reviewed earlier, as usual for yet another sharpening, just from the different person. Anyway, I did few comparative cutting tests, and I'll mention them as I describe the tests, although there was not much of a competition between those two paring knives, Miyabi came ahead all in all of the tests. To be fair, Wusthof had a thicker edge, because of the softer steel, around 17° per side.
As usual the test started with the Brussels sprouts, cutting the ends on them, quite annoying thing to do BTW, harsh stuff to deal with, and if you are not cutting properly, it is fairly easy to deform the edge in the process, in other words, dull it prematurely. That's more true for softer edges, especially like on the western kitchen knives, e.g. the Wusthof Grand Prix paring knife, which I didn't use in this test. Given the razor sharp edge, sprouts were an easy chore, except for the sheer amount of those. Sheepsfoot blade has its advantages, as in it has longer straight section of the edge and it becomes handy in this sort of work, which(choke grip) is what I use primarily for this particular test. The blade is somewhat short in general, just 90.00mm(3.54"), and extra 10-15mm would be nice, but like I said, sheepsfoot blade geometry means longer straight edge, sort of makes up for it, but on the other hand, you are missing the narrow point, for the jobs you really need them. Anyway, not for this work. After processing all of the sprouts, no edge degradation was noticed. Even though the handle is somewhat narrow, the knife is quite comfy in the choke grip, more comfortable than the Wusthof paring knife. Next up, the Italian parsley, cutting the ends on the bunches. No real challenge there for any paring knife, just how easy it gets. Sharp edge, plus straight edge line does make it easy. Next was the red radish, which when you are cutting them from the bunch requires a little more pointy tip. Here both knives scored pretty much the same, except I felt the handle was more comfortable on the Miyabi in either grip. Cutting out the stems or the hard core of the green collard leaves was alright, more pointy knife would do better, but considering that I routinely do the same task with Watanabe Kamagata paring knife, it's not something difficult or annoying.
The next ingredient, Broccoli needs pointy tip too, at least the way I try to clean the small leaves from the crowns, I'd prefer a pointy tip. Still, quite manageable with the sheepsfoot knife. As for the asparagus, I just cut the hard ends using the board, and as usual straight edge helps with that, well a Gyuto with large belly would've been better, but it's alright with the paring knife too, if you work with few shoots at a time. Paring knife isn't really the right one for it. Other small stuff isn't worth detailed description, but overall impression was positive. Last and the worst was the avocado peeling. 7 of them, cutting each in four and then peeling. Mainly choke grip was used. With avocados main challenge as usual becomes the slippery handle, and smooth, round handles are more difficult to hold steady. I expected Wusthof handle to be more steady because it is polypropylene, somewhat grippy when dry, but no, once my hands were covered with avocado paste, the handle on the Wusthof Grand Prix paring knife was more slippery compared to Miyabi. Quite unexpected result, somehow I remembered Grand Prix to be more secure than it felt this time. I guess everything is relative. That concluded the salad prep and salad itself.
Next major session was a week later. Same ingredient list, but next day it was additional items including potatoes, an apple, an orange and some garlic. Can't invent any news tests for all that, and I said in many other reviews, no matter which knife I use, I am bad peeling potatoes. Kudamono didn't do any magic either, I still knew I wasn't doing good. Besides peeling, potatoes have those "eyes" that need to be cut out. Needless to say for cutting out small spots like that, more traditional pointy tip is easier to work with. I specifically picked up Tojiro Flash paring knife to compare how much easier it would be to work with, I wouldn't say the difference was huge, but it was noticeable. Sheepsfoot blade was however easier when crushing garlic cloves and peeling them. As for the apple peeling, it was pretty much the same, but picking up the apple pieces by sticking the knife in them was easier with the pointy Tojiro. Yeah, I could easily stick the sheepsfoot knife in the same apple, but the other one was easier. That's pretty much it, I didn't have any other items to cut with Kudamono during those two weeks. Well, I did, but I wouldn't be carving or slicing meat with 90mm long paring knife anyway.
Conclusion- Overall impressions were positive. Nice little knife, well made, well designed, with good steel, and it's a good performer in terms of cutting and overall edge holding. Would I buy it for myself? No, because I have had enough VG-10 knives already, and I have more than enough knives in general to be interested in this one. If you are a collector, or interested in high end steels, then you can skip it. Otherwise, if you are looking for a good paring knife and the design looks appealing, then just find one for the right price.
- Blade - 90.00mm(3.54")
- Thickness - 1.80mm
- Width - 20.60mm
- OAL - 200.00mm(7.87")
- Steel - VG-10 steel at 60HRC
- Handle - Pakkawood
- Weight - 84.00g(2.84oz)
- Acquired - 01/2011 Price - 90.00$
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Last updated - 09/01/11