Mizen is a new knife company that has only one mission: create an affordable, quality chef’s knife to sell direct to consumers. Here’s my Mizen Knife review – highlighting both PROs and CONs.
Misen Knife Review
Misen began on Kickstarter and raised over $1 million on their concept for an Everyman’s workhorse knife. Something beautifully designed, made of the quality steel, a knife that any high-end chef wouldn’t hesitate to use. A knife that only costs $65 but that can rival a $200 version.
Did they succeed?
Misen Knife PROs:
The design of the knife is a cross between European curved belly (for rocking motion) design, and the Japanese thinner, sharper edge.
The Misen is made from Japanese AUS-8 High Carbon Steel, which also includes “vanadium which improves wear resistance and gives good toughness. It also reportedly makes the steel easier to sharpen, ” according to BladeHQ website (fascinating facts on all types of materials used for knives)
I’m not an expert on steel, but from all the research I’ve done the past week, it seems that AUS-8 is good…but certainly not the best. It’s a good balance between durability, ease of sharpening and rust resistance. It’s an average material used in many mid-grade Japanese kitchen knives.
Graphic from Misen:
Misen is tempered at 58º-59º Rockwell (higher numbers=harder). The harder the steel, the more durable (holds edge well), but also more brittle. As I mentioned in my Wüsthoff 8-inch Uber Cook’s Knife Review, I own many high end Japanese chef’s knives, which are 60º-61º. The problem with thin, harder steel is that it can shatter or chip when dropped on a tile floor. You’d never want to whack through bones with those knives (ahem, from experience).
It’s a balance. If the steel is too soft, you’d have to sharpen it very often. It would be too dull! Also, harder knives are difficult to sharpen and hone. It usually takes me twice as long to sharpen my Japanese knives.
Misen’s 58º-59º Rockwell is a good sweet spot. I’ve been using this knife everyday for the past 2 weeks without sharpening or honing it.
Does it stay sharp?
Tonight, I used the knife for some heavy chopping work (2 pounds of potatoes, 3 pounds of carrots, 2 heads of cabbage to make some vegetable soup for a party) and then thinly sliced 6 pounds of London Broil to make beef jerky (usually I use an electric meat slicer for this task, but wanted to see how comfortable this knife was.
More on comfort later.
After all that chopping and slicing, I then dropped a tomato on the blade to see how sharp the edge still was (keep in mind this was after 2 weeks of everyday heavy use, recipe testing and cooking family meals – no honing or sharpening)
The tomato drop: It took three tries. The first two tries the tomato bounced off the blade (you can see the dent). I then honed with a few swipes on each slide…and after honing, the third time was magic.
I say this Misen knife passed the test. The true test is how long I can go without sharpening. Honing is simple and fast, just a few swipes on each side alternating and I’m done. It takes me no longer than 10 seconds.
Sharpening is an activity. It takes time, so I do all my knives usually once every 3 months. I use either the Chef’s Choice Angle Select electric sharpener (highly recommended, as it sharpens both Asian style and European style knives) or I dedicate an hour and half of my time to sharpen with my Japanese Naniwa water stones.
Is the Misen Comfortable?
I think out of all my knives that are currently in rotation (I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that I have 3 knife rolls, all filled in every slot with knives), the Misen is the most comfortable for heavy cutting work. Here’s why:
Weight – the Misen weighs 7.9 ounces. In contrast, the Japanese Global knives (#4/#5) are 5.8 and 6.2 ounces.
Heavier knives are easier to use when cutting through thick, fibrous vegetables, meats, potatoes, etc. The nimble Global knives are great for delicate knife work – creating paper-thin slivers of onion and bell peppers for stir fries.
But I’d never use the Global for cutting through thick roasts, squash or anything that requires a little more work. They are just too light and require more effort on my part.
Just for comparison, the Wüsthof Uber Cook’s Knife that we just reviewed is 7.5 ounces…pretty close.
Most comfortable bolster
The bolster is the thick piece of metal that is the transition between the handle and the blade. Do you see how Misen’s half-bolster is curved — versus my custom made New West Knifeworks (#1) is thick, horizontal and has a hard edge? Look at the Global knives — there is no bolster.
No bolster is great for getting close to my food and the knife. I have a lot of control with a pinch grip. There’s nothing getting in the way, and hard edge of a bolster against my finger to cause callouses.
But since using the Misen, I actually prefer a sloped, graduated bolster. My forefinger just hooks right into that groove. My thumb slides right in place. A graduated bolster actually gives me more control over the knife – I get a better pinch grip.
It’s more comfortable than any other knife that I have.
The half-bolster also means I can use the entire length of the blade…and sharpen the entire length of the blade. Here’s an example of a knife with full bolster – not recommended.
Asian style 15º Edge
European knives tout a 20º edge, but I always prefer the 15º Asian style edge. It’s more sharper and I can get more precise cuts.
Graphic from Chef’s Choice, the experts in electric knife sharpening.
Misen’s knife is 15º. Perfect. The only time I use a 20º edge is when I need to butcher a chicken, Chinese style (whack through bones, and cook/serve pieces bone-on). I have a scary looking Chinese Cleaver for that job!
If you don’t enjoy the sharpening, you Misen offers free lifetime sharpening. Personally, I love sharpening with the Japanese water stones when I have time. It’s very meditative. If I don’t have almost 2 hours to set aside for the stones, the electric sharpeners make it very easy, but it does make a horrendous noise.
Okay, now for the CONs:
Misen Knife CONs
Made in China
While the Misen knife is made of Japanese steel, the manufacturing is in China.
Is $65 really that cheap?
Well…..there are so many knife companies and so much competition that prices are getting lower and lower in the category that Misen is competing in.
The Shun Sora 8-inch knife that’s made in Seki, Japan is only $15 more, but is made of better quality steel. A knife like the Shun or Misen should last you many, many years (my Global knives are going on their 9th year), if you take care of them well. I wouldn’t hesitate to spend an extra few dollars for a better quality knife.
However — the free lifetime sharpening is something that is pretty cool. You can either 1) Spend $150 for an electric knife sharpener 2) $8-$10 per knife to get it sharpened locally 3) pay for shipping to Misen for free sharpening.
Who? Where? How?
Misen is a brand new company. Even their website is sparse, with zero information about the company, the founders, the location, etc. Perhaps the company just hasn’t had time to flesh out their website, but I always am hesitant to recommend companies without a published address and phone number. Even the “About Us” is a short, generic paragraph.
The Kickstarter page has a little more information, but even the founder’s names are just first names only.
How will the lifetime sharpening work? I don’t know. They don’t know either, as it’s TBD on their website.
The Misen Chef’s Knife is the most comfortable knife I own for lots of big, tough chopping. The blade stayed sharp, it just needed a little honing to get it back into shape after heavy use. It’s a pretty knife, I love that cornflower blue.
Free lifetime sharpening is appealing, but for the cost of shipping, I might as well get it done locally.
I’m hoping that Misen can be a little more transparent and provide more information about their company and team. I’ll update this review if I get more information!
Misen Knife Giveaway
Misen is providing a knife for a lucky winner!