An Expert Guide to Miyabi Knives
Cutlery Expert Alex Alcarraz gives the full rundown of Miyabi brand knives and lists their main knife sets so you can find the perfect set for your kitchen!
Miyabi is one of the most famous Japanese knife brands in the market. What makes these knives so enticing to professional chefs and passionate home cooks stems from their beautiful aesthetics. However, Miyabi knives are not only beautiful, but they are also incredibly sharp, made with high-quality materials, and designed to give a high level of cutting performance and precision that lasts longer than conventional knives.
Miyabi knives are made in Seki City, Japan—a city that has been the center of craftsmanship and the forging of fine Japanese swords since the Middle Ages. Once samurai swords were deemed illegal during the Meiji Restoration, long-time artisans of fine swords pivoted to use their skills towards a smaller yet just as culturally significant necessity: the kitchen knife. Thanks to this Japanese craftsmanship being kept alive, traditions that could have been lost to the ages remain within our reach in modern times.
In order to better understand why Miyabi knives are so popular, let's fast forward a bit. In 2004, Zwilling J.A. Henckels acquired a knife factory in Japan, and so Miyabi was born. This development allowed the big German brand to offer Japanese-style knives to its markets. Although Zwilling is the big umbrella in which Miyabi finds itself, these are undeniably Japanese knives. It takes 42 days to make these sharp blades through a 13-step forging process that merges tradition and cutting-edge technology. Let's see the categories that have made Miyabi a synonym for excellence and high quality.
Miyabi Birchwood SG2
The soul of this line of knives is the SG2 micro-carbide powder steel core. It is protected by 100 layers of stain-resistant steel, which is made by sandwiching several pieces of steel and hammering them together through the forging process. This is how Damascus blades are made. The blades are put through a sub-zero tempering process called Cryodur that helps the steel have a higher hardness, resulting in a longer-lasting edge that is incredibly sharp. The final touch of craftsmanship and comfort comes through in the handle made of Karelian birch wood that is fitted into the tang of the knife in a traditional D shape to rest comfortably in the palm of the hand.
If you want to take an extra step in the care of the birch wood handle, you can rub a small amount of mineral oil and beeswax on it. The mineral oil adds clean moisture to the wood, and the beeswax seals it in. Twice a year is more than sufficient if some dryness is noticed. This practice will benefit the life of the knife. The Miyabi Birchwood SG2 series offers a full set of knives, including a rocking santoku and a beautiful sharpening steel to keep those edges beautifully straight.
Miyabi Kaizen 5000DP
The name Kaizen means “improvement” in Japanese. A VG10 steel core is protected by 64 layers of Damascus steel pattern. Their patented Cryodur hardening process makes the VG10 core extremely sharp and durable. The blade is hand-sharpened and honed with the traditional honbazuke method. This method uses a vertical rotating whetstone and is followed by a horizontal rotating whetstone; finally, it is polished on a leather belt. The D-shaped handle is made from Micarta resin, which is meant to be slip-resistant and durable enough to withstand the tough demands of a professional kitchen.
Miyabi Kaizen II 5000FCD
The Kaizen II line features a similar build to the first Kaizen series. There are 48 layers of steel that surround an MC61 Micro-Carbide steel core. The same Cryodur hardening process is continued to be used in this knife to yield the best possible edge that the MC61 steel has to offer. The main difference, aside from the steel core, between both Kaizen lines is the shape of the handle. The Kaizen II line has a more robust D-shaped handle for those who want a bit more grip.
Miyabi Evolution 400FC
The Evolution 400FC line embodies the cross-over of German technology with Japanese craftsmanship. The triple-riveted handle is ergonomically shaped for a more fitting grip. Their patented FRIODURx2 hardening process has six steps that create an amazing edge and flexibility in the steel. Forty-six sets of hands of skilled artisans touch these blades from start to finish. This line would be perfect for those who wish to focus on stain resistance and more frequent sharpening sessions.
Miyabi Koh 400FC
This Miyabi series follows the same steel treatment as the Evolution series with a different take on the pakkawood handle. An octagonal shape to the handle brings a more angular texture during cutting sessions. This is a knife meant for users who want more tactile friction from a knife. The same honbazuke sharpening process is also practiced in these blades for the best possible sharpness and edge retention.
Miyabi Black 5000MCD67
Miyabi wanted to offer an incredible knife that could hold an edge for even longer than its sister series. The MC66 steel used in the Black series is ice-hardened to 66 on the Rockwell scale, providing edge retention that is hard to surpass. Other series average about 61 to 62 points on the Rockwell scale. The core of the knife is protected by 132 layers of Damascus steel, resulting in an incredible blend of art and technology. The handle is made from black maple wood for a dramatic touch. The color contrast between the D-shaped handle and the natural look of the finished steel guarantee a more than satisfactory experience time after time.
Miyabi Artisan 6000MCT
Tradition is the word that Miyabi wishes to convey most to its audience. Yes, they also have state-of-the-art knife forging technology, but that is on the back end of the process. You cannot touch and feel the technology behind the knives, but you can see the human craftsmanship in the design and finish of each of the Artisan series knives. An SG2 micro-carbide steel core is wrapped in a beautiful tsuchime. Tsuchime is the process of hammering the knife to create corrugation, making the knife sturdier and offering air pockets for easier release on ingredients that touch the blade.
The cocobolo rosewood pakkawood handle has a more robust D shape, adding extra weight and comfort to the knife. The Artisan line would be perfect for intermediate users who don't mind the extra steps in the care of these knives and want to benefit from a sturdy yet flexible blade.
Miyabi Red Morimoto Edition 600S
Celebrated chef Masaharu Morimoto collaborated with Miyabi to design a line of knives that depicts his own cooking style — a blend of Japanese and Western influences. The Morimoto line of knives is made with German steel that has undergone the Friodur hardening process, which is more aligned with corrosion and stain resistance. The Western-style handle is designed for a look and grip that is more familiar to the public. These kitchen knives could be a great set for professionals who need more time in their hands to focus on cooking than knife care or for home cooks who are starting to get familiar with high-quality Japanese-style knives.
Overview of Miyabi
All of the individual Miyabi categories offer a full spectrum of chef's knives, petty knives, santoku knives, and more. The only thing left to do is to choose a series based on your own usage. If you want to have fewer sharpening sessions with your knives, a harder steel composition like Birchwood SG2 or the Black 5000MCD67 categories will fit your style best. If you are just getting started collecting high-end knives, the Morimoto and Evolution series will be a better option, as they focus on making the knives easier to care for.
Miyabi knives offer exceptional sharpness in each of their lines. The hard steel used to make all of their cutlery is of very high quality and craftsmanship. The state-of-the-art manufacturing process created by both artisans and German technology is hard to beat. These are not stainless steel knives, but rather they are stain-resistant knives that will need minimum care that involves keeping them dry and clean once tasks are finished.
High-carbon knives can be a bit intimidating at first. After going through the categories that Miyabi has to offer, it can be evident that high-carbon knives don't have to be difficult to care for thanks to the manufacturing process Miyabi puts each one of its knives through. There are some lines that do benefit from a little extra love but never demand extreme maintenance.
The best way to determine which categories require more care in their maintenance is to check the hardening process. Cryodur knives result in harder steels, resulting in them being a little more prone to corrosion and damage yet having sharper and longer-lasting edges. Meanwhile, Friodur knives have more corrosion resistance and flexibility but will need to be sharpened more often, thus the lower hardness levels.
Next time that you are thinking of a gift that will last a lifetime, think of a Miyabi knife as a potential present. Most things can only last a few moments. A Miyabi knife will continue to be present in the life of its owner every time they cook. Reach out to a Curated Cutlery Expert to find out which Miyabi knife is the one for you.