Explore a comprehensive analysis of the Shun Sora, Classic, Dual-Core, Kanso, Premiere, Blue, and Classic Pro knives, along with a detailed examination of knife block sets, providing valuable insights into the latest offerings for 2024.
Japan’s Shun knives are considered among the best in the world. Shun is also overpriced, and maybe they’re right, but it comes with a guarantee of style and quality that you don’t know you are getting with many other brands. Hence its high ratings. Shun knives make great gifts and can also be added to block sets you already own.
One of the benefits of getting into Shun knives is that they have an excellent customer service team that can answer most questions even if you’re not exactly an expert. It’s a good company that has a fair amount of content up online that’s helpful for beginners (or not quite beginners that are too scared to ask at this point), and like any good company that wants to keep their customers happy, it offers free sharpening on all its knives.
There are seven different Shun sets at the moment, and although they are all mostly Japanese-style, there are some differences between them regarding use and skill level. Here we will cover all of them in as long a manner as possible, but we cannot cover limited edition releases because they are so difficult to find.
In addition, it is important to note that they make series like the Seki Magoroku, but don’t have those offered as a set (yet), so you have more flexibility in mixing and matching your knife block than you might think.
Specifications for the Shun Sora 6 Piece Block Set
- Steel VG-10/420J
- Grind with two bevels
- PP/TP handles with texture
- Handles that provide comfort
- Maintains its edge well
- Shun at a lower price
- Sets are easily located
- It’s not as eye-catching
In the set, you will find an 8″ chef knife, a 6″ utility knife, a 3.5″ paring knife, a herb shear, a combination honing steel, and an 11-hole bamboo block.
They make a new line of knives called Sora that features a few changes from their other lines. In this case, they’ve used a VG-10 core between two layers of 420J steel in order to keep the cutting edge smoother longer and to increase corrosion resistance.
It isn’t something new for Shun to use steel for folding. You will see this method in a lot of knives in this blog, as they are always folding crazy things together to make a better cutting edge.
One of the most noteworthy features here are the handles, which are for the first time not made of wood or synthesized wood. The thermoplastic blend is remarkably nontraditional.
Those words don’t sound as cool or as classy as they may seem on paper, but they are solid, practical materials. It is very comfortable, and since you don’t have to worry about swelling if it gets wet, it makes maintenance much easier.
My personal experience with an Edge Gourmet Chef Knife is that the handle on it is really nice in texture and overall the weight is fantastic. It comes with a little bit of a pin at the bottom that sticks out a little too much and sometimes bumps into your hand, but normally your hand will rest well above it when you are actually cutting with the knife, so it as a whole is a pleasant experience.
Sora is one of Shun’s more affordable sets, so if you’re considering Shun knives but don’t like Shun’s Classic stuff, you might want to consider the Sora line. There aren’t many episodes right now. The site mostly has different kinds of utility and chef knives (both Japanese and Western), but the Sora series is relatively new, and I suspect more will be added as the series becomes more popular.
There are three sizes available in the Sora set from Shun (a pattern that you may notice repeated in some other series of Shun’s products):
- Among the excellent products on offer is the Sora 3-Piece Build-a-Block set, which contains a Sora chef knife, honing steel, and a 6-slot block for knives.
- You can also see the set of six Basic Blocks pictured above.
- Shun knives also offer a 2-Piece Chef’s Set, which includes just the chef knife and the paring knife, likely the cheapest combination of Shun knives on the market.
Sora 5 Piece Student Set
Chef knife: 8 inches, paring knife: 3.5 inches, utility knife: 9 inches, Shun honing steel: 8 slots; knife roll: 8 slots.
In terms of cost-effectiveness, the Shun set Sora Student is probably the best product to buy. In addition to the three types of knives used for most cooking tasks, you also get a honing rod with a 16 degree angle guide so that you can easily sharpen the knives.
A smaller, more portable version of the Sora set, it has the same steel and handles materials as that of the Sora set. People who are just starting out in the culinary world might find this to be an interesting way to dip their toes into the haute cuisine world.
Specifications for the Shun Classic 10 Piece Block Set
- Steel core VG-MAX
- Hardness 60-61 Rockwell
- Handles made of Pakkawood in a D-shape
- Knives of many types
- Maintains its edge well
- Sets are easy to locate
- In the left hand, less comfortable
- The Shun sets have the least precise cutting
There are eight 8″ chef knives, seven 7″ santoku knives, nine 9″ hollow edge carving knives, six 6″ utility knives, five 5″ hollow edge nakiri knives, four 4.5″ Honesuki knives, three 3.5″ paring knives, and a ninth 9″ combination honing steel.
The first and biggest series of Shun’s career. A variety of Western and Japanese knives is included in this line, an option you won’t find in any other of their series. In a way, this in no way resembles the traditional Japanese cutlery that you would find in a Japanese restaurant.
The only way to compare this set with real Damascus steel in the modern day is to see how close it is to the original Damascus steel in the real world (along with some of the other sets you are about to see). The blades of Shun Classic knives feature a VG-MAX core that’s laminated with lesser high carbon steel to add tensile strength to enhance the strength similar to what’s going on with Sora knives.
A double bevel grind is used on all Shun Classics. This is a good thing and a bad thing, as it means that these knives will not be as suitable for things like sushi or other finer cutting that would be required for eating Japanese food.
Due to the hard steels and thin blades that Shun produces, it tends to happen more often with their knives than some other companies. On the plus side, that means the edge will stay sharp longer and there’s less risk of it chipping.
Since Shun’s Classic series is designed to be a universal entry point to the Shun’s product line, it could actually be seen as a kind of one-size-fits-all entry series compared to their increasingly specialized Sora series.
In addition to Shun’s Classic sets, you could build your own. We recommend starting out with a Shun Classic 8-inch chef knife, a Shun Classic 7-inch Santoku knife, and a Shun Classic 3.5-inch paring knife.
- They are also offering four other block sets in addition to the 10 piece set pictured above:
- There are three-piece Build a Block set, a chef’s knife, honing steel, a multi-slotted block, and honing steel in this kit;
- You must purchase the chef knife, utility knife, paring knife, honing steel, and six-slot block in order to get the best results from this 5-part starter set.
- Add on the bread knife and shears to the Essential block;
- Also available are nine-piece chef’s choice sets that include a santoku, a slicing and boning knife, and an 11-slot block.
Classic Blonde 5-Piece Starter Set
There is a 6-slot storage block included in this set as well as a chef knife, utility knife, paring knife, honing steel, and sharpening steel
In terms of the Classic Blonde line, they are identical to the original Classic line, provided that they have blonde wood handles. This colour has fewer options, which is why it is only available in the one block set, but it is a very new color, which makes it worthwhile. My guess is that as popularity increases, they’ll make a copy of everything from the Classic series into a blonde version as the interest increases.
Classic Starter Sets
A classic set can be broken down into three types: a 2-piece set, a 3-piece set, and a carving set.
You’d have the 8-inch chef knife and the 6-inch utility knife with the 3-piece starter, while both are in the Classic style. With the 3-piece starter, you’d have the 3.5-inch paring knife so all your basic needs would be taken care of.
A two piece carving set includes a slicing knife and a carving fork that are a bit different. It’s perfect for carving a turkey on Thanksgiving day.
Remember that all these starter sets are only available in boxes; there is no block or carrying case included, so it is recommended that you purchase them in addition to the block or carrying case you already own.
Classic 8 Piece Student Set
A complete set of cutting tools to make bread, sandwiches, and slicing. Includes an 8′′ chef knife, 3.5′′ paring knife, 6′′ utility knife, boning knife, 9′′ bread knife, and 9′′ slicing knife.
Most students will need a little more than the bare essentials. Despite the addition of the bread knife, it’s a great set to begin with. The set provides you with high-quality knives for dicing, chopping, and fabricating all through your kitchen while leaving two slots open to add any other specialized knives you might need in the future.
Classic 4 Piece Bbq Set
It comes with three knives: a Honesuki blade, a boning/fillet blade, a brisket blade, and an 8-slot knife roll.
The set focuses heavily on proteins. Basically, it provides you with two different kinds of boning knives (the hone-suki is an egg-shaped Japanese boning knife, which is very good for fish and poultry). When using the brisket knife, thin slices of meat can be cut with a long blade. In terms of preparing meat and parceling it out, it’s not the most complete set of grill master tools, but it will get you a long way.
Classic Steak Knife Set
With its efficient simplicity, the Classic series of steak knives provides an excellent transition into the steak were. In addition to the comfortable handles on these knives, the blades have enough power to cut the meat well enough that your guests will not have an issue with whatever slabs of meat you set in front of them.
Depending on your preferences, you can either choose a 6-piece gift set or a free-floating 4-piece set, which is a feature that you can expect to see on the Kanso and Premiere series of steak knives as well.
- The steel is VG-10/VG-2
- Pakkawood handles in the shape of an octagon
- Bevelled edge on both sides
- Tang raped
- Edge retention is excellent
- There are fewer chances of chipping
- A bit pricey
- Sets are not normally sold together
There is no doubt that the Dual Core series feels like the next logical step up from the Classic set. VG-10 and VG-2 steels were folded together individually to create the blade, hence the name. In contrast to VG-MAX in the Classic set, which has some nameless high carbon substance laced into it, these are both high-quality steels woven together together more or less evenly.
This makes Dual Core knives extremely strong in terms of edge retention, but they’ve also forged them in a way that’s supposed to keep the cutting edge sharp even as the blade wears down and the blade wears away. While I have a lot of questions about the science behind it, what I have observed is that as the edge wears down each steel alternates in a wave pattern, taking turns to cut, as it were, as the whole edge gets worn away.
I would begin to get suspicious if it had been any other company. It may sound like a gimmick to weave together two high-quality steels to keep an edge sharp longer, but Shun is the only one capable of doing something like that properly so it will actually work. Over there in the handcrafted magic shops of Japan, they might be doing expensive work, but the quality is always excellent.
There are not many episodes in this series at the moment. Compared with Classic Pro, it is even smaller. With the exception of the Honesuki knife, there are only a few traditional Japanese knives.
Detailed specifications of the Shun Kanso 6 piece block set
- Stainless steel AUS10
- Finished in heritage
- Handles made of Tagayasan wood
- Tango full
- Grind with two bevels
- A rustic look lasts a long time
- Easy maintenance comes from a simple design.
- There are a lot of sets available
- Compared to other Shun knives, the handles can feel rough
Includes an eight-inch chef knife, five-inch santoku, six-inch utility knife, three-inch paring knife, combination honing steel, and eight-slot wood block.
This line of Shun knives is unique, so I like it because it stands out. They’re not so polished and perfectly crafted as a lot of knives. As opposed to being placed on a pedestal with soft lighting, it looks like it was meant for use and staining.
There is one possible problem with that rustic aesthetic, though. The wood handles aren’t smoothed and oiled so they feel rough and uncomfortable. There’s no doubt that you could repair that with some oil and sandpaper if that were the case, but when you’re paying four to six hundred for a set, you should not have to.
The Kanso knives will age better than any other Shun knives, however, if the feel of the handle doesn’t bother you too much. It has the ability to withstand scratches and stains without getting ugly, and Aus10 steel has a little more toughness than VG-10 steel when it has been properly heating treated.
There is also more variety in the Kanso series. A couple of the blades are western style, such as a paring knife and a utility knife, but the overall aesthetic is Japanese-like with some western-style blades. The good news is that it is very hard to find knives from other series that would fit this block because they tend to be a lot rarer.
Overall, Shun’s Kanso knives probably aren’t the best choice on here, and the fact that they do not offer a student starter series suggests that Shun designed these knives for both serious home cooks looking for cool-looking knives as well restaurant chefs.
There are two other sets in the Kanso series available, but they are designed differently than the 6-piece above:
- You’ll recognize this 6-slot block from the smaller Classic series blocks, and the Kanso chef knife from the 3-part Build-a-Block set. You can also add the Japanese garden cultivar set to increase the accessibility of the clean-cutting knives;
- Using the 5-Piece Starter Set, along with the utility knife in the same 6-slot block, you get the paring knife and the paring knife.
Kanso 4 Piece Bbq Set
There are four knives in the set: the honesuki knife, boning/fillet knife, brisket knife, and tray containing eight slots for knives.
Kanso BBQ set offers you the same utensil range as the Classic BBQ set, but you might feel that all of those wood handles and slightly tougher AUS-10 steel might represent a more appealing choice for keeping next to your grill.
There may be occasions when a lot of blood and barbecue sauce will be smeared around. To keep the overall aesthetic from looking worse for wear if this happens, it is wise to use knives that were designed to get scratched and stained.
Kanso 6 Piece Steak Knife Set
With the Kanso series, you can be sure that steak knives are available. I believe it at least as important to provide hardwood handles that look like those found in a barbecue restaurant, only in a much nicer way, in comparison to a barbecue set.
There is a 4-piece steak knife set that they are offering as well, making the price a little more reasonable. However, the knives do not come in the storage block at that size.
Specifications For The Shun Premier 7 Piece Block Set
- Steel core VG-MAX
- Design with two bevels
- Finished in hammering
- A contoured handle made of Pakkawood
- Effortless cut
- A good balance
- Finding a set is easy
- Chips are more likely to occur on thin blades
A combination honing steel, an 11-slot bamboo block, and 8 chefs knives, 9 bread knives, 6 utility knives, a paring knife, herb shears are all included.
Make the handles round and the blades hammer-finished on the Shun Classic set. Since they have taken a similar approach, the Premier set is essentially VG-MAX steel layered with lesser carbon steels for strength.
A hammered finish is also included in this series, which keeps food from sticking to the blades while cutting and reduces drag. Additionally, the walnut handles enhance the overall design.
As with most Shun sets, this piece is made with pakkawood, but it’s interesting that this piece has a rustic look instead of the classic black Shun uses everywhere else.
A large number of cartoons have been produced by Shun. Japanese knives are available, as well as western chef knives and steak knives. Premier knives allow you to explore a wide range of culinary options.
Despite this, its hammer finish and thin blades make it a chipping hazard. They will perform well for a long time if you treat them properly. However, if you are less experienced, pay particular attention to their care.
Shun’s Premiere series currently features five block sets:
- The Premiere Build-a-Block set consists of a Shun 6-slot block and Premiere chef knife as part of the set;
- It also comes with a Dark Slimline version of the same block, which adds the utility knife and paring knife in the same block;
- With the 7-Piece Essential Set, you also get bread knife and shears in a handy 11-slot block;
- Santoku and slicing knives are included in the 11-slot block of the 8-Piece Professional set.
The Premier Starter Sets without a block
In addition to these two starter sets, Shun also offers two other starter sets without any other method of storage:
With the Premiere 3-Piece Starter Set, you can choose from the chef knife, utility knife, and paring knife;
The Classic 2-Piece Carving Set contains both a slicing knife and a carving fork, just like the 2-Piece Carving Set from the Classic collection.
Premier Steak Knife Set
Premiere series pieces are available in either six- or four-piece options, which is identical to Classic and Kanso series options. You are typically only provided with the box for the 6-piece set. It is also the most expensive of the steak knife sets Shun offers, but it is also the most comfortable.
In terms of hand-filling, the Premiere offers a beautiful compromise between the purely black look of the classic set and the thin, rustic look of the Kanso.
Shima Steak Knives
- Five-inch blades
- Steel grade AS8
- Pakkawood or Tagayasan handles riveted
We don’t expect Shun to limit its range of steak knives to just two or three different types. Since Shima steak knives are named after the Shima Steakhouse in Tokyo, you won’t find any branching out under the Shima brand.
Steak is the theme of this one. A natural wood option and a black Pakkawood option are available. Both will have the same ergonomics, but the textures may differ slightly.
Furthermore, I had not seen Shun use the high-carbon AUS8A steel in any of their other sets, unless it were one of their dual-folded knives. It usually makes for a very soft steel, unless put through a pretty rigorous heat treatment process (as Shun probably has done).
You are actually getting very strong blades here in these Shun knives, so depending on how often you eat steak on a daily basis, they will probably need to be sharpened a little more than other Shun knives.