Our quest for the ultimate knife continues and the addition in February 2009 of the Zanmai Elite Collection is amongst our proudest acquisition of that particular journey. One of our steel suppliers, during a discussion on how traditional Japanese blade making methods were being influenced by modern technology and recent innovations in steel production, mentioned a blacksmith called Yasuhisa Hasegawa. Now in his mid-sixties, it seemed here was a blacksmith who made some of the finest sporting and recreational knives being produced in Japan, using traditional methods in total harmony with modern technology and materials. Based in one of the 4 cornerstones of Japanese knife making – the city of Seki in Gifu Prefecture renowned for the purity of its water and pine charcoal the 2 qualities essential in fine knife making. So together with another 2 knife dealers – one from the USA and another from Japan we commissioned him to produce a modern kitchen knife but with the aesthetics and uber qualities of a traditional Japanese knife.
The result is our Zanmai Elite Collection. These 33 layers of Damascus blades have a very thin specially forged VG10 steel central core protected by the 16 layers of alternating High Nickel, Low Nickel soft steel on each side.
These blades are totally handmade; they are continuously pounded creating a wider and longer mass, which is then cut away by laser. This process is repeated several times resulting in a very light and thin blade with exceptional strength as a result of the multiple hammering, heating and cooling process. This very expensive process requires a large quantity of the material to be discarded resulting in a lighter blade with a thinner central core and an edge that is thereby keener and substantially easier to re-hone.
The handles of the Zanmai Elite Collection are composed of hardwood using a rounded base for a comfortable grip and Hexagonal top part for a secure purchase. The full tang and mid bolster give outstanding balance and comfort.Sujihiki & Slicers: The classic slicer. Long and thin, this is the best shape for the preparation of any flesh (meat or fish – cooked or raw) without bones. The slim profile presents a smaller are of contact with the flesh and thus reduces the strength of the vacuum between the blade and the food resulting in a smoother and easier cut. Function – Slicing and carving of meat and fish without bones. Normal length – 240mm to 300mm (a few smaller 180mm and longer 330mm are available) Tip: Whilst the 240mm or the 270mm lengths are the most popular select the longest length you are comfortable with. The longer the blade, the lesser the pressure required to cut the food and thus increase the ability to cut thinner slices. As this is one knife that is often taken to the table for carving in front of the diners, apart from the functionality, aesthetics should be an important consideration.