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.Utility: The shape is basically a small Sujihiki or slicing knife. As the name suggests it is a multi-function knife used for the preparation of vegetables and precise cutting of meat and fish. The slim profile presents a smaller area to fatty, oily, and starchy foods where a wider blade would create a stronger vacuum and ‘stick’ more to the food. Function – Multipurpose for preparing all food groups. A favourite knife of many home cooks who are uncomfortable with large blades. Normal length – 150mm Tip: This knife is also used for carving petite roasts, filleting and skinning fish as well as careful dissection of poultry without hitting bones. An extremely useful size for any kitchen.