Kai Knives Review

KAI Knives Review

By Bobby B.  | July 20, 2020  | Knife Brands

KAI as a company has been producing knives and other blades for over 100 years!  Here in the United States, KAI USA is responsible for distributing several brands of knives you’ve probably heard.  They are the U.S. distribution for Shun Cutlery (Read Our Shun Knives Review), Kershaw & Zero Tolerance pocket knives, as well as their own brand of knives, which is what we’re reviewing on this page.  

KAI makes Japanese-style kitchen knives that look similar to Shun knives, but at a much lower cost to consumers.  While KAI knives do typically get great reviews on sites like Amazon, our readers still often wonder how good they really are.  The low price tag (super low in some cases) and lack of name recognition other than the Shun knives often give them pause, and that’s understandable.  

In this KAI knives review, we’ll take a look at how they’re made, what materials are used, and all the other little details that determine if they’re any good or not.  After that, we’ll even list a few of the top KAI knife sets according to consumers.

KAI Knife Lines

Just like most kitchen knife brands, KAI has several line-ups or series of knives.  Here we’ll take a look at what makes each knife line different, and determine which are the best based on their build quality and materials used.  KAI produces knives under the following lines, listed from lowest to highest price and quality:  Inspire Series, Pure Komachi 2 Series, Luna Series, Kai Pro Series, Wasabi Series, and the Seki Magoroku Series.

Let’s take a closer look at each below:

kai luna series chef knife

Luna Series

KAI’s Luna Series knives are great looking, yet amazingly inexpensive knives.  The blades are made with German steel (DIN1.4116) and have a hammered/polished finish.  The molded resin handle is nothing special, but it does provide a soft grip that appears to be slip-resistant.  One of the cool features about this series is the included plastic sheath with each knife.  It’s a nice touch you don’t see often with knives that are around the $10 price range.

>> Shop KAI Luna Knives at Amazon <<

kai pure komachi 2 series chef knife

Pure Komachi 2

The Pure Komachi 2 is the oddball of the bunch, at least as it relates to the its appearance.  Beyond that, it’s much the same as both the Luna and Inspire Series knives.  All 3 are ultra-cheap options for any home chef to have a decent set of knives.  With carbon stainless steel blades and a molded resin handle, the materials aren’t super high-end, but the price is right and they are unique in appearance.  Each knife is color coated in both the blade and handle.

 >> Shop Pure Komachi 2 Knives at Amazon <<

kai inspire series chef knife

Inspire Series

The KAI Inspire Series knifes also look amazing for their price-point, again with a cool hammered and polished blade made with high-carbon German steel.  Similar to the Luna Series knives shown above, the Inspire Series has slip-resistant molded resin handles and includes a made-to-fit plastic sheath.  The look is slightly different, but other than that, they are very similar in features and price, both making a great value for consumers to purchase at these prices.

>> Shop KAI Inspire Knives at Amazon <<

kai pro series chef knife

KAI Pro Series

The KAI Pro Series is a great fit for someone wanting a decent, but inexpensive knife/knife set.  This knife is made with AUS6M steel, has a hammered finish, full-tang blade.  Just one look tells you it’s Japanese-inspired, but unfortunately, it is not made in Japan.  Part of the reason you can get this knife at a very discounted price is because it’s actually made in China.  But hey, that this price, pretty much every knife is, and this one’s better than most cheap knives.

>> Shop KIA Pro Knives at Amazon <<

kai wasabi series chef knife

Wasabi Series

The Wasabi Series knives are made with high-carbon Japanese steel, Daido 1K6 to be exact.  The blades have a satin finish and are encrested with the Japanese character for “wasabi”.  The handles are made of a polypropylene, making it both comfortable and water/wear resistant.  The Wasabi knives are a slightly better knife, than some listed above, but is still offered at at an extremely reasonable price.  This is a great budget-friendly Japanese-style knife.

>> Shop KAI Wasabi Knives at Amazon <<

kai institutions seki magoroku series damascus santoku knife

Seki Magoroku

Seki Magoroku knives are at top of the line at KAI.  They actually remind us a lot of Shun’s Classic Series knives.  This series of knives is in a league of its own when compared to the rest of the lineup.  They are made with a high-quality VG-10 Japanese Super Steel core and 32 outer layers of high-carbon stainless Damasus steel.  The triangle-shaped, composite wood handle is very “traditional Japanese” and makes a great looking knife.  This is a VERY nice knife for the price!

>> Shop KAI Seki Magoroku Knives at Amazon <<

The Best KAI Knife Set

Buying individual knives at the prices offered on the ones above is great because you can pick and choose exactly what you need, but most households want to buy a knife set for their kitchen at one point or another.  There are two big reasons to go with a knife set versus buying a handful of individual knives.  The first, and probably most obvious, is so you have all the knives you need and they match rather than having a hodge-podge of different knives laying around of all sorts and types.  

The other reason to buy a knife set is to get a quantity discount, and in the case of KAI knives, it’s like getting a discount on discounted knives, so it’s a great deal!  Here are some of the most popular KAI knife sets according to consumer reviews on sites like Amazon.

Kai Pure Komachi 2 knife set review

Knives Included:

8” Chef Knife, 8” Bread Knife, 6.5″ Santoku, 6″ Utility Knife, 5.75″ Sandwich Knife, 4″ Tomato/Cheese Knife, 4” Citrus Knife, 3.5″ Paring Knife

Blade Material:

Stainless Steel

Block Material:

Acrylic

KAI Pure Komachi 2 Knife Set Review:

This is a nice, colorful set of knives that is relatively inexpensive.  It includes a clear/acrylic knife holder that makes the knives look like they’re floating above your counter.  We like that it doesn’t take up much room and the knives are color-coded and easy to determine which one you’re pulling out to use.  Check the customer reviews out on this set… they really like it!

Kai Pro BBQ 5-pc knife set and carry case review

Knives Included:

12″ Slicing Knife, 5″ Boning Knife, 7″ Cleaver, 5″ Asian Multi-Prep Knife

Blade Material:

German Stainless Steel (DN 1.4116)

Block Material:

N/A

Extras:

Carrying Case Included

KAI Pro Series Knives Review

This 5-pc BBQ knife set is totally unique and quite awesome for anyone that likes to travel with their knives.  This set is perfect for slicing and chopping BBQ meats like brisket, etc.  You also get the Asian prep knife that performs almost any task that the others don’t.  The carrying case gives you a nice, safe way to travel with your knives, perfect for a rib cook-off or just any BBQ with family.  The knives included are part of the KAI Pro series, so you know you’re getting a great looking set that’s budget-friendly.

KAI wasabi Black 8-pc knife block set review

Knives Included:

8″ Chef’s Knife, 6.5″ Nakiri Knife, 6″ Utility Knife, 4.25″ Deba, 4″ Paring Knife, Kitchen Shears

Blade Material:

Kaido 1K6 High-Carbon Stainless Steel

Block Material:

Bamboo

Extras:

Honing Steel

Kai Wasabi Knife Set Review:

Shhh, don’t tell anyone, but this is most definately our favorite of all the KAI knife sets we’ve reviewed.  It’s not as popular as the others above, probably because of the price-point.  With the Wasabi knives being a bit more “high-end” due to the higher quality materials, they cost more to manufacture.  We like the added touch of including the kitchen shears as well as the honing steel.  This set is a great bridge between cheap kitchen knives like this above and expensive kitchen knves like the Shun knife sets that can be anywhere from 2-10 times the cost of this one.

KAI Steak Knives

KAI makes a few different steak knife sets for consumers to choose from.  We found steak knives in the Pure Komachi Series and the Luna Series.  Much like the rest of KAI’s knives, they are price very well, but aren’t made with the most robust materials.  They look good and are a nice, cheap set of steak knives, but won’t last you forever like some of our favorite steak knives might.

Kai Steak Knives

KAI Knives Review Conclusion

There’s been a common theme throughout this entire KAI knives review.  KAI knives look good, are popular among consumers, and are a great value.  They’re priced very low for what you’re getting.  But, what you’re getting isn’t top-quality kitchen knives.  As is almost always the case, you get what you pay for. 

KAI knives are perfect for a starter set or if you just don’t care to spend much on nice knives.  However, if you’re looking for a knife set that will last you forever, this probably isn’t the right brand.  We suggest checking out KAI’s higher-end brand of knives, Shun Cutlery.  Click the link below to see our detailed review on Shun.

KAI Knife FAQs

Where are KAI Knives Made?

The KAI group is headquartered in Seki, Japan, a mecca for Japanese knives.  However, it appears KAI knives are actually made in both Japan and China.  They do a very good job of making it hard to determine where specific series’ of knives are produced.  From what we can tell, most Shun-branded knives are made in Japan, along with the Wasabi Series.  It appears the cheaper knife lines from KAI are made in China… makes sense, right?

Are KAI Knives Dishwasher Safe?

KIA recommends that you DO NOT put their knives in the dishwasher.  They say that it may result in spots on the knives that you cannot easily, if at all, remove.  They also note that dishwasher detergents themselves can contain corrosive agents that can cause unnecessary wear on the knives.

What Kind of Warranty Do KAI Knives Have?

KAI products from Kai USA Ltd. carry a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner. It guards against manufacturing and material defects, but not damage or breakage due to misuse or improper usage.  

How Should I Sharpen My Kai Knives?

KAI knife owners can actually ship them back to the U.S. facility in Oregon for free sharpening!  You can read more about this free service here.  You just ship them in, they get sharpened by the professionals, and then returned to you.  Easy-peasy.  Don’t want to send them in?  You can sharpen them yourself with a pull-through sharpener.  Of course, they recommend the Kai Electric Sharpener to ensure you get the blades sharpened at their precise blade/edge angle.

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