You learn very quickly when you are selling kitchen cutlery that many buyers are much more concerned about “matching” their home décor than true performance. Two well-known German culinary knife makers (one starts with “H,” the other with “W”) have known this for years. Most of their marketing is geared toward selling large blocked sets. There is nothing wrong with this, but a basic fact of life is that buying a full collection of their blades will set you back some serious money. The answer in recent years for more frugal consumers has been to go to the “big box store” and buy a look-alike collection made in China or Taiwan. Of course, the question is, do they just look like the German brands, or are they a reasonable substitute quality-wise? I can’t speak for all of them, but I have been using for several months a 10-piece block set of Chinese-made blades that Ontario Knives sells under the “King Cutlery” brand. While I had my doubts going into the evaluation, I came away very impressed.

The collection consists of a 3.5-inch paring, 4.8-inch utility, 6-inch boning, 7.8-inch bread, 7.8-inch slicer, 8-inch chef and four 4.8-inch serrated steak knives. All are full-tanged designs with 420 stainless blades handled in red Pakka wood. The set is housed in a large wood block with a slot for each blade. Suggested retail runs around $90. For comparison, a similar German-made set would probably retail in the $500­ to $600 range.

In keeping with the conventional wisdom among foodies that most knives in a cutlery set go unused, I found I worked most frequently with the chef, boning and slicer, in that order. I used the utility once in a while, the bread knife a couple of times and the steak knives not at all.

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For the complete article please refer to Tactical Knives July 2013.

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