Knives Out

Looking to cut up a storm in the kitchen this Christmas? David Lim, Japanese knife expert and Managing Director of Razorsharp, shares the best blades to invest in.

In my opinion, it’s better to have a few good, solid knives than a full set of poor-quality ones. When selecting a knife, comfort and hand feel is very important. It must feel good and balanced in your hands. 

I can’t emphasise enough the importance of a sharp knife. This allows for clean cuts and minimal cellular damage to whatever you’re slicing. It’s also safer to use as you would be applying less force when slicing, even if you get a cut. A blunt knife is dangerous. You may find yourself unknowingly applying more force to make up for the bluntness.

Most home cooks will only need two to three knives: a multipurpose chef ’s knife, a small, petty knife for fruits and vegetables, and maybe a Santoku – which has a shorter blade than a chef ’s knife for the lady of the house. If you cut big pieces of meat, you’ll also want a longer knife like a slicer. For fans of sourdough bread, I would also recommend a serrated bread knife to get through that crisp crust. 

Homeowners should choose stainless steel blades as they are easier to manage than high carbon steel ones which require more care. Hardness is measured in terms of Hardness Rockwell C Scale (HRC). The minimum HRC I would recommend is 60, so you have long edge retention. The higher the HRC, the sharper the knife, so it doesn’t require much sharpening and the blade doesn’t dull as quickly. 

Here are my recommendations for someone who’s ready to invest in good quality knives for home use. The first is Tojiro’s DP series made in Tsubame Sanjo (from $85). These pieces are full tang (metal runs all the way through the knife for more durability and stability), VG10 stainless steel, HRC60+-, migaki (polished finish), with a symmetrical Western handle made out of stabilised wood. 

The second is Kasumi’s Damascus series crafted in Seki (from $124). It’s also HRC60+, VG10 stainless steel and full tang; the main difference is that these have a round Western hybrid handle – made from laminated Pakka wood – instead of a symmetrical Western one, so it comes down to a matter of hand feel preference. 

For the first year or two, a quick touch up with a rod or whetstone for one to two minutes every one to two months is all you’ll need. Of course, it all depends on your usage intensity and frequency.

There’s a two-month period of free sharpening or repair on any knife that you buy from Razorsharp. We also offer knife sharpening services as well as hands-on knife sharpening lessons,” says David.


Chef-Owner Emmanuel Stroobant of Two Michelin-starred Saint Pierre shares about his knife collection at home.

I have a reasonably large knife collection. Some are gifts, while I’ve picked out most of the others. I’ve been a client of David Lim at Razorsharp for over 20 years. He is one of the very best knife connoisseurs I have ever come across in my 35 years as a professional chef. He is even more knowledgeable than many of the Japanese shop owners I have met in Japan. He taught me how to choose knives, as well as how to sharpen and upkeep them. I prefer powder steel or blue steel for home use, whereas carbon steel is my preference at work.

At our Michelin-starred French restaurant in Singapore, Saint Pierre, we are known as a preeminent destination for vegetarian fine dining as well as for our contemporary French menus featuring meat and seafood. Different knives are essential to achieve the delicate cuts and intricate preparations needed for both vegetarian dishes and traditional French cuisine. To craft a refined French fine dining lunch or dinner in Singapore, the versatility of a chef’s knife, the precision of a petty knife, and the efficiency of a Santoku are indispensable. These high-quality knives ensure that every ingredient, whether it’s a tender vegetable or a robust piece of meat, is prepared to perfection.

View the story in issue 06 of our quarterly food and beverage e-magazine here: