Material’s Japanese Steel Knives Are an Epic Bargain Compared to Other High-End Brands

·5 min read

Having a set of razor-sharp knives in your kitchen is an absolute must. And if you’re still using that ancient knife you stole from your parents’ house before moving into your own place (we know because we did, too), you’re way overdue for an upgrade. But that doesn’t mean you need to drop $600 on a few quality knives, and if you’ve been coasting on a dull blade this long, odds are you don’t need a massive 16-piece set either. That’s why we love Material’s The Trio, a reasonably priced set of three knives that are absolute essentials for any kitchen. Read on to learn why they’re such a steal.

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  • Value: 18/20

  • Functionality: 20/20

  • Quality: 20/20

  • Aesthetics: 20/20

  • Maneuverability: 18/20

TOTAL: 96/100

Fact: There are really only three different types of knives that every home cook needs in their arsenal: a chef’s knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife. And those are exactly the tools that the Trio delivers, but these aren’t any run-of-the-mill blades: Material’s corrosion-resistant knives boast full-tang design and comfortable grips for easy handling, beveled blades for clean cuts and cryogenically tempered edges for long-lasting durability. Since Material is a direct-to-consumer brand, they can offer quality, pro-caliber tools at a refreshingly reasonable price. The brainchild of Asian-American cofounders Eunice Byun and David Nguyen, Material pairs durability and functionality with sleek design and sustainable materials.

The 8-Inch Knife

A chef’s knife can carve a roast bird, dice onions, mince soft herbs and so, so much more. Material’s 8-inch equivalent has a blade made from three layers of Japanese stainless steel, meaning it’s resilient enough to be used and cleaned on the reg. It arrives impressively sharp, thanks to a 26-degree, cryogenically tempered edge that’s built to hold up over time. Despite its large size (it’s about 13 inches long, including the handle), the knife is lighter than expected once it’s in your hand, but still weighty enough that you can feel its quality (though we could understand some home cooks still thinking it’s a tad too heavy or long for them). It’s evenly balanced at the bolster and has a stain-resistant handle that makes it easy to maneuver. Use it to butcher meat, chop produce, carve poultry and beyond.

The Serrated 6-Inch Knife

You may call your serrated knife a bread knife, but that toothlike edge can do so much more than slice a loaf of sourdough. Any food with a hard exterior and soft interior—like brisket or cantaloupe—can be efficiently cut with a serrated knife. While we love all three of Material’s knives, the serrated 6-incher just might be our favorite, with its wavy, ergonomic blade that makes clean, crisp cuts, plus a pointed Santoku-inspired tip that’s prime for piercing soft-skinned produce, like eggplants or tomatoes. Our favorite thing about it is its compact length, unlike some other absurdly long bread knifes that we’ve owned. Its size makes it easier to use on smaller foods (because who feels like sword-slinging just to cut a sandwich in half?). It’s also great for shaving chocolate and cheese.

The Almost 4-Inch Knife

The Almost 4-Inch Knife is prime for micro-prep and meticulous tasks, like peeling garlic cloves or fruit, deveining shrimp or removing seeds from peppers. Its small size allows you to hold the knife straight down as well as parallel to the cutting board, meaning you can maneuver its sharp point easily for tasks like hulling strawberries. Material’s paring knife is hand-finished and boasts the same easy-to-hold handle as its siblings. While we’d typically advise using cheap paring knives since they’re tough to sharpen (the moment you run it through a sharpener, the blade will essentially be halfway gone), Material’s is worth the investment because it’s made from three layers of Japanese steel that are essentially indestructible if cared for properly. (You can also lean on this tiny tool when you’re baking to help release cakes from the pan cleanly, BTW.)

We love that The Trio of Knives includes handy sheaths and covers for each knife’s tip, so you can store them in a drawer without worrying about accidentally nicking yourself. (Though you can also throw in a durable American walnut knife stand for $75 more that magnetically holds six to eight knives—it’ll look *so* sleek on your kitchen counter.) The knife set is super easy on the eyes to boot, thanks to stain-resistant matte handles that come in three colors: Almost Black, Cool Neutral and Blue Grey. Material also makes other elegant kitchenware, like cutting boards made from recycled plastic (as well as wood and carbon), cookware and cooking utensils, all designed to last indefinitely.

Each of the knives is available for individual purchase: The 8-inch knife is a steal for $75 (chef’s knives made of Japanese steel can easily cost $100 or more), while the serrated and paring knives will cost you $60 and $50 respectively. You can save on all three by investing in The Trio, which is priced at $155. And spring for the $15 sharpener that’ll keep your blades in tip-top shape.

The Trio may feel like a splurge compared to the budget knife set that’s been sitting in your Amazon cart for weeks, but hear us out: Those will likely dull beyond repair sooner than you think, while Material’s knives will essentially last forever, as long as they’re routinely sharpened and kept out of the dishwasher.

Buy it ($155)

The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what’s worth the spend—and what’s total hype. Learn more about our process here.

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