When Mark asked if I would like to review the new Haiku series of knives from Chroma I readily jumped at the chance. You may have seen Chroma's Type 301 series designed by F.A. Porsche. Well this is supposed to be the exact opposite of that. Where the 301 series looks to the future, Chroma touts the Haiku series as looking to the past, going so far as to use a mekugi (bamboo peg) to secure the handle and tang, a technique originally used in the creation of Samurai Swords. Needless to say, I was stoked to try out their return to tradition.
As always, the shipping from CKTG was great. The package arrived quickly and there was neither dent on the box nor scratch on the blade. On opening the box, however, I was a bit disappointed. A return to tradition? Really? While these knives do come with a nicely finished, unstablized, traditional Ho Wood handle with a mekugi, the ferrule (the black piece between the handle and the blade) is made of resin, making the entire handle look plasticy and cheap. Moreover, it doesn't appear that the mekugi does anything other than hold that resin ferrule in place. Ignoring the resin ferrule, however, the F+F on the handle is quite good. The gaps between the handle and tang are filled and sanded smooth, the wood has a good feel to it and a nice rich color.
I was also a bit disappointed with the blade profile. It's likely a minor point to most, but the blade, made of a "High Carbon Stainless Molybdenum Steel", is more reminiscent of a Western Chef's knife than a Japanese Gyuto. In fact, I'd call it a hybrid between a German and French Chef's knife and about as far from a traditional Gyuto as I've seen. It has a very large belly making it far more suited to rocking than push or pull cutting again. The knife came with what I'd call an "adequate" out of the box edge, sharper than most grocery store knives to be sure, but not on the level of some of the knife's competitors. If you have the capability, the knife benefits immensely from taking it to the stones. And as long as you are sharpening the knife, you might as well thin it down a bit as this knife is THICK, approximately 3mm at the spine. Luckily, though, the steel is fairly soft and the knife is quite easy to sharpen and can take a very, very nice edge that lasts quite a long time. And in hand, the knife's relatively short length and light weight make it feel nimble while the thick spine makes it feel indestructible.
So what do you get if you combine nimble, indestructible, stainless and sharp? You get a great go-to beater knife! And that's what this has become for me. The knife gets the job done and does it well! And if it gets scratched or chipped, who cares?! The knife wasn't exactly a looker to begin with. So if I want something I don't have to worry about, that I can just use and abuse, this is the knife I grab.
And now to the final negative. This isn't priced as a beater knife. At $120 bucks, the knife is priced to compete with the Shuns and Hiromotos of the world, and the fact is, it falls WAY short of both. Moreover, the knife seems to be targeted at home cooks, most of whom don't want a beater knife, they want something they can use easily, show off on occasion, and be proud of. And the Haiku is only one of those three.
Bottom line: Ignore the marketing because this knife is no traditional gyuto. It's a Japanese-Western hybrid with some pretty poor aesthetics. It's a great knife to use and abuse, but ultimately not worth what's being asked for it. Unless you find it on super-duper discount (i.e. greater than 60%) keep looking.