Knife Review: Ming Tsai’s Aero Knife Part 1 (now onto the destruction)

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The Aero Knife sucks as a food prep instrument. It sucks as a throwing knife as well, though I was able to stick my 3rd and 4th attempts.

I picked up the Aero Knife up on a bit of a lark. I figured if it gave me a couple of posts worth of material then it would be worth it. I didn’t have high hopes for a $10 knife from an infomercial. By the time they are done paying their celebrity endorser and making a bit of profit, you are looking at a knife which costs probably about 3 dollars to produce and market (a lot of marketing).

I tried to set reasonable expectations. I figured that the knife would be worth the price if it did a decent if not spectacular job at food prep, while the “edge that never needs sharpening” would hold the line at being better than a more traditional knife in its typical American consumer’s neglected/dull blade condition. In other words, I wasn’t expecting it to be a great knife, but adequate for casual use.

This “knife” failed to live up to my fairly modest expectations. For one thing, it is so light, and with the micro-serrated edge it is flat-out lousy at chopping tasks.  With the exception of press-cutting cheese like in the infomercial, the knife almost always needed to be sawed back and forth to actually cut what you put in front of it.

The philosophy behind the knife is understandable. Make a very hard stainless with serrations, and it will maintain its edge because it will always be harder than what you are cutting. In this sense the knife works.

The problem lies in that it doesn’t slice for crap. If anything soft foods get caught and torn by the serrations.Hard foods required many repetitions of a back-and-forth sawing motion. I tested the Aero knife on many foods, and with a few notable exceptions it proved completely inadequate for all but the most basic kitchen tasks. It did alright with onions, but the more ripping cut did much more damage to the cell walls than a sharp chef’s knife, and thus my eyes were watering out of control.

Here are some of the foods I tested in order from best to worst (in how the knife handled them).

Cheese: This one is featured prominently in the infomercial because the skeletonized design reduces friction. This actually worked as advertised.

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There is something to be said for lowering friction when slicing cheese.

Onion: Not bad. Mostly because it is a food that is soft enough to be pressed through. Though the serrated design tore the cells, leading to substantially more eye-watering.

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With a hybrid press/draw cut, onions proved to be one of the better foods to cut.

Apple: Again fairly solid. A drawing motion helped speed the slicing process.

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The Aero knife slices apples well. though it doesn’t peel an apple for squat.

Carrots: Definitely needed to draw as opposed to press the knife. The results were mixed. My slices were uneven and ragged.

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Try as I might, I never could get even slices with the Aero Knife. And the “sliced” carrots were frayed and fuzzy.

Squash: Granted, it was a knarly, warty, tough squash, but it took a definite sawing motion to slice the vegetable.

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You can clearly see how the Aero Knife ripped the squash, not sliced it like a traditional chef’s knife.

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My Benchmade Mini-Grip actually produced better diced squash, though it obviously is no kitchen knife.

Italian Sausage: Satisfactory, but ragged.

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The knife ripped rather than sliced. Here you can see the teeth clogged with sausage bits.

Pepperoni: Press cutting was difficult, but substantially better than trying to draw the serrations across the meat. It tore horribly.

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Is a kitchen knife that doesn’t slice qualify as a kitchen knife?

I could probably go on and test more different foods, but I have logged probably a solid 2 hours of prepping food and I can state unequivocally that the Aero Knife is a piece of crap. If you absolutely need a cheese knife, go with this Wustof. If you want a simple prep knife, buy an el cheapo of traditional design from a box store and learn how to sharpen it. It might not hold a great edge, but for the time that it does, it will be a much better tool.

Next Steps:

So now the fun begins. Destructive testing. This evening I cut some more squash. But first I sawed through a piece of scrap maple. Then I cut through an empty bean-can. And another squash. Finally, I hacked through about 3/8″ of cinder block. And another squash. I am going to leave the results as a tease, for Part 2 of my review. Oh, and I tried throwing it a couple of times. Actually stuck it on my 3rd and 4th attempts.

As I work on the second part, how do you want me to abuse the Aero Knife? I figure I would try and baton with it, but I have a feeling that the skeltonized blade will buckle in short order. So I need a few ideas for testing before killing it.

 

 

 

comments

  1. GC says:

    My parents have a set of kitchen knives that use micro-serrations and every one of them is terrible. None held their edge and they can’t be easily sharpened, so they are now passed over for traditional knives. An idea for destructive testing is to see how the handle holds up to rough treatment – drop a cinder block on it, drag it behind a car, or hammer nails with it.

    1. There is just no way to put a shine on this complete piece of shit. Though Ming made a name for himself on Food Network, it was in the days before the headline talent made the big bucks.

      Poor guy sold his soul to be schilling for crap like this.

  2. knightofbob says:

    If you need something relatively cheap, I can’t recommend checking out a restaurant supply place enough (if available). On the one hand, the knives you’ll find are designed to be cheap and somewhat disposable. On the other hand, they’re also designed to go for long periods without sharpening under conditions far more rigorous than anything a home chef will put them through.

    I’ve also been intrigued by the Pure Komachi series, but haven’t had any hands on experience yet. The user reviews do seem overwhelmingly positive.

    1. Sam L. says:

      I have some. They seem a little soft, picking up little flat spots on the edge, but do sharpen up easily. I like them; my wife likes them. I have to say, they can’t be beat for the price (at Costco, about $5 each in a set).
      Comfortable in the hands.

  3. Duncan Idaho says:

    I just use a set of “Zyliss” (Zyless? Not sure, but they claim to be Swiss steel) stainless knives on the rare occasions that I can be bothered to cook something.

    I suspect that the steel is quite soft, but those damn knives make razors look dull.

  4. Raina Collins says:

    You could try grinding the serrations off to make a plain edge.That’s how I “repair and sharpen” my in-laws craptastic Farberware junk.

    How about the most important test of all: can you open a beer bottle with it?

  5. Amy says:

    Mine rusted

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Knife Review: Ming Tsai’s Aero Knife Part 1 (now onto the destruction)

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