TOG Mini Bunka is the perfect small chef’s knife for discerning home cooks

If big kitchen knives scare you, try the TOG Mini Bunka for style and supreme cutting performance

T3 Platinum Award
TOG Mini Bunka on a chopping board
(Image credit: TOG Knives)
T3 Verdict

At £240, the Japanese-style TOG Mini Bunka cook’s knife isn’t cheap but you’ll come to appreciate the day you bought one. Like all TOG knives, the Mini Bunka is a thing of beauty that slices through most small to medium sized fruit, veg, meats and fish with utmost precision. It’s far less intimidating than a standard 8-inch chef’s knife and yet just as useful. Magnificent in every way.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Sterling build quality

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    Ultra sharp carbon blade

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    A thing of beauty

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    Lifetime guarantee

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Not cheap

  • -

    Not dishwasher safe

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If you find an 8-inch chef’s knife too intimidating to use, consider the amazing TOG Mini Bunka, a Japanese-profile blade that’s been designed for cutting most fruit and vegetables but, in reality, will slice and dice through almost all small-to-medium sized ingredients. We have a dandy variety of of top chef's knives in our guide to the Best Chef's Knife for meat, fish and veg

I’ve used a few TOG knives in the past, including this one which I’ve had for several months now, and the company's attention to detail is second to none. I agree, there are many fantastic kitchen knives – some cheap, some very expensive – but there’s something about the TOG design of its micro fan-patterned kebony maple wood handles and 17-layer steel blades replete with copper banding that makes me want to display them prominently in the kitchen so I can look at them every now and then, between urges to just cut stuff up. In fact, I sometimes feel the weird need to attack a tomato for no reason other than to see how thinly I can slice it. And with the Mini Bunka I can slice to paper thin tolerances almost every time. Just one reason, perhaps, why TOG knives are allegedly used by over 10 Michelin-starred chefs.

I should add at this juncture that TOG knives are not cheap. In fact, this one retails for a whopping £240. Nevertheless, I shall now impart my thoughts on why, even at this lofty price, I think that the TOG Mini Bunka is the best kitchen blade for most home cooks.

Why I prefer the TOG Mini Bunka to a classic chef’s knife

TOG Mini Bunka vs Mac chef's knife

The TOG Mini Bunka (right) in comparison to the imposing Mac 10" chef's knife (left). 

(Image credit: Future)

A classic chef’s knife is usually between eight and ten inches long from heel to tip and it’s usually curved to allow experienced food preppers to perform impressively speedy rocking cuts; you know, the kind of thing you see on Masterchef: The Professionals. Well I can tell you that I’m no professional when it comes to food preparation so I find an 8- or 10-inch blade to be very intimidating, especially when slicing smaller items like tomatoes and cucumber.

There’s just so much sharp metal on the chopping board that it’s like watching an IMAX movie. I feel the need to really concentrate lest one of my fingers inconceivably decides to flick itself under the blade. Whoops, there goes the index.

However, I am very happy using a smaller knife with a shorter blade and the Mini Bunka at just five-and-a-half inches in length (14cm) is the perfect size for me. It’s not remotely unwieldy and not too short for most tasks. I find it perfect for cutting up salads, potatoes, meat, chicken, fish and any fruit up to the size of an orange. If I need to tackle an obstreperous swede or a giant pumpkin, I’ll reach for my scary-as-hell 10-inch Mac knife – or an axe.

So, if like me you’re scared of really long kitchen knives and take a while to slice a tomato or onion, consider this model. It might just change your prepping life.

Read our review of the TOG Petty knife

TOG Mini Bunka review: price and availability

Like all TOG knives, the Mini Bunka is only available through the TOG website, priced at £240. However, the Bristol-based company also ships its products to Europe, the USA and the rest of the world.

TOG Mini Bunka review: design and features

TOG Mini Bunka on white background

(Image credit: TOG Knives)

TOG is a small British artisan company based in Bristol, so that’s a major plus to start with. After all, it means that after sales queries or repairs are a lot easier to deal with. But more importantly, it’s simply a nice feeling to support some home-grown talent – along with its Japanese craftsmen – especially when it’s at this high-end level of design and build quality.

The TOG Mini Bunka is essentially designed for cutting and slicing small vegetables and fruit but frankly it will cut through anything up to the size of, say, a large baking potato, orange or mango.  It’s absolutely perfect for trimming steaks, chicken and fish, too. A very decent all-rounder, in other words.

Unlike the classic 8-inch chef’s knife which is usually curved with a sharp pointed tip at the end, the Mini Bunka is more like a boxy Santoku, the Japanese chef’s preferred shape of blade. Santoku’s are better suited to a chopping action while chef’s knives are designed to be used with a rocking motion that most of us have trouble getting a handle on.

Like all of its kitchen knives, the TOG Mini Bunka goes through a lengthy hand- and machine-crafted manufacturing process involving eight small companies based in Seki, a Japanese Samurai swordsmiths town with over 700 years of knife-making history under its belt.

The subtly curved full-tang blade of the Mini Bunka is forged from high-quality Japanese steel which is known for its hardness and ability to retain sharpness for longer periods of time. According to the blurb, all TOG blades are crafted from 17 layers of steel comprising a hard central high-carbon steel core with outer layers of softer steel, just like a samurai sword. Sandwiched in between are rows of antimicrobial copper that apparently keep germs at bay. Whatever, these copper slivers certainly add a touch of extra class to an already classy piece of beautifully polished steel.

The wonderfully contoured handle, meanwhile, is fashioned out of kebony maple which has been intricately lazer-etched with rows of tiny fan-shaped symbols. A short side scoop at the butt end provides extra grip for the pinky finger. Kebony maple doesn’t expand or contract like other woods though it stands to reason that you should never ever put this knife in the dishwasher. In fact, never put any sharp kitchen knife in the dishwasher, period. Simply wipe it down with hot water and a little washing up liquid after every use and it will remain in tip-top condition.

The Mini Bunka’s blade is unbelievably sharp and it stays that way for ages. In fact it’s so sharp it slices through a sheet of paper with ease and slices clean through a grape dropped from just six inches above.

Whether it’s from up close or a distance, a TOG knife is an unmistakably unique piece of kitchen art that you’ll want to keep on full display (in fact, TOG makes a stunning walnut and cherry magnetic knife holder just for this purpose). All TOG knives come with a lifetime warranty.

If you want to know how these knives are made, check out the informative TOG video below.

Tog Mini Bunka review: performance

TOG Mini Bunka on the chopping block

(Image credit: TOG Knives)

As already stated, I’m no kitchen pro, but when I find a knife that can consistently slice a tomato or onion in 1 - to 2mm slices that you can almost see through, I know I’m in prep heaven. The Mini Bunka does just this and I’m not really sure how because I have other chef’s knives that aren’t as accurate. I put it down to the really slim spine which allows me to easily line up the blade for each subsequent slice. I’m always blown away by how consistently straight the cuts are. With some other models, I sometimes unwittingly move the blade down at an angle so the ingredient comes out a little wedge shaped. But I just don't have that problem with this knife.

I’ve used this knife for trimming steaks and fish and cubing chicken, which it handles with ease. However, I find it most useful for cutting and slicing fruits and veg which is ultimately what it was designed for.

I keep all my knives sharp using the Robert Welch sharper with water in its tiny container but I am considering buying TOG’s Ceramic Honing Rod which I think may be a kinder way to keep a chef’s knife nice and sharp without causing any damage whatsoever. That said, I’ve had zero issues using the Robert Welch sharpener. But then who knows what goes on at microscopic level? 

Tog Mini Bunka review: verdict

TOG Mini Bunka with TOG Santoku

(Image credit: Future)

Yes, I know that £240 is a massive amount of dosh for a smallish kitchen knife but given that the Mini Bunka’s blade shape is so unique – and so amazingly versatile – I have no compunction in giving it a full five star accolade. From a point of view of sharpness, comfort and consistently accurate cutting ability, this sterling slicer ticks every box and then some. The fact it looks so darn gorgeous is an added bonus.

These are the Best Chefs' Knives you can buy

Derek Adams

Derek (aka Delbert, Delvis, Delphinium, Delboy etc) specialises in home and outdoor wares, from coffee machines, white appliances and vacs to drones, garden gear and BBQs. He has been writing for more years than anyone can remember, starting at the legendary Time Out magazine – the original, London version – on a typewriter! He now writes for T3 between playing drums with his bandmates in Red Box (redboxmusic).