Growing In Popularity, The Serbian Chef’s Knife Has Gained A Reputation For Strength And Versatility.
When many think of kitchen knives it falls into two categories: Japanese-style knives and German/Western-style knives. However, there is slowly a third type of knife gaining popularity: the Serbian knife.
Also known as an Almazan knife (or just an Almazan), the Serbian chef’s knife has a unique history when compared to other blade styles. Rather than evolving and adapting over time, the Serbian chef’s knife is tied back specifically to Almazan Kitchen.
Almazan Knife And Kitchen Backstory
The company was founded by two men in Serbia, uncle and nephew Boban and Aleksandar Almazan. Essentially, clever marketing and a unique look have vaulted the knife into the limelight.
Despite Almazan’s and other knives’ bucolic charm, there is little attaching the style to a particular historic Serbian design. Instead, the moniker comes from the Almanzan clan hailing from Serbia. In some corners of the globe, the knife is simply known as an Almanzan knife … makes sense.
Interestingly, the Almanzans seemed able to harness to disparate trends in the knife world with the Serbian chef’s knife. On one side, was the ever-growing interest in cooking, the other the rise of cleaver-like knives for bushcraft. They must have had some passing inkling of this crux, given they marketed their knives to both communities, as well as played up the wilderness and food prep in their marketing.
Serbian Chef Knife Design Points
Unless you’ve lost your glasses, it’s fairly apparent what sets the knife apart from its counterparts–its huge hooking blade. If we’re honest with ourselves it’s a cleaver with a tip–somewhat reminiscent of a large deba bōchō, but overall heftier.
Generally, most Serbian chef’s knife makers tout their wares as handmade–of course at factory scale, with all that entails. Most of the blades have a very thick spine giving them the chops to tackle heavy-duty jobs. Though, most lack a defined belly, lending them better hacking jobs.
By and large, Serbian knives are constructed of carbon steel and have won some kudos for maintaining a good edge. Furthermore, almost all makers favor a wood handle of some sort, most likely because it maintains the rustic, outdoorsy aesthetic Almazan originally pioneered.
Should I Get A Serbian Chef’s Knife?
Honestly, like all things knives, that’s up to you. Maybe the Serbian chef’s knife is the kitchen or backwoods tool you’ve been waiting for or perhaps is all online hoopla. There are many who fall in the latter category and are vocal about it.
Despite this, it does seem the cleaver-style design has a place in the galley, particularly if you happen to process chuck wagons full of meat. The large width of the blade makes it ideal for hacking, particularly joints and bone. Additionally, boasting a tip, it could potentially tackle basic kitchen jobs in a pinch.
That said, as a catch-all chef’s knife, most cooks are likely going to find themself more comfortable behind a traditional design. The large blade is unwieldy for basic cooking jobs, such as chopping and mincing. Furthermore, the lack of a belly on most examples slows the knife down considerably on general tasks.
Bushcraft? Sure, there’s the potential. A Serbian chef’s knife certainly has the ability to work in a hatchet’s stead. Outside of that, well, things get dicey. It’s not exactly the style of blade you’d reach for to skin a buck or whittle fuzz sticks. Not to mention, do you really envision toting one of those beasts in your kit? (Add a pound to your ruck, not mine!)
Of course, this is coming from a more traditional mindset of kitchen and backcountry work and utility. And much like beauty, utility is often times in the eye of the beholder.
5 Top Serbian Chef’s Knives
Almazan Kitchen Original Serbian Chef’s Knife
The blade that started the craze. The Original from Almazan Kitchen set the standard for every Serbian knife that’s come after it. Hand forged in Serbia, and weighing a shade under 1 pound, this blade is a menace in the best possible way.
The carbon-alloy blade is tempered to a 58-60 HRC. The full-tang construction features a triple-riveted handle for grip and gives the user a sense of confidence. The uncle-and-nephew team that founded the company, Boban and Aleksandar Almazan, wanted to make a knife that would be as comfortable in the forest as it would be in the kitchen, for some they’ve succeeded.
Beyond just the knife itself, Almazan also sells accessories including leather sheaths, cutting boards, and kitchen equipment made from olivewood.
The knives have also benefitted from the company’s wildly successful marketing, in particular the Almazan YouTube channel. Fueled by more than 3 million subscribers, the company and its knife have blown up in recent years.
MSRP: $152.92 (There is also a stainless version for $30 less)
Damas Knives Bushcraft Serbian Knife
This model from Damas Knives is emblematic of the new(ish) design, with its wide blade and rustic handle. The knife is hand-forged from a single sheet of XC75 high-carbon steel with a 59 HRC and ground to a 21-degree angle.
The blade’s strength and the Rosewood handle’s sturdiness allow the user to butcher big cuts of meats, nimbly dice veggies, and even slice right through small bones. Beyond the food uses, this piece can tackle cutting wood and brush on a hike.
Imarku Butcher Knife
From one of the most trusted names in kitchen knives comes a budget Serbian chef’s knife that swings far above its price point.
This knife from Imarku features a hammered design and is hand forged. The blade is made from high-carbon, high-manganese German X50CrMov15 steel. The hard 56-60 HRC steel holds a razor edge and has good rust resistance as well. You can see the spots from the hammering up and down the blade, which gives it its signature look.
The knife comes with a leather sheath and, like other Serbian knives, has the strength to cut through bones and butcher large meats.
Imarku stands apart from other Almazans due to the price. The company has found a way to make a top-tier example for under $100.
Kopala Original Kitchen Knife
Now for a little something different from Kopala. Its original kitchen knife is made in the Serbian style but in a far different shape from the other knives on this list.
Instead of the rounded cleaver-esque design, Kopala has made a smaller, swooping blade–reminiscent of a scimitar–attached to a triple-riveted Rosewood handle. The high-carbon blade is balanced enough to cut through raw fish and other assorted meats.
The main drawback on the knife, unlike the others on this list, is the company did not design it to cut through bone. That takes away the versatility that makes the traditional Serbian knife so beloved. However, as the most inexpensive knife on our list, if that’s a compromise you’re willing to make then the knife is more than worth it.
HDMD Serbian Chef Knife
Rounding out our list is a fine all-rounder from HDMD Knives. Handmade from high-carbon steel and pakkawood, this blade from HDMD is an excellent middle ground if you have any interest in a Serbian knife.
It follows the construction of knives like the original Almazan. It’s hand forged, roughly six inches long, and has a 56-58 HRC. It weighs about .75 pounds and can handle whatever you throw at it in the kitchen.
Where it stands apart is in the price. This blade is under $100, which makes it a perfect entry point for this style of knife.
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