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View Full Version : Yet another "what gyuto should I buy" thread ;-)



Bef
01-30-2013, 07:23 PM
Hi,

I'm getting interested in Japanese knives and I'm looking to buy my first Gyuto, 240mm. I would like to have the feedback of the forums members regarding what I should consider buying.

Here's what I use my knives for, most of the time :
- Vegetables (pepper, onions, tomatoes, raw potatoes, cauliflower, etc.)
- Raw meat (without bones)
- Fruits (apples, oranges, lemon)
- Ginger and garlic

Some other information:
- I already own some high-end German knives, so I can still use these for cutting things that would need a solid blade
- I don't really care about a knife being stainless or not
- I don't care about the look - but I do care for performance!
- I can't figure out if I prefer "wa" style or not. I'm pretty sure that I could live with any of them
- I've never sharpened a Japanese knife, but I will buy some stones and a DVD and learn how to do it

I'm the kind of guy who will invest in high quality equipment and use it for very long. I know that if I don't buy the best that I can afford right away, then I will regret it and replace it a few years later... So I'd like to get the best that I can afford in order to never look back - I'd like to use those knives for decades without replacing them.

Since I live in Canada, I found that the best place to shop would be on JCK. So I would like to focus on their products.

For now, the Hattori FH series look interesting, but the Masamoto KS look very good as well.

I'd like to get your opinion about which products I should consider, in your opinion.

Thanks!

The hekler
01-30-2013, 07:56 PM
Of your looking for the best, I would go with a custom; Devin Thomas, L. R Harner or Marko, all are vendors here that turn out great knives at a good price considering the quality of their work. If your looking for other great custom knive at slightly lower prices yet still great quality I would look at Del Ealy or Mario (RRlover) i can personally attest to the quality of both as I own knives from both. Living in Canada I would suggest looking at Lefty's shop, "sharp and shiny" as he is located in Canada I imagine shipping would be slightly cheaper. That said Lefty has a smaller inventory, but its deffintely worth looking into he gets some high quality knives made from some vendors here and some cool vintage pieces.

ThEoRy
01-30-2013, 08:02 PM
How much you got?

Bef
01-30-2013, 08:16 PM
The helker: I just had a look at their knives. Wow! However, I think that their prices would be too high for me.

Theory: i would say $400, max. But I'd prefer $350 or under...

Benuser
01-30-2013, 09:26 PM
No good idea to go custom yet. First, get familiarized with Japanese blades, the different options, fine tune your technique perhaps, and learn to sharpen them properly. You don't know yet if you prefer a wide blade, a flat profile, a laser or a heavy blade, flat or very convexed geometry, more or less asymmetry, handle or blade heavy etc.
Get a middle of the road blade of some $200 and a few stones for free handing and start you journey in this crazy world.

Canadian
01-30-2013, 09:47 PM
The helker: I just had a look at their knives. Wow! However, I think that their prices would be too high for me.

Theory: i would say $400, max. But I'd prefer $350 or under...

Masamoto KS Wa-Gyuto.

Vertigo
01-30-2013, 10:03 PM
Get a middle of the road blade of some $200 and a few stones for free handing and start you journey in this crazy world.
Wise words. You can practice sharpening with your "solid blades" (heh) before moving to your j-knife, but you'd still be better off--IMHO--shaving $100-$150 off your initial knife budget and getting something cheaper plus a few stones.

ThEoRy
01-30-2013, 10:23 PM
I'd say get a gyuto, a petty and some stones with that cash...

labor of love
01-30-2013, 10:30 PM
so many choices at JCK...if i were you id get either a hiromoto AS, JCK carbonext or Misono swedish carbon.

Bef
01-30-2013, 10:30 PM
Benuser, Vertigo:

I was actually already planning to buy Dave's core stones set + DVD, and a flattenimg stone as well.

Knowing the kind of guy I am, I'm pretty sure that I will keep the knife I will buy for, at least, a decade. Which is why I want to get the best that I can afford ($200-$350)... Which doesn't mean that I want to spend $350: I actually want to get the best performing knife in this price range.

And since I live in Canada, the best place to buy a knife is JCK.

Do you guys have any recommendations?

Benuser
01-30-2013, 11:23 PM
so many choices at JCK...if i were you id get either a hiromoto AS, JCK carbonext or Misono swedish carbon.
+1
all are both an excellent introduction and great knives.

Bef
01-31-2013, 01:48 PM
So far, you guys have recommended the following knives from JCK :

- Hiromoto AS
- JCK carbonext
- Misono swedish carbon

I don't mind of the extra care that carbon would require, and I don't really mine about the knives handles (wa vs. western). I don't care about the look of the knives either.

Which of these knives would perform better, overall, in your opinion? I read great comments about the Hiromoto KS and I must admit that I like its look (even though I don't want to consider this aspect in my decision).

eaglerock
01-31-2013, 02:09 PM
Misono swedish carbon
Misono swedish carbon
Misono swedish carbon
Misono swedish carbon
:knife::knife::knife::knife:

Benuser
01-31-2013, 02:24 PM
About the comparison between the Carbonext and Hiromoto AS:
http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/10438-Help!!!?p=176666#post176666

The Misono is a very different animal: excellent F&F, by far the best finished handle, a beautiful polished, very convexed edge. Steel is very, very reactive, you will have to force a patina prior to the first use, and to repeat it from time to time. It feels light, nimble, has some flex. Quite a personality. Edge retention is average. Sharpening is not just easy: it's remarkably fast as well.
The Hiromoto is another personality. Feels stiff and solid, but with a crazy, aggressive edge due to the AS core. Excellent edge retention. Easy sharpening, but requiring permanent thinning.

mhlee
01-31-2013, 05:35 PM
Hi,

I'm getting interested in Japanese knives and I'm looking to buy my first Gyuto, 240mm. I would like to have the feedback of the forums members regarding what I should consider buying.

Here's what I use my knives for, most of the time :
- Vegetables (pepper, onions, tomatoes, raw potatoes, cauliflower, etc.)
- Raw meat (without bones)
- Fruits (apples, oranges, lemon)
- Ginger and garlic

Some other information:
- I already own some high-end German knives, so I can still use these for cutting things that would need a solid blade
- I don't really care about a knife being stainless or not
- I don't care about the look - but I do care for performance!
- I can't figure out if I prefer "wa" style or not. I'm pretty sure that I could live with any of them
- I've never sharpened a Japanese knife, but I will buy some stones and a DVD and learn how to do it

I'm the kind of guy who will invest in high quality equipment and use it for very long. I know that if I don't buy the best that I can afford right away, then I will regret it and replace it a few years later... So I'd like to get the best that I can afford in order to never look back - I'd like to use those knives for decades without replacing them.

Since I live in Canada, I found that the best place to shop would be on JCK. So I would like to focus on their products.

For now, the Hattori FH series look interesting, but the Masamoto KS look very good as well.

I'd like to get your opinion about which products I should consider, in your opinion.

Thanks!

I know you're focusing on JCK because of price, shipping, etc., but one thing stands out to me here and that's you've never sharpened a Japanese knife before. For that reason alone, I would look for a knife that comes with a good edge out of the box or buy one that's already been pre-sharpened. If you get a knife new that's not sharp, you may not really enjoy it or understand how good it can be.

Second, again, because you've never sharpened a knife before, I would stay away from knives that will require constant maintenance and thinning if you're going to use your knives often. I've owned a Hiromoto and, while it can take a very, very sharp edge, I, like a few others, did not have very good edge retention. It's also very close IMHO to German knives in many ways - thickness, heft, feel - than other Japanese knives. Its geometry is nothing special; if you want to get the maximum performance out of a Hiromoto, it will likely take some work.

Since you're someone who'd rather buy something good now and use it for a long time, it sounds like you're someone who would rather pay a little more up front, than have to pay more on the back end. Buying a knife that's cheaper now - which seems like why you're looking at JCK - doesn't seem to really fit what you've said. Remember, Koki is in Japan - while he provides excellent service as far as purchases and returns go, do you want to have to deal with an international return if you're not happy with it? For these reasons, especially because you're a first time buyer, I think you're much better off buying something closer to home, e.g. U.S. or Canada, so you can have access to customer service. (FWIW, I've never purchased anything from JCK, but given my negative experiences with other vendors and difficulty trying to communicate with Japanese vendors to purchase knives, as well as having read and talked to others about issues purchasing items unseen internationally, I'm rather glad that I did not buy stuff unseen internationally when I started.)

If you care most about price, JCK is hard to beat. If you care about performance and service, I would consider looking at other knives and vendors rather than exclusively focusing on JCK.

Bef
01-31-2013, 06:20 PM
It looks like you have a great knowledge about the JCK knives.

Do you have some experience with the Masamoto KS as well?


About the comparison between the Carbonext and Hiromoto AS:
http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/10438-Help!!!?p=176666#post176666

The Misono is a very different animal: excellent F&F, by far the best finished handle, a beautiful polished, very convexed edge. Steel is very, very reactive, you will have to force a patina prior to the first use, and to repeat it from time to time. It feels light, nimble, has some flex. Quite a personality. Edge retention is average. Sharpening is not just easy: it's remarkably fast as well.
The Hiromoto is another personality. Feels stiff and solid, but with a crazy, aggressive edge due to the AS core. Excellent edge retention. Easy sharpening, but requiring permanent thinning.

Bef
01-31-2013, 06:28 PM
Thanks Michael. I appreciate your post.

Actually, buying from JCK has a few advantages, and one of them is customs and duties - it looks like they're not collected in Canada. But I also was able to communicate with them in the last days, and I appreciate their service and knowledge... Shipping from Japan to Canada is as fast as from USA, and I often order things from foreign countries...

**** looks interesting as well, but they don't ship to Canada... And I can't find much canadian sites that have lots of Japanese knives.

That being said, there is a place near where I live that is specialized in Japanese knives sharpening, so if I buy a product that's not perfect out of the box, I might go there to have it sharpened for the 1st time.

Do you have an opinion about the Masamoto KS line?

ThEoRy
01-31-2013, 06:34 PM
Where in Canada are you?

mhlee
01-31-2013, 07:28 PM
Thanks Michael. I appreciate your post.

Actually, buying from JCK has a few advantages, and one of them is customs and duties - it looks like they're not collected in Canada. But I also was able to communicate with them in the last days, and I appreciate their service and knowledge... Shipping from Japan to Canada is as fast as from USA, and I often order things from foreign countries...

**** looks interesting as well, but they don't ship to Canada... And I can't find much canadian sites that have lots of Japanese knives.

That being said, there is a place near where I live that is specialized in Japanese knives sharpening, so if I buy a product that's not perfect out of the box, I might go there to have it sharpened for the 1st time.

Do you have an opinion about the Masamoto KS line?

I do not have any experience with the Masamoto KS line but I have looked at the KS gyuto and yanagiba. I was previously interested in the KS gyuto but, having read the various threads about quality issues with the KS gyutos, including ones from JCK, I passed. I recommend doing some research about the quality issues about the KS gyutos.

Please know that not every knife is made correctly. Thus, what you consider "not perfect out of the box" as far as sharpness is concerned, may be the least of your problems. When I first started getting into knives, I had no idea of how to quality check the knives I got. And, the second knife I purchased - a rather expensive one - had issues. These issues, such as overgrinds, poor handle installation, bends, improper heat treatment, may not be obvious at first blush, but they can all be problems down the road. By that time, you may not be able to return the knife or get a refund.

These are reasons why I generally stick with vendors here. Vendors here are responsible to the members.

Unfortunately, the only vendors here that sell knives in your price range are Japanese Knife Imports (a vendor here who ships to Canada), and, possibly, Marko Tsourkan if he has any practice knives still left for sale. Nonetheless, absolutely recommend contacting Jon because he has a large selection of knives and, if you're interested in Marko's knives, contacting Marko. Jon personally inspected everything that I've bought from him and always tells me to contact him if I have any problems. I haven't.

(Likewise, Dave Martell personally worked with me on various aspects of the knife I bought from him. I know many members that have been extremely happy with the knives they've gotten from vendors here such as Marko Tsourkan, Bill Burke, Devin Thomas, etc., and the stories of these makers going out of their way to make the members happy are numerous.)

Again, I have only read of a few issues of members buying knives from JCK (unfortunately, a number of them involve the fit and finish of KS gyutos). But, as someone who had to navigate my way through all of this information when there were fewer vendors out there, I'm glad there are more (and better) places to purchase from now.

Bef
01-31-2013, 07:52 PM
Where in Canada are you?

Montreal. There is a very well known guy selling Japanese knives here (L'Émouleur), but from what I've been told, their prices are quite high (although I didn't actually check myself)...

ChiliPepper
01-31-2013, 08:08 PM
Mmm... while I understand and encourage the concept of supporting local sellers who back up their products and liaise with customers I must say that I have bought knives from Japan three times: two with JCK and one with Blueway.
Result? Excellent prices, the fastest and cheapest shipping I ever experienced, excellent customer care and communication by email and sellers will gladly inspect F&F for specific needs.
It is true, though, that I never had to send a product back.

Bef
01-31-2013, 08:14 PM
Michael:

Your post is very interesting.

I've sent an e-mail to Marko to check if he has any practice knives right now.

I didn't knew about Japanese Knife Imports. I agree that I probably won't be able to identify any issue with a Japanese knife for now, so knowing that the vendor would personally inspect what I buy would be very reassuring to me.

They carry a few Gyuto in my price range (let's say, $200-$450 max)... Do you have any experience with some of them?

Bef
01-31-2013, 08:26 PM
Hum, another interesting knife from JCK could be the Mizuno Tanrenjo Akitada Hontanren Series (blue steel #2)...

Edit: Or maybe not after all - their Gyuto are single bevel, and I don't want to get into that right now.

mhlee
01-31-2013, 08:31 PM
I have bought a number of knives, stones and other items from Japanese Knife Imports. I'm fortunate enough to live rather close to the store. You'll see that a number of the knives sold there have been reviewed here.

Rather than recommending a single knife, I would recommend taking a look at the website, finding a few models you're interested in and asking for opinions here or looking for reviews. Come to think of it, most knives sold by JKI in your price range have been reviewed here. That way, you can choose the knives you're interested in first, and then narrow your choices down, rather than being pointed in a direction by my recommendation.

You can also e-mail or call Jon for recommendations or questions.

Bef
01-31-2013, 08:39 PM
Thanks mhlee, I will try to proceed as you suggest and search in the previous posts first.

jbl
01-31-2013, 09:44 PM
I wholeheartedly recommend Misonos.
Amazing F&F, perhaps the best Japanese Western handle, and just ergonomically great. I barely notice it is in my hand.

I don't think forcing a patina is necessary, just let it build naturally whilst cleaning the knife after each job. Also taste food for any taint, but I've never found any problems.

chinacats
02-01-2013, 02:39 AM
I would have to agree 100% with mhlee about where to order knives. I have personal experience with both vendors though not that many knives from each. I bought a Mizuno (fairly well respected brand) santoku from JCK and the deal was excellent, the knife not so great out of box. I didn't pay for the extra sharpening so didn't expect anything special, the edge looked to be serrated it had so many chips; not a big deal if you can sharpen, problem right off the bat if you can't. The service and communication were not a problem though I am glad I didn't have to ship it back to Japan or send it out to be fixed at an additional cost to me. I have bought from other vendors in Japan as well and aside from some communication issues overall I have been very happy. All this being said, I have bought a few knives from Jon at JKI and the knives were not only inspected before shipping, they were also made to his specifications and his higher expectations--in short any money saved by purchasing through JCK can be more than made up for by the service and quality of the knives Jon offers. Many knives on JCK are good knives though not all for beginners or people who don't know how to sharpen. Jon also has knives that are not for beginners, but he can explain why you should or shouldn't buy depending on your skillset/budget. How much is it worth to you to speak directly to someone who can help you through the process?

My first purchase was from that place that doesn't deliver to Canada, I almost gave up on J knives due to the ignorance of the owner and the lack of help given to a J knife newb. I searched around and found that both JCK and JKI were much better vendors. That said, Jon at JKI will be much more helpful in finding you the right knife and not allowing you to waste a purchase as a learning experience.

Hope that makes sense...it's been a long day and it's just winding down. Michaels post made me realize how right he is. It may cost a little more and it may cost less, but you will be in much better hands with Jon.

Cheers!

mhlee
02-01-2013, 12:09 PM
My first purchase was from that place that doesn't deliver to Canada, I almost gave up on J knives due to the ignorance of the owner and the lack of help given to a J knife newb. I searched around and found that both JCK and JKI were much better vendors.

This is precisely what I'm hoping that the OP will not experience and the main reason for my posts. I went through a very similar experience when I bought my first high-end kitchen knife.

I bought a rather expensive knife as my first knife based on a lot of praise from other members. What I ultimately learned was that certain people got better preference and service because they were regular buyers from retailers, and, more importantly, what is good for one person, may be completely different from what another person wants. As a newbie, it's hard to put what you want into words and people offering recommendations can (1) not have enough experience using other knives to be able to recommend an appropriate knife that the person is looking for, (2) be completely fixated on their own recommendation and recommend a knife without really understanding if the knife is right for that person, (3) have a relationship with a retailer so they're pushing that retailer's items, or (4) trying to sell their own knives. I was so exasperated by the experience I didn't buy another knife for months.

I'm not saying that the knives recommended are not a good fit for the OP or that the members that recommended these knives aren't knowledgeable. Maybe one of the knives recommended will be a good fit for the OP. But, as a newbie, I found it very easy to get caught up with recommendations from people. I've certainly learned that who is making the recommendation, e.g. tk59, chuck239, Pensacola Tiger (all of these members have owned or used LOTS of knives and I respect what each of them writes), is as important, if not more important, to understanding the recommendation than the recommendation itself.

FWIW, I wasn't trying to steer him to Jon; I just wanted the OP to know that there are other options out there. As much as I've bought things from Jon, I still remember the first time I looked to buy something from him and he invited me to his apartment to take a look at what he was selling. I didn't buy anything from him for months after that. I really appreciated that and Jon has never given me a hard sell.

And, your post brought up another good point. If you don't know how to sharpen, you'll have to pay for extra sharpening. Based on the prices I've seen recently, you may lose any benefit of a lower price if the knife doesn't come with a good edge out of the box.

Anyways, just my $0.02. I hope the OP finds a knife he really likes and is very happy with.