PDA

View Full Version : Newbie needs some help - going to Japan



Tandrup
05-21-2011, 07:02 PM
Hi all,

I joined the forum thinking that the two $50 Sabatier knifes I use were hard-core bad-a## kitchen knives. I am taking the family on a trip to Japan this summer (July) and I started researching Japanese Kitchen knifes. I have always been fascinated by knifes and samurai swords, but have never really had the time to geek out on them. I am an IT-guy with a technical background which means that I have to research the heck out of a topic before I make buying decisions...

I like cooking at home, but am by no means a pro. I don't know how to sharpen a knife, but I am willing to either learn how to do it or send my knives somewhere once in a while to keep them sharp. Based on my research I think I am looking for:

- Something that looks "Japanese" - I like that look/blade/handle much better than traditional Western
- I think I need 3 knives:
1) a Nakiri or Usuba for cutting veggies (don't know what the difference is).
2) a small Paring (to replace one I have today). Probably 10cm
3) a knife for trimming and cutting meat and fish. Probably 24cm

With regards to 3), I love the look of a Yanagiba, Kiritsuke, Takobiki (especially the Sakimaru Takobiki)

With regards to steel, I really don't know what to look for. I like the look of damascus, but I am not married to it. Realistically I need a knife that I am not going to have to sharpen every day - so Kirenaga is important. I have looked at Kasumi or Hongasumi styles since that sounded like it would match what I was looking for?

Finally, I am trying to figure out where to buy. I am going to Tokyo and Kyoto this summer and will have 10 days so I can easily fit in a little knife shopping. Apart from the fact that it would be cool to tell people that I bought the knifes in Japan I am trying to figure out if I can save by doing it or if I should just buy them online here in the US.

Has anyone been to Union Commerce in Kappabashi - I have read that that's one of the places to go. I was also planning on going to the Aritsugu retail store in Kyoto.

With regards to budget, I am thinking I want to stay under $250-$300 per knife. I am willing to spend a little more and then maybe just get 2 knifes.

Ok, I know that's a lot of questions and that I have a lot to learn, but I hope that some of you will help me out in my quest. Even if you can just give me a perspective on some of the things I am hoping to learn more about, that would be really helpful. I am always really impressed by how much knowledge is out here on forums like this and how willing people are to help.

Thanks in advance,
Lars, San Francisco

Andrew H
05-21-2011, 07:35 PM
1) Nakiri are double bevel knives, Usuba are single bevel knives.

2) I (and many others on this forum) find 100mm to be a little small for petty knives. I think 120 is a more versatile size.
The konosuke HD is a great one - http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives-by-type/petty-knife/konosuke-120mm-hd-wa-petty.html

3) I agree with you that takobiki are great to look at, but a yanagiba or sujihiki is more versatile. A yanagiba is single bevel and a sujihiki is double bevel.
For a suji the konosuke HD is also very good, and matching sets are always nice. http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives-by-type/sujihiki/konosuke-270mm-hd-wa-sujihiki.html

For your first knives I would probably stay double bevel, but that's up to you.
Also you might want to think about replacing a nakiri / usuba with a gyuto (chef's knife) which is more versatile.

EDIT: I realized you might not know what double or single bevel means. A double bevel means it is sharpened from both side of the knife. A single bevel means the back of the knife is flat, and the right side (for right handed people) is sharpened.
Not very accurate model:
V (double bevel) |/ (single bevel)

Tandrup
05-22-2011, 01:40 AM
Thanks for the reply - I will look at the Konosuke. You mentioned the difference btw double or single bevel. How does that translate into how the knife works or handles - is there a big difference?

I was looking through a lot of other threads tonight and found some references to Masamoto KS - series. Does anyone have good or bad experience with those knives - and would they fit my description of what I am looking for?

bishamon
05-22-2011, 02:23 AM
There is a huge difference in single vs double bevel. Single bevel can get very sharp, but is also more delicate. You should not use a yanagi on anything with bones, including fish. They are used to cut sashimi that has already been sectioned. It is not a general purpose knife. The takobiki is even more specialized. The kiritsuke is a general purpose single bevel knife, but again it is more delicate than a western knife (but can get sharp as heck) and takes time to learn to use effectively. Also, you have to consider sharpening, the knives will need it.

Single bevel knives can 'turn' in when cutting into thick foods, ie start to curve toward the inside while cutting down until you get used to it. I don't mean to steer you away from single bevel knives, IMO they are better in a lot of ways, but they are a different animal altogether from western knives. Your lineup lacks a general purpose knife, so I would suggest a wa-gyuto or wa-sujihiki (these have the traditional japanese looking handles). If you want, also get a yanagi or single bevel knife as a slicer, too, for special use.

Normal western knives are double bevel. Here is a picture of what right-handed single bevel looks like (left handed has the angled edge on the other side instead), notice that one side looks flat, although it is a little concave:

http://i1138.photobucket.com/albums/n527/bishamon1/IMG_3036.jpg
http://i1138.photobucket.com/albums/n527/bishamon1/IMG_3039.jpg

"flat" back
http://i1138.photobucket.com/albums/n527/bishamon1/IMG_3037.jpg

As a side note, real damascus pattern knives are very expensive, and don't give noticeable performance gains IME. Take note that carbon steel knives will rust if not dried after or during prolonged use (carbon steel is better though as far as performance overall - sharper, easier to sharpen, good kirenaga especially blue steel (aogami)). In kyoto, as I mentioned in the other thread, you should visit Kikuichimonji too. It's not more than a 20 minute walk from Aritsugu.
Kappabashi has several stores along it that sell knives. You can see them from the street as you walk past, so they're easy to find. Tsukiji fish market area has Aritsugu also, as well as Masahisa. Nenohi is around there too, not sure where, but those are $$$$$.

JohnnyChance
05-22-2011, 02:54 AM
Thanks for the reply - I will look at the Konosuke. You mentioned the difference btw double or single bevel. How does that translate into how the knife works or handles - is there a big difference

There is a big difference in the way that single and double bevel knives work, yes. Much less of a learning curve with double bevel knives. You basically already know how to cut stuff with a double beveled knife, as that is what you most likely have been using most of your life. Also, the type of food and cuts we use in the west are much more suited to double bevel than single bevel knives.

Wa handles can be found on single and double beveled knives, so if that is part of the look you want, it wont be a problem to get it. Takeda has a kiritsuke shaped gyuto with a wa-handle that is double beveled. His knives also have that "authentic/rustic" look with a wa handle you might like.

A gyuto/chefs knife is usually the most used and versatile, so you most likely want to end up with one at some point. After that, a parer/petty and a slicer/sujihiki are very useful. Nakiris are more single task oriented than a gyuto, but still fun to have. I would also decide what your total budget is, and then allocate more to either one or two knives that you use more often. You don't need to spend 250-300 on a paring knife. If you had $900 to spend, I would rather spend 400+ on a chefs knife, less than 100 on a parer, 200ish on a suji and still have money left over for a nakiri.

As for shopping in Japan, I can't help you much there.

Seb
05-22-2011, 05:38 AM
Aren't there a bunch of cutlery shops at the Tsukiji Market?

Cnimativ
05-22-2011, 05:58 AM
Aren't there a bunch of cutlery shops at the Tsukiji Market?

Yup. 有次(aritsugu), 杉本(sugimoto) and 正本(masamoto).
http://www.tukijimasamoto.co.jp/
http://www.sugimoto-hamono.com/j/top.html
http://www.aritsugu.jp/

oivind_dahle
05-22-2011, 06:53 AM
If you want a knife of great story I would go for a 240 Honyaki Gyuto.

A massproduced knife would not impress me, they are cheap and have no particular cool story. If you want that special knife go at least for a Honyaki.
And be prepared to pay for the right one. If you just want great knife go for massproduced either from Konosuke, Nehoni, Tadasuna, Sakai Yusuke, Mizono or another famous brand :)

However if you wanna have a knife to impress your friend I would rather have a custom, but they are expensive.

If I ever went to japan I would team up with a member in this forum: DrNaka. I would offer him money to show me around, and to find me that special knife I could be proud to own. You might even get lucky and meet the maker ;) That would be awesome :)

Lefty
05-22-2011, 07:36 AM
Really quickly, I'll add this:
I got to handle a Masamoto KS, recently, and they feel and look incredible! If you like the shape of your Sabs, the KS will feel strangely familiar, even though they are quite obviously worlds apart.
The KS is beautifully crafted and the tip and taper seem to be spot on!
As for performance, maybe dmccurtis will weigh in on this one! :)

bishamon
05-22-2011, 09:15 AM
A massproduced knife would not impress me, they are cheap and have no particular cool story. If you want that special knife go at least for a Honyaki...If you just want great knife go for massproduced either from Konosuke, Nehoni, Tadasuna, Sakai Yusuke, Mizono or another famous brand




I'm not sure I'd recommend a starter to get a honyaki knife, especially if it is going to be their workhorse...but I never bought in to the 'only honyaki matters' bandwagon. And I don't see how you can call Konosuke, Nenohi, Tadatsunas, etc. cheap and uninteresting...many are made to order.

Rottman
05-22-2011, 09:20 AM
If you want a knife of great story I would go for a 240 Honyaki Gyuto.

A massproduced knife would not impress me, they are cheap and have no particular cool story. If you want that special knife go at least for a Honyaki.
And be prepared to pay for the right one. If you just want great knife go for massproduced either from Konosuke, Nehoni, Tadasuna, Sakai Yusuke, Mizono or another famous brand :)

However if you wanna have a knife to impress your friend I would rather have a custom, but they are expensive.

If I ever went to japan I would team up with a member in this forum: DrNaka. I would offer him money to show me around, and to find me that special knife I could be proud to own. You might even get lucky and meet the maker ;) That would be awesome :)

Hey Oivind,
don't you think it makes more sense to get an idea on shapes and steels he likes for his first real knife first before shelling out muchos dineros on a custom or a honyaki that he'll most likely ruin?

Seb
05-22-2011, 09:26 AM
Me, I am all about quantity over quality!

Lefty
05-22-2011, 09:37 AM
Hahaha. You got some great "crap" knives then, Seb!

MadMel
05-22-2011, 09:40 AM
Me, I am all about quantity over quality!

Lol. I'm more in the minimalist camp on this one.

Lefty
05-22-2011, 09:43 AM
To the OP, I'd steer clear of single bevel knives. If you get a usuba, you will chip it...many times!
Take a good hard look at Masamoto, and Aritsugu will have a huge variety at their shops, so you will likely find something worthwhile there, in your price range.
If you can find a properly thinned Aritsugu A-Type (you won't...but if you can) it would give you ridiculous durability and retention (from what I've read).

oivind_dahle
05-22-2011, 09:46 AM
If a person finds his way into a forum like this, its probably because they are a little more interested than the normal person :)

A Guyto is a knife that is the most versatile in the kitchen. Most home chef needs just one knife and it is a Gyuto and 240 is probably the perfect length.
I agree that Konosuke and the others can make insane knives, but will you find this one on a marked in Japan? I also got the impression the threadstarter wanted something special with some kind of history. I recommended to get in touch with DrNaka, that might tip him on the right knife for the right price.

I know I would feel stupid if I got a knife in Japan, and found it on Sur La Table when I came back home. The reason I suggested a Honykai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honyaki) is that it is a piece of art and history in one knife. At least the threadstarter now knows that there are difference between a massproduced knife and a honyaki made by an old master.

And to be honest if this person goes all the way to Japan to see the old tradition of making knife and end up with a massproduced knife, its like being tricked and hustled like no other. And as I said: DrNaka might be the solution for this man. And if you go to japan to end up with a massproduced medicore japanese knife you could just by it at home or on the net.

My 2 cents :)

Then again, all the threadstarted really needs is a stainless/semistainless/cladded 240 guyto....
And this he can buy on the net for a lower price than at the touristmagnets in Japan :)

bishamon
05-22-2011, 09:57 AM
And to be honest if this person goes all the way to Japan to see the old tradition of making knife and end up with a massproduced knife, its like being tricked and hustled like no other. And as I said: DrNaka might be the solution for this man. And if you go to japan to end up with a massproduced medicore japanese knife you could just by it at home or on the net.

Well from the sound of it he's not going to Japan to look at knives...it's a family vacation and he'll stop by a few knife places while he's there.
Keep in mind there are lots of 'mass produced' honyaki knives (if apparently we're dropping Konosuke, Tadatsuna and Nenohi in the mass-produced list), in fact a lot of the same craftsmen make both kasumi and honyaki. You can get honyaki knives from any of the shops already mentioned in this thread too (I was just there and saw them on the shelves). It's not a top secret, members only club deal produced by two old sages living on a mountain top. And well made kasumi knives are in no way 'mediocre', and in fact the performance difference is not overly large IME between a high end hongasumi knife and a honyaki. Implying that getting a hongasumi knife is like being swindled doesn't sit right with me.
But to each their own I guess. The original poster will have to take this all in and decide himself.

Cadillac J
05-22-2011, 10:41 AM
A massproduced knife would not impress me, they are cheap and have no particular cool story.

I'm really tired of hearing you post things like this in every thread where someone is looking for a knife.

Not everyone who ventures here is willing to spend the kind of coin you always refer to...and how can anyone really know what they want in a custom if they have no experience with their likes/dislikes?

Rottman
05-22-2011, 10:51 AM
Hi Cadillac,
did you read my mind?

Tandrup
05-22-2011, 11:12 AM
Wow - I didn't mean to start an almost "religious" discussion between Honyaki and Kasumi. I am pretty certain that based on the little research I have done, a Honyaki is not what I am looking for. Thanks to everyone for chiming in though - I appreciate your insight and willingness to help and I am learning a lot with every post. With regards to Oivind's comments, I appreciate your sense of quality and I might ultimately turn into a serious knife geek, but for now I am trying to "step up my game" a notch or two compared to what I have and know about knives today. So here is what I am thinking:

- I need to revisit my selection of knifes, as it sounds like there is consensus that I need a Gyoto in the lineup. Maybe the gyoto replaces the Nakiri? I don't cut meat with a lot of bones in it - so I think a knife like the Yanagiba/Kiritsuke stays in the mix. I would rather get 2 or 3 knifes now and then keep my old Sabatiers for the "dirty work". After all, I am going to use them at home and I don't butcher things. So maybe the lineup becomes:
1) Gyoto
2) Paring
3) Yanagiba/Kiritsuke
4) Slicer or Nakiri if my budget allows

- I think I need a combination of single bevel and double bevel. I understand that there is some learning involved in using single bevel and keeping them sharp, but I am willing to invest that time to learn it. The difference is now clear to me - and I want to try both. Many of you also commented that the single bevels are more traditional, can get crazy sharp and at least need to be part of the portfolio.
- I shouldn't pay for Damascus - although it looks cool, there doesn't seem to be any performance impact to having it/not having it.
- With regards to buying here vs. Japan, I am still not sure if it will be cheaper. I will probably have to zoom in on some knife makes and models and then compare the prices when I get there. I tried to compare prices on the Masamoto link that someone posted (tsukijimasamoto), but it's really hard to figure out what series I am looking at - even with Google translator. Does anyone know which knives on that website are in the KS series?
- I also learned that I probably don't have to spend the same amount of money on every knife - invest my money based on how much I am going to use them.
- Masamoto KS looks like it's still something to consider along with Takeda and a couple of other brands you guys have mentioned.

How does that sound?

oivind_dahle
05-22-2011, 11:14 AM
Well in that case, the threadstarter is better off using the net, than get hustled at a knifestore made for tourists.
I guess this will be the perfect knife: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/todpwa24.html

Or he could even have DrNaka get him a Yoshikane or a Shigefusa for far less than he would have payed on a marked in Japan :)
If he wants to impress friends then he should at least know what he is buying. Because its rather embarrasing going to Italy to buy a car to show all your friends and familiy and telling them all sorts of stories about this Italian muscle car made by experts with a long list of customer waiting for their special car, and its this one you bought: http://drpinna.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/800px-Fiat_500.jpg and your friend actually thought you bought this one: http://www.exoticcars.ws/cars/ferrari-enzo-doors-open.jpg

but I admit, there are cool history among cheap knives as well: http://www.jendeindustries.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=JENDE&Category_Code=BOMBCUT
But the threadstarter wants to get into things before he buys. Lets inform him about the possibilities ;)

JohnnyChance
05-22-2011, 12:31 PM
If he wants to impress friends then he should at least know what he is buying.

I believe most of us buy knives we like to help us cook at home or professionally. Impressing friends is not that important, as most do not care about kitchen knives. Even in a professional kitchen some people do not care. You should not buy knives to impress people, or recommend that is what other should do.

If you went to japan on vacation and bought a Masamoto or a Takeda or a Konosuke or whatever, you would come home with a great knife AND a cool story behind it. The knives we discuss here are better than 99.9% of the kitchen cutlery out there. You will not end up with a "bad" knife no matter which of our recommendations you go with. Custom knives are great, but like the top 0.1% of anything, their cost is much higher than their added performance. Does the Ferrari get you to work any faster than the Fiat? Probably not. If so, not much.

NOT EVERYONE CAN AFFORD OR NEEDS CUSTOMS. You need to stop recommending them to everyone, and talking poorly about "mass-produced" knives. It's not like we are talking about stamped Chicago Cutlery here with molded plastic handles. And if everyone had customs, yours wouldnt be special, and what would you do then?

SpikeC
05-22-2011, 02:20 PM
I don't have the kind of experience with a variety of makers like others on this list do, but after a lot of looking and study I bought a Takeda 210 gyuto as my first Jknife, and I am in love with it. It has obvious marks of hand craftsmanship, a properly patinaed cladding and an amazing core steel. And it just feels so natural in my hand, a true extension of it.
I would recommend at least checking them out.

tk59
05-22-2011, 02:26 PM
Your budget is more than adequate to get awesome performing knives that look nice, too. If I were you, I would go to Japan Woodworker across the bay and hold some knives with your hands and/or talk to Jon Broida (or better yet go for a visit). Look at the thinness the last two inches from the tip and note the thinness the last cm behind the edge. Even if the steel is mediocre (which it won't be), blades that are thin in these areas will cut like crazy. Aside from that, make sure it's comfortable wherever your hand makes contact with the knife/handle and you're pretty much set. If you have to do it blind, I'd go with KonHD 240 (gyuto or suji) with an upgraded handle and pretty much any 150mm petty made out of stainless or semi-stainless. I've decided I'm not going to recommend A-types anymore. It is true they are wear-resistant and take an awesome edge but the steel is too soft (hrc 58 ish), imo. The edge deforms too easily for the way I use my knives.

Pensacola Tiger
05-22-2011, 02:41 PM
Lars,

Sorry to have to tell you that research will only take you so far in the process of selecting a knife. There is a strong personal component involved that seems to defy quantification. I say this not to discourage you, but to forewarn you that the knife that meets all of the criteria you have set down on paper may not prove to be the knife you expect it to be once you actually use it. To put it in IT terms, think of NetBeans vs Eclipse. Both are good Java IDEs, but personal preference plays a big part in which one you favor, and you can't tell without using them.

For this reason, I would advise you against buying all three of the knives you mention while in Japan. I would suggest instead that you buy one knife as a souvenir of your trip, but one that might happen to be useful in the kitchen. Brands to look for are Aritsugu, Monzaburo and Masamoto.

You should understand that the traditional Japanese knife styles (usuba, deba, kiritsuke, yanagiba/takobiki) were designed for the techniques of preparing traditional Japanese cuisine. They are far less suited for the tasks of a Western kitchen, and you will find using them for that purpose can be a frustrating experience.

For example, the yanagiba excels in producing thin slices of raw fish, but is hardly the tool of choice for carving a turkey or slicing a roast. The usuba is an excellent tool for katsuramuki, but does not perform as well in dicing onions or slicing tomatoes as a Western chef's knife. Unless you are planning a complete change of your cuisine from Western to Eastern, put aside the notion of getting a set of traditional Japanese knives to use in your Western kitchen.

What I think you need to outfit a Western kitchen is the Japanese equivalent of Western knife styles. The gyuto is the rough equivalent of a chef's knife; the sujihiki is the equivalent of a slicing or carving knife; the petty, or petit gyuto, is a long paring knife. The nakiri is unique, in that there is no Western counterpart, but it is an excellent vegetable knife.

From your original post, a nakiri or gyuto, a petty, and a sujihiki would serve you well. You may want to ask Jon Broida of Japanese Knife Imports to suggest some choices. You are close enough to LA to consider a trip there to see the knives in person.

Good luck, and have a great vacation.

Rick

SpikeC
05-22-2011, 04:42 PM
Excellent advice, Rick.

JBroida
05-22-2011, 04:46 PM
i'd be happy to speak with you about knives in Japan... shoot me a PM or e-mail if you're interested

Cadillac J
05-22-2011, 05:30 PM
If he wants to impress friends then he should at least know what he is buying. Because its rather embarrasing going to Italy to buy a car to show all your friends and familiy and telling them all sorts of stories about this Italian muscle car made by experts with a long list of customer waiting for their special car, and its this one you bought.

Who buys knives to impress their friends?

If I can sharpen and cut better with my 'cheap, mass-produced' Konosukes...how does that make them inferior to your customs for their intended purpose?

Also, in your car example: What I think would be more embarrassing would be someone buying a genuine Ferrari Enzo just for how people perceive them, but not having the skills to drive or maintain it properly. If someone could take a Corvette Z06 (cheap and mass produced in comparison) and tune it to be faster, better handling and they were able to drive circles around you...then would you still try to knock them down a peg because your vehicle costs much more?

I'm not trying to rag on you, as you are entitled to your opinions. But for you to continually criticize the majority of knives we discuss here (especially to newbs), all because you are on some high-horse with your customs, is asinine and makes you come off as extremely pretentious.

tk59
05-22-2011, 05:42 PM
...But for you to continually criticize the majority of knives we discuss here (especially to newbs), all because you are on some high-horse with your customs, is asinine and makes you come off as extremely pretentious.

CJ, haven't you read OD's favorite quote? The one about being "insensitive?" Also, he does love the HiroAS which is a mass produced knife. So... Basically, he's knuts. I'm sure the OP can figure that out. :lol2:

oivind_dahle
05-22-2011, 06:00 PM
If you really believe what your are writing - how come a Kramer goes for 20 000 USD on ebay?
The best part is that they will most likely never be used. Damn people must be dumb!

Nah, you see a lot of customers out there want the best of the best, even though they cant handle the knife like it should. I honestly think most users here are far more skilled with the knife compared to me, I also believe most people here are better sharpeners than me. But so what? For me knives is a hobby, and its a rather cheap hobby as well. I used to be into hifi, photo and computers. That was a far more expensive hobbies than collecting a few knives....

Most Norwegian chefs I know (and some of them have won really high medals internationally) dont have a japanese knife, and even use a dull knife for cutting. But their food is awesome, so perhaps a knife in the long run dont matter at all? Victorinox is the brand top chefs in Norway uses.

What Im saying is that customers are not only interested in how the knife preforms and how sharp it will get. A lot of buyers are into history, the craftmanship and the true beauty of the knife. And if you go to Japan, you should know a little about knives or you are better off using the web or visiting your local store and try some out. But we have different standards you and me. If someone ask for a beautiful lady I would recommend Megan Fox, you on the other hand would recommend Rosanne Barr. Both would give you an orgasm, but one of them you wouldnt brag about to your friends :)

I will continue to recommend the top makers, and they may not make a far more better knife than a japanese brand like konosuke. But thats not the point. Someone wants a little special in the kitchen - and a massproduced knife is not that special... Why would anybody buy a Custom of Devin, if all they needed was a ITK? :S

Its time to realize that knives are not only tools, but to a lot of customers its something more.... :)

Lefty
05-22-2011, 06:11 PM
I'll give you that, Øivind. The fact of the matter is you can come off a bit strong at times, and it can be pretty intimidating for people who are just getting into this hobby/passion.
Let's put it this way. What knife got you hooked? We all have THAT knife. While mine wasn't as amazing as others' it is still my sharpest knife on the rack, and quite honestly, my favourite.
And come on. Have you seen Roseanne lately? She actually looks pretty good! :)

Seb
05-22-2011, 07:28 PM
I don't buy customs because I am still (nearly three years into this 'habit') sampling different steels, shapes and styles and I am also still learning how to sharpen. After another couple of years, I might be ready to buy a fancy knife. I know myself well enough to know that I will enjoy this hobby more if I let in run it's course and take it steady step-by-step.

And, as I have suggested from time to time, you can enjoy a $200 or $500 or $1000 knife much more if you have taken the time to see the beauty in a sub-$100 knife.

Anyway, I don't think I would like blinged-up, tricked up knives. To me it's all about the functionality of the tool (not the collector's item).

Cadillac J
05-22-2011, 09:21 PM
OD, I really like your custom knives...I even have a pic of them saved on my computer from a while back. I'm glad that you are giving business to these artisans, as well as trying to get others excited about them. Personally, I would love to have the means to own multiple customs as well someday. These are all things I enjoy about you being in the forums.

What bothers me is how you always dog on knives that don't fit into this custom category, as if they are such inferior products to you. If you want to buy and recommend custom knives, great...that is your prerogative. But quit making generic, negative comments about products we all know and love, especially if you have no experience with them.

p.s. I don't think anyone buys a Kramer to impress their friends, as no one would understand this purchase except us. Most average people would think you were crazy to spend $300 on a knife, let alone one the price of a car.

apicius9
05-22-2011, 10:30 PM
These discussions always crack me up. I have had a few knives in my hands over the past 5-6 years, and I definitely appreciate the finer things in life, but the most expensive one I ever bought was $460 at the time. Lars, IMHO above a certain price point, the differences in functionality become so minimal that you only learn to appreciate them with tons of experience. It's nice to own a custom knife for $1,200 but it will not be 6 times better than a $200 knife. With the experience I have, if I were to go to Japan - not primarily to buy knives - I would pick out a really nice one I know I will be using and that will remind me of a nice trip, and then spend the rest of the time with my family. The brands mentioned are all excellent, and it comes down to what looks and feels the best to you. $200-300 will get you a great and functional knife for every day use. If you then decide to become a collector of custom knives, there is still plenty of opportunity once you have a better idea what you really want. Many people here have more experience with knives than I do, but I would bet one of my Carter knives that we would not find a dozen people in this community who could reliably tell a honyaki from a non-honyaki knife in a blindfolded performance test. A knife doesn't have to be expensive to have a story. My Hiromoto has a story because it was the first knife I had rehandled; my garasuki has a story because it almost cut Uncle Al's toe off when he dropped it; even my Global knife has a story...

Stefan

P.S. The people who spend $20,000 on a Kramer actually interest me less from my perspective as a knife nut and more from my perspective as a mental health professional...

JohnnyChance
05-22-2011, 10:47 PM
Nah, you see a lot of customers out there want the best of the best, even though they cant handle the knife like it should...A lot of buyers are into history, the craftmanship and the true beauty of the knife. And if you go to Japan, you should know a little about knives or you are better off using the web or visiting your local store and try some out...I will continue to recommend the top makers, and they may not make a far more better knife than a japanese brand like konosuke. But thats not the point. Someone wants a little special in the kitchen - and a massproduced knife is not that special... Why would anybody buy a Custom of Devin, if all they needed was a ITK? :S

You are correct. Some people want the best of the best, or a knife made to their specifications. Did the original poster ask for the best of the best? No! He said he wanted 3-4 knives, and he had a budget from $250-300 each. Telling him to buy customs doesnt help! It just makes you sound like a pompous *******. I know there is a bit of a language barrier, so if this is not your intention I understand, but just so you know that is how you tend to come off.

He is going to Japan on vacation and wanted to know if there were places he could visit while there, and maybe save some money in doing so. What a great souvenir, something made in Japan that you actually get to use and appreciate! Now it has a story of it's own, because every time you use it you think of a (hopefully happy) trip to Japan.


But we have different standards you and me. If someone ask for a beautiful lady I would recommend Megan Fox, you on the other hand would recommend Rosanne Barr. Both would give you an orgasm, but one of them you wouldnt brag about to your friends :)

See, this is why you sound so arrogant when you post about customs. Do you understand that the knives we recommend and use are better than 99% of the knives out there? We aren't telling people to get Rock N Chops or Ginzus or a Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich. People ask what knives we recommend IN THEIR BUDGET and we usually give them examples that are beautifully crafted, great performers, and a good value. If they ask who can I can get a custom from, feel free to chime in. But chances are they have been around already know who the custom knife makers are.

Just ONE year ago you were posting on KF on how your favorite knives were a 190mm santoku and an offset bread knife. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there are great knives to be had that are not customs.

bishamon
05-23-2011, 06:43 AM
This thread has gotten off track, but I recommend the poster to private message the member JBroida about where to look when you go. He was there for a few months recently and works with Japanese knives and a lot of makers.

Tandrup
05-23-2011, 10:58 AM
i'd be happy to speak with you about knives in Japan... shoot me a PM or e-mail if you're interested

PM sent.

oivind_dahle
05-23-2011, 11:55 AM
I just want to say sorry if I offended anybody....

JPizzzle
05-23-2011, 12:40 PM
These discussions always crack me up. I have had a few knives in my hands over the past 5-6 years, and I definitely appreciate the finer things in life, but the most expensive one I ever bought was $460 at the time. Lars, IMHO above a certain price point, the differences in functionality become so minimal that you only learn to appreciate them with tons of experience. It's nice to own a custom knife for $1,200 but it will not be 6 times better than a $200 knife. With the experience I have, if I were to go to Japan - not primarily to buy knives - I would pick out a really nice one I know I will be using and that will remind me of a nice trip, and then spend the rest of the time with my family. The brands mentioned are all excellent, and it comes down to what looks and feels the best to you. $200-300 will get you a great and functional knife for every day use. If you then decide to become a collector of custom knives, there is still plenty of opportunity once you have a better idea what you really want. Many people here have more experience with knives than I do, but I would bet one of my Carter knives that we would not find a dozen people in this community who could reliably tell a honyaki from a non-honyaki knife in a blindfolded performance test. A knife doesn't have to be expensive to have a story. My Hiromoto has a story because it was the first knife I had rehandled; my garasuki has a story because it almost cut Uncle Al's toe off when he dropped it; even my Global knife has a story...

Stefan

P.S. The people who spend $20,000 on a Kramer actually interest me less from my perspective as a knife nut and more from my perspective as a mental health professional...

Mental health professional-oh, another psych nut on the forum. What population do you work with Stefan? I have my MS in counseling and clinical healthy psychology and currently work with high risk adolescents. Also in the 2nd year of my clinical psychology doctorate program. Cool that someone else in psych might be on here

Cadillac J
05-23-2011, 12:56 PM
I just want to say sorry if I offended anybody....

It's all good baby :ovg:

No offense was ever taken, just wanted to point out how you were being perceived. You should be proud of your customs, they are awesome pieces of work....just remember that they aren't the solution or answer for everyone. No need to bash quality Japanese knives just because they are anything less than mid-tech.

bieniek
05-24-2011, 06:32 PM
Most Norwegian chefs I know (and some of them have won really high medals internationally) dont have a japanese knife, and even use a dull knife for cutting. But their food is awesome, so perhaps a knife in the long run dont matter at all? Victorinox is the brand top chefs in Norway uses.


That was just a LOAD of bollocks!
For one i sharpened MAC damascus.
For other two Tamahaganes and this chef is the youngest to win some very very important prize. Those were propably the cheapest and most used knifes in his bag, but there was no Victorinox.
At other very famous company in Oslo i didnt spotted even half of Victorinox.
Im waiting for big global, another mac. Please PM me if want to know specifically who i met in person.

I would agree that because of the countrys specifics in Norway most popular among industry [cheapest] is Victorinox. And not many chefs are even aware of what really sharp really is. Thats a fact. Theres a lack of good cutlery specialists, but with all the globalization it will evolve eventually.

To the treadstarter:
From what I understood, you just dont like the feeling of overpaying. Just like me. Even though i think you should go for it and physically touch and feel all different bunch of knives in Japan.
With some you will fell in love. Maybe some of it would be in your budget?
I wouldnt say you need nakiri to hame kitchen. You will notice sometimes that to chop one leek you are to lazy to change knives.
Thats why i would go for gyuto, if 24cm, then why would one need a slicer at home?
The most important knife for me is a parer, this is a guy that can handle whole bunch of stuff and i would go for that one. Two knives and sky is the limit in the kitchen.

jheis
05-24-2011, 07:54 PM
I'll echo tk59's advice.

Hop in your car and make a trip over to Japan Woodworker in Alameda and hold some real Japanese knives in your hands.

Get an idea of what you like (or don't like) and go from there.

http://kitchen.japanwoodworker.com/dept.asp?dept_id=13160&s=JapanWoodworker

James

Tandrup
05-24-2011, 10:59 PM
Hey all,

I wanted to thank you all for your contributions to this lively discussion. I truly appreciate everyone's input. I have learned a lot over the last couple of days and feel much better equipped to start my endeavor into the world of high-end Japanese knives. I will look for a gyoto and a paring and then maybe a souvenir single-bevel knife - just for the heck of it. You guys saved me from making some costly mistakes. I will make a trip to the different stores nearby and figure out what I like and don't like and get started that way. I might buy something that I find out a year from now was a mistake, but that's life and that's how I am going to learn.

Thanks again!
Lars

SpikeC
05-24-2011, 11:23 PM
Very cool! Have fun in Japan!

oivind_dahle
05-25-2011, 10:31 AM
That was just a LOAD of bollocks!
For one i sharpened MAC damascus.
For other two Tamahaganes and this chef is the youngest to win some very very important prize. Those were propably the cheapest and most used knifes in his bag, but there was no Victorinox.
At other very famous company in Oslo i didnt spotted even half of Victorinox.
Im waiting for big global, another mac. Please PM me if want to know specifically who i met in person.

I would agree that because of the countrys specifics in Norway most popular among industry [cheapest] is Victorinox. And not many chefs are even aware of what really sharp really is. Thats a fact. Theres a lack of good cutlery specialists, but with all the globalization it will evolve eventually.



Well I am Purchase Manager in ISS Norway, and we use Victorinox on all our canteens. Secondly Im a personal friend with some of the best chefs in Norway, among them Ø. Hjelle at http://www.kulinariskakademi.no/english.asp. I also know the rest of the chefs there. I also know a lot of the grand chefs in Norway and I just come to think of the chefs columnist in one of the biggest newspaper in Norway Jan Vardøen is also using Victorinox: I might be wrong but Im pretty sure its a Victorinox in his hand on the picture: http://oslopuls.aftenposten.no/restaurant_uteliv/article255771.ece. The picture is his trademark in the newspaper as well :)

So please tell me about the chefs that is using so damn great knives. I for sure dont know them. I know Kulinarisk Akademi bought their first Jknife last year and it was a Hattori Forum Knife :)

Secondly: who sells the great Jknives in Norway. I know Traktøren got "Shun" and you might find Mac and Global... But thats it. Please inform me of anyone selling other brands. I have no idea where to buy it! Ive also taken a lot of courses at the best restaurants in Oslo....again Victorinox.... But nothing amaze me any more. Maybe a local bar in Tromsø got some really high standards on their cutlery :)

bieniek
05-26-2011, 01:57 AM
Man, wake up. Just wake up. You can be manager of universe, but I urge you take your head out your bottom.
To be honest, I wouldnt be proud of having abything to do with cantines! There is one worth ive been at: Staff restaurant in Four Seasons Hotel Green Park, London.

To explain, Im talking about chefs that have articles about themselves on Wikipedia, and you talk to me about some lazy bastards that achieved sh@it. Stop!
To explain better: When I came to work in London my chef told me simple truth: if we didnt heard of chef in here, he is non existent. You think some cheapo from shithole-newspaper caught theyre attention? Stop!
To explain on the level of primary school: Your success in the industry isnt measured by medals or any other gizmos industry give themselves to get in better mood.
As Marco Pierre White said: The respect is gained through service.

oivind_dahle
05-26-2011, 07:02 AM
Im no manager of the univers ;) Just saying that focus on top japanaese kitchen knives are really not there among people or chefs in Norway. It might be, and I truly believe a lot of chefs are starting to use great knives. However many still have their Victorinox :)

Regarding your comment on canteens...
Charles Tjessem - Bocuse d`Or 2003 - Chef of the year 20002 (Norway) - working place when he won - the canteen of statoil stavanger.
So Im pretty proud of having a lot to do with canteens .)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Tjessem

I know its hard to believe, but norwegian chefs are actually very very good :)