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View Full Version : Marko Tsourkan 52100 Gyuto (passaround)



Andrew H
11-05-2012, 11:30 AM
I was lucky enough to get a chance to play around with Marko's 52100 gyuto this past week. Overall, it's a very good knife. I dwell on the negatives for two reasons: (1) I think that's what Marko wants to know about and (2) I think that's the best way to talk about very high quality things. I'd like to thank Marko again for sending this one around (and you should totally put me #1 on the waiting list).

Marko also asked for us to compare the knife to our "best" knife. I selected my Gengetsu 240, white steel, gyuto for the comparison.


STEEL
MT: Marko shipped the knife sharpened and it had a nice edge. After stropping on some leather loaded w/ 1 micron diamond spray it was piercing tomatoes skins easily. I was impressed how well the steel responded to the strop. I used the knife for around 5 days and while it did lose that amazing sharpness it didn't effectively change how you cut with the knife over that five day span. Very nice steel and I'll be interested in seeing what the pros think of it. The steel isn't very reactive and didn't form a ton of patina under my use.

Gengetsu: The white steel got sharper than Marko's, but it only lasted for a day, if that. If your scoring criteria for steel includes edge retention of any kind, this round goes to the Tsourkan.

9.5/10, MT

GRIND
MT: I like the grind quite a bit. I tried to take some pictures of it but I just couldn't get any good ones; hopefully someone later on will take some snap shots of it. I think that you couldn't change it for the knife to be objectively better for the entire community. You could trade-off some food release for a little less wedging (it did wedge in some very large onions), but some people wouldn't like that. As economists would say "You're at an efficient point of grind; you can't make anybody better off without making someone worse off." The knife is pretty stiff (not as stiff as the Gengetsu, of course) while maintaining this so props to you, Marko.

Gengetsu: Now, after saying all that, I don't know if I like it much more than the Gengetsu. The Gengetsu has less wedging but more sticktion, so it's a tradeoff.

10/10
Slight advantage: Marko

Profile
MT: I like it a lot. I was impressed by how well it rock chops and does pull / push cuts. I think this was my favorite part about the knife. The tip is usable and thin without feeling fragile and I like the height. Other than saying it's a good profile it's hard to grade because it's so subjective.

Gengetsu: The Gengetsu has a slightly more rounded nose that gives it a different feel, but is just as effective in my hands. I like it just as much as the MT; it's just different.

0/0, tie

F&F
MT: It's a Marko. I could complain and say that it would be nice to see a more rounded spine and choil, but I don't know if I would want to pay for him to do anymore than he has done. The handle does have a void but that was mentioned beforehand and it is simply because it is a passaround knife. I would like to say that this is my favorite finish that I've ever seen on a knife. The satin is so even - it's beautiful. I do want to say I think there might be the world's smallest birds beak going on with it, Marko, from your final sharpening. Very easy to fix, but it might be off-putting to some.

Gengetsu: The spine is eased, not rounded, and the same is true for the choil. There's no doubt that Marko's F&F is substantially better.

9.5/10, MT

Handle
This isn't so much a category as it is to Marko. I don't like the ferrule. It feels great in a hammer grip but the way I do a pinch grip it gets in the way of my oaf hands. I know you have several options and I could select a different style, but even for this one I would try and round off the edges of the ferrule. Other than that, the saya and handle were perfect. Great in hand feel and work for both pinch and hammer.

Overall
The MT exceeded my admittedly high expectations. Nothing I could put in the way would stop this knife with the allowance of two grapefruit sized onions that caused some wedging. I think Marko's knives are a great value at current pricing and are definitely up for the "best in price range" discussion. The score doesn't reflect it, but it surpassed the Shigefusa rather easily in most categories, and in overall score. What isn't clear is how close it is to the Gengetsu in terms of performance. If the Gengetsu was made out of 52100 it would be a real horse race.

9.5/10, Marko beats the Gengetsu

heirkb
11-05-2012, 12:17 PM
Nice review, Andrew. Even when you tried to focus on negatives, I couldn't really find many, lol.

My Marko practice gyuto's grind almost looks like a thin Heiji with more convexed faces if you can imagine that. I know people say their knives cut effortlessly, but the Marko literally does and I haven't run into many other knives that cut this way on a lot of different foods (Heiji, Tilman are two that come to mind). No wedging in anything I've thrown at it, but it has a bit of stiction, so the passaround might have a slightly different grind.

I'm surprised your Gengetsu was so close to the Marko in terms of cutting performance. I'll have to try one of those again when I'm at JKI.

Marko Tsourkan
11-05-2012, 01:36 PM
Thanks, Andrew, for taking time and writing a detailed review. I am glad you liked the knife.

Thanks for suggesting to round the edges of the ferrule. I started doing it on last couple of handles and I can feel the difference.

I also started grinding a less pronounced taper on the ferrule. I think it makes it a bit easier to hold and to transition from from a pinch to a hammer grip and vice versa.

M

Von blewitt
11-05-2012, 05:17 PM
Great review! Now I want a Marko and a Gengetsu :)

labor of love
11-05-2012, 05:46 PM
Great review! Now I want a Marko and a Gengetsu :)

+1

Crothcipt
11-05-2012, 05:48 PM
Great review! Now I want a Marko and a Gengetsu :)

Just now?

Johnny.B.Good
11-05-2012, 09:08 PM
Great review, Andrew (I like the format you used).

JohnyChai
11-05-2012, 09:22 PM
Having read this am surprised that you found the Marko to have wedging???

Currently using one of Marko's 240 Practice knives with a Marko D-handle. It is all around the most flawless knife that has come this way. Don't actually see how a knife could surpass this...with other knives definitely saw flaws. Including some of the most well respected.

The edge retention, especially with a strop or high grit stone combo allows you to have a dead-on sharp knife every day in 1-2 minutes for 2 weeks(longest here was 3) to whenever depending on how much you use it. Could see home cooks not having to sharp forever, literally.

It cuts everything well, period. It's a laser that has geometry instead of just a thin grind. Have used it to bang out prep or to make fine cuts, either way it can be tweaked to do both. Haven't had any serious sticking issues, that's a first.

The handle is also spot on. Like HeirkB, prefer the basic Ho handles. Marko manages to match that feeling in a more deluxe form without sacrificing anything. Oiling it periodically has darkened the wood but kept the feel intact.


The weight of the knife is the only thing that could see members(anyone) having a problem with. The one that is here is light but surely those of you with man hands could ask for a thicker grind or heavier spine, etc..

When the knife first came, it was un-sharpened. Used it that way for days with no issue whatsoever. No chips to speak of, takes well to the stones-- natural and synthetic(Practice 52100,) not reactive once a basic gray patina forms.

This sounds like an endorsement and it is! One that gladly paid for...Thanks Marko!

Marko Tsourkan
11-05-2012, 09:50 PM
I am going to add that the knife JohnyChai has was reground from a practice knife, so it is thinner and lighter. The pass around is thicker at the spine and mid section, and has more weight. I intentionally ground it a bit thicker, as it were to be used in a pro environment and some extra weight could be beneficial. With the practice knives, I am constrain with the geometry I am regrinding from.

Andrew H
11-05-2012, 11:41 PM
Having read this am surprised that you found the Marko to have wedging???


Most knives wedge on something. Marko's did better than most in this regard, but I could tell the difference between the Gengetsu and his. Maybe it's just me, maybe it was the edge I've built up on the Gengetsu, maybe the onions I used on the Marko just happened to be more dense on average than the onions I tested with the Gengetsu. We'll be able to get a better idea when more people get to use it.

It did garner a 9.5/10. That's more than pretty good.

tk59
11-06-2012, 01:22 AM
Obviously, people are going to have somewhat varying opinions based on their technique and experience. In this case, I'm pretty sure Andrew's assessment is spot on. Marko makes a very nice knife these days.

jgraeff
11-06-2012, 01:43 AM
Having read this am surprised that you found the Marko to have wedging???

Currently using one of Marko's 240 Practice knives with a Marko D-handle. It is all around the most flawless knife that has come this way. Don't actually see how a knife could surpass this...with other knives definitely saw flaws. Including some of the most well respected.

The edge retention, especially with a strop or high grit stone combo allows you to have a dead-on sharp knife every day in 1-2 minutes for 2 weeks(longest here was 3) to whenever depending on how much you use it. Could see home cooks not having to sharp forever, literally.

It cuts everything well, period. It's a laser that has geometry instead of just a thin grind. Have used it to bang out prep or to make fine cuts, either way it can be tweaked to do both. Haven't had any serious sticking issues, that's a first.

The handle is also spot on. Like HeirkB, prefer the basic Ho handles. Marko manages to match that feeling in a more deluxe form without sacrificing anything. Oiling it periodically has darkened the wood but kept the feel intact.


The weight of the knife is the only thing that could see members(anyone) having a problem with. The one that is here is light but surely those of you with man hands could ask for a thicker grind or heavier spine, etc..

When the knife first came, it was un-sharpened. Used it that way for days with no issue whatsoever. No chips to speak of, takes well to the stones-- natural and synthetic(Practice 52100,) not reactive once a basic gray patina forms.

This sounds like an endorsement and it is! One that gladly paid for...Thanks Marko!

Glad to hear you finally got to try one. Marko is making some of the best knives around in my opinion. Should have my custom in a few days to give a final review but through all the practice knives id have from him have been awesome and the best knives ive used period.

pitonboy
11-06-2012, 08:48 AM
Glad to hear you finally got to try one. Marko is making some of the best knives around in my opinion. Should have my custom in a few days to give a final review but through all the practice knives id have from him have been awesome and the best knives ive used period.

+1

chinacats
11-06-2012, 11:14 AM
Agree about his practice knives being excellent as mine is a serious cutter, but I too experience stiction on certain items such as potatoes and apples. Edge retention is better than I have seen on any carbon. Again, mine is a practice knife and I can't wait to get hold of his current blade (pass around) to see how this has improved. Mine is very thin and has a rather large convex to the face which makes me think that my custom will have to be thicker, longer and slightly more hefty--in addition to his current grind and h/t. I am pretty sure MT will be working it all out and I can't wait!

heirkb
11-06-2012, 11:40 AM
Agree about his practice knives being excellent as mine is a serious cutter, but I too experience stiction on certain items such as potatoes and apples. Edge retention is better than I have seen on any carbon. Again, mine is a practice knife and I can't wait to get hold of his current blade (pass around) to see how this has improved. Mine is very thin and has a rather large convex to the face which makes me think that my custom will have to be thicker, longer and slightly more hefty--in addition to his current grind and h/t. I am pretty sure MT will be working it all out and I can't wait!

I think that's the trade-off, as has been mentioned. I think the Tilman gyuto I sold cut very similarly and had a little less stiction than the Marko. I'm guessing that's because it was a bit asymmetrical and the Marko practice knife I have is not. I figure one could improve stiction, but you wouldn't have a knife that cuts as ridiculously well.

jgraeff
11-08-2012, 10:12 AM
I think that's the trade-off, as has been mentioned. I think the Tilman gyuto I sold cut very similarly and had a little less stiction than the Marko. I'm guessing that's because it was a bit asymmetrical and the Marko practice knife I have is not. I figure one could improve stiction, but you wouldn't have a knife that cuts as ridiculously well.


sticking on the outside of the blade is acceptable on almost all blades you will get some degree of sticking, however for me if the inside has sticking thats a deal breaker. I have a couple videos that shows how markos knives are with sticking and in my opinion i think its pretty decent a lot of foods slide right off, some like apples tend to stick but can be flung right off or if you keep chopping they push each other off and its never an issue.

i just got my custom i will relay some input here in a few days.

brainsausage
11-29-2012, 05:26 PM
Sticktion bothers me waaaaayyyy less than wedging. If I'm prepping 8 quarts of mire poix, and the knife is wedging on all those carrots, it's far more fatigueing and generally annoying than having to sweep the blade occasionally. Obviously it's a bigger issue with potatoes, and large starches...

Great review btw! Very excited to put this knife through its paces.

ThEoRy
12-03-2012, 04:26 AM
Borrowed my laptop from work tonight so I could write down some thoughts while they are still fresh.

Steel:
Sharpening was a breeze. You can make a fine, even burr along the length of the blade with ease. The grain size must be really fine I figured since the stones got a bit clogged and felt glassy. Took the Atoma to them and got right back to it. Edge resilience was quite long lasting as well. I could use it for a few days of full shifts between simple stropping on felt with diamond. Speaking of stropping, it's quite incredible how doing so little results in so much for the steel. Which leads me to a unique point as well, with so little effort in sharpening it became obvious that since you barely ever remove much metal, the useful life of this knife will be quite long. A real plus for me.

It takes on a nice patina quickly. I only had a problem with reactivity with an onion once. At the end of the shift the diced onion had turned black. It's to be expected of a carbon blade though. I figure with a more developed patina it shouldn't be a problem.

Geometry/Grind/Shape:
Food release was just fantastic on this blade. Even the usual suspects posed no threat. Potatoes, squash, whatever. I couldn't make much stick to the blade and what little that did, jumped off with a simple flick. I know that Andrew had said maybe the tip could use an adjustment since it seemed to wedge on onions during the initial horizontal cuts but this never bothered me for one reason, I don't cut onions like that. I use the middle of the blade to push cut towards the root after the radial/vertical cuts. So that doesn't affect me. I even tried to recreate the issue by cutting it like Andrew and to be honest it did feel wonky however, I attribute that to be from my inexperience with that technique and not the knife. It just felt unnatural to me so I may not be the greatest judge in that particular critique. Regardless, as I said it doesn't affect me so I don't care. If Marko can improve this however, I'll take it with the improvement.

Wedging near the heel was not an issue either. No snapping carrots with this blade. Even with a straight downward chop using no directional motion. Clean cutter.

Push cutting works really well. It's almost flat with a slight curve which I really like. I don't want it to be totally flat, then you can't rock without it feeling jarring. I want to be able to do both whenever necessary. Rocking works pretty well also. With just enough sweep towards the tip to keep things smooth. Marko has told me he may offer a nose with a bit more upsweep but I would have to have both in hand to decide which I like better. Which brings us to walking the board. Marko's knife is thin but I wouldn't say it's a super laser like Konosuke etc. Which is fine since I'm always wary of walking with that knife. I can just hear/feel the edge cricking and rolling and I hate using it like that. I didn't have that same fear while using this knife. I think Marko has hit the sweet spot between thinness and grind. Thin yet not anorexic at the spine but still thin behind the edge with enough meat behind that for some convexing. Not to mention the distal taper is great too. It gets thin enough towards the tip to do highly detailed dicing etc. with ease.

Extras:
Weight and balance were perfect for a pinch gripper like me. Didn't feel like a 260 at all. Very nimble in the hand, a perfect extension. Blade face was finished to a perfect even satin. Very nice. Spine and choil should be fully rounded I believe. The choil I found to be exceptionally bothersome. An easy fix though. The tapered D handle felt mostly comfortable. As a pinch gripper, the ferrule should be rounded smooth as well.

Overall:
Performance was fantastic. There wasn't anything I didn't enjoy cutting with this knife. For reference I used both the Tanaka and Konosuke HD 240 alongside this blade and time after time I preferred the performance of the Tsourkan. Those blades may be able to do most tasks really well but Marko's does all of them. Really impressed with all aspects of this blade, just a fantastic cutter. Which really sucks because now the wait for my own Tsourkan is even harder!!

Great job on this blade Marko and a significant improvement over the last blade you sent me. At this point you've got it really dialed in now and we've begun splitting hairs between personal preference tweaks. Really makes me excited for the future! :knife::knife::knife:

Andrew H
12-03-2012, 11:08 AM
Borrowed my laptop from work tonight so I could write down some thoughts while they are still fresh.

Steel:
Sharpening was a breeze. You can make a fine, even burr along the length of the blade with ease. The grain size must be really fine I figured since the stones got a bit clogged and felt glassy. Took the Atoma to them and got right back to it. Edge resilience was quite long lasting as well. I could use it for a few days of full shifts between simple stropping on felt with diamond. Speaking of stropping, it's quite incredible how doing so little results in so much for the steel. Which leads me to a unique point as well, with so little effort in sharpening it became obvious that since you barely ever remove much metal, the useful life of this knife will be quite long. A real plus for me.

It takes on a nice patina quickly. I only had a problem with reactivity with an onion once. At the end of the shift the diced onion had turned black. It's to be expected of a carbon blade though. I figure with a more developed patina it shouldn't be a problem.

Geometry/Grind/Shape:
Food release was just fantastic on this blade. Even the usual suspects posed no threat. Potatoes, squash, whatever. I couldn't make much stick to the blade and what little that did, jumped off with a simple flick. I know that Andrew had said maybe the tip could use an adjustment since it seemed to wedge on onions during the initial horizontal cuts but this never bothered me for one reason, I don't cut onions like that. I use the middle of the blade to push cut towards the root after the radial/vertical cuts. So that doesn't affect me. I even tried to recreate the issue by cutting it like Andrew and to be honest it did feel wonky however, I attribute that to be from my inexperience with that technique and not the knife. It just felt unnatural to me so I may not be the greatest judge in that particular critique. Regardless, as I said it doesn't affect me so I don't care. If Marko can improve this however, I'll take it with the improvement.

Wedging near the heel was not an issue either. No snapping carrots with this blade. Even with a straight downward chop using no directional motion. Clean cutter.

Push cutting works really well. It's almost flat with a slight curve which I really like. I don't want it to be totally flat, then you can't rock without it feeling jarring. I want to be able to do both whenever necessary. Rocking works pretty well also. With just enough sweep towards the tip to keep things smooth. Marko has told me he may offer a nose with a bit more upsweep but I would have to have both in hand to decide which I like better. Which brings us to walking the board. Marko's knife is thin but I wouldn't say it's a super laser like Konosuke etc. Which is fine since I'm always wary of walking with that knife. I can just hear/feel the edge cricking and rolling and I hate using it like that. I didn't have that same fear while using this knife. I think Marko has hit the sweet spot between thinness and grind. Thin yet not anorexic at the spine but still thin behind the edge with enough meat behind that for some convexing. Not to mention the distal taper is great too. It gets thin enough towards the tip to do highly detailed dicing etc. with ease.

Extras:
Weight and balance were perfect for a pinch gripper like me. Didn't feel like a 260 at all. Very nimble in the hand, a perfect extension. Blade face was finished to a perfect even satin. Very nice. Spine and choil should be fully rounded I believe. The choil I found to be exceptionally bothersome. An easy fix though. The tapered D handle felt mostly comfortable. As a pinch gripper, the ferrule should be rounded smooth as well.

Overall:
Performance was fantastic. There wasn't anything I didn't enjoy cutting with this knife. For reference I used both the Tanaka and Konosuke HD 240 alongside this blade and time after time I preferred the performance of the Tsourkan. Those blades may be able to do most tasks really well but Marko's does all of them. Really impressed with all aspects of this blade, just a fantastic cutter. Which really sucks because now the wait for my own Tsourkan is even harder!!

Great job on this blade Marko and a significant improvement over the last blade you sent me. At this point you've got it really dialed in now and we've begun splitting hairs between personal preference tweaks. Really makes me excited for the future! :knife::knife::knife:

Nice review. Rick!

brainsausage
12-03-2012, 02:41 PM
Great review Rick. Looking forward to my run with this knife.


- Josh

chinacats
12-03-2012, 10:07 PM
Nice review, can't wait to try this one myself!