View Full Version : Gyuto Opinions: Heiji, Yoshikane, Watanabe and Shige?

12-26-2012, 10:47 PM
T'is the season so I've decided to buy myself a 240mm gyuto as a present to start the new year. The hard part is- without being able to hold, feel, test, my options - which one? I've searched through the wealth of information on this board but I'm hoping some here might be willing to share some additional opinions to help me further narrow my decision. (and to any who chime in: thank you in advance).

My current thoughts are: Heiji (either his semi stainless or carbon), Watanabe, Yoshikane (v2).... My budget is up to around $400. I'm comfortable with all carbon and have some stones and the fundamental sharpening skills to maintain it, but am also curious about semi-stainless as well. Understand they are different animals...but considering both. Am impressionable as to which.

As a background point: I own a Shige kitaeji mioroshi deba that I love. I deeply appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it, and even more, relish it's function. It's balance, handle, and cutting ability are all phenomenal. It's an amazing tool. If I had the budget for a Shige at current prices, and, for that matter, the patience to wait for one, that would be my choice. Plan B..something I'll appreciate as much as the Shige in a more regularly useable Gyuto ....that's the challenge.

All three makers I'm considering have great reputations. I suspect the work of any of the three would leave me happy and my debate is splitting hairs. still....which to choose? Heiji is on the list in part because of a shared background with Shige. Watanabe is because of reviews seen here on this forum. Yoshikane from some of his knives' aesthetics (I have tried his hammered finish knives). Appreciate the artisan/craftsman small-shop nature of all three. Also like that for Heiji and Watanabe I can buy directly from them online (though that is not a necessity)

In style/geometry/function - I'm not looking for a laser. I'd prioritize 'falling through' cutting ability a little higher than 'food release.' Balance, moderate ease of sharpening and cutting ability are all important. Would prefer a kasumi finish to Kuro-uchi but ok with either.

Handles - not tried chestnut, ok with trying it or with ho wood. D handle or octagonal both ok. Back to my Shige adoration problem: I love my Shige's FF and handle -it's very comfortable.... but I am not averse to changing a handle as needed on something new to get the right feel. I made my own handle and saya for a lesser quality yanagiba in the past and might do the same again.

Also not working on a line - this is for personal daily use more than anything - so caring for carbon not an issue. SS is just intriguing.

again, any insights or help much appreciated. thanks.

12-27-2012, 12:04 AM
I will leave this to the bigger and more experienced brains here, good luck on your search and welcome to the board.

sachem allison
12-27-2012, 12:29 AM

12-27-2012, 12:53 AM
If you really like Shigs, get a Shig. Of the knives you listed, I would get a Heiji. I have two and they are among the nicest knives I've ever used, which are many. I also very much appreciate the edge taking/holding on these knives.

12-27-2012, 01:41 AM
You should check out Hide. Kind of a similar knife to some mentioned. But, I think the steel, Fit and finish, cutting ability and everything else are better. I have sold my watanabe, yosh, Heiji, and Shig. On the other hand, I (personally) liked the hide so much that I also bought the hide honyaki from JKI... Bust saying it another great knife to add to the list. It is not very reactive, which I also like at work.


12-27-2012, 04:31 AM
What about Kato :lol2:

12-27-2012, 04:58 AM
Gengetsu 240mm gyuto in white #2 is $365 and in semi stainless is $390. Both stainless clad. Both cut like the dickens. Both are currently out of stock at JKI, but I am sure Jon will have more in soon.

Not quite the work of art a Shige could be viewed as, but certainly more of a workhorse. Not a laser, nice balance of "fall through" and "food release".

12-27-2012, 05:26 AM
Of the ones listed I would say that Heiji would be very opposite from a Shig. I have tried both makers in a pass a round. I loved the Heiji, and just liked the Shig. But I also compared them both to my 270 Mizuno. In all respects the Shig. was very similar to the Mizuno in feel, cutting and longevity of the edge. The Shig was a lot more reactive than the blue #2 steel of the Mizuno.

The Heiji was a totally differently world than either Shig or Mizuno. Much heavier, different bevels, which made for a different experience than what I have ever had before (in a good way).

Of the ones you have listed I would go with the Heiji. But it also sounds like you are sold on a Shig. I would save up for a Shig. and wait for the wait time. Also just a thought buy a small deba from each maker listed and check out the difference.

12-28-2012, 06:38 AM
Thank you all for the replies so far. Looks like the Heiji seems to be the fan favorite among those mentioned.

Also- as a side note to clarify re my appreciation of the Shig and couple replies as to why not just get another- they've become very hard to come by (it seems) and are out of my price range. I'm all for trying something new, anyway. There are lots of great makers out there as is clear from all the discussions here on these boards. I mentioned the Shige in the conversation as much as a baseline for what i have the most experience with and like, as for anything else.

thanks again for all the suggestions so far.

12-28-2012, 08:51 AM
I have to admit that this thread and my following research has left me lusting after a Heiji carbon gyuto! Their shop in Mito, Ibaraki-ken is just a few hours from me. I'm definitely going to have to go visit them sometime next year!

daddy yo yo
12-28-2012, 12:18 PM
i want to take the opportunity and ask a couple of questions about wa-gyutos... still i prefer western handles, but i would like to have one wa-gyuto in my kitchen as well. i guess i will be going for a 240mm size. gyutos which are of interest seem to be: yoshikane, yoshihide, yoshihiro (seems like i have a weakness for yoshi...), heiji, watanabe. i am afraid shigefusa or else are out of my price range. any others which you guys can recommend? gesshin ginga? sakai yusuke?

in this thread, heiji seems to be quite "in". where would i buy a heiji wa-gyuto?

12-28-2012, 01:35 PM
............... heiji seems to be quite "in". where would i buy a heiji wa-gyuto?

Here (http://www.nakayaheiji.co.jp/contents/hocho/hocho-English.html)

Patatas Bravas
12-28-2012, 01:50 PM
I recently also checked Heiji knives. Also this place: Here (http://www.japan-tool.com/zc/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=heiji+gyuto)

12-28-2012, 01:56 PM
And at JKI (http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/gesshin-heiji.html), made to Jon's specs.

daddy yo yo
12-28-2012, 03:17 PM
thx for the links!

do you guys also know what jon (JKI) has special made for "his" heiji knives? will that be similar to the gesshin ginga knives from ashi hamono (rounded spine and choil + gesshin logo)?

12-28-2012, 03:20 PM
Send Jon a PM or an email. It could be anything from just rounding off edges for comfort to actually tweaking the profile, geometry or even heat treat.

12-28-2012, 06:07 PM
I know the one I tried was from JKI, and the spine was rounded, same with choil. Not sure about logo or the kangi.

daddy yo yo
12-29-2012, 04:28 AM
hello guys,

i just wanted to share some information i received from jon/JKI as my statement about gesshin ginga was incomplete. here's jon's clarification (jon, i hope it is ok for me to post this):

- for gesshin ginga we do more than round the spine and choil... we also adjusted the HT (not just simply making it harder, but working on grain refinement, toughness, etc.), have tighter quality control, and use more well made handles and sayas
-for gesshin heiji, we have worked on the profiles and heat treatment with him, as well as the final sharpening, sealing of the tang area in the handle, and, again, quality control

Chef Doom
01-11-2013, 01:15 AM
I say Hide you say GO!!...Hide, GO, Hide, GO!!...I say Heiji you say BUY!!...Heiji, BUY, Heiji, BUY!!...Hide, Heiji!!...GO!!! BUY!!!...Hide, Heiji!!...GO!!! BUY!!!

01-11-2013, 01:57 AM
Of those knives, I've only had Watanabes. They are on the heftier side, not thin by any means. They are also quite reactive.