Just to update got my wife a Sakai Yusuke 210MM SS XtraHard Xtrathick Flat Profile. At first she wasn't overly excited because it was a lot bigger than the Shun 5.5inch santoku she usually uses. Also because of my indecision also picked up a Tanaka Blue #2 190mm off the bay as well.
Initial impressions of the Yusuke - Wrapping! So excellent I took a photo of the wrapped box because i was so impressed. They must have wrapping ninjas because it was folded so perfectly and precisely. Makes you think what's inside the box must be special. To my expectation, fit and finish was what everyone has been raving about. Smoothed edges, good grind, wrapped handle, knife straight as an arrow, nothing you probably haven't heard before. Definitely very sharp, I took it to a piece of paper was making nice curved slow push cuts. Picked up a big bag of carrots and started slicing away. Sharpest knife i've used, made a different sound than im used to when going thru the veggies. Very good food release so far, I'll have to try some potatoes later.
Initial impressions of Tanaka Blue #2 - nice looking blade, but came with two small chips on the bottom :( I guess they can be sharpened out but still bummer. Everything I've read about these was pretty accurate, fit n finish is bad, especially after opening the yusuke first. Handle sucks, the black paint on the ferrule started coming off on my fingers. Blade bends slightly to the right at the tip. This is definitely a knife that needs pimpage, in the next few week will probably take a dremel to it, sand it, and acid wash it. It cut well, liked the overall profile for the size, but could use some thinning as most people say.
At $70 I wasn't too bummed about the fit and finish of the Tanaka, but then I looked at the Shun and questioned the value. Even though KKF may look unfavorably on Shun knives, Kai understands from a business pov what will sell. For less than $100 stacked next to the tanaka, fit a finish is waaaaay better. Also the Santoku is really thin, making it an excellent cutter out of the box. Only reason I wanted to go beyond Shun is the crap VG10 they use, which has cracked/rolled/chipped easily.
Cutting carrots with all three, in order of best cutting feel Yusuke>Shun>Tanaka. I do think that tanaka has a lot more potential, as it wasn't that sharp to begin with. So back to my wife - after she test drove all three knives, she was thoroughly impressed with the yusuke. We'll see how it fares going forward.
Congrats on the Sakai Yusuke 210mm, and thanks for the update and pictures. Sorry to hear that the Tanaka Blue was so rough, sounds rougher than what others have received (though my 240mm was slightly bent too).
all i can say is... wow what a knife.
AR, I love that littly puppy and have had mine for about two weeks now. Yusuke only produces a few of these knives a year int aht steel and profile.