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Thread: intro & questions: first 'true' japanese knife - help needed

  1. #1
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    Question intro & questions: first 'true' japanese knife - help needed

    Hello! I am new here, but I am not entirely new to knives (though certainly not an expert). I live in Germany, though I come from Slovakia. I am not a knife collector, but have a strong appreciation of a well made (and practical) knives. So knives like Mora 2000 or Iisaki Aito have found way to our home (I even got a Ikari from Jukka Hankala to my best friend as a present)

    But now to kitchen knives

    Browsing around this forum already yielded a lot of information, so I suppose I am on the right address to ask a few question concerning japanese kitchen knives.

    So - I have decided to 'upgrade' our kitchen knife selection which currently contains only 2 knives worth mentioning (and keeping) One is Wüsthof Dreizak knife from Soligen with 16cm Blade that is strong enough to be used around bones (not a cleaver though) and the other is Kai SHEN with 6" blade (which I got before the price went up in Germany).

    The SHEN was the first attempt to get a japanese styled knife. It's VG-10 core is rather easy to sharpen (I have a sharpener set from KME - not the best, but uses 4" DMT diamond steels) and holds edge quite well. BUT it has a week side too - and that is the toughness. As the VG-10 forms only the core of the knife and the rest (of the every thin blade) is soft stainless damascus - the knife could be bend with bare hands - it ti would remain that way! I do realize that this knife is a slicer, but sometimes one may accidentally apply force transversally and the knife could get bend. It does does not induce much confidence. Therefore before investing in another knife or two I thought I should get more informed first.

    So after lengthy introduction - what am I looking for?

    A)
    - 240 mm (or even 270 mm) long knife - probably Guyto or Yanagiba. Mostly for slicing meat.
    - stainless (I know I know ...) or at least weakly staining steel. Maybe stainless-clad carbon steel could work too.
    - hand forged (if possible)
    - probably with classical handle (octagonal)
    - priced up to 300€, I would go for more if it would be 'the one'

    B)
    - 80 mm knife for little work
    - preferably from the same 'series' as above


    Here is the question Nr.1 (sort of):
    Now the above sounds very general, but I do have questions/points about the steel. Namely - most (many) of japanese knives imported to western world are made in a similar way as the SHEN described above - so a high quality steel in the core of the blade clad with either damascus or plain stainless steel. And that is my problem - after the experience with the SHEN knife I have - I am not sure whether I should trust these designs as it is hard to say whether the cladding supports the knife, or is there just for looks.

    I do understand that certain (mostly high-end) steels may actually need that kind of treatment (like SG-2, ZDP-189) because thy themselves they are too brittle. But one mostly sees knives with VG-10 core where the cladding may not be necessary (or am I wrong?).

    And so finally question Nr.2:
    Which knives should I look at? There are many producers, steel material is not always well mentioned and it is very hard to find how much quality (blade, F&F) am I actually going to get.

    To give you an idea - knives I have looked at and liked (many of them are in fact core-clad knives):
    - Hattori FH
    - Kanetsugu Pro J Series (clad )
    - Ryusen Blazen (clad SG-2)
    - Hiro VG-10 knives
    - Kato sa Masakage Kiri or Hikari (clad VG-10)
    - Konosuke Sakura (on the expensive side)
    - Kanetsune
    - AOKI Gingami 3 Ichii
    - Zensho/Yoshikane SKD Kasumi Gyuto
    - AOKI Sakai Takayuki Suminagashi Tsuchime Wa Sujihiki
    - Yoshikane SLD Damascus Kiritsuke

    Thank you and sorry for a long post

  2. #2
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    Welcome aboard!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Get a 240mm gyuto. Unless you are slicing a lot of boneless raw fish you don't need a yanagiba.

    Sanmai (cladded) construction is perfectly fine and you have nothing to worry about there. The purpose of this is to make sharpening the knife much easier by surrounding it with a softer metal. Damascus or not that part is only aesthetic. Honyaki (monosteel) construction is far more difficult to forge properly and further more it can be much more difficult to sharpen especially so for beginners. Not to mention the very substantial increase in price to the consumer.

    Don't worry about sanmai. You aren't going to break or bend anything. You shouldn't be using any knife as a prying or twisting tool anyway.

    That being said, I think a 240mm Hiromoto AS might just be perfect for your needs.

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/Te...akuSeries.html
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  4. #4
    Senior Member cclin's Avatar
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    welcome to KKF!
    first, gyuto & Yanagiba are very different knives.....you may consider wide suji!!
    all knives you list are different steel/type/construction.... you may want to fill up this firsthttp://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/sh...should-you-buy
    Charles ***[All statements I made here only my personal opinion and nothing more!]*** & Please bare with me for my crappy English!!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Matus's Avatar
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    Thank you. Certainly no prying with knives in our kitchen!

    So I would conclude that most sanmai are better made then SHEN knives .. ?

    I have already had a look at Hiromoto AS. It would fit the bill (actually on the cheap side), I would just prefer japanese traditional design.

  6. #6
    Senior Member rdpx's Avatar
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    The Hiromoto that ThEoRy recommends is the knife that I nearly bought. If you really want the Wa (Japanese style) handle though, you might want to look at this one. I don't know much about these knives, but JCK seem to only sell decent knives.... This one seems to cover everything you mentioned. Handle type, stainless, price, etc....

    http://japanesechefsknife.com/Furink...ries.html#W1-6


    If you are considering "a gyuto or a yanagiba" you might want to consider a sujihiki from the same range. Yanagiba as I understand it is mainly made for slicing raw fish perfectly and the blades are more difficult to sharpen than on sujihikis, which are western style edges, and more suitable for the kind of things you mentioned.

    As for the 8cm knife, that range does a 120mm petty, but you might want to try something from a different range just for the variety as its kind of addictive seeing the different kinds of blade. EG:

    http://japanesechefsknife.com/Molybd...es.html#No.534

    or a bit dearer:

    http://japanesechefsknife.com/Hattor...tml#FH%20Parer

    As far as I know (based on a couple of weeks searching kitchen knife sites) you won't easily find an 8cm wa-handled knife.

    As I understand it, the reason for stainless cladding is so that you can get the advantage of a carbon steel edge (sharpness & retention) but don't have to worry so much about washing and drying the knife as you do with a full carbon blade.

  7. #7
    Senior Member rdpx's Avatar
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    or even....

    Masamoto KS

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by rdpx View Post
    Yanagiba as I understand it is mainly made for slicing raw fish perfectly and the blades are more difficult to sharpen than on sujihikis, which are western style edges, and more suitable for the kind of things you mentioned.
    Personally, I've found single bevel knives to be easier to sharpen than most double bevel knives. Yanagibas, while not all-purpose slicers, are used for more than slicing raw fish.

    And what type of qualities are you looking for in your knife? What is the most important thing to you? Smoothness of cutting/lack of wedging? Food release? How light/heavy of a knife are you looking for? Edge retention? Ease of sharpening?
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by rdpx View Post
    or even....

    Masamoto KS
    The OP posted that he wants stainless, or at least weakly staining steel, or stainless-clad carbon steel. The Masamoto KS is none of these.

    It's carbon steel. And it stains.
    Michael
    "Don't you know who he is?"

  10. #10
    Senior Member rdpx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhlee View Post
    The OP posted that he wants stainless, or at least weakly staining steel, or stainless-clad carbon steel. The Masamoto KS is none of these.

    It's carbon steel. And it stains.
    I shall consider myself told.

    Good job someone is doing QC on these replies.


    The Masamoto is pretty though, isn't it, Michael? Maybe he will be tempted?


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