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Thread: Honesuki vs Hankotsu

  1. #1
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    Honesuki vs Hankotsu

    I need a dedicated knife for meat fabrication, and wanted to get a hankotsu (for some reason drawn to this by it's shank like shape) or honesuki (generally seems more versatile).
    I will use it for all types of meat, ducks, pork, beef, chicken, etc.
    At this moment I do not do hanging butchery.
    Any thoughts from forum members on the virtues of each type of blade?
    thanks!

  2. #2
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    Its my understanding that a hankotsu IS for hanging butchery,meant to be held blade downwards in a fist for vertical strokes on hanging carcasses. Honesukis are all over London restaurants, definitely my recommendation for the small/medium butchery tasks chefs are faced with.

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    If you can, you may want to borrow each for some time before buying. Both are easy to sharpen and are tough enough to work around bones.

    For the hankotsu, while the handle itself is comfortable, I personally find it a bit troubling that there is no slipguard or bolster to protect the hand from slipping up onto the edge which starts immediately. Then if the knife gets wet or greasy, it could be a hazard. Also, there is literally zero knuckle clearance, if any work on the board is to be done.

    Regarding the honesuki, I find that the handle is only comfortable in the regular grip, not the "butcher" grip (like a dagger). My buddy uses one for a lot of his prep as well as butchery, but I would only use it for the tip section.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Salty dog's Avatar
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    I do all the same stuff and tried them all. I keep going back to a more or less traditional boning knife. I've been using a Tojiro for a while. I like the curved tip and finger protection of the semi-traditional design.
    I've been looking for an upgrade for a while. I don't do as much line and prep work these days but still doing meat.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hbeernink's Avatar
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    I don't do hanging meat butchery but there are a few places where I prefer to use a hankotsu - notably with chops and ribs. For me, the hankotsu is better at getting between bones and frenching racks. The hankotsu does this really well, as the sharpened part of the blade typically does not start right from the bolster (there's a good 1/3 of the blade on my misono that is unsharpened and is great for scraping - I've never felt that it's a problem not having a slipguard/extended bolster)

    But for me the hankotsu is a pretty specialized case - most of the time I'm using a suji or a honesuki for meats. Suji if bones are not a factor (tenderloins, etc), and a honesuki otherwise. The honesuki is the more versatile - while made for chicken/poultry, there are a lot of variants and you can find a knife that seems to work pretty well for most meats - honesukis can be single or double beveled, and they vary quite a bit in weight/thickness of the blade. The garasuki is a bigger version, and might be better depending on what you do. I have both a misono and a kochi honesuki - I tend to use the kochi more for red meats and the misono for poultry. The misono blade is thicker and feels more substantial, and is a bit shorter in height but the tip is 'finer' which is good for smaller birds - it's essentially a single-bevel. I don't think it gets as sharp as the kochi. The kochi is double bevel, gets very sharp, and is thinner (but taller) than the misono - it does great with silverskin, portioning, larger poultry, and generally is my all around go to for red meats and pork.

    hope this helps
    Last edited by Hbeernink; 01-05-2014 at 12:55 PM. Reason: clarification

  6. #6
    Senior Member erikz's Avatar
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    When breaking down meat into individual cuts, and if you dont do much poultry at all, you could also have a look at a Garasuki, the Honesuki's bigger brother.

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    Senior Member Dardeau's Avatar
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    I went on a boning knife search that took a long time and covered a lot of styles, and I found all the japanese styles I tried to not work as well as a petty, 210 gyuto, or western boning knife. My boss gave me a cheap R. Murphy carbon boning knife a couple of Christmases ago and I've loved it ever since. It gets sharp, stays sharp, and has a huge handle that is easy to grip in any way. But I tried about a dozen before that one fell into my lap. I definitely would not rule out the western style boning knife, or just using a petty, as I have found them both to be superior to the honesuki and hankotsu for meat, game, and fowl. For fish however, the japanese have it right, a deba is quicker and cleaner for me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mpukas's Avatar
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    I'm not working in a pro kitchen and don't do any meat fab, but I cut up a lot of whole birds. I scored a Yoshikane wa-honeski f/ Maximo that I've been using a lot. I got it because honesuki are cool, I wanted one, wanted to try one, and it came up. Very awkward at first. I love i, but have to agree with Salty's & Dardeau's opinion - I'm not sure that it offers any benefit over a western boning knife. I saw on an MTCKitchen vid on a Tsukiji Masamoto that even tho honeski is single bevel, it's still considered a western knife, Don't know if that's true or if it even matters.

    btw - they have a vid of butchering a goat w/ a honesuki - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrQnPt_Qt34

    I still not very experienced w/ single bevel knives. I can sharpen my honesuki just fine (it's way easy compared to a yanagiba, and I haven't f'd it) w/ a micro bevel, but it doesn't hold that really sharp edge long, even without hitting bones. And it doesn't respond well at all to a ceramic rod (yeah, I tried it - 'cuz that vid in the awesome thread of the Japanese chef demonstrating how to bone-out a chicken does it). I'm beginning to think a double bevel boning knife has more merit in some circumstances.

    I may be off-pace here, but I'd like to see a Japanese maker do a wa-handled knife out of a good carbon steel shaped like this Wustie 8" kitchen knife. It's essentially a long steak knife. Could make a good utility knife too. I'm not that fond of a petty/suji for cutting up whole birds because the edge is too flat. I think what makes a boning knife work well is a curve at the tip, but I don't see a reason why the whole blade needs to be curved. About the only instance having that much curve at the tip would be useful over a flatter blade. And I don't see a need for much if any flex in the blade, although a lot of western chefs that demonstrate cutting birds say you have to flexible blade to follow the rib cage... not buying it.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tweyland View Post

    For the hankotsu, while the handle itself is comfortable, I personally find it a bit troubling that there is no slipguard or bolster to protect the hand from slipping up onto the edge which starts immediately. Then if the knife gets wet or greasy, it could be a hazard.
    Good luck!
    Most Hankotsu have edges which start about an inch or more up from the bottom so slipping on to the edge isn't a factor.

    I find hankotsu best for boning out strips and frenching racks. Particularly because there is no edge near the base which is perfect for what little bone scraping I may need to do.

    Honesuki work best for boning out poultry and trimming tenderloins or any other silver skinned meats for me. I find the fingerpoint grip works best with this knife.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Hbeernink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThEoRy View Post
    Most Hankotsu have edges which start about an inch or more up from the bottom so slipping on to the edge isn't a factor.

    I find hankotsu best for boning out strips and frenching racks. Particularly because there is no edge near the base which is perfect for what little bone scraping I may need to do.

    Honesuki work best for boning out poultry and trimming tenderloins or any other silver skinned meats for me. I find the fingerpoint grip works best with this knife.
    Word.

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