Aaron, it left this morning and you should get tracking info sometime today. I look forward to your feedback.
It's been a little less than a week since I've received the knife. All week I've been testing the knife side-by-side against my Konosuke HD. I've even been dreaming about the knife, if that's any indicator of how much I've been thinking about it. I need to think of a name for it, besides calling it my precious. I'm planning to sit down after work and posting my initial impression. I wish I had more time to write a proper review. Maybe after some time I'll be able to do that too.
Well, I promised yesterday I'd post my thoughts. A Couple of Growlers later I decided to wait till the morning.
I'd like to preface these thoughts with a little bit about how I've been using the knife. I'm a lowly home cook and kitchen knife addict. I have a number of knives in my collection, including at least nine gyutos.
Over the years, since I've first got into knives, I've slowly began to realize what makes a great knife to me. Up until now the best performing gyuto I've owned is the Konosuke White no.2 in 270mm and my trusty Konosuke HD in 240mm. I know a number of us own the HD, so I decided to do a comparison of the HD and the Martell. I did this to organize my thoughts and give some reference point.
Obviously there are a few huge differences in the knives, the steel, etc, but I'm not setting out to compare edge retention and sharpening. I've left the Martell just as I received it and the Konosuke HD still has its stock edge, I've maintained it solely on a boron carbide loaded strop. I'd also like to add that I don't own digital calipers, so everything I have to say about thickness is purely speculation.
Over the last week I've planned our meals to utilize different foods. The first major test item was a 5 pound bag of russet potatoes. Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about how geometry and surface finish affect potato stickiness. Starchy russet potatoes are, to me, the worst offenders. The Martell performed admirably in the potato test, especially in the flat-heel section. I noticed more tendancy to stick near the tip of the knife, when compared to the HD. Usually, a stuck-on potato would be easily shaken off. I rate the Martell highly in the potato test, the triple convex grind does what is promised. However, I believe the HD still has the slight edge when it comes to potato stickiness. I cannot measure what qualities make the HD excel at this, whether it be grind or surface finish.
Here's my arbitrary 1-5 scale for this portion of the test. 1 being stuck like no other (full flat grind syndrome), 5 being cut cleanly in half with two pieces of potato falling to either side.
Potato test: Martell 4.0, HD 4.5
The next portion of my test involves how well both knives perform on herbs and green onions. I tend to push cut with a slight slicing motion while cutting these products. The large flat section on the Martell helped it excel in slicing green onions, I got very clean cuts. The higher blade height made knuckle guiding easy and comfortable. The Martell felt much more productive than the HD in these test. I give the Martell a 5.0 and the HD a 4.0.
I'd also like to note: if you're a rocker with herbs, I tested both knives this way. The Martell is capable of rocking but I don't think this is the ideal use of the blade. The HD, while it has more curve in the profile, doesn't feel good rocked either. For reference, I think the Hiromoto AS is great for rocking to mince herbs or garlic.
On to the next set of vegetables! Tomatoes and Peppers.
The skins of tomatoes and peppers are often used to test knife sharpness. I didn't have a tomato to test on until day 4 when I decided to make salsa. I'd like to say that if you had any doubts about the potential sharpness of O1 it still push cut tomatoes of day 4. Both knives made quick work of these products in their respective sharpness levels.
Martell 5.0 HD 4.5 (not freshly sharpened)
A note about peppers: We all know peppers contain a lot a seeds, especially serranos. No chipping was observed on the edge of the Martell.
Throughout the week I've been cutting onions and garlic. I'd like to note that both knives made quick work of onions. The Martell, thanks to its added height, felt slightly more productive (kind of like a Chinese chefs knife). It was much easier for me to scoop onions of the cutting board with the Martell adding to its overall efficiency. I tend to slice and dice my garlic much like french onion technique. Cutting garlic this way involves a lot of tip work and here's where I felt a major difference between the Martell and the HD. It felt as though the HD is thinner behind the edge at the tip than the Martell. Being thinner behind the edge, it easily sliced into the garlic while the Martell took more effort. For this reason I would rate the HD better at delicate tip work. Again, this is very slight and I have no way to actually measure my claims.
Here are my arbitrary numbers,
Onions: Martell 5.0 HD 4.5
Garlic: Martell 4.5 HD 5.0
Apples! I think apples are a great way to test for wedging, some knives get stuck midway through. I think this has a lot to do with blade geometry and a convex grind definitely excels over a full flat. In my apple test the Martell got stuck before completing the cut and took a lot of force to push through. The HD did slightly better, it didn't get as locked up. I guess this is a good reason apples belong in the domain of pettys and parers.
Martell 2.0 HD 2.5
My next test involved slicing protein both raw and cooked. I tend to slice meat by pulling for heel to tip, adjusting the blade length to match the size of the product being cut, always ending with the tip. My protein of choice is beef (and veal). I deboned a veal shoulder and cut it into cubes for braising. The Martell did very well at this, I even made some accidental bone contact, no chipping. I also sliced up some beef sirloin for chili and rib-eye for stir-fry. the gentle sweeping curve from the flat to the tip made slicing with the Martell easy and comfortable.
I rate both knives 5.0 for slicing protein in western cooking.
Note: I don't slice fish for sashimi and I can't notice the intricacies of fine slicing at my currant skill level.
I have to say that the level of workmanship that went into this knife is top-notch. The blade grind and handle work are flawless to my eyes. The spine and coil are nicely eased. The thought that went into the design of the knife is also high. The profile is a winner, I love everything about it, it makes my other gyutos seem lacking for my style of cutting. the way the spine gently curves to the handle makes holding and using the knife very comfortable.
The blade is perfectly balanced at the Martell logo. This slightly blade heavy design makes you feel in control of the knife. The knife is very light and as a result feels very nimble. Despite feeling very light in the hand, the blade height makes the knife feel beefy and tough, like it's ready to go to work. I'd like to give you some weights for comparison: Martell, 219g; HD, 210g; Hiromoto AS, 234g.
Before end this review, I'd like to comment a bit on O1 steel. I have many carbon steel knives in sk4, shirogami 2, aogami super. I would rate Dave's O1 as one of these least reactive I've used. I had some slight browning of the onion juices on the blade upon initial use. After that, I have not experienced any discoloration or sulfurous smells. The patina is coming along nice and slowly, with some blue streaks here and there. The edge retention has been above average for carbon steel, in my experience. It is still shaving my arm hairs after a week of home use. I bet I can maintain this knife on just strops for a long time to come (not that I don't like sharpening).
The Bottom line: If I had to save one knife out of my burning house, it would be my Martell gyuto.
If you were on the fence about pre-ordering, I say get in line as fast as you can!
Thanks Dave, I really love the knife.
Here are some pics so you can compare the profile and blade finishes:
I'm sorry for the poor, cellphone camera image quality. I'm trying to upload more photos.
The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial
Thanks for posting such an awesome review obtuse.
Thanks for the encouragement!
I don't know why apples are such a pita.
My Martell gyuto just passed the jicama test with flying colors. I was able to split the jicama in two with little resistance and no sticking or stearing. I sliced the jicama very thinly with little sticking to the blade. Very nice.
Sweet! thank you. Someone talk about their suji please? Thanks again
Aaron, thanks so much for taking the time to write up that review.
Hey you got me thinking about the apple cutting and it occurred to me that I don't think that I've ever tested a gyuto on apples before. I know that I've cut apples with a gyuto but I never paid attention to how it worked and certainly never compared one knife to another for this task. I'll have to leave the petty on the rack and grab a gyuto to do my apple cutting from now on and see what I can figure out.
It's also good to hear about the tip and that maybe a little thinner might not hurt.