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Hi folks. Thinking about entering the realm of Japenese knives.
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Thread: Hi folks. Thinking about entering the realm of Japenese knives.

  1. #1

    Hi folks. Thinking about entering the realm of Japenese knives.

    I've been using a really, really crummy Cuisinart santoku for about a year now and I've just about had it. It's clumsy, heavy and I hate the handle. I cook quite a bit these days but just haven't had the money to spend on anything decent. The knife still cuts things, and that's all that's mattered. But Christmas is coming up and I think it's time for a nice knife...

    I was at a kitchen shop in Boston the other day and was messing around with a couple knives. The one that felt best in my hand was the 10" Shun Classic; loved the balance of the weight and how it felt in my hand. Didn't have a big, clumsy handle that got in the way of my pinch grip.

    When I got home I decided to do some research on Shun knives and found out that among enthusiasts that there are better knives out there for the money.

    So! I'm looking to spend somewhere between $150-200 and have been looking at gyutos since the profile seems to be somewhere in between the flat blade of a santoku and the ultra-curvy shape of Wustofs and brands like that.

    Any ideas? Been eyeing the Konosuke White #2 as it is a) in my price range and b) really pretty

  2. #2
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    konosuke white #2 is carbon steel and devilishly thin, so it needs a bit more care than other knives. Personally, I would go with a JCK carbonext and spend the rest of the budget+some more on sharpening stones.

    Other knives to look at: konosuke hd + swedish, kikuichi tkc, sakai yusuke swedish+white #2, miyabi 600d (sur la table), hiromoto AS.

    Also look to getting a decent end grain board; it'll help your edges last a helluva lot longer

  3. #3
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    Welcome to the forum

    Knives should be categorized by the amount of care required to use them. The German style knives that are readily available in cooking stores, use a softer steel, that will handle abuse better then a Japanese knife, the edge will roll versus chip. The edge can't be made as sharp as a Japanese, nor will it hold the edge as long. Maintenance is typically running the knife over a steel.

    Japanese knives, use a harder steel, which allows them to be lighter and thinner then their German counter parts. They also take a much more acute edge and hold it longer. Some Japanese knives use carbon steel, because it takes a very keen edge, is easy to sharpen, and will hold the edge for a long time. The downside it will react with acidic foods, so they have to be wiped down on a regular basis and thoroughly dried before being put away.

    The extra care that Japanese knives require can turn people off. Sharpening, care and use of a Japanese knife is relatively easy. There is a but of a learning curve with sharpening, but the basics are straight forward. Japanese knives are not for people who leave their knives sitting in puddles of liquid, throw them in sinks, or open cans with the tip.

    The first Japanese knife purchased is the one to learn on how to use, care and sharpen them. It should be relatively inexpensive for a Japanese knife $100-$150 and a well known brand, or one that is at least popular on the forums. If the knife doesn't work out, then it should be easy to sell.

    Hiromoto AS is a stainless clad knife, with a carbon core. Which gives the benefits of stainless and carbon in one knife. Fujiwara is well regarded. Purchasing from Sur la Table is nice, because of their generous return policy.

    Typically it is not recommended for a beginner to pick up a thin knife, the so called lasers such as a Konosuke or Sakai Yusuke. The edge is more prone to chipping. The small edge would be an additional challenge to learning how to sharpen. There is less margin of error for sharpening mistakes on a thin knife.

    Jon Broida with Japanese Knife Imports is a good person to contact. He will set you up with the knife you need, and not necessarily the knife you think you want.

    Jay

  4. #4
    Thanks guys.

    Sent an e-mail over to Jon at Japanese Knife Imports.

    I think I'm going to drop my budget a bit at your suggestion and get a more 'beginner' knife and maybe spend the rest on some sharpening stones and a bigger board and whatnot.

    Any suggestions, just throw 'em at me

  5. #5
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    For a home cook, I'd say you need a stainless knife and then go to carbon. It's a generalization so it may not fit you. I'd go for a Yoshihiro or a TKC/CarboNext if you want to get a little closer to carbon steel performance. I also like Fujiwara, if you want to get more inexpensive but I'd say the Yoshihiro is a clear step up or two from that.

    Stones: I'd start with a 1k-ish stone. Personally, I like the Gesshin 1k. The budget choice is that Bester 1.2k which is a very nice stone but requires soaking and the nicest in that category might be a Gesshin 2k (not the same line as the 1k). I also like the Chosera 1k which is the standard for performance, I'd say.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Citizen Snips's Avatar
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    welcome to the forums

    i would start with a stainless knife that is not going to break your back along with a 1k stone. grab an old leather belt from goodwill or something for stropping.

    take some time (months) to teach yourself about the knife you decide to go with and how it reacts to different actions on the stone. keep in mind that there is lots of great info around here so make sure you stay involved in a lot of the conversations. keep at it and once you get your muscle memory down and feel its time to upgrade, go for it

    my suggestions would be yoshihiro 240mm gyuto and a bester 1200. they will come in under $200 and provide you with a good base to start learning
    It's like my ol' grandpappy used to say; "The less one makes declarative statements, the less apt he is to look a fool in retrospect"

  7. #7
    Senior Member EdipisReks's Avatar
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    you could also just get the Shun, since you like it. they are perfectly fine stainless knives that take a decent edge, have good fit and finish, and are relatively low maintenance. that and a ceramic hone will be more than good enough, unless you really think you'd like to really get into this hobby.

  8. #8
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    If you're going to go the route of shun, I highly suggest looking at the zwilling miyabi kaizen line. Similar handle, better blade profile.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by EdipisReks View Post
    you could also just get the Shun, since you like it. they are perfectly fine stainless knives that take a decent edge, have good fit and finish, and are relatively low maintenance. that and a ceramic hone will be more than good enough, unless you really think you'd like to really get into this hobby.
    It's not so much that I love the knife, it's that it's the first knife that's felt really good in my hands. I'm guessing there are others at a similar price point that are better quality considering Shun is a big name that's sold in 'big box' stores.

    A few folks have mentioned the Yoshihiro knives and they seem like a safe bet for a first foray into this world you all live in

    We'll see if JKI gets some in any time soon!

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