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Thread: Marko Tsourkan Knives - A Preview Review

  1. #1

    Marko Tsourkan Knives - A Preview Review

    I know many of you out there will soon be getting some of Marko's knives, or getting in line for the next batch he starts. Since the passaround got delayed, I figured I would post my experience with Marko's knives instead.

    In July of 2011, Marko was getting ready to deliver a 270mm Shigefusa Kasumi Gyuto to me with redwood handle and saya. At that time he also asked me if I could try out one of his first gyutos and give him some feedback. If I remember correctly, it was a 240mm gyuto, made out of 52100 and had a horn, spacer and either cocobolo or ironwood handle. I don't have it anymore, and didn't take many pictures of it, but I have a few.

    You can see it between the Shigefusa and the Del Ealy knife.

    And here are some of the handle and the patina:

    The knife cut fairly well, but felt funny a bit funny on the stones, more like some stainless knives do than carbon. After getting some feedback from myself and others, Marko tweaked his heat treat, profile and most importantly the geometry/grind. The next set of knives he sent me were much much thinner and full convex ground. They are again prototypes, so the finish was not taken as far as Marko normally does. In fact the handles are just stock japanese handles (Shigefusa maybe?) that he attached with wax. I was shocked at how light they were the first time I picked them up. The gyuto with a 250mm cutting edge weighs 175g and the suji with a 280mm cutting edge weighs a shocking 140g. The handles of course weigh less than Marko's standard horn and stabilized or dense wood handles do.

    Cutting performance had drastically improved, getting thinner and improving the grind has that kind of effect! Haha. The steel felt better on the stones, reactivity was not bad at all, probably the most well behaved carbon I have used. Will still rust if you let it however, it isn't semi-stainless. Edge retention is quite good, again some of the best compared to other carbon knives I have used. The only other 52100 I have used is the Zwilling Kramer, and that one feels much softer and loses it's edge much, much quicker than Marko's. At first the lightness of the gyuto felt funny to me, it felt dainty in my hand and that I would have to baby it, but soon I got used to it and was using it for everything: butternut squash, root vegetables, can opening, etc. (Kidding).

    The only problem I ran into was breaking tips. The first tip I broke was on the suji, I put it in my ultimate edge bag without a guard, which is usually okay, and when I got to work, I was missing a couple mm from the tip. Next was the gyuto. I think I broke each tip twice in total, never more than a mm or two each time. The knives were just so thin at the tip, and the Masamoto-esque profile so pointy, that there was no strength to support the tip. Since losing a few mm from each (and thus getting slightly thicker) and from re profiling each very slightly, I have not had a tip break in the past few months. Marko has since adjusted his profile and thickness to alleviate this exact problem. I have not used any of the new knives extensively, but from playing with them at his shop, the improved profile and thickness seem to be winners.

    I didn't include any measurements or a real in depth review here because all three knives I have used have been prototypes, and basically every aspect of them (heat treat, profile, grind, thickness, finish, etc) has changed and been improved upon in the final version. So if your knife got delayed in this whole process and it didn't end up under your Christmas tree, don't worry, in the long run you will end up with a better knife. I have visited Marko's shop several times in the past 6 months, each time his pile of practice knives has grown bigger and bigger. I really feel like he has done research and practice the right way, and has come up with a knife that many of you will enjoy.

    I have to go to work now, but I will add some more to this later tonight or tomorrow, as I would like to talk about the suji some as well. There are also a few other members on here that have tested Marko's prototypes, you guys feel free to add your thoughts to this thread. Thanks for reading, any questions you have that I might be able to answer don't hesitate to post or PM me.
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  2. #2
    The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Hampton Roads, VA
    Thanks for the preview review, nice to finally get one

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    San Diego, CA
    You broke the tips that many times?!! You're scary, dude.

  4. #4
    Senior Member chazmtb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Windermere, FL
    I know that M is working hard to get it right. He is a perfectionist.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by chazmtb View Post
    I know that M is working hard to get it right. He is a perfectionist.
    And that's precisely why I don't think any delays have been issues at all. Marko will keep going until he is personally happy with the results, and he has high standards

  6. #6
    Marko is a perfectionist. Im sure his knives will be really high end
    Im so certain that I ordered 7 when he announced to start making knives.
    Im a homechef so that was the last buy for a loooong time.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Salt Lake City
    I really like that flatter Masamoto-esque profile.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Sebastopol, CA
    I have to go with OD on this. With little empirical evidence upon which to rely (one handle and a cutting board) I reached the same conclusion. Many months, now more than a year, later, I remain convinced.

    I have in my possession a 180 mm W2 knife with a modified-D handle which Marko sent me for comment. I am in the process of sending back periodic, though sketchy, reports. Not being a professional chef, I can only cut up so much stuff . .

    Nevertheless, Marko will never see the knife again. I don't know what the bail will be, but I have become very attached to the knife, favoring it over the various Carters and Tadetsunas at hand. I expect his 52100's will be even better.

  9. #9
    I wanted to talk more about the suji, so here it goes.

    When Marko gave me version 2 of his gyuto and asked for version 1 back, he also had a suji and asked if I wanted that one as well. I said sure, my Martell 300mm suji being one of my most used knives. The suji was not only a prototype, but a mistake. It was intended to be a 285mm edge length suji, but I believe the tip got overground a bit so it was shortened about 5mm. The profile became quite a bit different than Marko originally intended. It still works pretty well, but it does have a bit of a funky birds peak look to it. As I mentioned before, it is very light, 140g, and I had trouble with the tip breaking a couple times.

    When I first got it home and brought it to work, I didn't really use it at first. I don't do a lot of traditional slicing and being only ~35mm tall at the heel, it isn't as versatile for gyuto tasks like other "mighty" sujis. My Martell is about 45mm tall at the heel and I can basically use it like a gyuto. Then I started using it like you would a petty, or a 210 petty/suji. Yes, it is 70mm longer than those, but since it is only 35mm tall at the heel, I can still use it in hand to peel things or whatever (as long as you dont require tip work). When cutting on the board, I would have my hand/handle over empty space and just leave the blade on the board, like you would with a 210 petty. Except you still have 270mm worth of edge to work with. Since then I have basically been using it as a line knife and it has become one of my most used and versatile knives. I don't find the length to be too much, it doesn't get in the way even on the line during service. I often loan it out to some of my coworkers, like our butcher who fillets whole fish (mostly salmon) with it, including lopping off their heads. Like I said before, it is now one of my most used knives, I couldn't imagine not having it in my kit, and I will be ordering one of my own from Marko (or getting him to put a permanent handle on this one, and a saya too).
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  10. #10
    Sorry guys, I have been out of the forum for a few days, missed this thread. I read all comments and respond if there are any questions.


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