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Deba: Time to Start a New Obsession
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Thread: Deba: Time to Start a New Obsession

  1. #1
    Senior Member JanusInTheGarden's Avatar
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    Deba: Time to Start a New Obsession

    Hello all!

    So after watching a few videos from Japanese Knife Society and Itasan, I am totally dead set on the idea that I need to learn how to use a deba properly. I am a younger line cook, and I haven't been to school yet so I haven't been afforded the opportunity to break down a lot of fish. I was hoping to get a knife that can last me for YEARS with satisfaction. So excited to start practicing!

    So I am looking to figure out which deba I should purchase. Now I did do a little research on these knives and as I understand it, debas can and perhaps should be had for less money than, say, a gyuto. Most folks I've been reading say that a 180 is a very versatile size but I wonder if it will be large enough when some day I find a larger fish sitting in front of me. In reality, I have little to no idea what I should be looking for but I know that I dont want to spend $200+.

    So how about them Takafusas? What is the difference in performance/handling between the sizes? Any other good value options that will be a great knife for me to learn on?

    I sincerely appreciate any helpful advice and tips y'all can offer (both on knife purchasing and advice on usage/technique/resources). Y'all have always been such a great "go-to" resource for expanding my knowledge!

  2. #2
    A lot of people talk about cheap debas... i tend to disagree with that mindset. There are a lot of problems seen in less expensive single bevel knives and you can see those on some really cheap debas. This does effect the way the knife performs.

    I dont necessarily believe that everyone needs to go out and buy super expensive debas... actually, i tend to believe that people should buy skill level appropriate knives and grow from there. But there is a big difference between a $100 deba and a $250 deba (about the range of a good beginner deba). I think if buying a cheaper deba was a good idea, a lot more chefs in Japan would be using really cheap debas

  3. #3
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    I think you will get what you pay for. I have noticed a pattern of pricing a 300mm yanagiba, a 210mm usuba, and a 180mm deba from the same maker/same range at a similar price. Although you can get cheeper deba, there might be some issues with the knife depending on your luck. I have bought a white steel Sakai Ichimonji Kichikuni via BlueWay deba that came with a crooked tip in two ways: bent towards jigane side (which is almost impossible to fix at home AFAIK) and bad urasaki grind just around the tip area. Although an usuba from the same range same maker came in a very very good condition, relatively flat bevel, flat straight edge.

    If you can stretch your budget a bit to, let's say 230-250, Jon should be able to hook you up with a yoshihiro 180mm. In 180mm at that price range, Masamoto KK (JCK), Sakai Ichimonji Kichikuni blue steel#2 (BlueWay), and Yoshihiro Hon Kasumi are some other options.

  4. #4
    I have a tanaka deba which is the only deba I've ever used. I like it a lot. For those who have used this and others, what do you think about it and how does it compare to other knives?

  5. #5
    Senior Member K-Fed's Avatar
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    +1 I have a tanaka aswell and am completely satisfied with its performance. The handle while not pretty, is fully functional and quite large for a wa handle. I feel that it suits the heavy deba.
    Quote Originally Posted by slowtyper View Post
    I have a tanaka deba which is the only deba I've ever used. I like it a lot. For those who have used this and others, what do you think about it and how does it compare to other knives?

  6. #6
    A Deba is a gargantuan hunk of steel, with a design that makes a Gyuto look like a pointy stick. That will not come cheap.

    They are great though. I used to use other folks' at the sushi bar, but never got one for myself. Just too expensive, and I don't break down enough fish to justify it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member ThEoRy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johndoughy View Post
    I don't break down enough fish to justify it.
    I do... Jon I will be calling you about a deba in about 6 weeks when we open back up.
    Starting this harvest I'm a starving startling artist/
    Lyrical arsonist it's arduous spitting this smartest arsenic/

  8. #8
    I figure that the sort of deba you get depends on the workload you have.

    I love the susin inox honyaki that my boss has for cleaning small fish for sushi line. However, I sill just grab one of my somewhat heavier gyutos when cutting big fish for hot line.

    I get a shinny presentation with the deba, but imo I want speed and comfort when I have to break 100lbs of sable for grilling.

  9. #9
    i've actually gotten to a place where i am faster now with a deba than i am with a western fillet knife or gyuto (now days i just need a couple of fish to warm up... being out of practice sucks)

  10. #10
    Senior Member JanusInTheGarden's Avatar
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    Ok so maybe cheap is not necessarily the best option. I've been looking in the price range suggested--$100 to $250 and I've come up with a little list here of knives that have been well received by reviewers.

    Yoshihiro (I've seen, guessing here, two versions: both white but one for $170 and Jon's for $230...going out on a limb to say Jon's is superior)
    EE Hon Kasumi $110
    Shimatami Blue $160
    Tosa Deba Hocho Aocho $150
    Tanaka Kurouchi $120

    Will Jon's Yoshihiro simply outclass the ever-living out of the whole group? If so, would it be the best option to learn with and seek to use in a professional setting in the future?

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