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Thread: Usuba advice

  1. #1

    Usuba advice

    Still a relative newcomer to this site and my first time asking for advice so bear with me I've been interested in a Usuba for a while now. I realize it's not high on the list of priorities for a non-pro chef, but I love working with veggies and have been practicing making thin cucumber and daikon sheets (Katsuramaki sp?).

    I have the sense that because these are somewhat specialized knives that there are less choices available. Given that, I'd prefer to stay fairly traditional. Are there compelling reasons to go with one shape vs. another...IE the rounded Kamagata style vs. the non-pointed rectangular shape? Similar question regarding steel - are single forged steels more classic in this style than layered? I somewhat fear that my preference for a classic knife puts me in a high price bracket, but I'd rather do that, or nothing at all, than buy a knife that performs poorly and/or can't be sold/traded. Any advice, including specific recommendations would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    you'll get lots of advice but the one you'll here the most is - cheap single bevel knives can be extremely poorly ground. Its better to spend more then to try work the waves and spots out yourself. You really want one with a dead flat edge and good transitions.

    I have a kamagata - people say the tip is more useful on a kama - I don't use the tip all that much with it but it does give it a bit more versatility.

    180 - 210 are the most used sizes-- gives good size for daikon sheets as well as just general use. 165 is common as well, I find that size small tho.

    Have you used single-bevels before?

  3. #3

    knyfeknerd's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Charlotte, NC AKA The Queen City! The lint-filled belly button of the south.
    Great thread. I'm in the market for an usuba as well. Am going Kamagata for purely aesthetic reasons. Would love to hear any and all input from members responding to your questions. I've really been keen on a 210 Suisin Inox, but also really like the Gesshin Hide Blue as well. Now that I'm comitted to spending(Saving) that amount of money, I'm not really sure which one to go with.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    There are a couple of recent threads on usuba:

    plus another older one:

    Am loving these usuba talks :-0 Just don't go too cheap.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Seth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Philadelphia, PA
    I don't know about compelling reasons but kamagata style seems to be more popular and maybe more useful. If by single steel you mean honyaki then you are talking major bucks. If you mean kasumi vs suminigashi then I think you will see more kasumi. That's a layer of soft and a layer of hard. Regardless, if you are thinking traditional you probably want carbon, though the suisin inox is a nice knife. As far as resale I think you can't be too expensive or too cheap. I have a suisin ginsanko, about $400, and a Nenohi, about $850. I think I would have trouble selling the Nenohi. Talk to Jon at JKI for some good guidance and look at his site and also Korin to get an idea of the range of choices. Blue steel, white steel, stainless, etc. Name brands will be easier to sell: Masamoto, Suisin, etc.
    Everywhere you go, there you are.

  6. #6
    Thanks for the responses, and sorry I missed the referenced threads....I tried the search function but didn't find those fail on my part.

    On the the single bevel question, yes I've been using a yanigba for almost 2 yrs now, and it's what I've been using for sheets so far. As for steel, yes I meant honyaki. I've been looking at the knives mentioned..the Gessin blue, the Suisin, on JKI, as well as a white carbon steel on EE.

    Thanks again for the responses, and I'll go through those other older threads.

  7. #7
    Senior Member AFKitchenknivesguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    One piece of advice, as the others have said, don't go cheap. I sold all mine years ago, good luck!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Crothcipt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    wyoming, closer to nowhere than somewhere.
    Ty for posting those threads I found it very useful. I have been thinking about single bevels for a few weeks and this has me thinking a little more.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JKerr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    I own 3 usuba atm, 21cm Mizuno kamagata, 21cm tadatsuna azumagata and a 24cm Shigefusa azumagata. I prefer the azumagata (sqaure) style, but I reckon this comes down to personal preference more than anything. I have no doubt that the kamagata has a more versatile profile, I just feel like I need to be more delicate with the kamagata due to the tip, though I think this is just a a mental thing on my behalf. Having said that, it could be down to what I've used and when; the mizuno was the first I owned and I was pretty clueless back then, I got the tadatsuna at least a year later when I was a bit more knowledgeable, and the Shige recently (which is friggin' awesome).

    As for length? What size are your other knives? I have a preference to 27cm gyutos and a while back got right into full size cleavers, and I find 21cm+ comfortable with an usuba. I don't think you would go wrong with 21cm, IMO it can feel a little small on the board if you're use to larger knives, but it does feel better for "in-hand cutting".

    Never used a cheap usuba myself so I can't comment on that but I'd recommend not getting carried away. I spent almost $400 on my Mizuno and while I try to convince myself I liked it at first, I found it incredibly frustrating and it got little use, I've since come around to appreciating the usuba and while I enjoy using them, they're not the first knife I reach for and probably never will be (again, as much as I try to convince myself otherwise. They're just so cool).

    Personally, if I had the benefit of hindsight and was buying my first usuba again I would look at: The Sakai blue steel options from Blueway Japan (heard the white steel single bevels can be hit-or-miss); yoshihiro range from Jon at JKI; the Monzaburo ranage at Aframes and finally; I would consider the tanaka from Japan Tools Metalmaster, heard the fit and finish can very sketchy on these, but I recall Kcma on FF saying good things about them. And I'd probably just go carbon as a first, cause (good) stainless usuba are ***** expensive.

    Hope this helps.


  10. #10
    Senior Member Mucho Bocho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    Great post. I'm considering a Usuba as well. Just purchased a hon-sumi 195 Yusuke Deba in Blue2. The second knife I bought from Keiichi (BluewayJapan). I'm strongly considering a 210 Usuba in blue# hon-sumai myself.

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