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Thread: Best Gyuto and Nakiri for under $400

  1. #1

    Best Gyuto and Nakiri for under $400

    Hi, I'm new here but have often benefited from the forum while lurking. I have a few questions about a Christmas wish list I'm developing. I've posted a similar request on a few of the other knife forums.

    1) What would be the best 240mm Wa-Gyuto currently available for under $400? I am leaning toward Blue #2/Aogami steel. I have the same question for a Nakiri.

    I know the answer to the above depends on the user, so let me tell you something about my general skill level and background. I'm a 49-year-old avid home cook with good knife skills. I cook mostly French and Chinese. My current knives are a mixture of Wüsthofs and a few Western style, thin-bladed Japanese chef knives that I bought at the Tsukiji fish market. I also have a 240mm Masahiro Virgin Carbon. I'm a fairly good free-hand sharpener and have stones (Bester, King) ranging from 800-1000-4000, plus a Kitiyama 8000. I would have no problem with the additional care a carbon blade would require.

    2) I'm thinking one of these knives should be a "laser" type, as none of my existing ones really have that quality. The Masahiro is the only one that comes close, but even with it fine vegetable prep and push cutting are still a bit of a chore. Should I go for the laser quality in the Nakiri and let the Gyuto be a more all-round knife, or vice-versa?

    3) I love the Edgepro Apex for my existing knives. Should I also use it on a traditional Japanese knife like a Gyuto or a Nagiri, or do them freehand? Opinions about this seem to be all over the map.

    4) Are Takedas as good as their cult following would suggest, or has their acclaim led to a slight dropoff in quality?

    Thank you very much for your advice!

  2. #2
    Welcome aboard!

    With regards to Q1, do you have a particular preference with regards to profile height? (edge to spine at the heel) Gyuto and nakiri do differ in profile height and some folks prefer shorter while others prefer taller. Different makers tend to produce shorter or taller profiles so this could be a factor to consider.

    Do you care about wa handle versus western?

    And about Q4... I've been using a variety of Takeda's knives now and I haven't experienced any of the bending issues that others have seen. I don't know how prevalent that is or whether it is becoming more or less of an issue. However, with the Takedas that I do have, I enjoy them immensely. I happen to prefer taller profile heights and that is a big plus for me for his gyuto. Geometry is nice... though if I were to nitpick it's not my favorite for hard root vegetables... and the steel holds a really nice edge a nice long while. Pretty nice to sharpen too.

    Are they heads and shoulders above other offerings? No, but I can't think of anything that blows others in the same class out of the water across the board. Takeda's gyutos have a different profile that might appeal to you, and likewise with the kurouchi finish. I happen to like the elegant and well-made standard handles too. If these elements appeal to you, then consider the Takeda but there's no need to think of them as super-knives.

  3. #3
    Len, thanks for your reply. I'd prefer a Wa handle. What are your thoughts on Q2 and 3?
    I don't know how the higher profile of the Takeda would feel for me. I suspect it really wouldn't matter either way. Whenever I've used Chinese cleaver it's felt pretty good, so perhaps the Takeda would be fine as well.

  4. #4
    Well... about Q2 and "going laser"... overall geometry is more important than pure thinness all the way from edge to spine. You can have great cutters that aren't particularly thin at the spine but taper and thin towards the edge in such a way that you end up with a knife that cuts really nicely, separates your food nicely, and is just a joy to use.

    For myself... well, I do enjoy my "lasers" but I have noticed that going for something middle-of-the-road actually feels best to me. Unfortunately this is one of those things that's really a matter of personal preference and the only way you're gonna know if you like the feel is to try it somehow. If you can't get your hands on a demo or loaner to try out, then you might choose to buy a laser and if it turns out not to really fit you so well turn it around and sell it on the forum. The slight loss you take would be like a bit of tuition cost.

    The danger of course is that even if it's not the gift from the heavens that you expected, you might like it enough to keep it and buy yet another knife of a different feel and design and thereby grow your collection of knives beyond where you thought you'd end up

    For Q3... I sharpen freehand and have very little experience with the EdgePro so I can't say too much about it. From how I understand the jigs work, I think you will ultimately get better results from going freehand. However, I would suspect that right when you start off going freehand your edges are going to be inferior to what you're currently getting on the EdgePro - as you probably expect, there's a learning curve associated with going freehand.

  5. #5
    Senior Member labor of love's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    dirty south, louisiana
    this is my personal dream nakiri
    however, it might be alittle bit more than what you want to spend. i recently had the pleasure of trying a shigefusa nakiri like this
    and it was really really nice. Perhaps if you want thinner and lighter you should try a konosuke hd, theyre also much cheaper or one of those Zakuri nakiris in augami super at JKI. You mentioned that you like cooking chinese food I wonder if youve considered maybe picking up a CCK cleaver perhaps instead of a nakiri? If I was looking to buy a gyuto brand new at the moment, I would choose either a Gengetsu, Gesshin Ginga or one of the new Sakai Yusukes.

  6. #6
    And that Heiji nakiri is 55mm tall at the heel - very nice for those of us who like taller profiles I'm gonna have to wait a while before ordering a Heiji anything though. Well... a while before I order an anything anything to be more accurate.

  7. #7
    I have a 240 Tanaka in #2 blue Damascus and it's a great knife. The spine is thinner than my other gyutos and it's a very nimble machine that takes and holds a great edge. Mine came from Japan in 4 days via EMS and was @ $175 delivered.

  8. #8
    Sticking with the thinner choices, the budget, and what I've used myself, I can suggest Takeda and Konosuke's Fujiyama line. They feel different, and for the same length the Fujiyamas will have a lower profile height, but I've enjoyed both and think they're worth considering.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike9 View Post
    I have a 240 Tanaka in #2 blue Damascus and it's a great knife. The spine is thinner than my other gyutos and it's a very nimble machine that takes and holds a great edge. Mine came from Japan @ $175 delivered EMS.
    Oh yeah, I forgot about the Tanaka knives! I really enjoy the gyutos, but I didn't like their nakiri.

    I got a Tanaka 240 almost at the beginning of my "knife journey", and I *still* like using it. Really nice feel, good bang for the buck. This is a good recommendation.

  10. #10
    Actually, y'know what... I think I'm gonna stay away from the recommendations game. My memory isn't up to snuff for it

    Kochi gyutos are also a great option that fits in the budget. Not a laser if you look only at spine thickness, but really nice feel and so far my brief experience with one has been very positive. The Yoshikane SKD 240 that JNS carries is also surprisingly light and thin ... though I have to admit I haven't yet put in a lot of board time with this particular one.

    I guess the thing is that there are a lot of good choices for gyuto given the budget.

    Nakiri selection is a little slimmer though

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