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Thread: What do you look for in a suji? (home cook)

  1. #1

    What do you look for in a suji? (home cook)

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm new to this new (new to me at least) forum. I used to visit the old in the kitchen forum all the time but rarely posted, so I'm quite out of date I know.

    I'm looking to buy my first sujihiki, and have read all the posts about them that I could find. I'm sure I've missed some so I apologize if this has been discussed at length.

    What features to you look for in a suji that will be used as a dedicated slicer?

    I know some people who use them professionally use them as their go to knives, and I can understand that those have much different requirements. But for someone who's a home cook, going to use the suji on only soft things, what would be your preferences?

    Depth (I guess I mean knuckle clearance)
    Handle style, and size
    Blade Profile
    Laminated or Honyaki?

    Those seem to be the things I've seen talked about, and there seems to be a lot of talk with flexibility. For someone who hasn't had a suji, my original thought was that I'd want a really thin blade, but I seem to have overlooked something in that aspect.

    Ultimately I'm looking for advice that will help me find one to buy, but I thought maybe a slightly different approach to the question would be interesting. So for now although I'd love suggestions for any specific knives too, I'm mainly curious of people opinions as to what things make a good suji good.

    Thanks!!! Sean

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    sachem allison's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    I haven't lived the life I wanted, just the lives I needed too at the time.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Feb 2011
    San Diego, CA
    Thinner is generally going to cut with less effort. It's up to you how much flexibility you're willing to deal with. Shorter height (heel to spine) is better. Soft materials means you don't need lots of toughness and sounds like you don't need stainless so I'd go with something like white 1 or one of the high carbon, and relatively low alloy steels like blue 1 or blue super at relatively higher hardness. If you want a little more edge retention, go for something like a Heiji or a Yoshikane in SKD. Again, not super tough steels but they have good wear resistance.

  4. #4
    Senior Member WiscoNole's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    in order:

    not important
    wa, octagonal
    long flat edge that eventually curves into thin tip
    somewhat flexible
    Honyaki is out of my price range so I don't even consider it, but I do usually go with single-steel knives.

    Check out Tadatsuna, Gesshin Ginga, Masamoto KS (240mm but they run long).

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2011
    Aarhus, Denmark
    Quote Originally Posted by WiscoNole View Post
    Masamoto KS (240mm but they run long).
    My KS Suji is 240mm from heel to tip.. They do make a 270mm version, but you have to ask for it.


  6. #6
    Senior Member WiscoNole's Avatar
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    Aug 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Lars View Post
    My KS Suji is 240mm from heel to tip.
    that's long for a wa-handled knife

  7. #7

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    May 2012
    I have a 240mm sujibiki at home and it's more than enough for us. We have the counter space, but we don't really make anything that requires a long knife.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Benuser's Avatar
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    May 2011
    Amstelveen, The Netherlands
    In order:
    As small as possible (no dragging), therefore no 300mm who are wider in most cases;
    flat, very small curve near the tip;
    as stiff as possible.

    I would consider the balance as well, I prefer a little blade heavy.

    If you're fine with a western handle, consider the Fujiwara FKH, great knife, exceptional value.

  9. #9
    wow, thanks for all the replies. For someone who hasn't used a suji before, what exactly is the problem with the flexibility? how flexible are they, and what affect does it cause when slicing?

    And if stiffness is desired, as well as a thin and narrow blade, there seems to be a tradeoff there obviously. But what affect does the blade material have? Would say blue steel be less flexible than white, or some other carbon steel? And does a laminated blade (say Hiromoto AS) have a different amount of flex to a honyaki blue steel blade would?

    As far as wa handle vs. western it sounds like to most people it's just preference to a certain handle over another and not so much any performance different?

  10. #10
    Senior Member mpukas's Avatar
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    Apr 2011
    Gyptuckey, CO
    Steel - matter of preference - carbon v stainless is your choice; depends on what you plan to cut and how you sharpen
    Length - depends on what you're cutting and how much space you have. I have a 300mm and a 210mm. I only use the 300mm for slicing large things like salmon fillet, turkey breast, roasts, etc. The extra length is nice to have. The 210mm gets a lot use, more as a utility general purpose knife than a slicer.
    Depth - irrelevant to me. A good slicing technique will end at the tip, which is always very short in height, so there is minimal drag. Taller is a little better for me so there's more knuckle clearance, as well as the edge being angles relative to the spine.
    Handle - matter of preference
    Profile - to me, suji's don't vary as much as gyutos.
    Flexibility - I'm putting this into the construction category of laminiated vs monosteel (there's only ONE honyaki sujihiki, and Salty ain't givin' it up!). Lamintaed blades are stiffer than monnosteel blades. Devin talked about this a while back, as the tension between the steel increases the stiffness (I'm paraprasing and may not have it completely right). Suji's by nature are thin, and therefore flexible. If you want a stiffer blade, look for a laminated blade. Laminated blades are not necessarily thicker than monosteel blades (like Carter's), but they often are. Monosteel blades are more common in my experience as well.

    When using a thin flexible knife, you have to let the knife do the work and pay attention to technique and not twist or bend the knife while cutting. Make sure you're pushing and pulling in a straight line. Thinness is more important in a suji than flexibility, as thin cuts easier with less resistance and flexibility can be a non issue with good technique.
    Shibui - simplicity devoid of unnecessary elements

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