T'is the season so I've decided to buy myself a 240mm gyuto as a present to start the new year. The hard part is- without being able to hold, feel, test, my options - which one? I've searched through the wealth of information on this board but I'm hoping some here might be willing to share some additional opinions to help me further narrow my decision. (and to any who chime in: thank you in advance).
My current thoughts are: Heiji (either his semi stainless or carbon), Watanabe, Yoshikane (v2).... My budget is up to around $400. I'm comfortable with all carbon and have some stones and the fundamental sharpening skills to maintain it, but am also curious about semi-stainless as well. Understand they are different animals...but considering both. Am impressionable as to which.
As a background point: I own a Shige kitaeji mioroshi deba that I love. I deeply appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it, and even more, relish it's function. It's balance, handle, and cutting ability are all phenomenal. It's an amazing tool. If I had the budget for a Shige at current prices, and, for that matter, the patience to wait for one, that would be my choice. Plan B..something I'll appreciate as much as the Shige in a more regularly useable Gyuto ....that's the challenge.
All three makers I'm considering have great reputations. I suspect the work of any of the three would leave me happy and my debate is splitting hairs. still....which to choose? Heiji is on the list in part because of a shared background with Shige. Watanabe is because of reviews seen here on this forum. Yoshikane from some of his knives' aesthetics (I have tried his hammered finish knives). Appreciate the artisan/craftsman small-shop nature of all three. Also like that for Heiji and Watanabe I can buy directly from them online (though that is not a necessity)
In style/geometry/function - I'm not looking for a laser. I'd prioritize 'falling through' cutting ability a little higher than 'food release.' Balance, moderate ease of sharpening and cutting ability are all important. Would prefer a kasumi finish to Kuro-uchi but ok with either.
Handles - not tried chestnut, ok with trying it or with ho wood. D handle or octagonal both ok. Back to my Shige adoration problem: I love my Shige's FF and handle -it's very comfortable.... but I am not averse to changing a handle as needed on something new to get the right feel. I made my own handle and saya for a lesser quality yanagiba in the past and might do the same again.
Also not working on a line - this is for personal daily use more than anything - so caring for carbon not an issue. SS is just intriguing.
again, any insights or help much appreciated. thanks.