First Gyoto under $300

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circuitwarden

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LOCATION

New York, NY, USA


KNIFE TYPE

Gyoto (chef’s knife)



Are you right or left handed?

Left handed



Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?

Japanese Handle (octagonal)



What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?

210-240mm



Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)

No



What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?

$300







KNIFE USE

Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment?


Home



What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for (e.g., slicing vegetables, chopping vegetables, mincing vegetables, slicing meats, cutting down poultry, breaking poultry bones, filleting fish, trimming meats, etc.)? (Please identify as many tasks as you would like.)

Trimming/slicing meat/fish,

Slicing/chopping/mincing vegetables



What knife, if any, are you replacing?

Wustof Santoku



Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)

Pinch grip



What cutting motions do you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for types of cutting motions and identify the two or three most common cutting motions, in order of most used to least used.)

Push cut
Slice
Chop
Rock
Walk
Draw


What improvements do you want from your current knife? If you are not replacing a knife, please identify as many characteristics identified below in parentheses that you would like this knife to have.)

Sharpness, edge retention, blade geometry, handle geometry



Better aesthetics (e.g., a certain type of finish; layered/Damascus or other pattern of steel; different handle color/pattern/shape/wood; better scratch resistance; better stain resistance)?

Would like something traditional and handmade, preferably by a single blacksmith/small collective. I’d like to support Japanese knife makers with this purchase and avoid purchasing from a big company.

Natural wood handle.

Nashiji finish preferred, though open to other aesthetics.

Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?

Looking for better balance, more comfortable handle, rounded choil for comfort with pinch grip.



Ease of Use (e.g., ability to use the knife right out of the box; smoother rock chopping, push cutting, or slicing motion; less wedging; better food release; less reactivity with food; easier to sharpen)?

I am okay with this knife requiring more care/maintenance, though this will be my first handmade knife. Preferably the knife would be ready to use out of the box. Reactivity with food is not a major concern, though the balance of Blue #2 steel is appealing to me for the balance between edge retention and maintenance (when compared to iron clad White #1).



Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)?

Several months between sharpenings with touch ups as necessary intermediately.






KNIFE MAINTENANCE

Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)


Wood only (not edge grain though)



Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)

Yes



If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.)

Yes, always eager to learn more.



Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)

Yes





SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS



I love the kanji scribes on handmade Japanese knives. I am not a huge fan of overly embellished aesthetics (like Damascus). I love knives with a nashiji / pear skin finish.



Would love to buy from a maker who is up and coming or making a difference for the trade. I want this knife to be a good performer, but I also see this purchase as an opportunity to be a patron to a trade that I have a lot of admiration/respect for. Apologies if that comes off as pretentious, but with almost every product I buy the proceeds benefit shareholders of a large corporation, ideally I would like this purchase to support the maker as much as possible.

I’m having trouble discerning between options given what is in/out of stock. Would appreciate any and all suggestions!
 

Infrared

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Single man shop.
Nashiji.
Chiseled kanji.
Sharp out of the box.
Great performer all around.

Might not see them at this price again.

If possible, you can also visit Realsharpknife in New york to see some knives in person.

 

HumbleHomeCook

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Be very careful about ensuring you're buying left handed knives.

This needs to be your number one priority over who and how your knife was made. The overwhelming majority of Japanese knives are ground for right hand users so you're already restricted. And left handed knives are commonly priced higher.

I would highly recommend you spend time researching the site for past recommendations for left handed users.
 

circuitwarden

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Single man shop.
Nashiji.
Chiseled kanji.
Sharp out of the box.
Great performer all around.

Might not see them at this price again.

If possible, you can also visit Realsharpknife in New york to see some knives in person.

Definitely adding this to the short list. Appreciate your help! Have you used any knives made by Wakui?
 

Benuser

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Be very careful about ensuring you're buying left handed knives.

This needs to be your number one priority over who and how your knife was made. The overwhelming majority of Japanese knives are ground for right hand users so you're already restricted. And left handed knives are commonly priced higher.

I would highly recommend you spend time researching the site for past recommendations for left handed users.
Most information retailers deliver is simply misleading. Have seen the most extreme right-biased knives being sold as ambidextrous or 50/50 or whatever to suggest they are fine for left-handers. Common geometry of the blade favours right-handers: a right side which is convexed to allow a good food release, and an edge off-centered to the left to enhance it. Whatever the edge there's put on it: a left hander will experience produce sticking to the left face of the blade.
An imaginary neutral blade is optimal to none, except for lasers where it hardly matters and food release is necessarily poor to everyone. Have yet to see a truly symmetric Japanese knife, other than a laser. Left-handers are traditionally being ignored in Japanese culture.
Some left-handers are used to it and will report they are perfectly fine with what is not an optimal situation. A few makers have knives with an inverted geometry: left side convexed, edge off-centered to the right. That's the real solution. If you were looking for a knife with a Western handle: Misono and Masahiro have left-handed versions in stock.
 

circuitwarden

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Be very careful about ensuring you're buying left handed knives.

This needs to be your number one priority over who and how your knife was made. The overwhelming majority of Japanese knives are ground for right hand users so you're already restricted. And left handed knives are commonly priced higher.

I would highly recommend you spend time researching the site for past recommendations for left handed users.
Oh interesting, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a left/right handed grind on a double bevel knife. I’ve held a few Japanese knives with symmetrical octagonal handles and didn't notice an issue. Thanks for the tip!
 

circuitwarden

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Most information retailers deliver is simply misleading. Have seen the most extreme right-biased knives being sold as ambidextrous or 50/50 or whatever to suggest they are fine for left-handers. Common geometry of the blade favours right-handers: a right side which is convexed to allow a good food release, and an edge off-centered to the left to enhance it. Whatever the edge there's put on it: a left hander will experience produce sticking to the left face of the blade.
An imaginary neutral blade is optimal to none, except for lasers where it hardly matters and food release is necessarily poor to everyone. Have yet to see a truly symmetric Japanese knife, other than a laser. Left-handers are traditionally being ignored in Japanese culture.
Some left-handers are used to it and will report they are perfectly fine with what is not an optimal situation. A few makers have knives with an inverted geometry: left side convexed, edge off-centered to the right. That's the real solution. If you were looking for a knife with a Western handle: Misono and Masahiro have left-handed versions in stock.
Appreciate the in-depth explanation!

The nuns in Catholic school tried to force me to be a righty in kindergarten but it didn’t take. Little did I know they were trying to help me avoid this dilemma decades later.
 
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Jovidah

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Since you are NYC based, my best advice is to head over to MTC and Korin (MTC has more wa handle options than Korin) and hold as many knives as interest you. Recommendations are great, but nothing beats holding something in your hand to see what feels right.
This... you're lucky enough to live in a place with several good knife stores, and these will likely also be able to steer you towards a lefty-friendly knife. I'd use that to my advantage, especially since you have limited preferences to go on (coming from a Wüsthof santoku is almost like coming from a different universe).
I'd also suggest to prioritize getting a knife that actually works for you over focusing too much on getting a specific look (like nashiji) or putting too much emphasis on something 'artisan-made'. If you're planning to make this your 'one' good knife it better be good. For the same reason I'd lean to something at least stainless-clad or full stainless just for practicality.
 

Delat

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Oh interesting, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as a left/right handed grind on a double bevel knife. I’ve held a few Japanese knives with symmetrical octagonal handles and didn't notice an issue. Thanks for the tip!

Here’s an example of what’s being discussed. You can see the core steel is offset to the right side of the photo (left side when the knife in use). Also the right side in the photo is almost flat, while the left is convex. The convexity is what helps with food release; this is fairly typical of a Japanese double-beveled gyuto.

35152CB6-88A5-436E-A8C4-5239BA268A2B.jpeg


Plenty of good options and advice in previous replies; one necessary downside of buying Japanese knives is that sales are through a retailer. So although you might be supporting a 1-man shop, you’re still working through a middleman. Anyway, assuming you’re ok with the righty bias, the knives from the makers at Takefu Knife Village (TKV) are a good value although many are now trending North of $300. But you can find Shiro Kamo’s carbon offerings for under $300; other TKV makers to look at: Yu and Makoto Kurosaki, Y Kato, etc.

With Western smiths, there’s frequently the option to purchase directly from the maker and you know all profits are going directly to them. @MSicardCutlery was already mentioned as being in your price range and able to make a lefty. I’d also throw out Brian Hanson to consider; his standard line comes in at <$300. You could ask him to make you an extra thin lefty version of his standard line. His standard line is a bit thicker and intended for abuse by professional chefs - he’s a former chef himself; I had him make me a stainless-clad thin version and love it.
 
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If you like a certain look than it is a factor. There are some fine blades in Nashiji style. Also KU, hammered etc. It gives knife character a hand forged look. Prefer those over Damascus.

Tanaka Nashiji was best selling knife at culinary school where I taught sharpening.

Choil shot of 240 Tanaka Nashiji stainless clad blue steel core. Thicker top part thin behind the edge. It's assem. Is less than many Japanese knives. Chisel carved kanji.
Also you can find on video Tanaka knives being forged. I am right handed most of my knives are right biased Japanese blades. The Tanaka is less so. Of coarse these are hand forged knives grinds may differ, but I've seen plenty Tanaka's.
IMG_20221203_071738713.jpg
 

circuitwarden

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If you like a certain look than it is a factor. There are some fine blades in Nashiji style. Also KU, hammered etc. It gives knife character a hand forged look. Prefer those over Damascus.

Tanaka Nashiji was best selling knife at culinary school where I taught sharpening.

Choil shot of 240 Tanaka Nashiji stainless clad blue steel core. Thicker top part thin behind the edge. It's assem. Is less than many Japanese knives. Chisel carved kanji.
Also you can find on video Tanaka knives being forged. I am right handed most of my knives are right biased Japanese blades. The Tanaka is less so. Of coarse these are hand forged knives grinds may differ, but I've seen plenty Tanaka's. View attachment 212075
I've seen Tanaka recommended a lot and have been looking, but not had much luck finding them in stock anywhere unfortunately.
 
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I've seen Tanaka recommended a lot and have been looking, but not had much luck finding them in stock anywhere unfortunately.
Knives & Stones USA and Australia carry Tanaka's they are sold out popular knives. You can leave your email they will notify you.
You have to act as they won't last. They also carry Blue 2 stainless clad KU finish with teak handle. I like that James gives choil shots giving a better feel for edge geometry.

Some folks here may know lefty grind knives that are available.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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If you can reconsider your small-shop, artisan desire, Akifusa might be a good option for you. The grind on my 180 is quite symmetrical. Their stainless clad Aogami Super is very, very nice as are the knives overall. Very well executed and killer performance.

They are made by a "bigger" company but these are still "small" shops compared to Wusthof, Henkels, and Victorinox.

You can call the folks at EE and talk to them about being a lefty and their thoughts. EE also offers a 5% discount to KKF members, not entirely sure if they still do but I think so.

The wa-handled 210 in AS is only $234 right now.

 
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circuitwarden

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Appreciate everyone's suggestions and insight thus far! It has been extremely helpful.

I am leaning towards the Matsubara Blue #2 Nashiji:
https://www.**************.com/mabl2nagy24.html

I have read in other threads and seen in photos that the grind is fairly symetrical, although none of these were explicitly recommending it for left-handed use. If anyone has insight on this please let me know.

One thing that is giving me pause is the blade's height and weight. It looks a bit taller than a traditional gyoto and comes in at 7.8 ounces (220 grams). Matsubara does make a more slender 'KS' Gyoto, but it is out of stock (shocker, I know).

Any and all input is welcome.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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Appreciate everyone's suggestions and insight thus far! It has been extremely helpful.

I am leaning towards the Matsubara Blue #2 Nashiji:

I have read in other threads and seen in photos that the grind is fairly symetrical, although none of these were explicitly recommending it for left-handed use. If anyone has insight on this please let me know.

One thing that is giving me pause is the blade's height and weight. It looks a bit taller than a traditional gyoto and comes in at 7.8 ounces (220 grams). Matsubara does make a more slender 'KS' Gyoto, but it is out of stock (shocker, I know).

Any and all input is welcome.

CKTG links won't work on KKF. Old, bad blood.

But, look at that choil shot. In the picture, what is shown on the right is actually left face as you would be cutting. Note how much straighter it is than the other side.
 
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Chubo knives also sells Matsubara. I'm sure it's a good knife with Nashiji finish. But even though CKTG & Chubo call it even grind pictures don't lie. Esp. the 210, but also the 240 are right hand grinds. As a lefty the flatter side would be outside & bevel inside.
The Tanaka is also a tall heel knife 51mm at heel the Matsubara is 55mm at heel. Just for reference 240 Tanaka weight.
IMG_20221203_152459897.jpg

Tall heels are good for chopping & forward push cuts.
 
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I agree that being in New York you can go to Korin. Also Knives & Stones USA is in New York. I searched ambidextrous on their site came up with different knives. It's harder to get artisan left biased knives many are single bevel traditional Japanese blades. There are some blades that are more even grinds then the norm. I think that's an option
Esp. if you can see and hold the knife.
 

Leo Barr

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I agree that being in New York you can go to Korin. Also Knives & Stones USA is in New York. I searched ambidextrous on their site came up with different knives. It's harder to get artisan left biased knives many are single bevel traditional Japanese blades. There are some blades that are more even grinds then the norm. I think that's an option
Esp. if you can see and hold the knife.
https://japanesechefsknife.com a lot of the brands on this site offer left handed versions normally around $30 extra -also as far as Europe is concerned they seem to be able to deliver tax free
 

Benuser

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https://japanesechefsknife.com a lot of the brands on this site offer left handed versions normally around $30 extra -also as far as Europe is concerned they seem to be able to deliver tax free
True. But here as well, be aware of so-called 50/50 edges. Even when the edge is supposed to be more beneficial to left handers, the blade's geometry is remaining right-biased with a convexed face on the wrong side.
 
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https://japanesechefsknife.com a lot of the brands on this site offer left handed versions normally around $30 extra -also as far as Europe is concerned they seem to be able to deliver tax free
I like that site shipping from Japan is cheap to Hawaii. Since I'm not left handed enjoyed many years at work using carbon Japanese gyuto's. Because of this thread looking for lefty bias blades hard to find. Did come up with Mazaki Naoki black Nashiji at JCK. Saw that Eric Eric had mentioned that blade earlier in this thread. I was going to knife sites search left handed. Many were single bevel knives. Of coarse lefty's have advantage of finding knives because they have to. I think the Mazaki is a neutral grind.

I have a 10" 50/50 mono Carbon K- Sabatier it's my beater knife.
 

Infrared

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Definitely adding this to the short list. Appreciate your help! Have you used any knives made by Wakui?
Sorry for the late reply.

I have several knives by him and they are very good. The one I linked has good edge retention and great cutting feel. Has no real weakness to speak of.

A couple of other things to note.

1. Going from a Wusthof santoku to a giant 240mm Mastubara is probably not a good idea. It's going to feel unwieldy and might take a long while to get used to.

2. Wakui white #2 has just as much edge retention as Matsubara blue #2. Maintenance is about equal.

3. Choil shots don't tell you much. In fact, it is not uncommon for them to be misleading.

4. Shigeki Tanaka knives are very similar to Takefu knives (Kato, Anryu, etc.). Maybe give them a try.

5. Don't worry about symmetrical/asymmetrical grinds. There are more important things to consider. That being said, the Matsubara is extremely thin so food release is nonexistent. The Wakui is slightly convex on both sides.
 

Infrared

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Why do you assert this?
He never talked about food release being an issue, so the focus on it is a bit strange. In fact his personal requests are being ignored for this "problem". I do not know why.

The symmetry of a grind does not tell you if it has good food release or not. You actually have to use it to know. Also, obsessing over food release and symmetry will lead you to suboptimal choices.

For example, i have a Yoshito Saku that is equally convex on both sides and has great food release. But it struggles heavily on carrots. Probably not a good first knife choice.
 

HumbleHomeCook

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He never talked about food release being an issue, so the focus on it is a bit strange. In fact his personal requests are being ignored for this "problem". I do not know why.

The symmetry of a grind does not tell you if it has good food release or not. You actually have to use it to know. Also, obsessing over food release and symmetry will lead you to suboptimal choices.

For example, i have a Yoshito Saku that is equally convex on both sides and has great food release. But it struggles heavily on carrots. Probably not a good first knife choice.

I know my mention of grind symmetry was about him being left handed. A number of us are just trying to caution him about buying a knife that won't steer and nothing about food release.

We're very much trying to focus on his personal request.
 
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@ftermath

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Definitely adding this to the short list. Appreciate your help! Have you used any knives made by Wakui?
I grabbed one of the 240s after spending some time and energy missing a Kochi that I had a while back. I don't know if you'll find a better knife under $300. It has a symmetrical grind, great edge geometry, and the benefit of stainless cladding mixed with ease of W#2 sharpen-ability. A great nashiji finish, chiseled kanji, and nice distal taper give it that craftsman feel. I've had better knives but not many and they've all been more expensive. You could grab this and a gesshin 2k stone and be set for a while. Order the Kochi version over at JKI if you'd prefer to purchase a domestic option.
 
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