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first-time japanese knife set purchase

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slice

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hi there forum, i recently found this great resource after stumbling across some youtube videos of salty doing his thing and was seriously impressed. since then, i've read quite a bit on here and decided i would enter this world by exploring traditional japanese knife design/use. any help selecting a great set would be much appreciated.

What type of knife(s) do you think you want?

- Japanese 3 set: Yanagi, Usuba, Deba

Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?

- I need some good knives, am fascinated with traditional japanese knife making, and think getting a solid foundation in them will make a great base for future insanity. They are replacing the worst possible knives ever known to man (broken plastic, electrical-taped, serrated, etc.).

What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?

- They're more akin to pre-historic man's cutting tools (probably worse), so don't think it's worth discussing too much.

What grip do you use?

- Pinch

What kind of cutting motion do you use?

- Saw, heh, no seriously, push-cuts and slices. Never owned anything that could chop.

Where do you store them?

- Kitchen drawer.

Have you ever oiled a handle?

- No.

What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?

- Whatever wood/plastic ones I have around. Will be upgrading these as well.

For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?

- Nothing. Will be getting a nice block.

Have they ever been sharpened?

- No.

What is your budget?

- 1k

What do you cook and how often?

- Everything, all types of meat and vegetables. Everyday at least 1 meal.

Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?

- Japanese 3 set for learning the ropes, am aware of the single bevel, and not afraid to dive in. I found this 3 set from Korin: http://korin.com/Yasukiko-Three-Piece-Set-Yanagi-Usuba-Deba?sc=27&category=280117, but really don't know what's good or not. What do you think?
 

oivind_dahle

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All knives you describe is single beveled, are you a professional chef?
For what I can read you need a Gyuto and a Petty, imo

:)
 

echerub

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Perhaps a more fundamental question is this: what kind of cuisine do you cook most and intend to cook? Japanese single bevels are great at what they do, but they don't do everything excellently.
 

DeepCSweede

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All knives you describe is single beveled, are you a professional chef?
For what I can read you need a Gyuto and a Petty, imo

:)
:plus1:
I agree with Oivind. If you cook a lot of fish, I would consider the deba also. Plus, you are going to want to invest in some sharpening stones and learn how to sharpen.
 

Shinob1

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I agree with all of the above. I think a nice Gyuto would be good, along with some stones. That's basically what I did. I purchased a Yoshihiro 210mm Wa-gyuto, King 1k, and a stone holder/base to get started. I feel like the Yoshihiro was good value for the money since it comes with a Saya and has good fit and finish. It's not too expensive so if you have some mistakes while sharpening, you're not out a ton of money.

Along with the recommendations here from the more senior members, I recommend giving Jon a call at Japanese Knife Imports. He has very good customer service, knowledgeable, fast shipping, and will make sure you get steered in the right direction without spending more money than you need to on your first knife.

Also, depending where you live, you may want to consider taking a class from Jon or Dave. I took Dave's class recently and it was excellent.

Good luck with the purchases and welcome to the addiction. ;)
 

oivind_dahle

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I would go for sanmai with 52100 core steel, and stainless clad (or mono steel 52100). I might have gone for DTs super wear resistant. I might even gone for R2 steel.

Guyto 225 and Petty 150 (and supplied with 300 suji and 80 parer in time)
Then I would have a strop with some diamond spray.

And used a professional sharpener once a year.
 

slice

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guys, very much appreciate the input, but i'm definitely set on the direction of learning traditional japanese style cutting techniques with the 3 primary traditional knife types. i recently purchased and was inspired by this book, which goes into great detail about them: http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Kitchen-Knives-Essential-Techniques.

i realize i'm taking a more difficult path, but am looking forward to pursuing this as more of a culturual/culinary learning experience, rather than a best tool for the job type approach (i realize the question format is setup with that in mind).
 

James

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You'll need to rethink storage unless you're purchasing sayas for all of them. Many here use magnetic racks, which make the knives easily accessible and, if you're using carbon, a rack will lessen the likelihood of rust from storage in a saya (putting a seemingly dry knife into a saya and taking it out later to find it speckled with rust). Also sharpening is important; sharpening single bevel knives is different from sharpening double bevel knives but most of the skills are transferable. You may want to get a practice knife and a few stones first in order to get accustomed to the sharpening motion and more importantly holding a consistent angle. Talk to Jon from JKI and have a look at his selection. A lot of them are absolutely stunning.
 

Pensacola Tiger

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Hi, Slice, welcome to the forum.

It's been hinted at in some of the other posts, but the three knives you are looking at - deba, usuba and yanagiba - are designed to be used to prepare traditional Japanese cuisine, and are really ill-suited for the preparation of Western style cuisine.

The deba, for example, is designed for the task of taking a whole fish and breaking it down into filets. It can be pressed into breaking down a whole chicken, but that's about where it's repertoire ends.

The yanagiba is designed for thinly slicing raw fish into sashimi. It can be used to cut other raw and cooked protein, but, again, that is not what it is best at.

The usuba is designed for cutting vegetables in the Japanese fashion, that is into thin sheets and then into needles (ken cut), whittled (sasagaki) or decorative shapes (kazari-giri). It is not the best choice for slicing a tomato or dicing a onion.

If you want to learn more about these knives and how to use them, a good starting place is the book, Japanese Kitchen Knives:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/4770030762/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

If, on the other hand, you are looking for knives for Western cuisine, and want them to be Japanese made, then a good place to start is with a medium length gyuto, somewhere between 210 and 240 mm. This knife will do 90% of the tasks in the kitchen. Later on, you may want to add a petty between 150 and 180 mm if you find that there are certain tasks that you find awkward to use the gyuto for. If you do a lot of carving or slicing of roasts, you may want to add a sujihiki between 240 and 270 mm. The best reference for these knife styles and usage is An Edge in the Kitchen, by Chad Ward.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061188484/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

If, after all of this, you still want to dive into the three traditional Japanese knives, the set you referenced from Korin is not your best choice, IMO. The yanagiba, at 210 mm, is too short, as is the deba. A better set is the one offered by The Epicurean Edge, with a 180 mm deba and usuba and a 240 mm yanagiba, although 240 mm is still a little on the short side - 270 is better.

http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=568

Personally, I would recommend talking with Jon Broida of Japanese Knife Imports about your first knife purchase. Jon will take the time to work with you to get you the best knife or knives for your needs, even if he has to send you somewhere else to get it.

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/

Rick
 
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The Edge

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Hi, Slice, welcome to the forum.

It's been hinted at in some of the other posts, but the three knives you are looking at - deba, usuba and yanagiba - are designed to be used to prepare traditional Japanese cuisine, and are really ill-suited for the preparation of Western style cuisine.

The deba, for example, is designed for the task of taking a whole fish and breaking it down into filets. It can be pressed into breaking down a whole chicken, but that's about where it's repertoire ends.

The yanagiba is designed for thinly slicing raw fish into sashimi. It can be used to cut other raw and cooked protein, but, again, that is not what it is best at.

The usuba is designed for cutting vegetables in the Japanese fashion, that is into thin sheets and then into needles (ken cut), whittled (sasagaki) or decorative shapes (kazari-giri). It is not the best choice for slicing a tomato or dicing a onion.

If you want to learn more about these knives and how to use them, a good starting place is the book, Japanese Kitchen Knives:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/4770030762/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

If, on the other hand, you are looking for knives for Western cuisine, and want them to be Japanese made, then a good place to start is with a medium length gyuto, somewhere between 210 and 240 mm. This knife will do 90% of the tasks in the kitchen. Later on, you may want to add a petty between 150 and 180 mm if you find that there are certain tasks that you find awkward to use the gyuto for. If you do a lot of carving or slicing of roasts, you may want to add a sujihiki between 240 and 270 mm. The best reference for these knife styles and usage is An Edge in the Kitchen, by Chad Ward.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0061188484/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20

If, after all of this, you still want to dive into the three traditional Japanese knives, the set you referenced from Korin is not your best choice, IMO. The yanagiba, at 210 mm, is too short, as is the deba. A better set is the one offered by The Epicurean Edge, with a 180 mm deba and usuba and a 240 mm yanagiba, although 240 mm is still a little on the short side - 270 is better.

http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=568

Personally, I would recommend talking with Jon Broida of Japanese Knife Imports about your first knife purchase. Jon will take the time to work with you to get you the best knife or knives for your needs, even if he has to send you somewhere else to get it.

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/

Rick
:plus1: Couldn't have said it any better! And welcome to the forum.
 
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Johnny.B.Good

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There's nothing left to do or say after Rick's post than to put an exclamation point on it.

Welcome to the forum Slice.
 

SpikeC

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Welcome to the Knut House! You may not get the advice that you are looking for, but you should listen to it carefully, these guys have helped a lot of beginners get off on the right foot. What seems like a good idea at first blush is not always the wisest course! I dunno about oivind! :justkidding:
 

GlassEye

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Hi, Slice, welcome to the forum.

It's been hinted at in some of the other posts, but the three knives you are looking at - deba, usuba and yanagiba - are designed to be used to prepare traditional Japanese cuisine, and are really ill-suited for the preparation of Western style cuisine.

Personally, I would recommend talking with Jon Broida of Japanese Knife Imports about your first knife purchase. Jon will take the time to work with you to get you the best knife or knives for your needs, even if he has to send you somewhere else to get it.

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/

Rick
+1

I can't recommend Jon highly enough.
 

K-Fed

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Again +1 to Rick's post. This should be a sticky for anyone considering a first time single bevel purchase ;x. Really though I've got two yanagibas and a deba and aside from occasional home use I struggle to find excuses to keep them. The deba is a fantastic knife for what it is intended for and if you do break down whole fish often I would highly recomend it. The yanagiba is kind of superfluous unless you are going to be cutting fish for sashimi, sushi etc as a good sujihiki, gyuto, or petty will cut and skin a fish fillet quite easily.
 

slice

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Thanks so much for the reply guys. Going to be in LA next week, so I think I'll stop by Jon's place.

Really appreciate the advice, especially Rick, you made me consider some things I hadn't.

Will report back what I end up getting.
 

JBroida

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sorry... i didnt read the whole tread...i just noticed that he said he might be coming to the store and i know a couple people that have come out only to stop by on a thursday when we arent there.

But now that i have read the whole tread... thanks so much. I hope i can live up to the high standards you guys are making for me here :p
 
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