Gyuto or Bunka? Decision advice needed to start rabbit hole descent!

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Twotimehojo

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So very new as my number of posts attests. Filled questionnaire is below. What I have: Shun Classic 8in Chef for now over 10 years which I like a lot. I like the way it feels and the way it looks. But the forum suggests I am missing out on what a knife could be. I could get another gyuto but maybe get something a bit different to whet my appetite. A bunka looks very interesting to me. I have a global santoku which is a bit boring for me. I have a Wusthoff Ikon deboning knife and a Zwilings paring knife. And a Mighty Oak chef knife which was all of $10 back in 1985 but I use it for hard frozen stuff and dense veggies. Beater knife.
LOCATION
USA. Near DC. Northern Virginia specifically.

KNIFE TYPE
>What type of knife are you interested in (e.g., chefs knife, slicer, boning knife, utility knife, bread knife, paring knife, cleaver)?
Gyuto or bunka. Help me decide.

>Are you right or left handed?
Right Handed,

>Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?
I like and enjoy both.

>What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?
Something between 150 and 180. Not sure I want too long.

>Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)
I am willing to take care of the knife as long as it is not crazy upkeep. Perhaps blue over white. I do not mind wiping the blade every five or ten minutes or so no matter what veggies I am slicing. I always wipe my blades dry before I put them back. I am fastidious about that. Always hand clean.

>What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?
Max $300 not including shipping and tax. I do want some fit and finish to the knife I purchase.

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.)
Veggies. I have an Ikon boning knife for meats. And a chef knife for other tasks.

>What knife, if any, are you replacing?
None really but perhaps the Shun Classic or the global santoku

>Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)
Pinch grip but my thumb does not rest on the blade but more on edge of handle. Everything else is the same. I can fix that going forward.

>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.) I am rocker by but can adapt to the push cutting. In fact, I am already practicing.

>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.)
I would like a knife that is really sharp, and easy to sharpen, and releases food well.

>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)?
I like fit and finish. It would be great if the knife looks cool too! Like, man, that's a wicked knife!

>Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?
I am happy with the comfort on the Shun.

>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)?
better food release, easier to sharpen. Yes. Sharp out of the box but it does not need to crazy sharp. As my sharpening skills improve, this concern may go away.

>Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)?
Decent edge retention. It does not need to be the best in this category. Easier to sharpen is more important.

KNIFE MAINTENANCE
>Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)
Wood only

>Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.) Yes. Just started. I am a padewan.

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

>Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)
Already have. I have a Cerex 1000 and a Rika 5000 and am building a sink bridge and a stropping block.


SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS

A lot of knives are out of stock it seems due to Covid. I am patient so please suggest knives in stock and out of stock assuming there is a good chance they will be available sometime in 2020.

Thank you!!!
 

Hz_zzzzzz

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For your preference of length and use, I'd say a bunka, nakiri or even a santoku makes more sense than a gyuto. A 150-180 gyuto is usually short at heel which could be less than ideal for some vegetables and knuckle clearance.
 

ModRQC

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I love Santokus... just saying.

The generally flatter profile/reversed kanto tip makes a Bunka less versatile, but much more focused on push cutting veggies and intricate tip cuts though. I'm a bit disappointed to find that taller Bunkas are somewhat rarer - so in most offers you get as tall a blade on both sides, but Bunkas of interest to me exist under the form of about 180mm long and 53-56mm tall. If not taller, or almost flat, a Bunka, I find a Santoku much more interesting - and it can pretty much replace a Gyuto, while a Bunka isn't versatile enough to do that.

Happy hunting!
 

Qapla'

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How extreme are the lockdowns in DC? Have you gone to any of the local knife shops? I'm aware of District Cutlery, but know nothing about them.
 

Nemo

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If you use a proper pinch grip, you will need a longer blade (your pinch will take up the heel inch or two of the blade) and you'll get more control over the knife. I wonder whether you are using a pseudo-pinch because your knives are not long enough? The other reason to use short knives is if your kitchen doesn't have enough room for a board which will accomodate a longer knife. The shortest chef knife that I would buy is 210mm but YMMV.

I like a gyuto over a santoku or bunka. Especially if you like to rock.

To an extent, you need to choose between thinness and food release. This is because grind features (such as convexity) that promote food release take up space on the blade. It's a continuum, so you ca have a moderately thin knife which has better food release than a laser but not as much as a thicker knife.

You may find that semistainless knives suit you. Almost as easy to sharpen as carbon, almost as stain resistant as stainless steel.

Most of the knives that will be suggested will perform better with push slicing or pull slicing than rocking. In this price range, you could look at:

Tanaka Nashiji. Stainless clad blue2 or ginsanko. Moderately thin wide bevel with flat (actually vey slightly concave) wide bevels. Decent food release for its thinness. KnS versions (except the "lite" versions) have an ebony handle and a well rounded spine and choil. Fairly curved profile (but still flatter than anything you have so far). Ginsan is nice to sharpen for a stainless but not as nice as the blue2.

Wakui. Available in several grinds. Hammered (and, I believe, kurochi) are thiker knives with good food release. Hairline are apparently much thinner. Stainless clad white2. Flattish profile. Mine (from KnS) has a well rounded spine and choil.

Yoshikane. Stainless clad SKD (semistainless) or white2. Najishis are thin. Some of the hammered versions are thicker food release knives. Quite flat profile. Fairly short blade. Both of mine have a well rounded spine and choil.

Gesshin Gengetsu is a middleweight with an very well executed thinness vs food release tradeoff. Stainless clad white2 or semistainless. Fairly flat profile. Spine and choil are eased but not as much as the other knives I have mentioned. This is easy to fix with a little wet & dry sandpaper and the knife's performance vastly overshadows this minor quibble.

Hope this helps.
 

Twotimehojo

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@Nemo et al. Thank you for the suggestions. Excellent point about 210 vs 240. If I adopt a proper pinch grip, the 240mm might be the way to go. I might need to stop in a knife shop to truly see if I prefer that. I have used longer knives at work (long time ago) but forget how I liked them or not.

So I these knives have my eye:

Yoshikane Kurouchi Tsuchime White #2 Gyuto 210mm Chestnut Handle-Knife-Yoshikane-Carbon Knife Co


Yoshikane Kurouchi Tsuchime White #2 Gyuto 210mm Chestnut Handle but that is not SS or SemiSS

or

Katsushige Anryu AS Gyuto 210mm--my favorite so far. Would this be a good pick when it is back in stock?

or

Tanaka Sekiso Blue #2 Gyuto 210mm Custom

or The Gesshin Gengetsu is nice too but a bit plain compared to the above.



Thank you
 

ModRQC

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Like this one: Bunka ?
Perhaps not my first choice of steel but a very nice piece. Still a bit too curvy and width tapering towards the tip. More of a Santoku really in which case I tend to prefer the rounded tip. Want that tall real estate for as long as possible. Just me though.
 

Nemo

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@Nemo et al. Thank you for the suggestions. Excellent point about 210 vs 240. If I adopt a proper pinch grip, the 240mm might be the way to go. I might need to stop in a knife shop to truly see if I prefer that. I have used longer knives at work (long time ago) but forget how I liked them or not.

So I these knives have my eye:

Yoshikane Kurouchi Tsuchime White #2 Gyuto 210mm Chestnut Handle-Knife-Yoshikane-Carbon Knife Co


Yoshikane Kurouchi Tsuchime White #2 Gyuto 210mm Chestnut Handle but that is not SS or SemiSS

or

Katsushige Anryu AS Gyuto 210mm--my favorite so far. Would this be a good pick when it is back in stock?

or

Tanaka Sekiso Blue #2 Gyuto 210mm Custom

or The Gesshin Gengetsu is nice too but a bit plain compared to the above.



Thank you
I haven't used any of the knives that you linked apart from Gengetsu.

The Yoshi will be good but I can't comment on its grind.

The Tanakas that I have used are all from Knives and Stones. The Au store has ones with a fully rounded spine and choil but it looks like the US store only has "Lite" versions of the gyutos.

On the Gengetsu, you'll have to decide wheter you prefer form over function. I quite like how it looks. Not neary as much as I like how it performs, though.
 

ModRQC

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Whoa... how did this jumped from a 150-180mm requirement to a 210mm not being long enough for a proper pinch grip so a 240mm is needed?

Well as long as the OP agrees and is enthusiastic. However pinch grip position is also a function of balance so in the end... this has a layer of complications and I would personally require more information from the OP about actual needs.
 

chinacats

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Somehow i think you've managed to make it this far w/out proper advice on local protocol...buy both, ditch the one you like less...or keep both and buy more....:)
 

osakajoe

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How extreme are the lockdowns in DC? Have you gone to any of the local knife shops? I'm aware of District Cutlery, but know nothing about them.
Derek, the guy running it, is very good guy. I’d recommend anyone in DC area at least drop by to talk with him if on the market for a knife
 

Twotimehojo

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Derek, the guy running it, is very good guy. I’d recommend anyone in DC area at least drop by to talk with him if on the market for a knife
DC is starting to open up. They are behind Maryland and Virginia by about 2 weeks. I will head down to DC Cutlery to take a look. I agree that having something in my hand will go a long way in figuring out what I want. Appreciate all the advice! And will help with the 210 vs 240 decision. I was looking at 150 to 180 for a bunka.
 

LucasFur

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Honestly ... There are a lot of great purchases on the Bst.
Always feel like its overlooked.
 

nexus1935

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At 180mm, and if you really are push cutting, I like bunkas because of the flat spot. I wouldn't consider 180mm gyutos unless you are rocking them, because you'll otherwise get accordion cuts. 150mm also seems short for a bunka/santoku, I think at least 165mm is more versatile with some larger veg.
 

dsk

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if you want to go santoku, some variation of masashi's i find pretty perfect (ive only used 180, not a 165).


if ur gonna go gyuto a 210 is gonna be more overall useful than a 180 gyuto, which is more like a for fun knife, id rather have a santoku if i get a 180 knife.
 

Twotimehojo

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Thank you for all the great information. Of course, it really has led to a rabbit hole of sorts now with choosing the steel. Is it worth the experience for this home cook to try white steel (once in my life) and see what I have been missing? There are few fewer options for Semi-stainless and they are usually more expensive. The cost is a less of a concern. Is maintenance of a paper steel really that arduous? If I use a wet cloth and dry cloth and use it fairly often, can I expect to keep my knife from having a patina and avoid rust? Is white steel the entrance drug of choice here?

Researching and reading, it seems like the following blacksmiths are quite popular: Mazaki (white steel I think exclusively), Gesshin, Yoshikane (love the name), Tanaka, Watanabe, Heiji, Wakui, Shibata. I am sure I am leaving out others. I also realize that sometimes you get the first and last name of the blacksmith and other just times last name. You think it is two different knives but it isnt. My education continues!

I think I am now looking at a gyuto or a petty. Not going to pursue the santoku. Bunka is still a possiblity. Why would someone choose a petty over a bunka/santoku to slice veggies? Do folks have clearance issues with a petty? I also found that when I picked up my global 180mm santoku I use a proper pinch grip. So I am thinking I prefer a shorter blade for my gyuto, 210mm. When I use my 8inch Shun, my thumb is at the end of the handle. Who knows why?

Any comment on the above is most appreciated!
 

dsk

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santoku is just bunka with a more rounded tip, they will do the same things.

Petty just does what you need it to. not all petties are great for board work, that's on you to decide if you want a slender one for hand work and slicing/trimming meat, or one tall enough to dice but might be less agile. There are some that split the middle and can do everything well but not amazing,, just like gyuto designs.

nothing wrong with going white, just wipe it down periodically with a damp cloth and your fine, though don't quote me if you live in deathly humidity. No other steel sharpens as quickly, so there's that. I'd argue yes, its the gateway drug.

maz is riding high here, and it's like 90% warranted. wakui is also proven repeatedly, and they are more consistent, though that's not really a factor I care about. If I were buying introductory knives, I'd be going petty and gyuto. Probably 150mm+210mm, and probably one of those two. Maz is a meatier knife in hand, full reactive, wakui white 2 options are stainless clad and leaner, generally a little cheaper. If you try to split the difference and only get a 180mm gyuto you'll end up wanting more immediately.
 

Twotimehojo

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santoku is just bunka with a more rounded tip, they will do the same things.

Petty just does what you need it to. not all petties are great for board work, that's on you to decide if you want a slender one for hand work and slicing/trimming meat, or one tall enough to dice but might be less agile. There are some that split the middle and can do everything well but not amazing,, just like gyuto designs.

nothing wrong with going white, just wipe it down periodically with a damp cloth and your fine, though don't quote me if you live in deathly humidity. No other steel sharpens as quickly, so there's that. I'd argue yes, its the gateway drug.

maz is riding high here, and it's like 90% warranted. wakui is also proven repeatedly, and they are more consistent, though that's not really a factor I care about. If I were buying introductory knives, I'd be going petty and gyuto. Probably 150mm+210mm, and probably one of those two. Maz is a meatier knife in hand, full reactive, wakui white 2 options are stainless clad and leaner, generally a little cheaper. If you try to split the difference and only get a 180mm gyuto you'll end up wanting more immediately.
Appreciate the comments. I like the Maz Gyoto White #2 but also the Yoshikane in white #2
mazaki-white-2-kuro-nashiji-gyuto-210mm or yoshikane-kurouchi-tsuchime-white-2-gyuto-210mm-chestnut-handle

The weight and height is more what I am used. The Yoshikane just looks cooler and I like the darker handle. I read on here that the Maz can have variances. Is the Yoshikane more consistent? Any other gyuto I should consider?
 

dsk

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It's more that maz tinkers batch to batch. Most other makers dont really change much
 

Malcolm Johnson

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Clean cut has some extra tall bunka in shiro2 and iron clad by Yoshikane. They look absolutely great. I’d definitely have a look at them.
 

Unstoppabo

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If you prefer your chef knives to your santoku, maybe try a carbon gyuto with traditional ho wood handle. The lighter weight handle moves the balance up towards the blade so they feel very different from your shun, which is designed to balance/feel more like a western knife. Just my opinion, if you're cooking at home and mostly push cut, 210mm should be more than enough. Since you do enjoy sharpening, def go with white steel!
 

josemartinlopez

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For your preference of length and use, I'd say a bunka, nakiri or even a santoku makes more sense than a gyuto. A 150-180 gyuto is usually short at heel which could be less than ideal for some vegetables and knuckle clearance.
Why exactly do a lot of people here like 180 mm gyutos and get one to complement a 240-300 mm gyuto?
 

Hz_zzzzzz

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Why exactly do a lot of people here like 180 mm gyutos and get one to complement a 240-300 mm gyuto?
Maybe for tip work or small products? To be honest I don’t know. If I have to choose a small all arounder, I’d choose a 170-180 santoku. It feels like a 230-240 gyuto without the first 60 mm. I have a 170 Takamura R2 santoku. It’s slightly taller than the 210 Takamura gyuto which makes it feel better in a way. I bought it for my wife but I found myself enjoy using it for most meal prep. I had 180/210 gyutos before and never loved them.
 
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