Hello from Cleveland, looking for rec on smallish all-purpose knife

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Blerghle

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Hello. I cooked in restaurants for ten years but now cook only at home. I was a forum member at an older location in the early 2010s and have rekindled my interest.

My current lineup includes:
270 Tadatsuna ginsan gyuto
240 Zakuri blue 1 gyuto (has seen better days, needs thinning, but love the steel)
210 Shiki stainless damascus (my wife asked for something shiny)
300 budget carbon suji, not sure on maker but happy with it
~180 Takeda blue 1 deba
#1 style large Chinese carbon cleaver, don't remember the maker but bought for like $18 from some store that shipped from California back in the day
210 Tanaka blue (?) yanagi, budget line with loose plastic ferrule
Misono carbon hankotsu
Tojiro DP honesuki
~5" Sabatier thin slicer/utility
ITK/CKTG bread knife
A few paring knives (Dojo, Case, Misono moly)

Some memorable knives that I no longer have:

270 Devin Thomas suji (beautifully made, but I didn't care for the flexibility and traded it for the Tad)
210 Gesshin ginga gyuto (stolen at work, wonderful knife)
240 Tanaka (not sure which) ginsan gyuto (fantastic cutter, shoddy handle, think I sold it to a coworker who meant to rehandle it)
270 Takeda AS gyuto and 180 bunka bocho (gave the gyuto to a dear friend, sold the bunka)
180 kamagata usuba (quickly realized I have neither the patience nor discipline to learn that style of cutting)

Sharpening setup: Atoma diamond plate, Bester 500, Beston 1200, Can't remember brand name but a 3-5k synthetic stone maybe Suehira, corks and felt blocks for deburring, then the old Hand American 3x11 magnetic strop, black ceramic honing rod

Anyway, I'm not exactly new to the kitchen knife world, but as I've been catching up I don't feel like I have the perfect knife for me for daily use. On to the questionnaire:



LOCATION
What country are you in?

USA

KNIFE TYPE
What type of knife are you interested in (e.g., chefs knife, slicer, boning knife, utility knife, bread knife, paring knife, cleaver)?

An all-purpose knife with a tip, 165-210mm.

Are you right or left handed?

Right

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

Japanese - I find octagonal handles very comfortable, don't love the lightest rounded ho wood handles

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

165-210mm, probably right around 180

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

No

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?

$300 including shipping

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.)

Vegetable prep, boneless meat cutting - doesn't need to do everything, but for the basics I want great cutting performance

What knife, if any, are you replacing?

Functionally, the Shiki 210 gyuto, though it's not going anywhere

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

Pinch grip, will occasionally catch myself with the ol' finger point

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 cutting, slicing - don't need a rocker, flatter profile probably best

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 am looking for a combination of a steel that is a pleasure to sharpen (I have a couple of blue #1 that I love, have never sharpened white steel, can't remember the AS well enough to say) with a great grind. The one you reach for that just feels like an amazing cutter.

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 am very open regarding the look of the knife. I do enjoy a hand forged look such as kurouchi but by no means need to limit the selection based on this.

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

I don't want the handle to be annoyingly cheap feeling - no plastic ferrule, don't love the ho wood handles - but would rather pay for a better grind/steel than a premium/custom handle. I don't expect this is a big issue in this price range.

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)?

Ease of sharpening, overall cutting performance

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

As long as it's not particularly bad, this is not a major concern. I am getting back into more regular sharpening and don't mind touching it up.

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

End-grain wood mostly, sometimes a plastic board

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 room to improve

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

I'm pretty well equipped, not interested in getting natural stones at this time

SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS

A few candidates so far:

Kochi 180 kiritsuke-shaped santoku Kochi 180mm Kurouchi Kiritsuke-Shaped Santoku or 210 gyuto (the santoku seems kind of aggressively upswept in the pic?)

Tanaka blue 2 210 gyuto Tanaka Blue 2 Gyuto 210mm Migaki Finish

Masakage 170 santokus: https://www.**************.com/makosa17.html or https://www.**************.com/yukisantoku.html

Munetoshi 210 gyuto Munetoshi Kurouchi Gyuto 210mm (seems like maybe I wouldn't care for the handle?)


I'm very open to suggestion and am not opposed to buying used. I am not in any particular hurry and do not mind waiting months if it's for the right one. Any guidance would be appreciated, thank you!
 

daveb

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Welcome to the forum.
 

vl2k1

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Welcome! I spent sometime in Cleveland around early 2000 and still have some connections there. Just curious, where around in Cleveland?
 

parbaked

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The Ashi Ginga 180mm gyuto in stainless or shirogami #2 is a great home knife, but you already know that. If your 210mm was stainless, maybe try out the shirogami:

 

dafox

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Welcome back to the forums, what do you think of your Tad?
 

Blerghle

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Thanks, I will put the white #2 Ashi in the mix - I imagine relatively similar to Gesshin Ginga White #2? (I had thought that was a stainless line until I just double checked).

The Tadatsuna is very good - comfortable octagonal handle, easy to sharpen as stainless goes. It's my most often used knife and isn't going anywhere. It is probaby down to my mediocre sharpening over the years, but I'm not sure it cuts in the same way that I remember the Tanaka gyuto. I prefer the steel of the Zakuri, but that is built thicker through the edge than I would want here.

For this knife, aside from length, I'd lean pretty heavily toward carbon. I think as far as geometry I'd prefer something with a little heftier spine then a thin grind behind the edge. I guess I'm going for the most tactile pleasure in using and sharpening.
 

dafox

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Perhaps you would like a Gengetsu, not flashy but a more understated cool. You can get one with a carbon core.
 

M1k3

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+1 Gengetsu. I have the semi-stainless and really like it!
 

Blerghle

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Sounds familiar but I don't even remember my own handle from back then :). I think about the last few things I remember from back then was Dave Martell just starting to make his own knives, JKI just getting started (I think the Zakuri I have was from the first batch), CKTG and Koki starting to run some forum-specific models...

Gengetsu is a strong contender - seems hard to distinguish between that, Kochi, Munetoshi to some extent. I'm sure that any of these would be great. I'm just now seeing the Reviews subsection so I guess I will get to reading...
 

ian

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Sounds familiar but I don't even remember my own handle from back then :). I think about the last few things I remember from back then was Dave Martell just starting to make his own knives, JKI just getting started (I think the Zakuri I have was from the first batch), CKTG and Koki starting to run some forum-specific models...

Gengetsu is a strong contender - seems hard to distinguish between that, Kochi, Munetoshi to some extent. I'm sure that any of these would be great. I'm just now seeing the Reviews subsection so I guess I will get to reading...
Gengetsu is not as tall as Kochi, is thinner, lighter, has a flatter profile and a thinner tip. And it’s obviously polished vs kurouchi, depending on which kochi you’re looking at. Kochi is wide bevel, Gengetsu is not. Both are great. Gengetsu was one of the best cutters I’ve tried. Haven’t tried a Munetoshi gyuto.
 

Nemo

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+1 (or whatever number we are up to) on Gengetsu. Flattish pdofile. Great cutter. Excellent food relese for a thinner middleweight knife. The SS sharpens pretty nicely. Can't comment on the white2 but I expect it would be pretty nice. Only issues are that you may not like the oval burned chestnut handle (personally, I think it's great) and the spine and choil could do with a bit of rounding (they have already been eased)- a simple enough job with a bit of w&d sandpaper and 15 spare minutes.

Tanaka has a more curved profile so may not suit you. Great knife for the money, though. Fit and finish of the KnS versions is pretty nice.

Wakui should be on your list. There are thinner versions (hairline, for example) and thicker ones (hammered) depending on whether you prioritise thinness or food release. You should probably decide where on this spectrum you want your knife (edit: I realise that you already have). Profile is pretty flat, noticible distal taper. Heat treatment of white2 is good with easy sharpenability and decent edge retention for such a simple steel.

Yoshikane is a worth a look but might just be inching out of your price range. Once again, thinner and thicker variants are available. Heat treatments of white2, SKD (and reputedly SLD) are very good. Flat profile and noticible taper. Shortish blade height.
 
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dafox

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+1 (or whatever number we are up to) on Gengetsu. Flattish pdofile. Great cutter. Excellent food relese for a thinner middleweight knife. The SS sharpens pretty nicely. Can't comment on the white2 but I expect it would be pretty nice. Only issues are that you may not like the oval burned chestnut handle (personally, I think it's great) and the spine and choil could do with a bit of rounding (they have already been eased)- a simple enough job with a bit of w&d sandpaper and 15 spare minutes.

Tanaka has a more curved profile so may not suit you. Great knife for the money, though. Fit and finish of the KnS versions is pretty nice.

Wakui should be on your list. There are thinner versions (hairline, for example) and thicker ones (hammered) depending on whether you prioritise thinness or food release. You should probably decide where on this spectrum you want your knife (edit: I realise that you already have). Profile is pretty flat, noticible distal taper. Heat treatment of white2 is good with easy sharpenability and decent edge retention for such a simple steel.

Yoshikane is a worth a look but might just be inching out of your price range. Once again, thinner and thicker variants are available. Heat treatments of white2, SKD (and reputedly SLD) are very good. Flat profile and noticible taper. Shortish blade height.
The Gengetsu has an octagonal handle.
 

Nemo

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If you really want a beefy knife, you could have a look at some offerings from Watanabe or Toyama. There is an ongoing hotly contested debate about whether these are the same knife, but they are certainly in the same style: very hard HT of blue2, which also feels harder on the stones. The gyutos are beefy knives with great food release but some othe other knives are mote delicate.

If you want excellent sharpening feel in Blue2, look for an Akebono. The production run has ended and only the 270mm K-tip is available but there are a few kicking around and you may be able to find one on BST. Not sure how many 210s were made though. These were forged by Shiraki and ground by Tosa IIRC. The sharpening is buttery smooth and edge retention is also excellent. It's almost laser thin behind the edge but with a beefy spine. The profile is fairly flat but it seems to curve in just the right way to have a consitent contact patch throughout most of the blade edge.
 

Nemo

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The Gengetsu has an octagonal handle.
I just checked- so it does. I was confusing it with my Hinoura which has an oval burned chestnut handle. Sorry for the confusion.

Speaking of, you should probably have a look at Hinoura. Mine is a Hyakuren made by Mutsumi (the son/ 4th generation). Beautiful sharpening feel of the white2. Decent but not exceptional edge retention but the edge can often be restored very easily with a light strop. Middling to flat profile, wth a flat (actually slightly concave) wide bevel. Moderately thick-spined middleweight knife. Spine and choil are heavily eased and comfortable but not rounded. The spine has a moderate taper and is polished. It does have an oval handle but the burned chestnut is tactile, grippy and not too light. Measured objectively against other good knives, it's a decent but not exceptional cutter but in use, it has a je ne sais quoi that makes it a pleasure to use.
 

Blerghle

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So I got out a ruler, which might help narrow down the choices a bit.

All of my gyutos are right at 45-46 mm height (the Zakuri used to be about 5 mm taller which explains the chonkiness, started thinning it and waddya know still cuts nicely). For the sake of variety I'd rather go for some more height, 50mm+. For *this* purchase that rules out Gengetsu, Yoshikane, Ashi, Gesshin ginga and Masakage. Tanaka is out based on profile.

I do like burnt chestnut handles - it's a nice look, and octagonal is comfortable to me but no objection to other shapes like on the Hinoura. I don't mind grabbing some sandpaper to round a choil/spine.

From everything at JKI I'd lean toward Kochi Kochi 210mm Kurouchi Kiritsuke Wa-Gyuto or maybe one size down for variety. No idea when these would be stocked.

From cleancut: The Munetoshi blade is appealing - by reputation an exceptional white 2 heat treat and grind, and fits the bill for height/shape, but would want to get a different handle put on. The Santoku Santoku would still be within the budget, would probably send to JKI for a burnt octagon handle. Alternately there is a taller than usual Hinoura santoku with an octagon handle.

Wakui Epicurean Edge: Japanese and European professional chefs knives is a contender, seems to tick all the boxes and leave room in the budget. I don't have a sense of how this compares to the others in this group, though this line may be on the thinner side. Seems like it'd take the cake with a $200 limit. At first glance the heavier duty lines have a bit shorter height, though I could be missing something there.

Looking around for Akebono, found this: Sakai Jikko Akatsuki (晓 which is over budget, but somewhat curious if this is same maker. The reviews I see here are very appealing for Akebono, maybe a target for BST along with Watanabe/Toyama.

What a great way to kill time on a long weekend stuck at home :).
 

Midsummer

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Looking around for Akebono, found this: Sakai Jikko Akatsuki (晓 which is over budget, but somewhat curious if this is same maker. The reviews I see here are very appealing for Akebono, maybe a target for BST along with Watanabe/Toyama.

What a great way to kill time on a long weekend stuck at home :).
Akebono (blue steel, Shiraki smith/Tosa sharpener) and Akatsuki (R. Ikeda smith/Tosa sharpener, white steel) were both commissioned by James for his site from Sakai Jikko. Both lines done by top artisans.They have the same sharpener, but different smiths.
 

ryanjams

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masashi is worth looking at, the newer profiles look especially nice and he's working in more and more steels. ex-yoshikane smith making really great, tall knives, thin-ish but still very much in the sanjo style with nice grind and taper.

Something like this: MASASHI Wa Gyuto 210mm SLD Steel blade Chef Knife
There are other vendors and lines, but I can vouch for these aframes models. Really well-finished, especially for the price.
 

big D

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By your description I think you may find a Bunka or Hakata to your liking. They appear to have a more pointy tip than a Santuko, but still low to the board.
Carried by many but here are a few sites to get started viewing.

Overseas if that doesn't concern you

USA


D.
 

Nemo

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Akebono (blue steel, Shiraki smith/Tosa sharpener) and Akatsuki (R. Ikeda smith/Tosa sharpener, white steel) were both commissioned by James for his site from Sakai Jikko. Both lines done by top artisans.They have the same sharpener, but different smiths.
This is certainly true.

However, it's worth noting that Akatsuki retained the original Jikko profile, whilst James tweaked the Akebono's profile and it really shines. The grind is meant to be similar between the two, though.
 

Midsummer

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This is certainly true.

However, it's worth noting that Akatsuki retained the original Jikko profile, whilst James tweaked the Akebono's profile and it really shines. The grind is meant to be similar between the two, though.
I had not noticed the profile difference. I will be more attuned to it now thanks.
 

Blerghle

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Thank you for all of the help, gentlemen. I just ordered a white #2 Hinoura santoku through cleancut: Santoku

Good to be back, and thank you for bringing several makers to my attention who are new to me!
 

Nemo

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Hope you like it.

This line is different to the one I have (mine is KnS Hyakuren) but it's the same smith. Hinoura makes quality knives so I expect it will be pretty good. I'll be keen to hear how it compares to my descriprion of the Hyakuren.
 

Blerghle

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Hinoura arrived on Friday, got to try it out today. Definitely fits the bill for size and profile, maybe even an extra mm or two of height for good measure. The OOTB edge is very nice, and the grind is as you described - wide bevel, a bit concave. It's thinner behind the edge than I expected - easily the best cutter I have used for carrots, though I'm sure to some extent that goes to sharpening/thinning skill in relation to my current knives. No steering, bites in and goes exactly where you put it. Doing thin slices of carrots, there was some sticking on the sides, but the tip is thin enough that I can just draw through slices if I'm doing something where that matters. I cut a few acidic items - onion/garlic/ginger/scallion/tomato - and had some patina form but nothing transferring to the food and barely perceptible loss of edge if any.

As far as fit/finish, this is a smoother octagonal handle, smaller than the handles on the Tadatsuna or Zakuri but totally appropriate for the size of this knife and probably more comfortable for my wife to use than those are. The spine and choil are neither sharp nor rounded - comfortable enough in a pinch grip for me. There's no excess epoxy where the tang comes into the handle unlike, say, my Takeda deba. The very tip of the heel is ever so slightly notched. The kurouchi is smoother and more uniform than on the Takeda, probably more similar to what the Zakuri came with but that was scrubbed off years ago.

I'm curious to see how sharpening feels, though I will stick with stropping for a while. Trying to break the habit of wearing down knives prematurely.

I am thrilled with the quality of the knife. Thank you for the suggestion!
 

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