Help a blind guy make a decision on a bunka/nakiri

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by X-JaVeN-X, Jan 7, 2019.

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  1. Jan 7, 2019 #1

    X-JaVeN-X

    X-JaVeN-X

    X-JaVeN-X

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    Hey all, first let me apologize if this is not posted correctly. I am legally blind and posting on forums is very difficult. I haven't posted here in quite some time and I'm in need of some input on purchasing a new knife. Dave Martell and Stefan have helped me out previously with a new handle and some sharpening on a gyuto I purchased a few years ago so I'm sure you guys will give me sound advice. Anyway...

    I just ordered some custom made cutting boards (a large one in a walnut and maple and a small one with a Cubs logo in the center in maple, walnut and cherry (Don't give me any bad advice if you're a cardinals fan :) )

    So, I figured since I was getting some new boards, I needed a new blade to play around on them with. I've been wanting to try a nakiri or a bunka for awhile (with a preference towards a bunka for the tip, but there seem to be more nakiri options). There are just so many makers and options that it's getting pretty overwhelming for me to research and very tediously slow with my vision. I thought I had decided on a takeda nas bunka, but then of course started seeing opinions that the quality of his knives has dropped from what I remember from several years ago where I remember him having nice thin functional blades (which sounded like what I need in a nakiri or bunka). So, now I'm not sure what my best option would be. I really want something with that "rustic" look but if possible, still clad in stainless (core can still be high carbon). Being blind, I don't sharpen my own knives so edge retention between sharpenings is a big factor for me, but I don't want the knife to be so hard that it's chippy. There are some newer steels (to me) such as hap40 srs15, etc that I know nothing about. Would these be good options or would I be better with something more like the AS that takeda uses? My primary goal for the knife is veg prep with maybe a little boneless protein trimming/carving (ie slicing up a chicken breast or what not). So, I'm thinking a thin blade to minimize wedging, etc and maybe a little taller blade because I do like to scoop up my veggies with my blade. Food release would be on the priority list too.

    My budget is $300 but can maybe stretch it a little (would prefer not) for the right knife. So, what ideas do you guys have? Thanks!


    LOCATION
    USA



    KNIFE TYPE
    Nakiri or Bunka

    Are you right or left handed?
    Right
    Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?
    Octagonal Japanese handle
    What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?
    180mm -ish
    Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)
    Not required, but would prefer stainless cladding (core can be either)
    What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?
    $350


    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.)
    Chopping/slicing veggies as well as slicing small protein portions
    What knife, if any, are you replacing?
    n/a
    Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)
    I tend to use a 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.)
    I match my knife to the job. This knife would be for chopping, push cutting and slicing...maybe a little rock chopping if the particular blade happned to be capable of the task...if not then, no biggie.
    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.)

    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)?
    Something with some rustic character (no high polished knives). KU finish, hammered (or both), some damascus is ok, other interesting finishes could be considered. No preference on wood type, but prefer darker woods if possible (not necessary), octagonal handle preferred
    Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?
    As long as the balance is fairly centered I'm good. Maybe a little blade heavy is ok since I'll be chopping. Rounded spine/choil would be nice but not necessary.
    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)?
    Being sharp out of the box (or sharpened by seller) is highly preferred.
    Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)?
    As long as I can without giving up too much blade performance or having issues with chipping (considering the cutting motions I'll be using for the knife)


    KNIFE MAINTENANCE
    Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)
    It will be completely on end grain walnut, maple, or cherry woods
    Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)
    No
    If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.)
    Yes, if you can find a way for me to do it blind without ruining my knifes lol
    Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)
    Probably Not
     
  2. Jan 7, 2019 #2

    daddy yo yo

    daddy yo yo

    daddy yo yo

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    Cannot say anything about bunkas, for a Nakiri I would recommend Watanabe. Most likely with an upgraded handle as the stock one isn’t octagonal and features a plastic ferrule. You can contact Shinichi Watanabe directly and ask him about octagonal handle options...

    http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/nakkiri.htm
     
  3. Jan 7, 2019 #3

    tgfencer

    tgfencer

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    If you’re in the US and want to go for a watanabe, carbon knife co based out of Colorado has them in stock. Don’t know if that would be easier for you than trying to go direct.
     
  4. Jan 7, 2019 #4

    aaamax

    aaamax

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    +1 for Watanabes in general. I think terrific bang for the buck.
    Your right about the TAkedas. I would hold out for an older used one if you can wait. Personally Takeda is my flat out favorite profile. Thin yet immensely useful. of course that is not my opinion of the blades for the last 5 or so odd years.
    Have you considered a Veg cleaver? For what you are describing using it for, I use a Takeda or a CCK. Which considering your budget, an 1102 CCK from Hong Kong will set you back only about $100 +/- all in.
    Have you never used a cleaver as your #1 knife for prep, you are missing a whole new world of possibilities. The extra real estate alone on the blade makes prep so much faster. cut and scoop... love it.
     
  5. Jan 7, 2019 #5

    X-JaVeN-X

    X-JaVeN-X

    X-JaVeN-X

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    On Watanabe blades...I feel like I remember something about his blades being thicker than most (this was from years ago when I was researching gyutos at the time). Do his nakiris have this reputation or any known wedging issues (especially on taller veggies)?

    On Chinese cleavers...I've never really given them much thought. I guess I've always thought of them more in the butchering class of knives is this not the case? Are they thin enough for fine veggie prep (such as thinly slicing a clove of garlic or a shallotl? Are they safe for small bones or is that just a bad misconception that the Chinese Turkey scene from A Christmas Story implanted in my brain when I was a child? lol
     
  6. Jan 7, 2019 #6

    aaamax

    aaamax

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    LOl, forgot about that one... good call.
    The cleaver or Chukabocho as some call it, is just the best machine I know of for veg prep, once you get used to it. A nice pinch grip and you can go for hours without fatigue unlike what happens to me when using a Gyuto. They are nimble despite their size.
    The only time I would choose a Nakiri instead is if other non-blade people are going to use it. Otherwise, I find it to be just a weak and anemic version of a cleaver. Once you get used to having all that real estate at your disposal, it is hard to go back to anything else imho.
    Wats are a bit thicker, but I find his finish so good that wedging is not an issue, but they are a tad heavier than say a Takeda in my findings. your mileage my vary.
    good luck.
     
  7. Jan 7, 2019 #7

    Xenif

    Xenif

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    Chinese cleavers are made in different thicknesses for different tasks. For example CCK 13xx are called "Song Dou" very thin behind the edge only for slicing, there are thicker ones like 12xx for chopping.
     
  8. Jan 8, 2019 #8

    X-JaVeN-X

    X-JaVeN-X

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    Been looking at some cleavers but it worries me a little that you dont seem to be able to find as much info on the steels used or more specifically their hrc or edge retention (such as the cck cleavers) I really think I am now leaning toward trying a cleaver but I need to know the best option in my budget with a good edge retention so I dont have to ship them off for sharpening as often (unless someone knows a good sharpener in eastern NC). So with edge retention in mind and a $350 budget, what would you recommend?
     
  9. Jan 8, 2019 #9

    egolan

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  10. Jan 8, 2019 #10

    tgfencer

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    Cant give you a whole lot of info about cleavers, but depending on where you are Daniel Cauble (caublestone cutlery) may be willing sharpen the odd knife. Maybe he or some forum members in the Raleigh area would be willing to help you out, maybe even help try to teach you a bit of sharpening if you're interested.
     
  11. Jan 8, 2019 #11

    frampton

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    Grab that Toyama while it's in stock
     
  12. Jan 8, 2019 #12

    HRC_64

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    Sugimoto cleavers exist within your budget (~$300-ish, JDM sourced)
    that are considered more of an upgrade/ end-point.

    If you search old KKF posts for "sugimoto cleaver"
    I'm sure you'll find info on the tradeoffs vs CCK etc.
     
  13. Jan 8, 2019 #13

    SeattleBen

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    My personal experience with the cck is that it doesn’t hold up too terribly well to much abuse but comes back crazy fast.

    However upon consideration you could get three for the low end of what you are looking to spend.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  14. Jan 8, 2019 #14

    Marek07

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    A few recommendations for the Watanabe already - no disagreement from me. Another one that has delighted me is the Teruyasu Fuliwara nashiji. Prices have gone up but it's still good value at under $150 delivered. On the down side, the longest nashiji is only 165mm.

    I would support your intention of getting a Takeda bunka - even though I haven't snagged one yet. The Takayuki Shibata Kotetsu 180mm bunka has been very good to me. It's in R2 and has very good edge retention but lacks the rustic appearance you prefer.
     
  15. Jan 8, 2019 #15

    esoo

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    I personally love my Kotetsu Bunka. Easily my favorite knife. But the edge is *extremely* thin and I worry about that some days. I've been looking for something heavier to add to the rotatation and a co-worker lent my his Kochi 180 Nakiri. Was very impressed with the blade. Good balance and heft.
     
  16. Jan 8, 2019 #16

    madelinez

    madelinez

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    The concerns with Takeda quality are largely unwarranted I feel. I own a 2017 NAS Nakiri and have tried a 2013 gyuto as well. Both knives have similar profiles/grinds (as much as a nakiri and a gyuto can), they both wedge in tall hard vegetables such as sweet potatoes. On the other hand they have better than amazing food release for ingredients like onions/cucumbers/tomatoes. I wouldn't recommend one as your only knife but I feel they serve their purpose for many foods, I always pick up my Takeda Nakiri when making a big salad.

    Other people have suggested a Watanabe which has worse food release, but performs better in every other regard. It would be a much better generalist knife.
     
  17. Jan 8, 2019 #17

    X-JaVeN-X

    X-JaVeN-X

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    Thanks for all the replies this far all. At this point I think I am leaning towards the 180mm Watanabe pro nakiri. I've seen quite a few posts recommending them. It seems to be a little taller than some other nakiris as well. Really, the one thing I'm wondering is if he makes a bunka or maybe a tall (75mm-ish nakiri)? Anyone had any custom knives made by him or know the best way to go about contacting him? How long would something like this take?
     
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  18. Jan 8, 2019 #18

    Xenif

    Xenif

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    If you are looking for heel height of 75mm, then they pretty much fall in the Chuka range. Very very few nakiri, if any, will have that kind of heel height
    Yu Kurosaki does make a knife similar to the dimensions you wanted (180x75) , stainless clad Aogami Super core.
     
  19. Jan 8, 2019 #19

    Marcelo Amaral

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    I also agree on the Watanabe pro kurouchi. Stainless clad and good retention. If you decide for a light vegetable cleaver and have some extra money to spend, i would go with Dalman. Just awesome grind and lighter than most cleavers.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  20. Jan 8, 2019 #20

    Jkts

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    I’ve had many customs made by Shinichi including nakiris and bunkas.

    If you go custom, Watanabe can make a knife to your exact specifications (height). That said, the knife has to fit within a design type and make sense.

    Some bunkas are squarish and others tapered toward the front. Google images to see what works for you. If you are going for more of a block shape, you might be better off with a nakiri.

    Because profiles of bunkas vary, it would be best to send him a picture of a knife with a profile you like.

    Go for white steel if you want something easier to sharpen, go blue steel if you want more retention. Both are fine choices.

    I prefer a more solid handle like keyaki.

    For your first knife of this type, I’d suggest getting the nakiri- it excels as a slicer and Watanabes are incredibly suited for this purpose. The bunka is more of a utility knife.
     
  21. Jan 8, 2019 #21

    egolan

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    I also have the Takeda Banno Bunka and can't dissuade you from that. Lovely performer!
     
  22. Jan 8, 2019 #22

    X-JaVeN-X

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    Hey guys, still leaning towards Watanabe nakiri, but came across a shibata kotetsu "tank" bunka/cleaverish hybrid in AS steel. I can't find any info on it but shibata seems to have a good rep. Anybody used this thing? It seems to be kinda what I'm looking for. It's on CKTG and posting links to their site seems to be taboo here for some reason (I dont know the politics for why...I've never dealt with them before so I have no opinion). If you Google "shibata kotetsu tank", it'll pop up. Check that thing out and let me know what you think.
     
  23. Jan 8, 2019 #23

    egolan

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    Have not used, but familiar with it. Shibata makes wonderful knives and I have no doubt it's top notch. It's much more cleaver than Nakiri though, as I think it's close to 90mm tall if I remember correctly. These guys also have it -- think it's only recently released -- https://www.japanische-kochmesser.c...:::179_74_75/Kotetsu-AS-Tank-180mm::4547.html
     
  24. Jan 8, 2019 #24

    Jkts

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    The kotetsu is listed at around 300 grams. A nakiri is usually around 140-150 grams and a vegetable cleaver at 400-500 grams.

    A nakiri is great for slicing and is nimble in the hand. A cleaver has some weight behind the cut and is great for chopping.

    The kotetsu falls in between- the question would it be heavy as a slicer or too light as a cleaver style chopper.

    It might be fun to play around with but it also might not be ideal.

    I would go with either a nakiri or a cleaver first.
     
  25. Jan 9, 2019 #25

    Mucho Bocho

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    I’m in Raleigh,NC and would gladly provide some sharpening pointers and materials.
     
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  26. Jan 9, 2019 #26

    X-JaVeN-X

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    Well, I have always been a sucker for odd/unique things, so I just ordered that shibata tank. It is really intriguing to me.
     
  27. Jan 9, 2019 #27

    X-JaVeN-X

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    Hey, I'd be really interested to see if I could learn some basic sharpening or see if it'd even be feasible to try to do my own. I'm a couple hours east of Raleigh, but my wife and I go that direction on occasion for different things. I might try to meet up with you the next time we are out that way. Would there be a best way to contact you? Thanks!
     
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  28. Jan 9, 2019 #28

    Mucho Bocho

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    PM incoming
     
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  29. Jan 9, 2019 #29

    Lazyboy

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    I look forward to reading about your experience with this strange creature you have bought! Coming soon to a kitchen near you... the TANK!
     
  30. Jan 9, 2019 #30

    ACHiPo

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    I'm interested as well in your experience with the Shibata Tank. It's an intriguing design, and seems like it could work as a heavy-duty vegetable cleaver (for squash), as well as a nakiri-like slicer. Also curious about the steel's toughness (required for breaking up hard veggies like spaghetti squash).
     

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