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Honesuki versus deba - or just buy both?

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Wahnamhong

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I'm just a normal home cook, and I want one knife to tackle breaking down chickens and fish.

So, for home use only, meaning 1 chicken at a time, and say a 800 grams whole fish. Nothing extraordinary. I've been browsing the threads here, but haven't really found an answer to this dilemma. If you had to choose between a honesuki and a deba, for the purposes mentioned, which one would you pick and why?

Currently I'm using either a Kiwi beater knife, or my F. Dick butcher's knife. But both aren't truly satisfactory. I've been eyeing the Mizuno Tanrenjo Hontanren for a deba, but I've also seen the JNS Toyama honesuki. And how would the JNS Munetoshi butcher knife come into this?

To make matters more complicated: I've seen several versions of a deba on Mizuno's site, e.g. an aideba or even mioroshi deba - both of which are pointier than a 'normal' deba. See MIZUNO TANRENJO
 
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Carl Kotte

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Breaking down chicken is easy and can be done with a paring knife (so long as you cut through the joints). Honesuki are fun though. I know some people use them for fish - I’ve never had great results that way. Debas are fun too: great for fish, not great for chicken (imo).
Want the best for both? A yo-deba perhaps!
 

M1k3

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Breaking down chicken is easy and can be done with a paring knife (so long as you cut through the joints). Honesuki are fun though. I know some people use them for fish - I’ve never had great results that way. Debas are fun too: great for fish, not great for chicken (imo).
Want the best for both? A yo-deba perhaps!
 

Wahnamhong

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That’s actually an interesting option, thanks. Though too big for me?! My F. Dick is already large so I could just as well use that. I’m looking for something more nimble I suppose.

I have broken down chickens with a petty and my veggie cleaver, and yes it’s doable. But it would be more fun to have a specialised knife! :)
 

bozotheclown

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Deba for breaking down birds is the dumbest thing ever. It's a fish filetting knife, nothing less nothing more.
Yo deba also too big/unwieldy/overkill for birds. Yo deba is butcher knife (for big jobs).

Get a honesuki, they're really cheap. Or a small petty, or a parer.

People, stop propagating the myth that hon deba can be used for breaking down whole birds. Especially the noobs who dont know how to use single bevels.
 

M1k3

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Honesuki or Garasuki would be nice for chicken.
A Deba not so much. I suppose a smaller one around 150mm might do ok though.
 

Wahnamhong

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Deba for breaking down birds is the dumbest thing ever. It's a fish filetting knife, nothing less nothing more.
Yo deba also too big/unwieldy/overkill for birds. Yo deba is butcher knife (for big jobs).

Get a honesuki, they're really cheap. Or a small petty, or a parer.

People, stop propagating the myth that hon deba can be used for breaking down whole birds. Especially the noobs who dont know how to use single bevels.
Thanks for your outspoken view. Seems like I’m already set having a Munetoshi 165 parer then - for chickens at least. Will try next time I need to break down a nice Label Rouge poulet noir. Now I guess I can focus on a deba! :)
 

bozotheclown

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Thanks for your outspoken view. Seems like I’m already set having a Munetoshi 165 parer then - for chickens at least. Will try next time I need to break down a nice Label Rouge poulet noir. Now I guess I can focus on a deba! :)
Nothing outspoken about the cold hard truth my man
 

bozotheclown

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BTW if you go the honesuki route, skip the toyama. Its too fragile to be used as a honesuki should be used. You need a real working knife, not a overly thin delicate toyama (and overpriced). Something like a Misono swedish steel would be miles beyond the toyama in terms of performance. Sometimes less is more, especially regarding boning knives. They are meant to be abused.
 
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bozotheclown

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What about a European-style filet knife?
You need a stout blade that can go between joints without flexing. Also a robust heel area to just go thru bones when needed.
By all counts, the proper knife for the job is honesuki.
 

FishmanDE

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The right Funayuki should be able to handle both jobs reasonably well as well as some board work if necessary. A 150ish to 165mm should work pretty well I'd imagine, though I've never tried. Filet knife works as well, but def the less sexy option.
 

Wahnamhong

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Just been thinking through using a honesuki to break down a chicken. Is a honesuki also suitable to cut off the tip of a chicken's leg? Does it have enough weight?

If I need a different knife to do that, then I'm no further than I am right now.
 

btbyrd

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Depends on what you mean by "cut." The end of the leg is usually broken rather than cut. You can do this by turning the knife over and cracking the bone with the spine of the knife like this:


Or you can crack it with the heel of the knife like this (at about a minute in):


I use the heel of the knife using my (very burly) Misono dragon garasuki but use the spine of my Anryu, since the blade is much thinner. If you're seriously considering a honesuki, I suggest watching whatever videos you can find on YouTube that demonstrate Japanese poultry butchering techniques. They tend to make minimal cuts and pull the muscles off the bird (or the bones from the legs) instead of cutting them out. The triangular shape of the knife makes it well suited to holding the chicken down while pulling with the other hand.
 

Wahnamhong

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Depends on what you mean by "cut." The end of the leg is usually broken rather than cut. You can do this by turning the knife over and cracking the bone with the spine of the knife like this:


Or you can crack it with the heel of the knife like this (at about a minute in):


I use the heel of the knife using my (very burly) Misono dragon garasuki but use the spine of my Anryu, since the blade is much thinner. If you're seriously considering a honesuki, I suggest watching whatever videos you can find on YouTube that demonstrate Japanese poultry butchering techniques. They tend to make minimal cuts and pull the muscles off the bird (or the bones from the legs) instead of cutting them out. The triangular shape of the knife makes it well suited to holding the chicken down while pulling with the other hand.
Thanks! Wow those are some advanced techniques :) I do hold down the chicken and tear as much as possible but sometimes I just want to cut off the end of the leg. Your videos suggest a honesuki would be well equipped doing that.
 

Wahnamhong

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So as shown in the videos above, you only need a cleaver for breaking down fish and chicken.
I know... problem is that if I just do everything with my cleaver and paring knife, as I’ve mostly been doing for the past few years, I won’t feel the enjoyment of buying new knives... :)
 

bozotheclown

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Just been thinking through using a honesuki to break down a chicken. Is a honesuki also suitable to cut off the tip of a chicken's leg? Does it have enough weight?

If I need a different knife to do that, then I'm no further than I am right now.
You can go through a thigh bone with the heel of a honesuki without fearing chipping the edge (Dont try this with Kato or Toyama honesuki, tho). It's basially a 90/10 crow bar
 

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