Quantcast

Japanese Brand Cheat Sheet?

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

OCD

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2012
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
Hello all,

I'd like to start learning about the relative merits of some Japanese brands, using a 240mm Gyuto as a guide (for price comparisons). Aside from price (which I know doesn't always confer quality), what other things distinguish the brands from one another? How do I tell a Bentley from a BMW from a Buick?

Thanks!
 

JasonD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2011
Messages
210
Reaction score
0
I suppose to begin to tackle this question you have to understand what different makers are aiming for in their finished product. There are many knives that are considered extremely good that look quite rustic (Takeda, or even many Carters in my opinion). But, that is by design.

Each knife maker/brand has different qualities and it's up to you to decide which ones really bear most on your selection. Some of these things to be considered might be : thickness of the blade (laser vs mighty) / stainless vs semi-stainless vs carbon steel / even being more specific to wanting a specific alloy of steel / the blade's finish level (mirror/matte/kurouchi/damascus. even one maker's kurouchi finish will consistently look different than another's) / blade profile (lots of belly or flat) / handle style / handle materials / general fit and finish, tight joints at the handle, rounded choil/spine of the blade, etc / single steel construction vs cladded / convex grind vs straight / amount of distal taper.

I don't write out this big list of attributes to try to overwhelm you. I just want you to start to think about which bits of a knife really make a difference to you. For me, my last purchase was a Masamoto HC 240mm Gyuto. The reason I wanted that one was a high blade height at the heel, good carbon steel with a good heat treatment, uncladded construction, a blade in the middle-to-mighty end of the thickness scale, western handle, acceptable fit and finish, and price. It is probably easier to give a list of makers to consider once you've narrowed down what you're looking for. Different knives get reputations for their different qualities. It's up to you to figure out first which qualities you most desire, and then choose a brand that does it best. And of course, there's tons of people here that are happy to offer suggestions.
 

orange

Senior Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
344
Reaction score
0
I suppose to begin to tackle this question you have to understand what different makers are aiming for in their finished product. There are many knives that are considered extremely good that look quite rustic (Takeda, or even many Carters in my opinion). But, that is by design.

Each knife maker/brand has different qualities and it's up to you to decide which ones really bear most on your selection. Some of these things to be considered might be : thickness of the blade (laser vs mighty) / stainless vs semi-stainless vs carbon steel / even being more specific to wanting a specific alloy of steel / the blade's finish level (mirror/matte/kurouchi/damascus. even one maker's kurouchi finish will consistently look different than another's) / blade profile (lots of belly or flat) / handle style / handle materials / general fit and finish, tight joints at the handle, rounded choil/spine of the blade, etc / single steel construction vs cladded / convex grind vs straight / amount of distal taper.

I don't write out this big list of attributes to try to overwhelm you. I just want you to start to think about which bits of a knife really make a difference to you. For me, my last purchase was a Masamoto HC 240mm Gyuto. The reason I wanted that one was a high blade height at the heel, good carbon steel with a good heat treatment, uncladded construction, a blade in the middle-to-mighty end of the thickness scale, western handle, acceptable fit and finish, and price. It is probably easier to give a list of makers to consider once you've narrowed down what you're looking for. Different knives get reputations for their different qualities. It's up to you to figure out first which qualities you most desire, and then choose a brand that does it best. And of course, there's tons of people here that are happy to offer suggestions.
isn't this sound similar to learning about wine?
 

tk59

Founding Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,212
Reaction score
6
A cheat sheet might eliminate discussion on this board. Go make it yourself. :) Seriously, though. There are hundreds of brands and thousands of different knives and millions of different opinions. Good luck with that one.
 

stevenStefano

Senior Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
1,421
Reaction score
1
I know it can seem overwhelming when you don't know a whole lot, but you just gotta try a few knives. Think of the ones you have and what you like about them and buy similar ones, then go from there
 

SpikeC

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
3,717
Reaction score
2
Unfortunately there is no simple shortcut to learning the intricacies of Japanese knife production. One mans BMW is another mans Isseta. The knives that are bogus are generally the really inexpensive ones, butt that isn't always the case either!
 

Pensacola Tiger

Founding Member
Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
5,834
Reaction score
118
Hello all,

I'd like to start learning about the relative merits of some Japanese brands, using a 240mm Gyuto as a guide (for price comparisons). Aside from price (which I know doesn't always confer quality), what other things distinguish the brands from one another? How do I tell a Bentley from a BMW from a Buick?

Thanks!
Experience guided by intelligence.

Since you have to start somewhere, go read everything at Gator's website (http://zknives.com/knives/index.shtml). That will give you a minimal grounding in what Gator considers to be differentiating qualities.

Then, go buy a knife, either a new one or patiently wait for a used one to pop up on a forum. Use it, and make your own determination of the qualities you've read about. If you want, ask questions of the members here about these determinations, to fine tune your judgment. Repeat with another knife.

It's a longish journey, but eventually your experiences will coalesce into what you are seeking.

Rick
 

unkajonet

Founding Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
958
Reaction score
0
Read read read. It's a cream rises to the top type thing. The better knives will come up more often than the POS knives. There's no real shortcut around doing the research.
 

tk59

Founding Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,212
Reaction score
6
Read read read. It's a cream rises to the top type thing. The better knives will come up more often than the POS knives. There's no real shortcut around doing the research.
To some extent, yes. However, I'm sure there are a ton of great knives that people do not talk about anymore. Who's mentioned Suisin, lately? How about IT? TKC? A-type? How many times have people mentioned Zakuri in the last few weeks?
 

Rottman

Hobbyist Craftsman
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
355
Reaction score
0
It's like fashion, they'll all come back eventually...
 

unkajonet

Founding Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
958
Reaction score
0
To some extent, yes. However, I'm sure there are a ton of great knives that people do not talk about anymore. Who's mentioned Suisin, lately? How about IT? TKC? A-type? How many times have people mentioned Zakuri in the last few weeks?
The third "read" covers that.
 

SpikeC

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
3,717
Reaction score
2
I recall pretty much all of those in the recent past. You just gotta read all of the posts!:biggrin:
 

tk59

Founding Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,212
Reaction score
6
I recall pretty much all of those in the recent past. You just gotta read all of the posts!:biggrin:
I will admit I might miss a post here and there. However, I stand by my point which is that the "most mentioned" knife is not necessarily the "best" knife. A while back, the KonHD was easily the most mentioned knife and I love it but I can't say it's the best. You'd also think that HiroAS is among the best which I really disagree with.

@Spike: I'd like you to show me the last five mentions of IT. (If you even know what that is.:saythat:)
 

Eamon Burke

Banned
Joined
Mar 5, 2011
Messages
4,855
Reaction score
9
I think the Hiro AS's reputation has largely been expanded by the quality of Dave's thinned, etched, rehandled, and sharpened versions...which only have the Hiro HT and bolster in common.
 

tk59

Founding Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,212
Reaction score
6
...@Spike: I'd like you to show me the last five mentions of IT. (If you even know what that is.:saythat:)
Okay, I was hot n bothered enough to actually do a search. It shows up about once a month barring sales. That ain't much.
 

SpikeC

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
3,717
Reaction score
2
I will admit I might miss a post here and there. However, I stand by my point which is that the "most mentioned" knife is not necessarily the "best" knife. A while back, the KonHD was easily the most mentioned knife and I love it but I can't say it's the best. You'd also think that HiroAS is among the best which I really disagree with.

@Spike: I'd like you to show me the last five mentions of IT. (If you even know what that is.:saythat:)
Ok, that's one.......
 

stevenStefano

Senior Member
Joined
May 7, 2011
Messages
1,421
Reaction score
1
I think some knives don't get mentioned because they are surpassed by superior and/or cheaper knives, which is a good thing in my eyes. When was the last time someone mentioned a Misono?
 

Timthebeaver

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2011
Messages
1,365
Reaction score
16
The most glaring once-flavour-of-the-month-no-longer-mentioned must be Watanabe. Greatest comeback in this category must be Carter (helped in no small part imo by Salty's video "the Grind" where he showed a funayuki besting a who's-who of the gyuto world in potato release).
 

EdipisReks

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
4,001
Reaction score
2
i don't consider Watanabe to be a flavor of the month, particularly.
 

Cadillac J

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
637
Reaction score
4
It's like fashion, they'll all come back eventually...
Exactly, just seems the nature of the game.

i don't consider Watanabe to be a flavor of the month, particularly.
It definitely isn't mentioned even remotely to the extent of 2+ years ago...I remember it seemed like everyone back then brought up Watanabe in the "what knife to buy".
 

EdipisReks

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
4,001
Reaction score
2
Watanabe is still pretty well respected, despite that (and i remember it).
 

Timthebeaver

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2011
Messages
1,365
Reaction score
16
Exactly, just seems the nature of the game.



It definitely isn't mentioned even remotely to the extent of 2+ years ago...I remember it seemed like everyone back then brought up Watanabe in the "what knife to buy".
This. Even recall a situation (Marko's kiritsuke gyuto group buy) where he was favoured over, gasp, Konosuke.
 

EdipisReks

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
4,001
Reaction score
2
if Watanabe is a flavor of the month, then so is Konosuke.
 

Timthebeaver

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2011
Messages
1,365
Reaction score
16
For sure. Konosuke really came into fashion (arguably still is) with the HD.
 

Cadillac J

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
637
Reaction score
4
if Watanabe is a flavor of the month, then so is Konosuke.
Of course it is. No one is saying 'flavor of the month(s)' is a bad thing or makes them less than great knives--in fact, it seems almost every knife falls into this category nowadays.

They all have their time in the sunshine, and the shade...and then back in the sun again for some.

We were just talking in a Carter for sale thread--someone commented a sarcastic "Carters sit for a long time for sale"...as we've seen in the last 6 months that they don't last more than an hour...yet just over a year ago, we would see brand new Carters sit around with no interest....TB London mentioned how his Carters went through numerous price decreases even 18 months ago--you just don't see that right now.
 

OCD

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2012
Messages
9
Reaction score
0
So far the responses have fallen into a few categories:

1) "depends on what's important to you"
2) "suck it up and read some more, N00b!"
3) brand arguments

My take on this is that there isn't an obvious short cut. *sigh* Guess I'll have to keep on digging! I'll definitely read Gator's stuff.
 

echerub

Founding Member
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Messages
1,979
Reaction score
0
Nah, there's no shortcut unfortunately. Some things, like typical profile or geometry characteristics, can be noted down easily. The tricky part - and really, the valuable part - is how they feel and perform and that can be a very subjective thing. What works great for one person may not be so hot for another.

It's one thing to create a cheat-sheet but it's a whole other thing to create one that everyone can rally around and support :)

Take heart though - it's the subjectivity and personal preferences that keep knives a fun topic of discussion :)
 

tk59

Founding Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
4,212
Reaction score
6
Then there's the "hand-made" problem. Most of the knives discussed here are hand made to an extent (some more than others) which basically leads to every knife being different, sometimes significantly so. For example, I've seen Masamoto KS (one of the recent darlings) that are decent, slightly awkward knives and others that are laserlike. I myself was unhappy with my Konosuke HD for a long time and discovered that it was on the thicker end of the spectrum. I've seen significant variation in a number of different brands/lines of knives. Many of us only see one example of any particular "model" of knife. It's not going to be possible to get everyone to agree on the characteristics of something that varies so much.
 

Andrew H

The alleles created by mutation may be beneficial
Founding Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2011
Messages
1,890
Reaction score
1
So far the responses have fallen into a few categories:

1) "depends on what's important to you"
2) "suck it up and read some more, N00b!"
3) brand arguments

My take on this is that there isn't an obvious short cut. *sigh* Guess I'll have to keep on digging! I'll definitely read Gator's stuff.
I guess my tip for a shortcut would be to find a vendor who really cares about the quality of knives that they sell. Once you find a reliable vendor then price is a pretty good indicator of quality. A $180 knife probably isn't going to be as good as the $480 knife, of course that isn't always the case.
 
Top