Jiro Nakagawa - Part2: Performance Initial Impressions

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khashy

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I have now had a chance to test the cutting performance of the Jiro 240mm Western handle gyuto that I wrote about previously.

A very good friend asked me whether I can liken the performance of the blade to knives he would be familiar with. I thought about this for quite a bit and I cannot come up with a good answer; I mean to say I cannot think of another knife that's the same as the Jiro in terms of tip, profile, grind and feel - there may well be a blade out there that is, however I can only draw on my own experience.

In any case, I think the best way to do this would be to show videos of the blade in action despite my mediocre cutting skills. I am too lazy to re-upload these videos, therefore I will post links to each video on my Instagram page.


How is the edge out of the box?

I would say it is okay. I have had a good number of knives that basically came with no edge out of the box and some that had a razor sharp edge on them (Gengetsu white steel for example). The Jiro falls somewhere in the middle - The edge is definitely usable (as you can see from the videos below) but the White1 steel can get so much sharper.


How does the tip perform?

In a word superbly. In everything I have cut which has required the use of the knife's tip, I have found it to ghost through even with the out of the box edge. I do tend to use the tip of knives a fair bit so this was very pleasant for me.

As I previously mentioned, the shape of the tip reminds me of Shigefusa blades a lot.

You should get an idea from the vertical cuts of this onion dicing video:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0diKL2nmbD/


How is the profile in use?

I loved the look of the flat spot of the knife when I first saw it. A super generous flat spot is great news for someone that likes to chop and push cut. I have often struggled with continuously curved profiles and ended up with accordion cuts, mostly because of my crappy skills if I am honest. However with the Jiro I had no such issues at all.

I would also add that at the back end of the blade, maybe one centimeter or so from the heel, the flat spot transitions to a very gentle, ever so slight curve, which means the blade doesn't come to an abrupt stop at the heel when chopping.

I did some different cuts on a bell pepper to try and showcase the profile. The edge is still the out of the box edge in this video:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0gDJpdn9ee/


Does it feel heavy?

To me it felt fine. I should say that I am used to 'Workhorse' type blades, so there is a bit of bias built in here. The balance of this knife being exactly at the pinch grip point definitely helps with it not 'feeling' heavy - I imagine the weight would have been more noticeable if it was handle heavy or blade forward.

The one thing I have to add in this regard is that when changing the grip to the 'Japanese style' grip (i.e. index finger on the edge of the spine and handle griped further back than a pinch grip), I found that when pull cutting, I was essentially 'dropping' the blade onto what was being cut. It was perfectly fine because the grind is good and it's sharp enough, however it felt different to when I had done the same thing previously. This might be because I have not practiced this grip a lot and my wrist is less strong when cutting like this.


How is the reactivity?

It has a nice patina starting to build. I haven't cut a tonne of vegetables with it but enough to have a feel for reactivity. I was following the same routine as I always do - wiping the blade clean often while cutting and I am finding the cladding to be not particularly reactive. It is pretty much what you would expect a carbon clad knife to be, not overly reactive and not super corrosion resistant.


How does it feel on the board?

This might not matter for most people but the kitchen knife geek in me cannot help but care a little bit about this point. I have a preference for the feeling that a Honyaki knife has as it hits the cutting board. The extra hard steel of a honyaki blade makes for a special feeling on the board and quite often a 'ringing' sound as it cuts. I have experienced this on-the-board feeling on some clad knives (Examples being Teruyasu Fujiwara Denka and Watanabe Pro Nakiri) so I was hoping to have the same feeling. However that was not the case. The feeling I got from the blade was the same as the majority of clad knives. This is not a bad thing per se, just a very geeky and subjective thing. This might change as I put a sharp edge on the blade and change my cutting board to a thicker one. I will report back if that happens.


What is food separation like?

It's pretty decent. I was hoping to do a potato video to show this but I didn't manage to make a proper one (I do have one potato cutting video which I will upload later but I think I can do better). In any case, the food separation is much better than a migaki type middle weight knife but not as good as a wide bevel hard shouldered knife like a Heiji. There is some sticktion however it's not the case that the cut pieces become vacuum sealed to the blade, they come off easy enough without being thrown all over the board.

I would say it is definitely a good bit above average.

[Potato Video To Be Inserted Here]


Is there any drag when cutting?

No. Not any that I noticed anyway. The thing with this blade being on the heavy side is that there's usually a good bit of momentum behind each cut which, for me, counteracts the potential drag that may or may not be there. So I would classify that as no drag.


What is the grind like?

I should start by re-iterating that this particular knife (I mean Jiro No.10) is not ground as a wide bevel blade. I had mentioned that the kasumi looked like the blade was finished on stones and I think we had conformation that it indeed was.

Therefore the next natural question was whether the grind was a flat zero grind or if we had hamaguriba - I don't think it is possible to do a concave grind on bench stones.

Because the food separation was good and I didn't have any issue with drag, I suspected a hamaguri grind, which is indeed the case. I have tried to demonstrate the degree of convex in this video and I hope you can see the curvature of the blade road. In hind sight I should have had a light source pointing towards the camera. If this isn't clear, tell me and I'll try to do another video to demonstrate the hamaguriba grind better.

https://imgur.com/gallery/QRDGzE5


What is the edge retention like?

I do not think this is something I can speak about properly for two main reasons: Firstly I am a home user, which means that the total sum of the cutting I do in a week is a small fraction of what a pro would do in a day. Secondly the cutting boards I use are extremely forgiving to any edge. I use Aomori Hiba which is pretty much as soft as a cutting board can get, meaning that the edge of the knife is not being banged against a hard surface (like a poly board) to cause it damage or deterioration. Hence an assessment of retention from me would be meaningless.


Anything else?

I think it is obvious that I am liking this blade a lot. It ticks a lot of boxes for me in terms of looks, tactile feel and cutting ability. Therefore I will be keeping it in rotation for a while yet.

The other huge positive draw of the knife for me is the romance behind this blade and its maker. I cannot expand much on that point right now, however the details of Jiro-san's background and career will likely be released by the retailers in due course.

If - like me - images of a one man operation whose skills have been honed over the course of decades with a huge amount of determination and grit, gives you a nice fuzzy feeling inside every time you look at the knife, then you are in for a treat!
 

SeattleBen

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Fantastic write up and thank you for the effort in doing so.
 

Gregmega

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Thanks Khashy!

The bit about honyaki- so true. They just feel better on the board. There’s almost a more ‘organic’ or warm quality with w1 in the way in connects with the boards, where honyaki has an almost cold surgical ring to it. In a good way of course. I’ve not been the same since my first honyaki. And my bank is angry ever since.
 

khashy

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Thanks Khashy!

The bit about honyaki- so true. They just feel better on the board. There’s almost a more ‘organic’ or warm quality with w1 in the way in connects with the boards, where honyaki has an almost cold surgical ring to it. In a good way of course. I’ve not been the same since my first honyaki. And my bank is angry ever since.
Surgical ring sounds like a good way to describe it. It’s difficult to put into words but I guess people who have banged a honyaki blade on a cutting board understand it
 

Matus

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I am locking this thread for a clean up. This is a user report and will not be taken over and derailed by a 3rd party.

EDIT: thread is opened to posts directly relevant to the OP
 
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P3454NT

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Sorry if i'm bringing up an old question that's been answered as this thread was created back in 2019.
Are Jiro knives still considered good/great for the price RRP is asking? I'm assuming around 2019, prices were significantly lower from what I can gather, but these days, it looks to be closer to the $1K AUD mark or more. For someone who's new to this whole artisanal knives community, Jiro's knives visually looks stunning, even to the detail of etching his name on the tang (I know that's not a big deal to a lot of ppl). I guess my overall question is considered worth the $$$ and reputation it comes with?
(Looking forward to your opinions and learning from you all). :)
 

khashy

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Sorry if i'm bringing up an old question that's been answered as this thread was created back in 2019.
Are Jiro knives still considered good/great for the price RRP is asking? I'm assuming around 2019, prices were significantly lower from what I can gather, but these days, it looks to be closer to the $1K AUD mark or more. For someone who's new to this whole artisanal knives community, Jiro's knives visually looks stunning, even to the detail of etching his name on the tang (I know that's not a big deal to a lot of ppl). I guess my overall question is considered worth the $$$ and reputation it comes with?
(Looking forward to your opinions and learning from you all). :)
The unhelpful answer is that 'it's worth the price if you like it at the price point it's being sold at'.

I don't think I can answer your question in yes/no terms. What I can say is that what Jiro produces and the way he goes about producing his blades is pretty much unique. In terms of practicality, there are plenty of knives that cut as well or better and are cheaper, but they don't look and feel like a Jiro and are certainly not made in the same way as he does. Also if your question is about whether you can buy one and sell it as a profit, I'd say probably not. He is young and will hopefully be making blades for a long time going forward. But should you decide to sell one, you'll not lose a long of cash because of the limited supply. I'm not sure if this has helped at all, but to me Jiro definitely has a place in a collection of Japanese knives - there just isn't anything else like it.
 

P3454NT

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The unhelpful answer is that 'it's worth the price if you like it at the price point it's being sold at'.

I don't think I can answer your question in yes/no terms. What I can say is that what Jiro produces and the way he goes about producing his blades is pretty much unique. In terms of practicality, there are plenty of knives that cut as well or better and are cheaper, but they don't look and feel like a Jiro and are certainly not made in the same way as he does. Also if your question is about whether you can buy one and sell it as a profit, I'd say probably not. He is young and will hopefully be making blades for a long time going forward. But should you decide to sell one, you'll not lose a long of cash because of the limited supply. I'm not sure if this has helped at all, but to me Jiro definitely has a place in a collection of Japanese knives - there just isn't anything else like it.
Thanks so much for the info. I understand it’s a little tough to say if it’s worth it due to a lot of different factors. But by the sounds of it… being that there isn’t another knife that feels like a Jiro prob means it’s somewhat worth it.
I guess the hard pill to swallow is (and I’m assuming here) that his prices have increased substantially in comparison to when he first started due to demand/popularity and supply?
That being said, if that knife holds its value… I think that’s a sweet bonus.
I’m also going to assume from the, “whether you can buy one and sell it as a profit” comment means that there are flippers out there who try and make a quick buck? (Sorry for the ignorant question).
I foresee that a Jiro will hopefully sit in my collection one day.
And again, thanks for the insight!
 

khashy

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Thanks so much for the info. I understand it’s a little tough to say if it’s worth it due to a lot of different factors. But by the sounds of it… being that there isn’t another knife that feels like a Jiro prob means it’s somewhat worth it.
I guess the hard pill to swallow is (and I’m assuming here) that his prices have increased substantially in comparison to when he first started due to demand/popularity and supply?
That being said, if that knife holds its value… I think that’s a sweet bonus.
I’m also going to assume from the, “whether you can buy one and sell it as a profit” comment means that there are flippers out there who try and make a quick buck? (Sorry for the ignorant question).
I foresee that a Jiro will hopefully sit in my collection one day.
And again, thanks for the insight!

My pleasure. In terms of how they hold value, I think the best way is to go through the Jiros that have been sold through BST and get a feel for how they have held their value. Also I'm a Jiro fan, so my view will always be biased!
 

P3454NT

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My pleasure. In terms of how they hold value, I think the best way is to go through the Jiros that have been sold through BST and get a feel for how they have held their value. Also I'm a Jiro fan, so my view will always be biased!
Awesome. I'm not gonna lie, I do want one, not to flip but for myself due to the craftsmanship. That being said, I feel like I've got a fair amount of gyutos and am considering his petty knife.
 
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