Just ordered my first ever Japanese knife.

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Dxtreme, Mar 11, 2019.

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  1. Mar 11, 2019 #1

    Dxtreme

    Dxtreme

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    After some research on this forum, some email with the maker of the knife and 3 days of anxiety I finally paid Shinichi for his 180mm Kuro Nakiri with upgrade handle and horn hilt. Although it is going to take 4 - 6 weeks I am so excited and cannot wait for it to arrive !My first Japanese knife will be the Watanabe 180mm Kuro Nakiri.

    I am a 100% newbie when it comes to good quality kitchen knives. Thanks to this forum. I believe i am off to a good start. Now I am on the hunt for a good 240mm and a shorter 155mm Gyuto. I also see a Yanagiba for making home sushi. I cant wait to further my journey down this road of kitchen cutlery and healthier home cooking living.
     
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  2. Mar 11, 2019 #2

    refcast

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    Congratulations!! You'll find the upgraded handle to make the knife feel very complete... and fun to polish, too if you wish too.

    The blade will feel a lot taller than your western knives, because that's how high the handle is off the cutting board. It's tall compared to Japanese knives, too. One of the only taller knives is chinese cleaver. . . anyway, this is a good thing, because cutting veggies well and fast and precise is very easy with the height, and the height lets the grind be pretty magical in moving through the food. You might be surprised how much a nakiri can handle at home.

    You'll find that to be standby--one of my "convenience" knives is a 180mm nakiri, too.

    Make sure you know if you're getting a Sakai 240mm (handle bolster to tip is 240) or regular 240mm gyuto (heel to tip is 240mm) because the difference is often 10-15mm in total length.
     
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  3. Mar 11, 2019 #3

    Dxtreme

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    Thank you so much for the tips on the Sakai, before going with the Watanabe , I was actually looking at the Suien Chinese Cleaver but I figured that the 180mm Nakiri will be more versatile and flexible. Do you have any experience with Watanabe 240mm Gyuto ??
     
  4. Mar 11, 2019 #4

    refcast

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    No experience with the Watanabe 240, though you could ask Panda or Labor of Love, I think. They like Mazaki better, though many people like Watanabe and Toyama (which is extremely similar to Watanabe, in appearance, nearly identical). Valgard likes his, I think, and has a couple.

    For gyuto, you should also be looking at whether you want a wide emoto (which means neck of the knife, thick is like mazaki) or thin emoto (which is like watanabe). Some people like the confident feeling of a thicker neck, which does feel stiffer and lets them pinch the blade there, while I like the nimbleness, extra finger room of a thinner neck. Of course this has no relation to actual spine thickness there, and both knives are pretty thick there spine wise. Of course, you could ask watanabe to make it with a thick neck, which means you order it 'with machi'. machi is this neck gap that happens . . . if you have the wider neck. And of course you specify if you want a machi gap or not, too.

    Also, whether you want that knife profile/ angle versus the spine on a gyuto. Gyuto get really nuanced, more than any other knife shape, I think. Some people liken the watanabe 240 to a santoku or chinese cleaver. Never used his gyuto though.

    Although watanabe is known for blue steel, you could ask him to make white steel too, if you like easier to sharpen and sharper but less edge retention.
     
  5. Mar 12, 2019 #5

    krx927

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    I have Wat 240 gyuto and I like it a lot. One of my best knives for sure. This knife is quite substantial for Japanese knives. It so called workhorse knife that can handle almost everything you throw at it. It is also on the heavier side for Japanese knife.

    I also like the fact that the profile is very high. I think on 240 it will be almost as high as nakiri you bought.

    I also strongly recommend getting upgraded keyaki handle. Great handle!

    This is one of the best cutters I have.
     
  6. Mar 12, 2019 #6

    Nemo

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    I have a Wat 270mm. A tall, thick, heavy knife with excellent food release. Takes and holds a great edge. Gently curved profile with a sheeps foot tip. A bit of taper but maybe less than some other Sanjo knives. I bring mine out every time I make sauerkraut.
     
  7. Mar 12, 2019 #7

    aaamax

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    Congrats for your purchase. You WILL be impressed with how your cutting chores become effortless in comparison to regular knives.
    Not that you asked for advice, but I strongly recommend that you just spend some quality time with your new blade before you rush out and buy a new one. With time you will find out what you do and do not want in a blade.
    cheers.
     
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  8. Mar 12, 2019 #8

    Dxtreme

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    [QUOTE="aaamax, post: 602814, member:
    Not that you asked for advice, but I strongly recommend that you just spend some quality time with your new blade before you rush out and buy a new one. With time you will find out what you do and do not want in a blade.
    cheers.[/QUOTE]

    Very wise advice indeed ! There are do many new things to learn on this journey. I have been using the Ginsu Chikara set that was purchased over 9 years ago based on consumer report best but recommendation. I going out throughout the years that I always reached out to the 7" santoku 8.5" Chef and the 3.5" paring knife the most.

    Although I like the length of the santoku, I don't reallyr like the shapes of it. I wonder if any Japanese knife maker makes a shorter 6" or 6.5" chefs knife. The closest I can find is a 7" ( 180mm) Watanabe.

    Also for this year, I want to learn how to make sushi and wonder what kind of knives would I need for this sole purpose ? I probably would just but fresh sushi grade fish fillet and have no need to cut up an entire fish.
     
  9. Mar 12, 2019 #9

    ACHiPo

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    Congratulations. I'm enjoying my cheapo Nakiri more and more. I initially bought it just to inexpensively get experience using and maintaining a carbon knife, but it slices veggies with such little force it really is fun to use.
     
  10. Mar 13, 2019 #10

    Jkts

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    Thats a great first knife. It will last you years.

    What kind of handle did you get?

    Watanabe can make you a custom knife of any length. At 6” (150 mm), usually those are petties rather than chefs knives- same general shape. You could also get a bunka at 6”.
     
  11. Mar 13, 2019 #11

    Mucho Bocho

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    Great Nakiri choice for sure. To maximize its capability use proper posture and hand grip while chopping. Good advise would be to hold off on the Gyuto too. It takes a while to get muscle memory with a new knife especially a nakiri.
     
  12. Mar 13, 2019 #12

    Dxtreme

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    I got the standard upgraded handle and Buffalo horn hilt from Watanabe. One thing that I found out about myself is I almost never reach got my 150mm utility knife for to it's heel height. That's what leads me to believe looking at a shorter 6" chef knife instead of an utility or petty knife.

    I also checked out the bunka as per your advice but I think that knife is almost the same as my upcoming Nakiri but worth just a bit of a ticket and a pointy tip ?
     
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  13. Mar 13, 2019 #13

    brotondo

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    I'd say get yourself a sujihiki for fish slicing initially until you are sure you want to make sushi regularly as it has more uses than the yanagi and will be more normal to sharpen/run cheaper for a quality knife. If you are committed to a yanagi though, I'd go for a minimum length of 240mm and for brands the gesshin uraku would be a good starter, I've also heard the young samurai yanagi is decent as well. Also check your local fish scene first, it can be more difficult to find sushi quality fish than you may think outside of tuna.
     
  14. Mar 13, 2019 #14

    Jkts

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    The Watanabe 180 mm gyuto I have is fairly narrow, certainly not as wide as a santoku or Bunka. It might not give you the knuckle clearance you want.

    Shinichi can custom make knives to your specs although he makes knives within parameters that make sense to him.

    The main differences between nakiris and santokus are the tip and the curve of the belly. As you’ll find when your nakiri arrives, nakiris are great slicers. Santokus are more utility knives and allow slicing and more of a rolling cut.

    Bunkas come in a range of shapes and can be more like nakiris (rectangular, flatter edge) or santokus (belly). Bunkas usually have a more angular tip than santokus.

    If you find a bunka picture of the exact shape you like, you can check with Shinichi about making a knife that’s perfect for you in terms of length, tip style, height, and curve.

    I would suggest using your nakiri for a month or two, and feeling how it works. That might advise you on what you’d like for more of a utility knife.
     
  15. Mar 13, 2019 #15

    ACHiPo

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    Well darn you I just sent an email to Watanabe about customizing a little Nakiri as it works the best I've found for zesting oranges and lemons for cocktails and the 180 mm one I have is a tad big for the task.
     
  16. Mar 13, 2019 #16

    Dxtreme

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    Thank you much for all the help, I guess my goal is to get a 210mm gyuto and a smaller one around 150mm. Is there a reason why Western knives have abundant of 6" chef knives but not the Japanese ? I would love to have a minimum of 46mm heel height for a mini gyuto. I checked out a bunch of petty and the tallest is just around 38mm.
     
  17. Mar 13, 2019 #17

    Dxtreme

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    I really reallyraeally ppre this advice do much ! Yanagi is definitely very very expensive purchase and I will check out the brands you recommended. I have tried cutting fish with my cheapo Victorianox Thanksgiving slicer and the result was very lackluster but I figure I can use that first while I learn about sushi making (reading a book on it now and I have roamed all the Asian market and the fresh fish market here in town).

    Is 270mm yanagiba decent for a home sushi maker?
     
  18. Mar 13, 2019 #18

    refcast

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    Japanese knifes in the 150 are for petty and in hand work and some board work but the knuckles will be a bit tight. . . if we were doing board work with that length they would use a nakiri or santoku . . . which have more knuckle clearance. THERE is one maker who does a 165 or 150mm gyuto, teruyasu fujiwara, but I wouldn't blindly recommend him, because the installation and grinds can get wonky, but if you're fine with that, that's the only maker I know that does it. . .

    I honestly would just get a 165 santoku though, and sharpen it down at the tip . . . and eventually get a western style knife with belly from it. Plus I get sharpening practice.

    270 yanagiba is the standard starter size . . . honestly, it's a good size. Bigger if you, uh, want to make longer strokes I guess. But get a 270, and see what your needs are. 240 is if your counter length is limited. That's the difference. 210mm if its a cramped japanese style apartment I guess.

    The difference between the gesshin uraku and the hide is the uraku has a slightly flatter profile and easier to sharpen. The hide is more consistent in the grind and has harder, sharper, and more time-consuming to sharpen steel. Both are fine.
     
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  19. Mar 14, 2019 at 4:56 AM #19

    Dxtreme

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    For Gyuto, looks like the Masamoto KS is very rare and the one to get ? I seen that the KS is now available on some websites. Is the new batch less desirable than the old batch ?
     
  20. Mar 14, 2019 at 9:58 PM #20

    Cyrilix

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    This is the worst reason to get a knife, ever. That it's rare. Get it if the properties of this knife are a good fit for you.
     
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  21. Mar 14, 2019 at 10:21 PM #21

    M1k3

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    Short but tall knife? Takeda petty?
     
  22. Mar 14, 2019 at 11:33 PM #22

    Dxtreme

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    Agreed, I meant I dont have a chance to hold or test the knife but my research said, the french profile of the KS gyuto is well loved by everybody and even custom knife maker copied it ?
     
  23. Mar 14, 2019 at 11:34 PM #23

    Dxtreme

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    Thank you i will look into that brand, pretty much i am looking for a Japanese version of a western 6" chef knife. Right now, looks like the Kramer 6" chef knife is the only candidate :/
     
  24. Mar 15, 2019 at 1:26 AM #24

    milkbaby

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    Congrats! I hope you enjoy the nakiri when it arrives.

    As mentioned, you are more likely to find a good 150ish mm or 6 inch chef's knife from a western maker. For example:
    https://homebutcher.com/collections/dcb-customs/products/dcb-customs-6-chef-knife

    However, many western customs or handmade knives utilize similar approach to kitchen knives as Japanese cutlery, such as high hardness steel and convex grinds. You do have to do some research tho.
     
  25. Mar 15, 2019 at 2:23 AM #25

    Dxtreme

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    Actually i think i might have found my knife, The Kengata !! Do you guys have any experience of any good Kengata brand to look for ?
     
  26. Mar 17, 2019 at 6:06 PM #26

    never mind

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    I saw some that I remember. the red takayuki dammy kengata is nice (damascus). I handled the regular gyuto version before, hefty & tough. Feel like when I handled shirokamo but more robust (to me). Sharpened up fine. Sandpapers can round all sharp corners that you do not like when handling it. I did that for the gyuto version.

    New & pricey one from Doi is a looker in carbon (Takayuki Homura). take a look. No need to buy it, if you didn’t want to.

    All in all, the sickest one I saw in person and action is the 300mm version of the takayuki red handle above, fashioned as sujihiki/kiritsuke/slicer variations, whatever they wanted to call it. Not to mention their low prices.

    Bunka is also in the ball park, if you wanted to explore. Shibata got a thin R2 stuff with nicer shapes. Like some said before, Takeda got many variations too of these Bunka and Kentaga-styled knives in Agomi Super steel.

     

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