Opinions on Yu Kurosaki Santoku-Knives or suggestions

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Edo

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Hi everyone,

I have been looking for a knife for a long and after answering your questionnaire and reading your threads, I have come to the idea to buy a Yu Kurosaki knife hammered R2/SG2, santoku, Fujin or another hammered style I like.
the knife is the: Santoku tsuchime-Fujin SG2 - Ebony handle 280 Eur

I also saw this from his brother Makoto Kurosaki Santoku tsuchime VG10, 165 mm, 163 Eur knifewear
(no links allowed )

I anyway answered the questionnaire if you want to give me other suggestions or opinions:
Big thanks!
Edo

LOCATION: Austria
KNIFE TYPE: Santoku
I am right-handed
Interested in a Japanese or western handle
Length of the blade: 160-180cm
Do you require a stainless knife? Yes

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? 230-300 Euro

KNIFE USE
-Home user non-professional.
-Primarily intend to use the knife for slicing vegetables, chopping vegetables, mincing vegetables, slicing meats, cutting down poultry, filleting fish, trimming meats.
-No particular grip style

What improvements do you want from your current knife?
-Steel pattern layered/Damascus + hammered
-Engraved by the blacksmith
-Steel SG2 - VG10 or open to your suggestions
-Handle ideally ebony, walnut or rosewood with ferrule
-Edge Retention as long as possible, I am not so much into sharpening with different stones

KNIFE MAINTENANCE
-Bamboo and plastic boards
-Do you sharpen your own knives? Yes, but with no technique and a stone that I have no idea what it is.

If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? no
Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? no
 
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daveb

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Welcome. Pls no links in your first few posts. The Spam Filter is going nuts.
 

Cliff

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Any knife is going to get dull eventually. I think you should either (1) find someone local who knows what they're doing and sharpens on stones, (2) put in the effort to learn to do it (it's not that hard, but it does require some expense and effort), or (3) get a different kind of knife, something inexpensive and more or less disposable (or that you could use a pull-through sharpener with). I'd also recommend thinking about different boards.
 

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Kurosaki Yu is one of many quality Japanese knifemakers. I don't have any of his brother's knives but they also have a good reputation.

Like most quality Japanese knifemakers, he makes knives with thin edges out of hard but brittle steel. These knives tend to have superior edge retention to softer Western knives but they will certainly still need sharpening. A blunt $550 or $1000 knife is no better a cutter than a blunt $2 discount store knife. The thin, hard, brittle steel can get a lot sharper but tends to chip much more easily when in contact with hard objects (bone, fruit stones, frozen food). I'd be very careful breaking down chooks or even filleting fish (the Japanese have specific knives for these tasks). You could retain your Western knives for this purpose. The edges are also susceptible to chipping with lateral/sideways forces applied to the edge, as occurs with scraping (flip the knife and scrape with the spine instead), walk chopping and some types of rock chopping (if you push the edge into the board while pivoting the knife on the board). Japanese knives perform better with other cutting techniques such as push and draw slicing anyway. I'd advise learning to use a pinch grip with Japanese knives.

If you want to get a good Japanese knife, I'd second having a plan for keeping it sharp. If you want some sharpening instruction, you could do a lot worse than perusing the JKI sharpening series (via JKI website or YT) and the Knifeplanet Shapening School.

I'd also second getting a board which is wood (not bamboo or rubberwood) as they are gentler on the edge.

Note that there is a lot of variation in the grind (cross sectional shape) of Japanese knives. They vary from very thin grinds which glide through hard food effortlessly but can get a bit stuck in wet foods ("lasers") to thicker grinds which can wedge a little in hard foods (although less than most Western knives) but perform very well in wet foods ("workhorse grinds"). This is of course a continuum, so various thicknesses of "middleweight" perform somewhere in between. This preference can help us determine which knives to recommend. If you are not sure, a moderately thin (but not laser thin) knife is a decent pick for a first Japanese knife.

FWIW, many of Kurosaki's knives are towards the thinner end of the spectrum and some (notably the Senko line) are said to be quite laserish.
 

Edo

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Any knife is going to get dull eventually. I think you should either (1) find someone local who knows what they're doing and sharpens on stones, (2) put in the effort to learn to do it (it's not that hard, but it does require some expense and effort), or (3) get a different kind of knife, something inexpensive and more or less disposable (or that you could use a pull-through sharpener with). I'd also recommend thinking about different boards.
Thank you Cliff, I will think on that. I have identified some stores in Vienna for sharpening.

When I re-read my post I should have mentioned that rather than willingness to learn, is a bit of the concern to damage the knife when doing it by myself as I read they are fragile kind.
So, I was wondering if for a beginner user wouldn’t be too much maybe and your answer confirmed that thoughts in a certain manner. Thanks!
 

Cliff

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I completely understand wanting to get a nice knife and then worrying about scratching it up, especially one with the finish of a Kurosaki. I would start by sending the knife out -- there must be someone in Vienna doing this work.

At the same time, I would get an inexpensive carbon knife. It's much easier to learn with carbon than stainless. Something like this, for example, along with a Shapton Pro 1K and 5K, or a Cerax combination stone. It shouldn't take more than a few times to get the basics down well enough to sharpen your Kurosaki with confidence. If you really prefer stainless, I would look into a Mac or the Missono 440 line. You will need a flattening plate, and I think you should look at a new cutting board.
 
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Edo

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Kurosaki Yu is one of many quality Japanese knifemakers. I don't have any of his brother's knives but they also have a good reputation.

Like most quality Japanese knifemakers, he makes knives with thin edges out of hard but brittle steel. These knives tend to have superior edge retention to softer Western knives but they will certainly still need sharpening. A blunt $550 or $1000 knife is no better a cutter than a blunt $2 discount store knife. The thin, hard, brittle steel can get a lot sharper but tends to chip much more easily when in contact with hard objects (bone, fruit stones, frozen food). I'd be very careful breaking down chooks or even filleting fish (the Japanese have specific knives for these tasks). You could retain your Western knives for this purpose. The edges are also susceptible to chipping with lateral/sideways forces applied to the edge, as occurs with scraping (flip the knife and scrape with the spine instead), walk chopping and some types of rock chopping (if you push the edge into the board while pivoting the knife on the board). Japanese knives perform better with other cutting techniques such as push and draw slicing anyway. I'd advise learning to use a pinch grip with Japanese knives.

If you want to get a good Japanese knife, I'd second having a plan for keeping it sharp. If you want some sharpening instruction, you could do a lot worse than perusing the JKI sharpening series (via JKI website or YT) and the Knifeplanet Shapening School.

I'd also second getting a board which is wood (not bamboo or rubberwood) as they are gentler on the edge.

Note that there is a lot of variation in the grind (cross sectional shape) of Japanese knives. They vary from very thin grinds which glide through hard food effortlessly but can get a bit stuck in wet foods ("lasers") to thicker grinds which can wedge a little in hard foods (although less than most Western knives) but perform very well in wet foods ("workhorse grinds"). This is of course a continuum, so various thicknesses of "middleweight" perform somewhere in between. This preference can help us determine which knives to recommend. If you are not sure, a moderately thin (but not laser thin) knife is a decent pick for a first Japanese knife.

FWIW, many of Kurosaki's knives are towards the thinner end of the spectrum and some (notably the Senko line) are said to be quite laserish.
Dear Nemo,

Thank you for your detailed explanation, and guidance. I would prefer a “middleweight“ thickness inclined to laser.
I will definitely invest in a cutting board and eventually I will atart learning how to sharpening the knife.
Would you recommend any brand for a Santoku with those characteristics?
Thanks very much!
 

Edo

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I completely understand wanting to get a nice knife and then worrying about scratching it up, especially one with the finish of a Kurosaki. I would start by sending the knife out -- there must be someone in Vienna doing this work.

At the same time, I would get an inexpensive carbon knife. It's much easier to learn with carbon than stainless. Something like this, for example, along with a Shapton Pro 1K and 5K, or a Cerax combination stone. It shouldn't take more than a few times to get the basics down well enough to sharpen your Kurosaki with confidence. If you really prefer stainless, I would look into a Mac or the Missono 440 line. You will need a flattening plate, and I think you should look at a new cutting board.
Great!! I will check! Thank you!
 

Nemo

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Thank you Cliff, I will think on that. I have identified some stores in Vienna for sharpening.

When I re-read my post I should have mentioned that rather than willingness to learn, is a bit of the concern to damage the knife when doing it by myself as I read they are fragile kind.
So, I was wondering if for a beginner user wouldn’t be too much maybe and your answer confirmed that thoughts in a certain manner. Thanks!
If you are willing to learn to sharpen, you shouldn't be too worried about damaging the knife. You may scratch up the finish on the face of the blade, which can be fixed with a bit of effort. Learning to fix this is one of the joys of learning to sharpen. Learning to prevent it is another. As part of your sharpening programme, you will eventually need to thin the knife. This will definitely scratch up the blade face. Pretty finishes like damascus are much more effort to fix so they tend to discourage maintenance thinning (unless there is a wide bevel below the damascus) meaning that the knife will gradually thicken behind the edge over time.

You are very unlikely to do irreparable damage to your knife unless you are careless with a coarse (circa 3-400 grit) stone. I guess you could cause problems if you were very determined to cause problems with a medium (circa1k) stone.
 

Cliff

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I'm not Nemo, and I don't have that knife. But I have a Kurosaki gyuto that fits the middle-leaning-towards-laser description pretty well. I agree about the above with respect to damage. The knife will get minor scratches but nothing to worry about. I think it's easier to learn on carbon, but it's not necessary.
 
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Nemo

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Dear Nemo,

Thank you for your detailed explanation, and guidance. I would prefer a “middleweight“ thickness inclined to laser.
I will definitely invest in a cutting board and eventually I will atart learning how to sharpening the knife.
Would you recommend any brand for a Santoku with those characteristics?
Thanks very much!
If you want to learn sharpening, you should be aware that stainless steels tend to be more difficult learn sharpening on. Carbon steels and even semistainless steels will give you better results significantly more easily. The Fujiwarra FKH is probably not a bad learner knife. Also look at some of the cheapish Shiro Kamo kurochi knives. A bit of a step up in price front FKH but a big step up in quality. Brilliant value for money.

There is also a trade off between edge retention and ease of sharpening. Steels which have long edge retention tend to be harder to get sharp. This is partly to do with the steel being abrasion resistant but probably more important is the difficulty in reducing and removing the burr in these steels.

I hasten to add, it is certainly possible to learn sharpening on an abrasion resistant stainless steel such as SG2 or SRS15. I should know- I did. But knowing what I know now, I would have learned on carbon or at least a good semistainless if I had my time over again.

If you decide that you definitely want stainless, there are some options that are a bit easier to sharpen than the abrasion resistant steels like SG2. Look for well heat treated versions of AEBL or even ginsanko (such at Tanaka Nashiji Ginsanko). Not as easy as semistainless but easier than most stainless. Edge retention less than SG2, though.

Next question- Do you really want a santoku? A gyuto does everything a santoku does but does some things better. Santoku is a decent choice if you have severely limited kitchen (and therefore board) space or if you really love the very flat profile. In my (probably controversial) opinion, most people will get better use from a gyuto. I'm not saying "don't get a santoku", I'm saying "just checking that you know why you want a santoku instead of a gyuto".

Hope this helps.
 
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Delat

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I think if OP has his heart set on a Y Kurosaki, then he should go for it. But I’d caveat that with the caution that it should not be a stretch financially. Rather OP should approach it as if the Kurosaki is his training knife. It might get a little damaged, he might not put the greatest edge on it for a while, but at the end of the day he’ll be learning and he’ll have a beautiful high-quality knife to use while doing so. Honestly my experience is that it’s pretty hard to screw a knife up - sure you might waste a mm or two, but it’s nothing worth stressing over (if you didn’t stretch financially for the knife and don’t view it as a precious object as I mentioned).

Now that said, Kurosaki makes R2, VG10, and AS core (and his old special cobalt steel). AS core would be easiest to sharpen but the cladding on those is plain ku and missing the fancy schmancy Kurosaki tsuchime. I learned to sharpen on VG10 and R2, and I’m sure OP can as well. It’s just that AS and high-carbon steels give feedback much, much faster. R2 and VG10 will have the best edge retention though.

Also OP - don’t use these knives for breaking poultry or cutting through fish bones.

Another knife I’d recommend in the near-laser line is Yoshikane SKD. Extremely easy to sharpen, very thin behind the edge, and my example at least is more prone to bending than chipping. Really a fantastic cutter and easy to maintain, and you can get them in hammered or nashiji finishes.
 

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Note that not all Yoshikane SKD is laser-like. Some of the Tsuchime/ hammered versions are very workhorsey (in a very good way).
 

Delat

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Note that not all Yoshikane SKD is laser-like. Some of the Tsuchime/ hammered versions are very workhorsey (in a very good way).
I noticed the nashiji Yoshikanes on KNS seems to be quite a bit heavier than the hammered ones at Epic Edge too, something like 210g vs 145g. Could just be the handle, but definitely worth discussing directly with the vendor if considering one.
 

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I think the suggestion of a Kurosaki SG2 with a cheaper carbon great idea. Maybe the carbon would be a gyuto in 210 or 240mm length. Here you have a super useful knife and something to go to town on sharpening/learning. And then throw in a couple of stones like a shapton pro 1k and suehiro rika 5k... Good times.
 

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I noticed the nashiji Yoshikanes on KNS seems to be quite a bit heavier than the hammered ones at Epic Edge too, something like 210g vs 145g. Could just be the handle, but definitely worth discussing directly with the vendor if considering one.
Probably just the handle. Those KNS Amekiri Nashijis are thin. I think their new Nashiji line (Hatukokoro) is meant to have a similar grind.
 

Edo

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Thank you very much Nemo and Cliff,
I have been looking and studying every knife you recommend me, definitely some of them were great. In particular the following ones catch my attention (I think I cannot add links/photo on my first posts), but by name:
-Fujiwara Kanefusa FKH Series FKH-3 Santoku 180mm (7inch)
-Shiro kamo black dragon Aogami - Santoku
-Tanaka Ginsanko very cool but the price very close to the Kurosaki.
-Yoshikane SKD also great unfortunately I did not find it in Europe. But wide variety in US / Canada and Oceania.

Also the explanation that is kind of difficult to damage a knife while sharpening, it gives me some peace of mind and I will try then.

Regarding why a Santoku? the fact is that generally speaking, I have never invested in a knife, I was always using these stainless steel sets you can buy for 100 euros or less and you get like 5 knives with different sizes. I had no idea about knives’ names. But always the one with the shape of a Santoku (now I know) was the most comfortable and easy to use for me... and I was always wondering where can even find a smaller than 18cm blade.
Regarding why a Santoku? the fact is that generally speaking, I have never invested in a knife, I was always using these stainless steel sets you can buy for 100 euros or less and you get like 5 knives with different sizes. I had no idea about knives’ names. But always the one with the shape of a Santoku (now I know) was the most comfortable and easy to use for me... and I was always wondering where can even find a smaller than 18cm blade.
The chef knife bigger than 18cm always is for me difficult to use unless you are on a grill for a barbecue.
So that is why a Santoku.
 

Edo

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I think if OP has his heart set on a Y Kurosaki, then he should go for it. But I’d caveat that with the caution that it should not be a stretch financially. Rather OP should approach it as if the Kurosaki is his training knife. It might get a little damaged, he might not put the greatest edge on it for a while, but at the end of the day he’ll be learning and he’ll have a beautiful high-quality knife to use while doing so. Honestly my experience is that it’s pretty hard to screw a knife up - sure you might waste a mm or two, but it’s nothing worth stressing over (if you didn’t stretch financially for the knife and don’t view it as a precious object as I mentioned).

Now that said, Kurosaki makes R2, VG10, and AS core (and his old special cobalt steel). AS core would be easiest to sharpen but the cladding on those is plain ku and missing the fancy schmancy Kurosaki tsuchime. I learned to sharpen on VG10 and R2, and I’m sure OP can as well. It’s just that AS and high-carbon steels give feedback much, much faster. R2 and VG10 will have the best edge retention though.

Also OP - don’t use these knives for breaking poultry or cutting through fish bones.

Another knife I’d recommend in the near-laser line is Yoshikane SKD. Extremely easy to sharpen, very thin behind the edge, and my example at least is more prone to bending than chipping. Really a fantastic cutter and easy to maintain, and you can get them in hammered or nashiji finishes.
Thank you Delat for your wise advices!
I will think on them. About the Yu Kurosaki, it is a bit stretching the finances, but thinking on your advice as a training knife and eventually learning to keep it in a good shape for long time, it can be also a good learning process... probably with a bit of drama if I chip it... as a Japanese opera 😆😆

I read your recomendation on the YOSHIKANE SKD, I saw some beautiful hammered as well in addition to the one at the epicurean website. Not decided yet but I will think in all the great feedbacks from everyone!
Thanks
 

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Regarding why a Santoku? the fact is that generally speaking, I have never invested in a knife, I was always using these stainless steel sets you can buy for 100 euros or less and you get like 5 knives with different sizes. I had no idea about knives’ names. But always the one with the shape of a Santoku (now I know) was the most comfortable and easy to use for me... and I was always wondering where can even find a smaller than 18cm blade.
The chef knife bigger than 18cm always is for me difficult to use unless you are on a grill for a barbecue.
So that is why a Santoku.
You may find that if you start using a proper pinch grip, a longer knife makes more sense. It is easier to control a longer knife with a pinch grip and the grip itself is at least 5cm further towards the tip (than a hammer grip), effectively shortening the length of knife that you have to control by that amount.
 
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Edo

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I think the suggestion of a Kurosaki SG2 with a cheaper carbon great idea. Maybe the carbon would be a gyuto in 210 or 240mm length. Here you have a super useful knife and something to go to town on sharpening/learning. And then throw in a couple of stones like a shapton pro 1k and suehiro rika 5k... Good times.
Thank you madmotts for your comments.
I will also start checking stones now.
👍🏻👍🏻
 

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I'm scratching my head a bit.... you seem to be picking the knife mostly based on look, but I'm not seeing a lot of preferences on what you actually want in a knife performance-wise. I'm be inclined to say you should also consider 210 gyutos, but that's kind of a hard call to make when your reference for comparison is limited.
Personally I'd be reluctant let looks be a guiding choice in picking a knife if the goal is also to learn sharpening on it. There's basically 2 options: you either scuff up the finish in the process of learning, or the 'prettyness' keeps you from thinning and practising on it and thereby gets in the way of learning to sharpen.

Yoshi SKD is sold at www.meesterslijpers.nl but I'd be reluctant to recommend it as basically a 'first good knife'.

By the way, I second Cliff's sentiment about sharpening. Either you learn to do it yourself, you find a professional to do it for you, or you go for cheap knife + electric sharpener setup. Only in the first 2 cases does it make sense to really invest more in a knife.
 
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Jovidah

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Oooh since you're in Europe.... the cheapest option to learn sharpening on, that would also tick your santoku box are probably the cheaper Rober Herder santokus. They come in a carbon version that's easy as pie to sharpen. Not the most high tech steel in the world, a bit on the softer side, but very forgiving and easy to learn on. Over here they sell for something like 70 euros.
 
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silylanjie

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I have a few Makoto Kurosaki knives from his Style-K line and a Ryusei Gyuto 240mm. I really like his knives, the Style-K's blades are thin and very sharp right out of box.
 
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Edo

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I'm scratching my head a bit.... you seem to be picking the knife mostly based on look, but I'm not seeing a lot of preferences on what you actually want in a knife performance-wise. I'm be inclined to say you should also consider 210 gyutos, but that's kind of a hard call to make when your reference for comparison is limited.
Personally I'd be reluctant let looks be a guiding choice in picking a knife if the goal is also to learn sharpening on it. There's basically 2 options: you either scuff up the finish in the process of learning, or the 'prettyness' keeps you from thinning and practising on it and thereby gets in the way of learning to sharpen.

Yoshi SKD is sold at www.meesterslijpers.nl but I'd be reluctant to recommend it as basically a 'first good knife'.

By the way, I second Cliff's sentiment about sharpening. Either you learn to do it yourself, you find a professional to do it for you, or you go for cheap knife + electric sharpener setup. Only in the first 2 cases does it make sense to really invest more in a knife.
Thanks for the perspectives and information on the dutch store.
You are probably right on the selection based on aesthetic criteria (unfortunately in Vienna, I haven’t found a proper kitchen knife store yet). I enjoy cooking and preparing food almost on a daily basis. I don’t know if I should describe what I cook to give more functional perspective-joke aside-. But, I have read through the forum that perhaps many of you enjoy having a knife for keeping it sharp and all that process. My side is more for enjoying the beauty of cutting and do precise preparations.

Anyway, I am studying the different sharpening methods and probably I will buy a King 1000/6000 stone, for which I appreciate your knife suggestion. But for the more expensive knife, I have identified a local store for sharpening, as I commented before.
Btw, I also bought a proper Hinoki cutting board.

thanks for the tips!
 
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