Quantcast

Usuba advice

Kitchen Knife Forums

Help Support Kitchen Knife Forums:

Namaxy

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
814
Reaction score
59
Still a relative newcomer to this site and my first time asking for advice so bear with me :) I've been interested in a Usuba for a while now. I realize it's not high on the list of priorities for a non-pro chef, but I love working with veggies and have been practicing making thin cucumber and daikon sheets (Katsuramaki sp?).

I have the sense that because these are somewhat specialized knives that there are less choices available. Given that, I'd prefer to stay fairly traditional. Are there compelling reasons to go with one shape vs. another...IE the rounded Kamagata style vs. the non-pointed rectangular shape? Similar question regarding steel - are single forged steels more classic in this style than layered? I somewhat fear that my preference for a classic knife puts me in a high price bracket, but I'd rather do that, or nothing at all, than buy a knife that performs poorly and/or can't be sold/traded. Any advice, including specific recommendations would be much appreciated!
 

jm2hill

Founding Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2011
Messages
541
Reaction score
0
you'll get lots of advice but the one you'll here the most is - cheap single bevel knives can be extremely poorly ground. Its better to spend more then to try work the waves and spots out yourself. You really want one with a dead flat edge and good transitions.

I have a kamagata - people say the tip is more useful on a kama - I don't use the tip all that much with it but it does give it a bit more versatility.

180 - 210 are the most used sizes-- gives good size for daikon sheets as well as just general use. 165 is common as well, I find that size small tho.

Have you used single-bevels before?
 

knyfeknerd

Original Knerd of Knives
Joined
Feb 28, 2012
Messages
3,568
Reaction score
1
Great thread. I'm in the market for an usuba as well. Am going Kamagata for purely aesthetic reasons. Would love to hear any and all input from members responding to your questions. I've really been keen on a 210 Suisin Inox, but also really like the Gesshin Hide Blue as well. Now that I'm comitted to spending(Saving) that amount of money, I'm not really sure which one to go with.
 

Seth

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
695
Reaction score
6
I don't know about compelling reasons but kamagata style seems to be more popular and maybe more useful. If by single steel you mean honyaki then you are talking major bucks. If you mean kasumi vs suminigashi then I think you will see more kasumi. That's a layer of soft and a layer of hard. Regardless, if you are thinking traditional you probably want carbon, though the suisin inox is a nice knife. As far as resale I think you can't be too expensive or too cheap. I have a suisin ginsanko, about $400, and a Nenohi, about $850. I think I would have trouble selling the Nenohi. Talk to Jon at JKI for some good guidance and look at his site and also Korin to get an idea of the range of choices. Blue steel, white steel, stainless, etc. Name brands will be easier to sell: Masamoto, Suisin, etc.
s.
 

Namaxy

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
814
Reaction score
59
Thanks for the responses, and sorry I missed the referenced threads....I tried the search function but didn't find those discussions...search fail on my part.

On the the single bevel question, yes I've been using a yanigba for almost 2 yrs now, and it's what I've been using for sheets so far. As for steel, yes I meant honyaki. I've been looking at the knives mentioned..the Gessin blue, the Suisin, on JKI, as well as a white carbon steel on EE.

Thanks again for the responses, and I'll go through those other older threads.
 

Crothcipt

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2012
Messages
3,474
Reaction score
2
Ty for posting those threads I found it very useful. I have been thinking about single bevels for a few weeks and this has me thinking a little more.
 

JKerr

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
412
Reaction score
8
I own 3 usuba atm, 21cm Mizuno kamagata, 21cm tadatsuna azumagata and a 24cm Shigefusa azumagata. I prefer the azumagata (sqaure) style, but I reckon this comes down to personal preference more than anything. I have no doubt that the kamagata has a more versatile profile, I just feel like I need to be more delicate with the kamagata due to the tip, though I think this is just a a mental thing on my behalf. Having said that, it could be down to what I've used and when; the mizuno was the first I owned and I was pretty clueless back then, I got the tadatsuna at least a year later when I was a bit more knowledgeable, and the Shige recently (which is friggin' awesome).

As for length? What size are your other knives? I have a preference to 27cm gyutos and a while back got right into full size cleavers, and I find 21cm+ comfortable with an usuba. I don't think you would go wrong with 21cm, IMO it can feel a little small on the board if you're use to larger knives, but it does feel better for "in-hand cutting".

Never used a cheap usuba myself so I can't comment on that but I'd recommend not getting carried away. I spent almost $400 on my Mizuno and while I try to convince myself I liked it at first, I found it incredibly frustrating and it got little use, I've since come around to appreciating the usuba and while I enjoy using them, they're not the first knife I reach for and probably never will be (again, as much as I try to convince myself otherwise. They're just so cool).

Personally, if I had the benefit of hindsight and was buying my first usuba again I would look at: The Sakai blue steel options from Blueway Japan (heard the white steel single bevels can be hit-or-miss); yoshihiro range from Jon at JKI; the Monzaburo ranage at Aframes and finally; I would consider the tanaka from Japan Tools Metalmaster, heard the fit and finish can very sketchy on these, but I recall Kcma on FF saying good things about them. And I'd probably just go carbon as a first, cause (good) stainless usuba are ***** expensive.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Josh
 

Mucho Bocho

Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2012
Messages
3,800
Reaction score
132
Location
Raleigh, NC
Great post. I'm considering a Usuba as well. Just purchased a hon-sumi 195 Yusuke Deba in Blue2. The second knife I bought from Keiichi (BluewayJapan). I'm strongly considering a 210 Usuba in blue# hon-sumai myself.
 

Namaxy

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
814
Reaction score
59
I own 3 usuba atm, 21cm Mizuno kamagata, 21cm tadatsuna azumagata and a 24cm Shigefusa azumagata. I prefer the azumagata (sqaure) style, but I reckon this comes down to personal preference more than anything. I have no doubt that the kamagata has a more versatile profile, I just feel like I need to be more delicate with the kamagata due to the tip, though I think this is just a a mental thing on my behalf. Having said that, it could be down to what I've used and when; the mizuno was the first I owned and I was pretty clueless back then, I got the tadatsuna at least a year later when I was a bit more knowledgeable, and the Shige recently (which is friggin' awesome).

As for length? What size are your other knives? I have a preference to 27cm gyutos and a while back got right into full size cleavers, and I find 21cm+ comfortable with an usuba. I don't think you would go wrong with 21cm, IMO it can feel a little small on the board if you're use to larger knives, but it does feel better for "in-hand cutting".

Never used a cheap usuba myself so I can't comment on that but I'd recommend not getting carried away. I spent almost $400 on my Mizuno and while I try to convince myself I liked it at first, I found it incredibly frustrating and it got little use, I've since come around to appreciating the usuba and while I enjoy using them, they're not the first knife I reach for and probably never will be (again, as much as I try to convince myself otherwise. They're just so cool).

Personally, if I had the benefit of hindsight and was buying my first usuba again I would look at: The Sakai blue steel options from Blueway Japan (heard the white steel single bevels can be hit-or-miss); yoshihiro range from Jon at JKI; the Monzaburo ranage at Aframes and finally; I would consider the tanaka from Japan Tools Metalmaster, heard the fit and finish can very sketchy on these, but I recall Kcma on FF saying good things about them. And I'd probably just go carbon as a first, cause (good) stainless usuba are ***** expensive.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
Josh
Thanks for good advice Josh. My knives are pretty varied....gyuto in 270, 240 and 210, yanagi in 240, 150 petty etc. I think 21 would be the right size given I hope to use it for 'in hand' work. I tend to think I'll limit it to specialized work, and to be honest the azumagata style appeals to me more from an aesthetic point of view.
 

Mucho Bocho

Supporting Member
Joined
Feb 17, 2012
Messages
3,800
Reaction score
132
Location
Raleigh, NC
I just pulled the trigger on this Kama-Usuba. It will be here Wednesday. Reviews and porn to follow. Seems like an amazing deal for a Blue#2 Steel Kama-Usuba Knife 210mm that is officially Inspected and Hon-Kasumi from Sakai Ichimonji-Kichikuni. What do you guys think? Its being shipped with a 195 Deba in same configuration. Exciting times.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230738170649?_trksid=p5197.c0.m619
 

Seth

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
695
Reaction score
6
I think spine thickness is something to pay attention to. My ginsanko is thick, the Nenohi is much much bigger but still thinner and so the bevel is much more acute. For in hand and delicate work in general you probably want a thin spine. Suisin does most things toward the robust side which is fine for on the board. When I practice rotary peeling (someday I will learn to spell katsawhosey) I go for the thin Nenohi or even a thin yanagi.
 

schanop

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
1,792
Reaction score
3
Any progress Namaxy?

@mucho bocho, show us more knife pics when they arrive. A comment on blade straightness would be helpful to others too. Mine in white #2, usuba was great, straight, well finish, edge retention was so so compared with other better usubas that I have.
 

schanop

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
1,792
Reaction score
3
And if we are talking about thickness/spine thickness and tapering. This shigfusa usuba spine shot is pretty darn sexy, I think:
 

JKerr

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
412
Reaction score
8
I will vouch for the sexy distal taper on the Shig usuba:

:D

Josh
 

Deckhand

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
1,734
Reaction score
1
Wow really nice. Need to add this to my list of wants!
Not very easy to find on my web quick search.
 

Seth

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
Messages
695
Reaction score
6
Apparently you have to go to Australia to get a single bevel nakiri...:)
 

JKerr

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
412
Reaction score
8
Yeah, I think I got pretty lucky. I was just browsing the usual sites after work one night and while checking Aframes the two Shigs were added to his listings whilst I was flicking through his categories. At the time I wasn't actually interested in adding another usuba to my kit, but I'd always thought a 24cm usuba would be cool (and they seem to be pretty damn rare) and I'd been eager to try a Shig so it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. Very reasonable pricing too, I've got a bit of a crush on Aframes at the moment, great site.

Cheers,
Josh
 

SameGuy

much more awesomer
Joined
Feb 24, 2012
Messages
691
Reaction score
0
Hubba hubba!

Schanop: any possibility you can post similar pics of your other usubas for comparison? That white 2 Ichi-Kichi with which you got lucky has me quite intrigued.
 

schanop

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2011
Messages
1,792
Reaction score
3
@seth, no, not setting this baby. It was one of my most recent acquisition.

@sameguy, for illustrative purpose, I've don't a group shot of my single bevel vegetable knives:

bottom to top: Shig kitaeji, Sakai Ichimonji-Kichikuni shironiko, Sakai Takayuki aoniko, Shig kasumi, A-type, and Kanemasa shironiko.


and a profile shot for comparision.
 

knyfeknerd

Original Knerd of Knives
Joined
Feb 28, 2012
Messages
3,568
Reaction score
1
If there is such a thing as a knife boner, I definitely just got one. I love chopping vegetables! Yes, seriously. Great collection. You are one lucky man.
 

Namaxy

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
814
Reaction score
59
Any progress Namaxy?

@mucho bocho, show us more knife pics when they arrive. A comment on blade straightness would be helpful to others too. Mine in white #2, usuba was great, straight, well finish, edge retention was so so compared with other better usubas that I have.
Thanks for all the advice and great wisdom in this thread. Progress has been slowed considerably as this is school vacation week, we're in FLA, and there's lots of Patron and Knob Creek :biggrin: I've sent some inquiries to JKI, Aframes and Japan Woodworker - but not heard back yet.

The Shig photos are awesome - thanks for posting them!
 

Namaxy

Supporting Member
Joined
Apr 9, 2012
Messages
814
Reaction score
59
Anyone have any experience or knowledge of the Kumagoro knives offered at EE?
 

Latest posts

Top