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Yoshikane Tsuchime Santoku

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ModRQC

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Yoshikane – Tsuchime SKD-12 Santoku 180mm
326 / 198 / 184 54 / 43 / 30 … 3.7 / 1.9 / 1.7 / 0.9+20151g****

Long
(Total/Blade/Edge)… High (Heel/Half/Tip -35)… Thick (Heel/Half/Tip -35/Tip -10)…
Balance
(Chin = 0)… Weight Cutting OOTB ( * Poor ** Avg *** Good **** Great)

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Not much to say that most wouldn’t know, Yoshikane is a “common household name”… for those who love Japanese knives. After giving (at last!) my Diplôme Santoku to a friend, I wanted to combine my somewhat unsatisfactory experience with a Nakiri (Mazaki 188/56) and a Bunka (Matsubara 176/53) into a knife I would use for similar purposes but in a profile that suits my somewhat general tasking better. Enters this knife… and the very last Santoku I'll ever shell money on. That one is here to stay though.


FIT & FINISH: 5.5/6

Handle: 1.5/2

Aesthetics, Ergonomics

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The Magnolia D-shape is pretty much oblivious here but does its job fine, and the buffalo horn ferrule is mirror-polished smooth, and well-shaped too. The magnolia wood was not lacquered nor otherwise protected much OOTB, and after only a mild cleanup of the knife immediately turned rough and flaky. I seem to remember that my Mazaki Nakiri (only other Magnolia I ever used) did the very same thing. Easily remedied and prepped for the long run, still warranted my standard average 0.5 point where aesthetics is concerned – got to admit I dig sober traditional looks and this handle is in the ballpark for expected quality at the price.

As always with Wa handles so far, I’m pleased with the spacious grip ergonomics of a longer neck, and here find the 20mm forward balance to sit with this knife perfectly; the tall heel makes it natural to use a choke pinch in finer details, but for most cuts my usual light pinch feels highly natural too. Contrary to my expectations, I like the D-shape handle fine after all (although I prefer octagonals) and this seals the deal where this knife is concerned, for I wouldn’t want the balance point to shift elsewhere. I really thought it might be my first re-handle – but it seems I am not very difficult in these matters.

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Blade: 2/2
Choil, Spine

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We get a perfectly rounded spine, a solid smoothing of the choil, yielding – with the blade being cut without a fault – full marks on this criterion. At that price this is simply in the awesome category of having your fingers welcomed to use. I’d say it’s a perfect example of the level of attention to details that we’d all like to be a given no matter the price paid.

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Finish: 2/2
Aesthetics, Maintenance

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Outstanding is the word that comes to mind, where obviously the sand-blasted bevels go for a bit of an easy process there, but is not overdone. The whole blade is aptly and skillfully brought to consistency and a high level of refinement, quietly imposing yet still somewhat made oblivious. Nothing is superfluous nor superficial as much as part of a highly honed process of making a knife that will feel and look just nice enough to allow full focus on its task.

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As would be expected with the stainless cladding, and according with the highly functional vibe of this knife, maintenance is as easy as can be with even the low alloy core being very well behaved, truly allowing to treat this blade pretty much like you would a stainless. After three-four preps and some letting it lay aside either dirty or wet or both for some fleeting cooking minutes, there’s just traces of a dark blue patina that start to show haphazardly along the core which otherwise doesn’t even look darkened whatsoever. Garlic or shallots or onions were a part of each prep too. That's a blanket statement - garlic or shallots or onions are always part of any prep if I'm cooking something that needs me make use of a knife.

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ModRQC

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EXPERIENCE: 3/4

Box: 0.5/1

Aesthetics vs. Safeguarding

Box.jpg


A neat box and nice packaging with no fluffs, purposeful just like its content, but a very loose friction fit and not much protecting the knife outside the usual VCI fold and here a soft plastic sheath. Pretty much average presentation where either aesthetics or safeguarding are concerned.

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While we’re at it, and since it’s the first time I give 4 stars mark for the OOTB edge, the Yohikane comes out the box ready to cut just as much as a knife fresh out of stones – in my hands, at least. It’s even at a level that I honestly can reach only since very recently, and don’t always manage to my likings – meaning, to this result. I’m eager to sharpen this steel, but I would be stupid to do so under the present circumstances as it would be purely wasting metal for no greater achievement; on the other hand, such a nice edge OOTB allows me to immediately start evaluating retention from as good a basis I could ideally give it myself.

Performance: 2.5/3
Profile, Geometry, Grind

At last but never least, the elements that can make or break the value of a knife, and in this case there wouldn’t be much to complain, although I do have a reservation about the profile.

Profile.jpg

First Sanjo knife here, got to love that spine shot, and that thick neck… so very comfortable!

It’s no major fault whatsoever but the heel is aggressively pointing downward, and slightly backward. Where it combines well with a minimal belly curve and smaller length for pure push cutting, I still have to adjust just that amount too much to the profile for me to truthfully call it a natural and give it full marks. The profile shot makes it obvious that the handle has to be slanted down quite some for the knife to stand on its flat spot. Perhaps taking off that half point seems harsh, but this could really be a real deal breaker for a lot of potential users, and I can only but try to reflect this. I am somewhat tall and therefore naturally approach the board with the knife slanted down quite some, so I did not experience real problems out of it – more the disquieting happenstance that I sometimes touch board at the heel just a fraction of a second sooner than I expect to. I feel this may translate to gouging into the board for those whose natural angle of approach is closer to the horizontal plane.

Choil.jpg


Geometry is superb with certainly not any need for thinning. I give full marks, but would like to remark that food release is not a strong suit with this knife. Here a collage that shows just how much with shallower ingredients/stacks but mind that it’s also the case with taller ingredients like yellow onions or cucumber, where even the transition at the shinogi doesn’t alleviate the tendency much. Easy to wipe them loose though, the finish doesn’t drag, the tsuchime and overall geometry don’t allow full “suction”. As such just a pull cut technique may help a lot with release – but that is going “against” the profile a bit, for the reason mentioned above. Just rounding the heel slightly could do wonders for pull cutters though.

FoodRel.jpg

The cold chicken having lost some of its moist was the only ingredient to fall off the blade instantly.

Where performance from that geometry is concerned, this knife is a tremendous cutter: halving onions, going through carrots, cutting celery curve up or down, it just doesn’t care what the produce is, the feeling is consistent in that you barely feel anything under there. No wedging found whatsoever so far, carrots halved in an almost ominous silence, contributing to the general impression with this knife that food is mostly made of air.

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Grind bears no fault of note that I could feel in touching or take notice of from inconsistencies in use. Visually, there is a “shadow” in the sand blasted pattern on the right side nearing the tip that is no shadow. Bear with me when I say that there’s almost no angle where it doesn’t show first person, but is the kind to be very hard to actually take a picture of at any angle.

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I went astray from my usual focal montage of the full grind on each side, which didn’t show much of this spot, and used a single shot of each side instead; rather I went into some pain to find an angle to show the “shadow” on the right side, and absence thereof on the left side (that one was easy). I’m inclined to think there’s some “hollow spot” there, but then again, nothing major. Comes from some leftover thickness under the shinogi line on that side at that spot – barely noticeable, not impending on use. It’s in comparing with the left side where the main bevel is ground “perfectly” that I was fully made aware of it. It’s pretty much a double of the grind inconsistency I found on my Mabs – same side, same spot, same leftover thickness under the shinogi creating an artificial hollow spot on the grind. Where it made me cringe with the 500$ knife, here it’s of no importance whatsoever.


Overall Score: 8.5/10

Personal take:
One may not want to buy any Santoku, but one should definitely want to try one of these Yoshikane SKD babies (and it seems all lines get positive reviewing anyhow) under whatever form they prefer. For the price, I’m still baffled by how neatly beautiful, focused and highly performing a tool it bought me. I almost pulled the trigger on a matching Gyuto – there is (was) also one in BST that tempted me highly at that exact juncture. But… if buying two units of Zwilling Diplôme at the very beginning of this journey taught me something: money is always better invested discovering something new altogether. Tremendous knife!

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JDC

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What a great review! Yoshikane deserves one like this.

If anyone's looking for a more elevated fit&finish and a thinner tip (aka onion slayers), Konosuke's Sanjo knives are great.
 

mmiinngg

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Nice review, thanks for writing it.
Looking to buy the gyuto 240mm from epicedge, and was also searching for the konosuke ys in the same size. @JDC do you know if it is available somewhere, can only find the 210mm version...
 

daveb

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Nice write up, do like Yoshi a lot though I can't get excited about the hammered finish.

Well done all around.
 

JDC

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@JDC do you know if it is available somewhere, can only find the 210mm version
Here you go, guess it's closer to you:

Tosho has a SKD 240 available. Sumiiro SLD from Bernal or Togo are also worth looking, they are basically a new version of YS
 

tostadas

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Great read as always. What are your thoughts on the feel of the hammered finish?
 

copacetic

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I must give appreciation for your review - a good read and that really looks like my kind of knife, the hammered finish really appeals to my tactile senses. Great that OOTB sharpness is on point - gives a benchmark to subsequently aim for. You've piqued my interest in SKD steels.
 

mmiinngg

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@JDC thanks a lot!!!

The konosuke version does seems to be a lighter version 168g VS 190g...so I might stick to yoshikanes gyuto
 
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ModRQC

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@JDC thanks a lot!!!

The konosuke version does seems to be a lighter version 168g VS 190g...so I might stick to yoshikanes gyuto
I think you should indeed. I'm not saying the YS is not more beautiful. I'm not saying that sometimes, Konos aren't worth the high price tag because the fit and finish is awesome and you know the making processes are tightly controlled there, or because the grind *should* be tip top. In this case however the fit out of Yoshikane's shop is already quite awesome, the steel is well HT, the grind is really well done too.
 

ModRQC

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I must give appreciation for your review - a good read and that really looks like my kind of knife, the hammered finish really appeals to my tactile senses. Great that OOTB sharpness is on point - gives a benchmark to subsequently aim for. You've piqued my interest in SKD steels.
It's more geometry with this one. I mean I am glad that I have a chance to try a low-alloy tool steel I thought was really interesting (A2 sibling) but would a carbon steel variation (Ameriki) been available over here, I probably wouldn't have went with SKD-12. Be that as it may... it's "almost" carbon so I bit the bullet. Don't want anything to do with wear resistant high alloys though. To each his own in the end, this is a great steal so if you're tempted, go for it.
 

birdsfan

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I have a k-tip gyuto from this line and I must agree with all of the good things that @ModRQC said about the grind and the steel. It is a good performer that is a pleasure to use. I think it is a great value at the price too, at least mine was.
 

ModRQC

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Nice write up, do like Yoshi a lot though I can't get excited about the hammered finish.

Well done all around.
I had seen you posted your appreciation of them a couple of times... at one point I think you even mentionned the SKD Gyuto as one you didn't care for the finish but thought had been a good knife. Indirectly, you pretty much done convincing me to try one of these.

Great read as always. What are your thoughts on the feel of the hammered finish?
I'm a bit of Dave's camp in that I don't particularly appreciate the hammered finish here. This was a price vs. geometry vs. steel kind of choice - I didn't care much for the D-handle neither, but details don't matter much in use so I went to buy it. My thoughts were pretty much expressed in the review: I appreciate that the finish is done well and looks really nice. On the other hand, it is so neat that it does look a bit like "printed" tsuchime if you get what I mean. I would have been all for some cheap Migaki finish or whatever plain finish. As mentioned in the review, doesn't help much with food release, but is easy to wipe food off, and easy to clean. In the end, it's functional and neat.
 

zizirex

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Yup, I just got the 240 SKD a couple of days ago. it's really crazy how it performs, I was thinking between the SKD and White 2, but I am thinking that I already have a lot of White 2 Gyuto. I bit the bullet for SKD for a $50 difference, and it's worth it.
 

Wahnamhong

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When would you guys pick a santoku over a gyuto? And what is the difference between Yoshikane SKD12 versus SKD11? I see cleancut has the SKD in stock.
 

ModRQC

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Because you want shorter but taller and flatter. Don’t listen to those who have a hard time with manhood and what it truly means.
 
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