Until now the only Japanese knives I have had any experience with is the Tojiro DP 210mm gyuto, the Yamashin 165mm santoku, and the Yamashin 120mm ko bocho. Each of these knives are very nice in their own right. The Tojiro DP was sharp out of the box, cuts very cleanly, and works the way I felt a Japanese knife should. The Yamashins on the other hand did not cut so well out of the box. They were sharp enough to use but too thick behind the cutting edge to perform the way I wanted them to. Thanks to their white #1 steel and a little bit of elbow grease (not to mention a waterstone and some strops), I was quickly able to get them cutting better than the Tojiro DP gyuto. In fact the Yamashin had become my favorite knife again and much of that is because of the steel. I say had become my favorite knife, because now I have a new favorite...
Hail to the King, baby!
The Goko Damascus 240mm gyuto is larger than the Tojiro DP 210mm of course, but it was by a larger margin than I had expected. I must say that I really like its size compared to the Tojiro. The Tojiro DP feels like a small knife to me. I have pretty big hands and use the pinch grip, so the blade just feels tiny. Not so with the Goko. Its size and feel when I used it were absolutely perfect. It feels as though it were made for me.
I also notice the weight of the knife as well. Maybe a more accurate statement is that I noticed the lack of weight, especially in comparison to my Tojiro DP. The Goko is 2 oz. lighter than the Tojiro (5 oz. vs 7 oz.) despite the significant size difference, and I could feel it. It also seemed a little more lively in-hand than the Tojiro. It felt very similar to my Yamashin santoku, but I actually feel more in control with the 240mm gyuto because of the size of the blade. There is more there to hold on to and work with. The Goko is also only one ounce heavier than the Yamashin santoku. One ounce. Given the HUGE difference in blade size and even handle size, I find this to be pretty impressive. I only thought my Yamashin knives were comically light for their size... the Goko puts them to shame!
Here is one of the reasons why:
The spine of the Goko is quite a bit thinner than the Tojiro or the Yamashins. It feels thin in hand and even though it is light the weight seems to balance around the pinch grip for me. That seems to add to the control for me as it doesn't feel as squirrely as the Tojiro with its balance point located around the bolster. The only thing is that the knife is so light it does not cut through veggies with its weight alone. It takes almost next to no force to cut through peppers, onions, and potatoes, but it does take some. I figure that goes with the territory when dealing with such a light knife. I also noticed when cutting potatoes for tonight's supper the blade had no issue with releasing the potatoes even when the blade was wet and starchy. Some of the diced potatoes stuck of course, but for the most part they fell off the blade and the ones that remained came off with a gentle shake.
The thinness of the blade leads into the next point: Sharpness! I was a little concerned about the steel when I read Sandvik's information about it. The page(<-Link)
said 19C27 was designed for high wear resistance for use in industrial cutters. It also said that the steel traded off some keenness of the edge for edge retention. After tonight I can safely say that it is not one of my concerns anymore. The Tojiro DP was able to slice tomatoes without touching them and now my Yamashins can as well, but the Goko leaves them both in the dust! I am out of tomatoes, but from the feel of the edge and they way it cut everything else, I might not even have to touch the tomato with the knife to get see-through slices. lol I did not touch up the edge at all with my strops like I did the Tojiro, nor do I feel the need to. That alone says something to me about how sharp it is out of the box. Of course I am positive there are those that would be unhappy with it, but trust me this knife is SHARP. The blade is so thin behind the edge and seems to be pretty well convexed at the edge as I can't feel a definite shoulder bevel. I can feel where the grind of the knife starts in the middle of the blade, but the edge seems to have a very smooth transition. If it isn't smoothed over it isn't a large one in any case. I can feel a definite transition with my Tojiro and could with my Yamashins when they were straight out of the box. The tip of the blade is also pretty thin and flipped through the onion with ease, and no knife I have ever used had cut the vertical slices as effortlessly as this Goko did. Just straight in, straight out, no hesitation. It also cut the onion in half very easily which kind of took me by surprise. I have never handled a laser type knife before, but to me this is definitely a laser. I can only imagine what a thinner or better ground knife can do if this one cuts this well.
The handle of the knife is fine with a pinch grip, but I couldn't help noticing that the D shaped handle has a rather acute ridge. I could see that being a little uncomfortable if I were to use the racket grip. Nothing a little sandpaper couldn't fix and it isn't all that bad, but it is there. Not at all a deal-breaker in my opinion. The fit and finish is also very nice. The handle to ferrule transition is very clean, and the wood is sanded to a very nice and smooth finish. It did not feel as porous as my Yamashins do. It is like they used a finer grit sandpaper to finish the job. For all I know it might be the difference between magnolia and ho wood. It just feels like a harder, tighter grained wood. There were gaps at the handle though where the tang entered it:
There also looks to be a shim on either side of the blade as well. I don't know if that will be any kind of issue, but it should be easy enough to seal up with beeswax or some sort of epoxy. Again, not a deal-breaker. There are also scratches on the side of the blade where the kanji is located, but again this is not a big deal to me. These could have been seconds after all, hence the pricing.
If I spent $150 and received a knife that cut as well as this one I would be ecstatic. This knife feels like something special to me and works the way I felt a Japanese kitchen knife should. It is so much over and beyond the Tojiro DP and Yamashins out of the box there is honestly no real comparison here aside from the fact that they are all knives... granted I may curse the steel when sharpening time comes around, but that might be quite a ways off. lol Add to all of the pluses the fact that I paid $99 for a very functional piece of art, and I am beside myself with joy.
Whether the knife is $99 or $150, it is worth every penny in my opinion. I haven't tried all of the knives in this price range, but I can't imagine how any of them would be better without having an actual laser on the edge, and even then it would be much more expensive.
As a side note, tonight we had pork and chile stew again, the same thing I based my Tojiro DP review on, so this was pretty much as close to a side by side comparison as one can get even though there really is no comparison between the two. I still find the Tojiro DP and the Yamashins to be great values for the money, but the Goko trumps both as an outstanding value and that would still be true at full price.
Last edited by DefMunky
on Fri Jan 03, 2014 12:10 am, edited 1 time in total.