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Good Japanese knife

Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:44 pm

I’m interested in getting a good japanese knife. I’m a home cook only. I was recently given some Calphalone Katana Series knives and found the Chef’s knife to be rather dull compared to what I was expecting.

I’ve heard good things about your Richmond line (particularly the Artifex) and was wondering if you could offer any other options for me?

It will get used about 4 days a week, never cutting anything with bones.

Thanks,
Blake

Re: Good Japanese knife

Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:13 pm

1. Are you right handed?
2. What type of knife are you interested in (gyuto, nakiri etc..)
3. What size knife are you looking for?
4. Do you prefer carbon or stainless steel?
5. Do you prefer a western handle or a Japanese handle?
6. How much did you want to spend?
7. Do you know how to sharpen?

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:11 pm

1. Are you right handed?
2. What type of knife are you interested in (gyuto, nakiri etc..)
3. What size knife are you looking for?
4. Do you prefer carbon or stainless steel?
5. Do you prefer a western handle or a Japanese handle?
6. How much did you want to spend?
7. Do you know how to sharpen?

Right handed
Gyuto
240mm
Not a huge preference but tend to lean toward carbon for it's ease of sharpening (see below)
Japanese handle
Under $200 - preferably closer to around $100 and then get some sharpening stones
I've never sharpened but am fully willing and wanting to learn

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:23 pm

Blake, from experience I can tell you that your Katana knives will get very sharp. They are also quite thin behind the edge. The handles though are very heavy for my taste and tend to throw the balance pretty far back on the knife. They will be awesome for learning to sharpen. Don't get rid of them any time soon :-).

Now to a recommendation. The Kohetsu AS 240mm Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/rikoaosu24gy.html would be an awesome knife for you. Superb value and a fabulous performer. Stainless cladding over a carbon steel core that exhibits awesome edge retention.

If you want to do it "right" the first time - get the Kohetsu.

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:31 pm

Is there a particular honing rod and/or stone you recommend? Again, I'm a novice to sharpening, but I do have a few really cheap chef knives I can learn on.

My issue with the Katana knives is the weight and the handle like you mentioned. Just not a big fan of them. I may hold on to them though as you suggested.

The Kohetsu looks like a very nice knife. You have definitely peaked my interested with this one. I will most likely take your advice and take the plunge on this one today.

Now that you have recommended that knife, is there another between the $100-$150 range you also recommend? For curiosities sake.

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:50 pm

Blake - there isn't much that can touch the Kohetsu for a 240 Wa Gyuto at that price range. Another possible option would be the Tanaka Ginsan Gyuto 240:http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tagigy24.html. The Kohetsu is a better knife. Watch the 240 and 210 Ginsan Quick Look videos for info on work that you'll need to perform on the blade to make them comfortable. They are not really ready to go OOTB IMO. If you don't sharpen - again IMO, go for the Kohetsu. It's sharp OOTB and with minimal maintenance, it'll stay sharp for quite a while. You can be learning to sharpen in the meantime on your other knives and friends/neighbors knives, etc.

I'd suggest creating a topic in the sharpening forum, stating that you'll be getting a ______ knife, what stones should I get...

I will say, if used correctly, one maintenance option might be the Idahone Fine Ceramic honing rod: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/id12cerodwna.html. Check out my video on the product page for one way to use the hone w/o damaging your knives. If used correctly it can really do a nice job keeping your edges in shape in between sharpening sessions.

You might literally get months of home use on a Kohetsu, performing occasional stropping/honing maintenance, before a re-sharpen is required. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:53 pm

I'm just going to add - get the Kohetsu. It will blow your freakin' mind! Really...

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:55 pm

Okay, so it seems that for the extra $35 you are strongly suggesting the Kohetsu over the Tanaka.... and I really am a slightly impatient person so sharpness OOTB is always nice ;) I'll do as you suggested and make a post over there right now. Thank you again for the suggestions.

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 2:56 pm

haha, just saw your last post right before I posted mine ;) The Kohetsu it is then. Off to make a post regarding some stones to get as well.

Re: Good Japanese knife

Thu Jan 02, 2014 3:33 pm

All of us are different so we'd all have different recommendations (ain't life grand? ;) ) but my personal recommendation is to get at least a 1k and a 5k stone. Really a 4k to 6k stone would be fine for the higher grit stone. The 1k stone will sharpen the knife well and the 5k will refine the teeth from the 1k even more to make for a nice edge on a kitchen knife. I would also recommend a strop of some kind to use after sharpening for further refinement and for use instead of a knife steel or ceramic rod. The strop will do the same thing for the harder steel that a regular steel does for softer knives. Then you can add other stones as you learn more about sharpening and what you want your edges to be like.

This set seems to be a popular one for folks around here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/4pcshstset.html

It's a two piece set with a 1k and a 6k stone as well as a couple of accouterments to assist with sharpening.

Or you could go the full monty and get this set: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/knshcoset.html

It has 3 stones, a 500, a 1.2k, and a 5k, as well as a flattening plate (which will be something you want), a stone holder, a sharpie (helpful for learning to sharpen), and the felt block and loupe the other set has. This set it also pretty much ready to have a strop added as well. The 3" x 8" strops that fit the flattening plate and compounds/sprays are found here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/strops.html

At the very least you'll want the stones (1k and 5k) first and you can just use the 5k for touch ups if you like. The other stuff can be added on later.

For other knives, I dunno that any will necessarily be any better than the Kohetsu for the price or comparable for less.
You might look at the Goko 240mm: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/gokogyuto240mm.html
It's a handmade gyuto with white #1 steel which will take a blazing sharp edge but won't keep it as long as the Kohetsu will. That isn't really an issue for a home user generally though. White #1 is about the easiest steel to sharpen and takes what is probably the finest edge of any steel. Plus Gokos are sharp out of the box.

Another white #1 knife I feel is worth consideration is the Yamashin 240mm: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/yawh1gy24.html
It will not have the same cutting performance out of the box as the Kohetsu or Goko or the same level of fit and finish, but with some work on the stones it can really come to life. Just know that it will take some work to thin and sharpen to get it to where it needs to be. Think of it more as a project knife and something that you can practice your sharpening on.

I'd say for a first-timer, spend the money on something better at first and maybe buy the Yamashin to play with once you know what a Japanese knife can be capable of. That being said, even the Yamashin will out perform many western knives out of the box. It just isn't to the same level as some of the others.

Now if you'd shown up earlier I would have said grab the new Goko damascus 240mm, but it was sold out in like a day at $99 each. lol I have a feeling it would still be a nice knife at the full price of $150 if Mark gets any more someday, but at $99 I think it was a steal and apparently a lot of other people felt the same way. lol

Here's the Goko Damascus 240mm to drool over even if it isn't in stock anymore (cruel, I know lol): http://www.chefknivestogo.com/goko.html

Edit: Well, a whole convo has been had while I typed this, but I'm posting anyway! LOL Yes, get the Kohetsu! It is one I have been looking at myself, but I just lean towards the Goko for its mix of performance and looks. It would not really be any better or worse than the Kohetsu for the price, just a different knife. ;)
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