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Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 9:57 am

Ok, here goes....

Do you have good knife skills? I'm practicing and will be for sure with a new knife or two or three
Do you pinch grip? Occasionally. I'm trying to train myself.
Do you have good sharpening skills? I am planning on buying an Edge Pro and learning.
How are you planning to sharpen? see above
Do you have any sharpening equipment you want to use with your new knife? Not yet.
What knives do you consider absolutely essential? Chef knife, bread knife
Would you be comfortable with a 10" chef's knife? Probably not.
How important is appearance? Somewhat. The Kikuichi has a cute chrysanthemum on it :)
Is there a particular aesthetic you really want or don't want (for instance, a "damascus" appearance)? No
Will you be buying them all at once? Trying to decide if I want one or two chef's knives. And need a bread knife.
Stainless or Carbon? Either
Japanese handles (wa) or western (yo)? Never used wa so I am going to say yo for now, but open to suggestions.
Do you have a good board, yet? It's on order - pretty walnut board from Lone Star Artisans
How big? 16x17
How would you rate "value" as compared to "performance?" Performance is extremely important
What's your budget for knives? I don't see myself paying over $200 for a single knife at this point.
What's your budget for everything? It's not set. I'll pick up the knives first, then sharpening stuff in a few weeks. ~$500 for knives.
Are you comfortable breaking up the purchases over time; or do you want everything now? I can break up the purchases, but need a chef's knife right away.

I don't know if this matters but I am a short female - 5'1", so small hands. I have a cheap santoku and maybe because of my height (?) I don't really care for it. I say this because standing at the counter and then put the height of the cutting board and a tall blade and the angle of my arms at the elbow is slightly pointed upwards. I assume not good for cutting. And no - I will not stand on a box.

The things that are important to me in regards to the chef's knife are: potatoes not sticking to the sides of the knife and ease with cutting through carrots/tomatoes. I will not be using it on meat. These will be for home use. Not a pyro-fessional. I am contemplating buying two chefs knives but definitely one chef knife, one bread knife.

Ok, so here are the things that I have seen on the website and am looking for any and all recommendations since I have never even held a Japanese knife.

Gyuto's: They're all 210mm
Hiromoto Gyuto http://www.chefknivestogo.com/higy21.html
Kikuichi Elite Carbon Gyuto http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kielcagy21.html (the TKC is out of stock)
Tojiro DP Gyuto http://www.chefknivestogo.com/todpchkn18.html

Bread knife: haven't spend much time at all looking, but here's one I saw. I like to use my bread maker and would like a good knife to hopefully get more uniform cuts and less crumbs.
Tojiru ITK bread knife http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toitkbrkn.html

I plan on being the one to sharpen my knives so something without a difficult edge to duplicate would probably be best.

Thank you!!!

Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 10:10 am

Hi Kiki,

The Tojiro ITK bread knife is a good one. Get that.

Let's talk a little about sticking. Usually with flatter grinds a knife will stick more so I would recommend a knife that has good convexing. The Hiromoto is one you listed and I think that would be a really good knife for you. It's got good steel, the grind is nicely convexed and the handle is western. It's also a pretty easy knife to sharpen so it would be good to learn on with an edge pro.

BTW this is a fantastic post for getting a good recommendation. More information is better and you provided a lot of good and relevant details here. You get an A+. :)

Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 10:14 am

Bread knife, Tojiro ITK. Great bread knife, very little crumbs!!! Love mine!

Gyuto, the ones you list are good. The Kikuichi Elite Carbon 240 was my first Japanese knife, but potatoes stuck to the blade horribly. The Tojiro DP's and the Hiromoto's are clad blades, and are a little thicker than the Kikuichi behind the edge. Most Japanese knives with western (yo) handles tend to be a little rough fit and finish wise. They usually need some smoothing out with some fine grit sandpaper. I prefer Wa handles now after using them for a bit. Much lighter knives, too w/o the metal bolster!

For cutting performance, look at the Tanaka 210mm Sekiso Damascus gyuto. I have the 240 and it's awesome cutting thru foods. Potatoes just slide right off of the blade. I've had it since August and have only touched it up on a strop 5 times since them and it's still wickedly sharp. It's all carbon, so the whole blade will patina with use. Also, the Richmond AS Laser works very well with those foods you list, they have a 210mm arriving in less than a month. I have the 240 and it slips nicely thru foods. Another choice would be the Richmond AEB-L laser in 210mm size. Goko 210mm gyuto, Masakage Yuki 210mm gyuto are also good choices.

Look in the Videos section of the forum for MrKnifeFanatic's videos. He usually cuts potatoes and carrots with the knives to show how they do. Really helps get a feel for the knives performance!

Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 10:37 am

Thanks for the thorough layout, however one thing sticks in my mind.

You say that using a santoku is difficult for you. I don't think any of the knives you listed, or any similar knives, are going to provide any height relief....at least none that's noticeable.

Are you looking for a knife that is noticeably narrower?

Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 11:53 am

Taz- thanks for the wa recommendations. Some are out of stock, but the Tanaka is in stock and very nice looking. I wonder how it compares to the Richmond AS laser or Goko. I might just try the wa instead of the yo. Might as well if I am going to be training myself to pinch grip.

Mark- that was just a boneheaded theory of mine. Most likely it's that the knife was very dull and I did not enjoy using it. I am interested in a light knife that is relatively thin, but without having tried a bunch of knives I am going to say that anything that is going to keep potatoes from sticking on the sides would be wonderful. I just watched some of the videos from the recs Taz made and the Tanaka 210 Sekiso Damascus, Richmond AS Laser and Goko all look very nice. Going with a wa should help take off a little bit of weight. As for narrower I was assuming it was better but no one has actually told me that yet.

Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 12:22 pm

Well, I happen to have the 240mm Tanaka Sekiso and 240 AS Laser, as well as the 210 KU Tanaka gyuto. The 210 KU Tanaka wasn't ground as far up the blade as the Sekiso, so I reground it as it tended to wedge in foods. The Tanaka Sekiso just flies thru food. It's not a laser, but it cuts very well due to the nice convex grind. The convex grind helps push food away so it doesn't stick as much. Sweet potatoes are very easy to cut with it and regular potatoes feel soft. After stropping it, it sticks into my cutting board constantly.

The Richmond Laser AS has a very similar size and feel. The sides are polished and the spine is a bit thinner above the edge than the Tanaka Sekiso. The grind is also different. It is very thin behind the edge and then fattens out a bit above where the bead blasting was done to the blade, and then tapers back down again slightly towards the spine it feels like? The bulge towards the middle of the blade heightwise pushes food off of the blade and nothing really sticks to it, but there may be some added resistance to the cut from it. It's not very noticeable and seems to work sticking wise. The Tanaka is pretty much convex from spine to edge, so the thickest part is at the spine, where the thickest part of the AS Laser is a little under the spine. I got to cut some more potatoes today with the AS Laser and really enjoyed the cutting action! The bulge is really only noticeable in taller, harder foods where you can feel the extra slight resistance, but those foods are often the ones that stick or cause the knife to wedge and the bulge negates that a bit.

Since you mention veggies I am gonna talk Nakiri's!!! These look like a cleaver, but very thin and can be awesomely thin behind the edge. Veggies are nothing compared to them, raw carrots feel like they have been cooked, etc. I have the Tanaka KU and Tanaka Sekiso Nakiri's and love them both! The Tanaka KU is a little rougher around the edges than the Sekiso, but a little sandpaper will fix it. Its a rustic looking knife, but it's a beast! A good chefs knife can do everything and more than a nakiri, but I still enjoy using my nakiri's for slicing down veggies. The nakiri is either loved or despised, but for home cooks, I really think it's a great tool to have and it helps save the edge on the gyuto, so you don't have too sharpen as much since the cutting is split between two knives. Even the inexpensive Nakiri's like the Yamashin, Tojiro, Tanaka KU, Dojo, Artifex, etc all seem to cut well, but most of them have a little bit more rustic finish.

Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 12:28 pm

The Goko 210mm gyuto would be nice.


Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 1:53 pm

I'm now watching videos on nakiris. I'll have to read some posts about them to see general opinions about them. They look smaller than a cleaver to me. Might be fun to try. In a few Tanaka reviews it was mentioned that they came with a wavy edge or had to be sharpened right out of the box. Was that your experience also?

I thought I heard on a video that the Goko has a convex edge. I am reading Chad Ward's info on knife maintenance and sharpening and am wondering if a convex edge would be too difficult for me to work with as a beginner. I just got to the part where he is explaining the mouse pad trick. I really like it otherwise (maybe someone could etch a flower into it for me and I'd be happy as a clam). Bet you've never had that request yet at Marr Knives.

Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Fri May 10, 2013 2:30 pm

If youre looking for a flower design, check out these Misonos. Flower engraving comes standard.


Re: Gyuto Recommendations Please

Sat May 11, 2013 8:13 am

That questionnaire you filled out looks awfully familiar. Have we met on another forum?

Super thin knives like lasers tend to resist sticking for different reasons than knives which are heavily convexed. The Richmond Laser AS is thin, but not super thin, and is not really a laser. The Richmond Laser in AEB-L is a real laser and without doubt is the best value in the class.

If you get a laser, you'll want to keep something for heavy duty stuff, like cutting around bones, cutting through thick-skinned squash, cutting pineapple, etc. But that's true for all of the knives recommended so far.

The Hiromoto AS gets a lot of love but in my opinion is overrated. It's best feature is its Aogami Super core, but -- while AS is nice -- it still gets dull and still needs to be sharpened. The handles are narrow, and otherwise not particularly good. There are several yo-gyuto which are significantly more comfortable and better finished. In my opinion, for someone who isn't looking for an exotic alloy, the MAC Pro, Masamoto VG and Sakai Takayuki Grand Chef are much better choices at around the same price. For a little more, the Kikuichi TKC is still better.

The Tojiro DP is a good entry level knife. The handles are a little bit wide, if that's an issue.

The Kikuichi Elite is a decent carbon knife at an entry level price -- with a blade that doesn't stink or stain as much as the Fujiwara FKH. But it's entry level. If you're serious about a yo-carbon, spend the extra money and get a Masamoto HC or a Misono Sweden. Speaking as a carbon kind of guy, modern stainless alloys are now so good that you should probably have an articulable reason to put up with carbon.

The Fujiwara FKM (stainless) and Richmond Artifex are top yo-gyuto in the same entry-level price range as the Tojiro DP. The Fujiwara is a good looking, good performer; and the Artifex is a better performer but homely. All three knives come out about equal.

A lot of ladies say they want small knives because they're short or have small hands. When I taught cooking classes, including knife skills, it turned out that most of those preferred longer knives once they learned good grips. Since your only occasionally pinch gripping, that's going to be a good starting point. A 240mm knife is better in every respect than a 210 mm knife except on a very small board (yours is big enough for a 240).

Because a 210 is so short, the proportion of belly (the rounded part near the tip) to flat edge is very high; and tend to promote "rock chopping." Rock chopping a 210 means getting the handle way up, which can be awkward for the short, and the action ends up as a lot of handle pumping. The short length of the flat makes a 210mm gyuto handle a lot like a 180mm santoku.

It's easy to say that length is a matter of taste, but until you've developed the skills (very easy to learn, by the way) that allow you to point a 240 as intuitively as a 210 you haven't developed enough taste to exercise it judiciously. If, at the end of the day, you want a 210 that's okay; but once most people -- even petite people -- make the transition, they don't look back.

Also, whatever length you choose, almost every wa handled knife will feel shorter than its yo counterpart. A wa 240 will handle a lot like a yo 210. So, yes, I'm pushing 240mm as a better choice than 210mm and pushing pretty hard; but if you decide on a 210 that's fine. The idea is that you learn enough to make your own choices on a sound basis, and that's it.

Your final decision could probably benefit from some more field narrowing and Q and A... with most of the questions coming from you.

Of all the knives which have been mentioned so far, the three I'd most recommend are (in alphabetical order):
  • Kikuichi TKC (semi-stainless yo);
  • MAC Pro (stainless yo); and
  • Richmond AEB-L Laser (stainless wa).

Let's talk more about wa choices if you've decided on wa and are still interested in sorting them out with with me.

Your thoughts?

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