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Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:41 am

Hi Mark,

I'm interested in trying a couple Japanese knives, after having spent 25 yrs using quality, but heavy, German knives. I've been reading as much as I can on CKTG, watching videos, etc. I'd like to start with a 210 Gyuto and a bread knife. I'd appreciate your suggestions. Here are a couple comments about each that I hope will give you an idea what characteristics I think might be best for me. I do have an Edge Pro with a basic selection of 'stones' and know how to use it.

Gyuto - because I'm accustomed to the profile of German knives (Wustoff Classic 8", Victorinox 8" (which is a great value play) and Messermeister Meridian Elite 10") most of my cutting motions are based on a knife with some belly. I am concerned the 'flatter' profiles will not work as well for me. I've tried a Tojiro DP and found it more awkward to use because it didn't have enough belly. I assume I'd be smart to stick with a western handle and stainless or semi-stainless steel, although I have two older Sabatier carbon knives which I use occasionally and like how well the steel takes an edge.

Bread - have used a Wustoff Classic 9" for years. It's OK, but would like to try a longer blade, again with belly. I see your Artifex is on sale and it looks like a reasonable alternative based on what I've read on CKTG. I see the Tojiro and Mac are your best sellers. Not sure how the Artifex compares to them, but its steel appears better.

Any and all recommendations appreciated.


Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 9:45 am

My personal recommendation, as an amateur, and a noobie, would be to buy the Tojiro, and forget about what you used to do.

That is the knife I started with, and it was a revelation.

Learn to use new techniques which are more suited to the new (and better) tool.

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:28 am

I actually find the Tojiro DP 210mm gyuto to be too short (spine to heel) to use as my main knife. I find myself using it more as a petty type utility knife. lol Last night I used it to clean up a pork tenderloin and it worked very well for that. I don't really use it for veggies though as it just isn't large enough for me to use comfortable or efficiently. There isn't enough blade there.

On the other hand, my 240mm Goko damascus gyuto has a much taller blade and gives me a lot more to work with. I can rock and push cut with it very well. While I do like the 240mm length it is the height which makes it WAY more usable to me. Otherwise it's like I am trying to work with a steak knife. lol

So yeah, given that you are coming from the place where I essentially was, I'll go out on a limb and say you will probably LOVE a 240mm long, 50mm-ish tall blade. Something with a flat heel and nice sweep up to the tip. Perfect for rocking. ;)

However, before getting too deep in this and going too crazy with assumption, please answer these questions:

1. Are you right handed?
2. What type of knife are you interested in (gyuto, nakiri etc..)? Gyuto and Bread Knife
3. What size knife are you looking for? 210-240mm for Gyuto, 270mm for bread knife (?)
4. Do you prefer carbon or stainless steel? Stainless/Semi-Stainless
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? Yes

I filled in the ones you answered with the first post. That leaves right or left handed, price, and handle, as well as any corrections you would like to make. lol Don't close yourself off to western handles just because that is what you are used to. ;) If you use a pinch grip chances are you will LOVE a wa handle.

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:55 am

You mentioned that you had some old carbon Sabatiers. Those have a flatter profile than the Wusthof's typically. How do you like using them?

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:13 am

On the bread knife side of things, I own the Tojiro ITK and am very happy with it. It may have problems with really crusty breads (anecdotal only), and the handle has a few slight gaps on mine, but it is supremely functional. It has worked great so far for everything I have used it on. I would certainly recommend it, but I do not know how the Artifex compares.

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:57 pm

1) I own the Tojiro ITK bread knife and like it quite a bit. Reviews posted here compare the Richmond Artifex bread knife favorably but I cannot vouch for the personally. Estayton mentioned there have been some reviewers who have problems with scalloped edged bread knives and hard crusty breads. The Tojiro ITK is scalloped as is the MAC, but I cannot tell from the pictures whether or not the Artifex is.

2) The Sabatier profile is fairly flat, more like Japanese cutlery than German chef's knives. If you feel comfortable with that profile, you may be able to adapt to the flatter Japanese profile. I believe the Artifex gyuto lineup is moving toward a more traditional gyuto profile, but they were loosely based on the Sab profile as seen here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riar24gy.html. The Richmond Ultimatum is also based on the Sab profile but is only available in longer lengths: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riul.html. The "original" Japanese take on the Sab profile is the Masamoto KS: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/makswa24.html.

3) The Shun lineup has more offerings will belly that might be an easier transition for a rock cutter.

4) If the rock cutting is causing a difficult transition to Japanese cutlery, you might consider a longer length. A longer length extends your dominant hand further from the rock cutting fulcrum, shortening your range of motion, making rock cutting a bit easier. Just a thought.

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:37 pm

Good points Cedarhouse - a longer knife will actually make rock cutting with a flatter profile easier than using a shorter 210 Gyuto.

Also, it's not an absolute, but Gyutos with blades that are taller at the heel tend to have more inherent belly than those that are shorter. There are exceptions, of course ;-).

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:48 pm

SteveG wrote:There are exceptions, of course ;-).

The Takeda "Super Santoku" gyuto comes to mind... lol ;)

But yes, I find rocking with my 51mm tall 240mm Goko damascus gyuto to be MUCH easier than the 44mm tall Tojiro DP 210mm gyuto. The taller blade definitely makes for more belly at the tip with a more "standard" gyuto profile. I think the Tojiro DP might have also been fine as well if the blade was just a little taller at the heel. As it is it is too flat. That's why I posted that I think a gyuto around 240mm long and 50mm tall might be a better choice for the OP. He is coming from about the same place I was coming from and seemed to feel about the same as I did my Tojiro.

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Wed Jan 22, 2014 8:24 pm

Would probably love this if you like belly :D , and I love 52100 steel! http://www.chefknivestogo.com/bobkramer.html

Re: Interested in trying Japanese knives.

Thu Jan 23, 2014 8:05 am

Yeah, the Kramer Wusthof would be a great choice.....had totally forgotten about that one. :)
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