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knives for lots of veg

Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:48 am

Hey. I work in a vegetarian high volume kitchen, I have a good set but want a larger gyuto; my Tojiro Shirogami feels a bit small these days, and I want something a little less reactive. I have my eye on the Sakai Takayuki Damascus Wa-Gyuto 240mm. I was wondering if anyone has experience with these, and how they compare to the Konosuke HH line, or if anyone has any other suggestions. My budget is under 200, so that seems to leave me with many options. I'm stuck on 240mm, wa handle, and semi stainless.
I'll also be ordering a knife or two for my colleague, it will be her first knife. She is big on thin knives, wants a western handle, and is really into the Sakai Hammered Damascus series, despite my urgings to try the Artifex. Would the 180mm Santoku be long enough, do you think? How is the VG10? Will that be ok for her to learn to sharpen on? Any other suggestions to point me towards?

Re: knives for lots of veg

Tue Oct 02, 2012 1:42 pm

Hi! First let me say that I am the last guy you should be taking advice from. I am just responding to give you food for thought, not advice.

I would suggest you look at the Richmond Artifex 240 Gyuto. It has really great steel and is a terrific bargain. With that said, I operate my home kitchen with a Chinese style cleaver and I love it. Do youknow those hardworking Chinese/Japanese chefs prep most of their food with a cleaver and a petty knife. They do mountains of veggies. Food for thought?

Here is my bias. I don't like santoku knives. I used to sail and we had a saying about mermaids being useless. There wasn't enough fish to fry and not enough woman to love. Skip the santoku for your friend and go with the gyuto. Remember, these are just the thoughts of a home cook. Good hunting!

Re: knives for lots of veg

Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:01 pm

How do you feel about the edge retention of the Shirogami series? Do you sharpen?

Perhaps to reduce your options, but also out of curiosity--what do you use the pointy tip for on the Gyuto?

Re: knives for lots of veg

Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:06 am

Hey. Thanks for the replies, lots of good food for thought. I ended up putting the order through, as recommendations took a little while.
I have a CCK cleaver, and a couple pettys, as well as a cheap stainless nakiri that is a great beater. So the cleaver petty combo is no stranger to me. Some days, I get through everything on just the cleaver. The desire for a 240 gyuto has been getting to me. I feel I would use a longer gyuto more than the 210 Shirogami i have. I had thuroughly considered the artifex, but I'm stuck on the Wa handle, which i find suits me much more than the western. One of my next knives will definitely be a Richmond, but more likely the fanatic, the addict, or the laser.
I have emphasized the usefulness of a longer knife to my colleague, but she is persistant that the santoku's compactness will be an asset, and I believe for her station, it will be very nice. Lots of carrots, green onions, peppers. Tofu bricks. Not a lot of things where she will miss the tip.
Burke: I feel ok about the edge retention on the Tojiro Shirogami. I sharpen on an Amakusa and an Ozuku Asagi (cheap intro to Japanese naturals, which I seem to get along nicely with), then a bit of a strop. While I feel "ok" about the edge retention, I love the grind on the Tojiro for potatoes. The convex edge and shirogami finish makes them fall right off. I find I have to touch up my knives once a week, and I give them a strop before the weekend to bring them back before the high volume days. I find myself very rarely using the pointy tip on my gyuto. If i need a tip, I reach for my petty or my paring.
Mr. Burke, what do you use the pointy tip on the gyuto for?

Re: knives for lots of veg

Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:20 am

Meat--just getting into nooks and crannies in bird carcases and cuts of red meat mostly. That's why I was asking, I don't use the tip of a gyuto for anything with plants that I can't do with a square tip.

The reason a Nakiri is loved for plants is that it doesn't get shorter as you sharpen it, and the blade is focused on things that aren't that aggressive to cut--meat is a much more strenuous workout for a knife than pretty much any plant, because you have to deal with silverskin and connnective tissue, and tough meat that is sitting on slippery fat. You need a knife that can behave with more length when you need it to, and put pressure in different directions.

There is a Richmond Nakiri coming out, which is surely going to float your friend's boat.

Are you saying you got the CCK1303? Or are you still looking to scratch the gyuto itch? If so, just buy one! If you don't love it, you can sell it on here and recoup some cash.

P.S. The thing that keeps the potatoes from sticking on your knife is just the shoulder thickness. That is what you are balancing when making a knife--a thinner knife will cut better(less wedging), but it will stick more(more dragging).

Re: knives for lots of veg

Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:28 am

Yeah, I ended up placing an order for the aforementioned two knives before there were any responses.
However, I beg to differ on the subject of the Gyuto. I find it quite important in terms of going through larger batches of leafy greens (we'll often go through a garbage bag of kale in a few hours at night, chopped fairly). My nakiri is just too short to go though fifteen or twenty kale leaves at once. Also, as I'd mentionned, I'm really stuck on wa handles, and so the other richmond knives appeal a bit more to me. Particularly the fanatic. Then again, I have a 1303, so that would be a little superfluous.

Re: knives for lots of veg

Tue Oct 09, 2012 11:30 am

For leafy greens, I love a Chinese Cleaver too. We had a salad bar at my last job and people drove me nuts cutting romaine lettuce into squares. They'd have their cheapo dull knife and splitting each leaf one at a time for like half and hour or more. I could wash, cut, dry and clean up 44 quarts of romaine in about 10 minutes--with a Cleaver, a head of lettuce becomes chopped lettuce in about 20 seconds!
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