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 Post subject: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 27, 2014 11:00 pm
Posts: 4
I am looking to purchase my first Japanese Gyuto knife and could use a little help/direction. I have been reading about all the different steels, bevels, thickness, something about “lasers” and now my head is spinning!

I am looking to spend up to $130 - $140. I am a home cook that enjoys cooking for relaxation/fun/stress relief, and thus have home-cook knife skills (no chopping celery a million-miles per hour), but I do like very precise cutting. (Which begs the question, would I be able to tell the difference between Blue Super and White #1 steel assuming I can sharpen each one?)

For reference, I have a very nice block-set of Wusthof Classic Ikons that my sister-in-law gave me a few years ago. I like these knives, particularly the Santuko – it is much lighter, thinner and sharper than the 8” Chef’s knife that came with the set. The problem is that the Santuko is only 140mm long. This makes it hard to break-down something like a large butternut squash. Thus, I would like to get something that is sharp and thin like that knife (maybe better), but is a little longer.

I take very good care of my knives, so the additional maintenance of Carbon is not something that would bother me.

What I would like from a Japanese knife:

1) SHARP!
2) Thin – I like the way my Santuko feels like it just falls through items, and I want more of this.
3) Food, like tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, etc to “fall away” from the blade instead of stick (like with my Wusthof Chef’s knife). My Wusthof Santuko is better than the Chef knife in this regard, but only slightly.
4) Light & nimble feel – by comparison, my 8” Wusthof Chef knife feels too big for most chopping/slicing that I do. Not sure if that is due to its heft or it just means that I need a larger cutting board (dicing an onion feels like work with it). The 140mm Santuko is too short, and the 8” Chef feels to long – maybe I need a 7” (180mm) knife? Maybe 210mm is fine as long as it is not as bulky as the Wusthof?

I started to look at some knives such as the Hiromoto AS carbon and the Fujiwara FKH, but my concern is that they are just carbon versions of my Wusthof Chef’s knife (bulky, heavy) and not really something different/better.

Again, I interested in carbon (which type??) but not opposed to stainless, although I feel like my stainless bases are already covered with the Wusthofs. I am also open on handle type. I am right handed. My sharpening skills are low, but I am willing to learn and purchase stones.
Thanks in advance for any help!


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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:04 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:21 pm
Posts: 708
Location: Minneapolis, MN
answer a few simple questions and let the fun begin :)

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?


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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:27 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:00 pm
Posts: 2472
Metropolis, I think you pretty well answered all the questions in your excellent post.

The first Santoku that comes to find for you is the Takamura: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takamura1.html.

It's very light , thin, stainless, and comes very sharp OOTB.

Another really nice one is the Hiromoto AS: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/hisakn19.html.

It's a bit longer, has a great carbon steel core with SS cladding. Very nice performer for the $. Both the above knives will hold an edge for a long time.

If you can wait until it's in stock, the Kohetsu:http://www.chefknivestogo.com/koaosusa18.html is an awesome Santoku. Same construction as the Hiro, but even better AS steel and Wa handle.

This Sakai Takayuki is also nice:http://www.chefknivestogo.com/satadahasa18.html. There should be a video for that one. I'll let Mark know to put it on the product page.

I think you could also look at light, thin 210 Gyutos as well. Here is a really nice one: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/satadagy210.html.


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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:34 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:18 pm
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Location: Madison Wisconsin
I love the Takemura that Steve recommended. That would be an excellent choice.



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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:45 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 2068
Metro,

Based on your post, I would consider the Fujiwara FKH very seriously for a gyuto http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fujiwara210.html. A 210mm gyuto is the 8" analogue. The Fujiwara is well within your price range. It is a decent quality carbon steel. It is thinner and lighter than your Wustof Icon 8" chef's knife. According to one website site, the Icon is 9oz in the 8" length. The Fujiwara 210mm, by comparison, is listed at 5.8oz. So it is not merely a Japanese version of the Wustof.

FWIW, the usual suspects for entry level Japanese knives are the Tojiro DP, the Richmond Artifex, and the Fujiwara FKH/FKM lineup. The Fujiwara line up is the thinnest of the three. So I think this is right up you alley.

If you go the Fujiwara route, then take some of your savings and consider an entry level waterstone or two and learn to sharpen. Like a high performance sports car Japanese knives will run circles around their more well know competition, but to keep them performing they need maintenance.

Steve's recommendations are regarded as better knives, but it seemed you were interested in purchasing a gyuto, and the gyutos in those lines are somewhat more expensive. In fact, the Tojiro/Artifex/Fujiwara trifecta is often recommended side by side because they are the same price range and there is not similar bang for the buck until you get into the $150-200 range with knives like the Hirimoto.


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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 1:49 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:07 am
Posts: 371
Not liking the monster Wusthof Ikon 8" is understandable as it weighs in at 9oz or 255g. I think you'll be surprised how much you like a lighter 8"(210mm) gyuto. Do you have a handle preference?

Western(yo) handles:
- Richmond Artifex is a great steal(stainless a deal breaker?) at a great price. Handle is very basic. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riar21.html
- Hiromoto is a classic work horse, but is still way lighter than your Ikon http://www.chefknivestogo.com/higy21.html
- Kohetsu Blue similar to Richmond artifex, but uses carbon steel(blue#2). You don't find many mono steel carbon knives at this price http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohetsublue1.html


Japanese(wa) handles:
- AS laser is a little above budget. Beautiful handle and fantastic performance may justify the extra $? I'm loving my 240 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/rilaaosu21gy.html
- Tanaka Sekiso is one of the top rated knife for tall/hard ingredients, by an experienced forum member. The weight isn't listed, but I would assume it's around 5.6oz/160g http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tanakagyuto2.html
- 240mm maybe too long for you, but if not the Goko Damascus is thin, good looking, light 5oz(142g) and a steal at the current price http://www.chefknivestogo.com/goko.html


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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:32 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:40 pm
Posts: 267
>mark< those are good suggestions but jsyk the kohetsu b#2 is stainless clad not mono


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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:37 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:44 am
Posts: 1116
For the difference in steel to play a factor many things come into consideration.

First off, the heat treatment, or a steel's particular hardness. This plays a role in angle acuity, also, edge retention

Next, the grind of the knife. A knife's grind holds influence over its non-stick properties more than anything else. Thinner knives stick less in general.

Thirdly, sharpening ability factors into the perception of a steel.

White #1 can be sharpened quickly (relative term) and acutely; these properties come from the fine grain of the steel. A potential negative of White steel in general is that comparatively to a Blue steel they have lesser edge retention. But again, this can be subjective. A white knife at HRC 65 sharpened to 18 degrees could outlast a Blue knife at HRC 62 sharpened to 12 degrees. (My theory, anyway)

Blue steels have added elements (Chromium and Tungsten) that lend to edge retention at the perceived expense of sharpen-ability.

The Hiromoto knife is Aogami super and is a strong recommendation for a western style carbon knife. It is clad in stainless for ease of maintenance. The Kohetsu is also great in this steel and is a wa handle, if you are looking for that.

White #1..... The Goko 240 comes to mind as a great knife, alas OOS. This knife would not be as thin as the Kohetsu.



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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:37 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:57 pm
Posts: 600
I've used the Ikon 7" santoku extensively. It is thin at the spine, but behind the edge quite a number of knives, even gyutos, will be thinner. So I wouldn't worry about the thinkness on the Fujiwara FKH/FKM. The Hiromoto AS is a bit beefier, but probably still thinner than your current chef's knife and will definitely hold a steeper edge better than the Ikons will. I wouldn't worry too much about type of steel once you get into white/blue varieties, outside of personal curiousity. As a home cook they will all work great, though that isn't to say that you wouldn't develop a favorite.

180 mm is a nice size for utility tasks. I honestly have done tons of prep (home user) with a 180 mm gyuto, but I tend to use it as a larger utility knife. I think you'd probably find a 210mm gyuto would feel smaller than your 8" chef due to its lightness, and that would be my suggestion.

Other 210mm gyutos to consider are the Richmond Kohetsu Blue #2 which could be a good choice (but it is new, I don't have much intel on it), or the Misono Swedish or Kikuichi Elite Carbon. Those are well-reputed knives. Take your pick, really. These all have western handles, but I think others have pretty well covered your wa-handled options.


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 Post subject: Re: Need Help Selecting 1st Japanese knife
PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:40 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:07 am
Posts: 371
cheffiec wrote:>mark< those are good suggestions but jsyk the kohetsu b#2 is stainless clad not mono

Ha Ha originally had another knife I was going to put there... poor editing :oops:
Thanks for correcting!


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