I recently submitted a request for knife recs: long-post-for-a-new-knife-t8014.html
The short version of the story is I listed knives I have used, what I did and didn't like about them, and a list of knives I have considered buying or at the very least would like to try. Nmiller PMed me out of the blue to offer to lend me his Masakage Yuki 240mm gyuto. I would like to say thank you to nmiller for the kind offer, it is a reminder of why I value this community!
The knife I am reviewing is the Masakage Yuki 240mm gyuto listed at CKTG here: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/mayugy24.html
Ok so the Yuki is pretty hashed over. Don't know what I can add really. Let's start with a brief recap of what has been covered:
The Yuki is very thin behind the edge. Thin enough that more novice users should beware of possible edge damage with poor technique. The FnF is outstanding and the overall value of the knife, in a bang for the buck sense, is high. The Yuki occupies a populous niche with a number of other knives with similar attributes. The attributes: Hitachi carbon steel cores, stainless steel cladding, high levels of FnF, handmade and characterful, and all hovering around ~$200. The usual suspects: Goko Wt#1, Anryu Hammered, Itto-Ryu, and the Richmond Laser AS. If you are willing to compromise some of the attributes the list grows considerably with additions like the Tanaka Sekiso, the Kurosaki Megumi, a number of Ginsan offerings, etc, etc.
The most common comparison seems to be the Anryu Hammered. I am a huge fan of the Anryu and the Yuki matched it in pretty much every capacity. As reported the Yuki is thinner and performs a bit better as a result. Otherwise, very similar.
But enough with what has been said, what immediately seemed evident to me despite not having been talked about much, is the obvious and very apropos comparison to the Kanehiro AS. Both the Yuki and Kanehiro are made by Hiroshi Kato and both wear nashiji finished. The knives are different but I think it would be a mistake to oversell the differences, so going forwards each comparison between these knives should be read as marginal and relative.
The two most obvious differences are the core steel and price. The Kanehiro AS uses AogamiSuper so on paper edge retention should be better but edge taking may suffer. The Yuki is Wt#2 so edge taking is excellent but edge retention may suffer. I am a home cook so these differences are pretty academic. The price on the other hand is a substantive difference. The Kanehiro is ~$320 vs the Yuki at ~$230. So the Kanehiro is the "better" knife and the Yuki is the budget offering? No, not at all. In my limited use the Kanehiro had a thinner, better performing grind. But the Yuki had a nicer more refined aesthetic. The swept back heel and red pakka wood ferrule really make the Yuki stand out. The handle construction and install was also better for the Yuki. Coupled with better edge taking properties I would actually consider the two knives a wash, objectively.
Therein lies the conundrum, our needs for knives are not objective, they are formulated based on our preferences, uses, experience, etc, etc. For me, I own the Kanehiro and am borrowing the Yuki, I kinda wonder if I might be better off having inverted that arrangement. As a home cook the better edge retention of the Kanehiro is pretty useless. The Yuki does not perform quite as well as the Kanehiro but it is nicer looking and cheaper. On the other hand, I own the Kanehiro, the cost is already sunk, and I do think it outperforms the Yuki. And I am generally predisposed to favor performance over aesthetics....generally.
length: 239mm (I believe this has had a tip repair so this probably was longer when new)
From top to bottom, Kanehiro, Yuki, Anryu; not the Kanehiro has a more continuous sweep while the Yuki has a longer flat with a pronounced belly:
From left to right, Kanehiro, Yuki, Anryu; largely in order of thickness behind the edge: