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 Post subject: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:09 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 2895
The high brow way to say it is I am epicurean...but 'round here I am just a knife slut and yet again someone was kind enough to offer me a one night stand with one of their beauties.

jsgillis86 has allowed me to try out his Masamoto KS. It is truly humbling the kindness he and so many others on this forum have extended to me. Thank you!


It is hard to say anything new about the KS. It is also somewhat useless to say much more about the KS since it is apparently gone the way of the dodo. And that is a shame because the KS is a really remarkable knife that accomplishes something few knives can...singularity.

There are so many outstanding knives on the market we often fall into an arms race of hyperbole trying to draw distinctions between them. The Anryus, Masakages, Gokos, AS Lasers, Tanakas, etc, etc all offer variations on a common, and very good, theme. The KS though stands apart from most every other knife I have used in some magnificent ways.

The KS is most notable for its profile. "The KS profile" is a thing that we use to describe knives now. The Artifex and the Ikeda come to mind. The profile is awesome in that the tip is extremely nimble for delicate tasks; the edge profile is flat, ideal for push/pull cutters and choppers; the length is long which is prefered by many enthusiasts with confidence in their technique; and the height at the heel is relatively short which is somewhat divisive, but it does mean the hand is close to the product for a high degree of control.

The profile may miss my favorite part of the knife once it was in hand. The distal taper on the knife means that the highly acute tip angle is matched by a similar thinness while the belly and then heel are progressively thicker giving the knife much more substance and power than true lasers can muster. My closest knife, profile wise, to the KS right now is probably my Rodrigue Mid-Tech. The Mid-Tech is a uniformly thin laser, not unlike a Kono HD. The Mid-Tech is excellent in the tip but when working with hardy stuff there is no muscle to be found on the blade. The KS has muscle. If you need to drive through something, move your product toward the heel, need a scalpel, the tip is only a few inches away. The only draw back to this excellent distal taper is it may not work for all cutting styles equally. I pull cut a lot so as I pull through an ingredient I am pulling from the thick of the blade toward the thin meaning my cut meets decreasing resistance. If you push cut, the increasing thickness of the distal taper couples with the increasing thickness of the grind to make the knife "wedge".

Now wedging is an overstatement because the grind of the knife moves very well through product and it telegraphs what is happening well enough that I was never surprised by resistance. In fact the only knife that comes to mind with a grind I like better is the Kono Fujiyama Wt#2 and that is high praise as far as I am concerned.

My one night stand is not enough to say anything about the steel. When it arrived it had an excellent, toothy edge. After three or four meal preps it could use a touch up. It lost a touch of that peak performance but even now the edge does just fine by me.

The fit and finish are hard to comment on as this knife has been well loved but there are two things I would like to say on that matter: 1) as a used knife it is safe to assume the knife had better FnF when new and it is gorgeous now so it must have been exquisite out of the box; and 2) this thing has taken wear, and not just the patina, in a way that speaks highly of jsgillis' ownership and the knife both. The knife is like grandma's perfectly loved, perfectly seasoned, decades old cast iron cookware, or grandpaws tools with handles worn glassy smooth by hard work by tough hands. I love the look of this knife, right now, as it is. Now as a matter of perspective, I do think the Fujiyamas are nicer in this category but I think that is just looking for something to downplay.

I truly get the love affair people have with this knife. I do not like short knives, and though this knife is not tall, I would own one in a second. Besides the height there are only two other issues I can think of that I had with the knife: 1) the push cutting was not ideal because of the distal taper, as mentioned; 2) because the handle is lengthy, the profile flat, and the height short I was often in the position that my forearm was raised and the handle was braced against it. This arrangement locked the knife and my arm in a specific posture that prevented any articulation of my wrist. Since I the knife does not lend itself to rock cutting it was largely a non issue, but I did notice that several times.

Overview:

Image

Trying to capture the patina:

Image

The patina again:

Image

The knives most similar to the KS, IMHO: Fuji Aogami #2 funayuki, Rodrigue Mid-Tech:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:37 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:17 am
Posts: 5955
Location: Derby City, Kentucky
Very nice review as usual Ryan. You do an excellent job expressing your views!
I have one of the newer KS's not to long before they started to disappeared from the market. Mine has a black ferrule and the height is a hair shy of 50mm tall.
They seemed to have gained a little height at the end of their production. I think if you had one in your hands that was a little taller you would have really
appreciated the KS even more. With the little extra height it really is a "must have" knife.



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 Post subject: Re: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:58 am 

Joined: Tue May 27, 2014 2:24 am
Posts: 823
Location: Texas
Great review Ryan, proud to be a part of it.

My first memorable experience in a pro kitchen was when I was about 5 and my aunt unsheathed her ancient carbon sab, placed it in my hand and said, "This is not a toy.". I remember so vividly the rich wooden handle, the blade that looked like a hallucinogenic oil spill.. I went to bed dreaming of the words chiffonade..brunoise..

Sadly that knife is long gone, but I never forgot how it felt through product, or how it made me feel to wield it.

25 years later, I opened the package to that KS after a strangely coincidental series of events and was ready and willing not to like it, as it was not what I thought I wanted or needed at the time. But that first horizontal slice through an onion.. You know that scene in Ratatouille, where the critic tastes the rats food for the first time? Yep.

I have an unusually strong connection with that knife. It makes me glad to know that it's not just my own personal biases that make up my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:00 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 2895
Jeff, if I meet too many more "must have" knives I'm gonna must have a new roof over my head.

jsgillis, it would be cool to be handed a well seasoned Sab. That would be a memorable moment. Unfortunately, truncated as my home cook career has been, the only thing any of my "mentors" ever handed me came out of a bubble package. Thats why I am in the CKTG 12 step program for the cutlery underserved. :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 1:44 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 13, 2013 12:25 pm
Posts: 497
Enjoyable reading and a reveiw of the KS , Ryan . I also have the taller (50mm) latter edition versions of the KS with a blond buffalo ferrule that is is one of my favorite gyutos. A friend of mine gave me a vintage 1960 french K Sabatier that was his moms and is in like new condition. It is a cool knife have as a piece of history but the updated Masamoto KSversion is much better performing and unfortunately now out of production. BB


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 Post subject: Re: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Jun 01, 2014 12:01 pm
Posts: 263
Makes me really sad these are gone, because they are perpetually talked about as very special knives. A kinda knife that was definitely unique and one of a kind.

This one of the few knives left on my bucket list and it going out of prod just makes that tougher >_<


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 Post subject: Re: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 10:08 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:45 am
Posts: 273
Masamoto KS is an amazing knife, I'm sad I traded mine.


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 Post subject: Re: Masamoto KS
PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:55 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:08 pm
Posts: 192
Got a new one from Mark a few months ago, and the Moritaka, which is a duplicate in AS.

The KS deserves a custom handle (nothing fancy) and a really great sharpening job. Someone is going to duplicate this design in a contemporary steel and grind. Hope they make a 210 as well - it would be great...


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