Thank you so much Dan for making this knife, the Takagi Honyaki, available to the forum as a pass around (takagi-honyaki-240mm-pass-around-t8159.html
). As with all these pass arounds I am humbled by Dan's generosity, thank you!
The knife we are looking at is this one: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tagy241.html
So I hate to say it, so lets rip the bandaid off now so we can all move on together, this review will not end well. This knife did so many things I wanted it to do, it checked all my boxes, it allayed all the concerns I had going into the testing, but try as I might to love it, it did not cut well.
So lets start with the good, no need to be a rear end right out the gate.
The knife is really cool looking. The finish is one of those really characterful, tactile, awesome kurouchi finishes. The finish actually did something I've never seen before, or at least never noticed. The pits and valleys of the KU finish patinaed, so there was the awesome iridescent look in the shadows of the finish. The grind was aesthetically arresting. It may have been that this is the first handmade, mono-steel knife I have handled, but seeing the grind without a cladding line was much more unique and captivating than I would have imagined...in fact I honestly did not expect to even notice.
The profile was very unique. In fact I was concerned because I have tended to be on the hate side of the love-hate spectrum when it came to KS clones and while this is not a KS clone at all, it is short at the heel and flat in profile like the KS. Once in hand though the profile just looked cool and it performed much better than I had expected. Since the grind is flat with less belly than the KS (in my subjective recollection) the knife did not want to rock cut at all. As a result, the knife wanted to chop and push cut exclusively and somehow felt more natural doing so than the KS styled knives I have used in the past. It is interesting that the item I was most apprehensive about going into the pass around proved a complete non-issue or even a plus for the knife.
Now onto the ho-hum of the knife, not really knocks, just details.
In a previous review of this knife someone commented that the handle was undersized and I agree. I believe the handle is a CKTG semi-custom, it is well made and has a clean install and the materials are first rate, it is just a little small. Ultimately the handle size was more an aesthetic nuisance, it made the knife look a little...unbalanced. In practice I didn't notice the handle at all and in fact, it is likely that the smaller handle lent the knife added knuckle clearance that it needed given its short stature. That may have improved my overall appreciation of the profile as discussed above.
The distal taper is non existent. This is not a net plus or a minus but it does have some upsides and some down. Upsides: it is a very stout knife; the spine is pretty thin at the handle so it does not hurt a lot that it does not taper much. Downsides: the tip is not delicate in the least; the knife is heavier than it needed to be and it felt heavier than it was because of how blade heavy it was.
Ok, now the hammer falls. The grind is not very good. The blade is just too thick behind the edge. If the grind started half way up the blade or even at the spine, this could be a killer knife. As it was it wedged in anything thicker than 1/4. Onions, potatoes, carrots, even garlic were a chore. Ingredients like tomatoes were not too bad but kinda pricey for a tomato knife.
Ultimately, I have to conclude that to make a honyaki at this price point, the maker simply cannot invest any time in production after the heat treatment. The economics I get, but it begs the question why chose this price point if a few dollars more could yield a much better performing knife. Perhaps the knife could be thinned aggressively aftermarket and turn from a frog into a prince but now you have to sink more money into the project and risk someone finding a novel way to ruin the knife.
So to conclude, I really did enjoy getting to know this knife, it is extraordinarily unique and characterful. I just don't much want to cut with it.
Crappy overview. I was too lazy to get a chair out to stand on to get the handle in the shot:
Tried to capture the iridescences in the finish, hope you can see it: