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 Post subject: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:58 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 2624
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:

Image


Tried to capture the iridescences in the finish, hope you can see it:

Image


Choil shot:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:16 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:17 am
Posts: 5143
Not much I can disagree with Ryan. I too liked the profile and thought the finish was highly unique in it's appearance. Definitely was not a big fan of the handle, balance and cutting performance. I too feel that at it's price point there are better knives to be had.

Always enjoy reading your thoughts, keep up the great reviews!



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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:57 am 
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Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:05 pm
Posts: 324
Great review. I've been curious about this knife as a project as it is almost (but not) impossible to get a honyaki at this price. Did you like the steel Ryan?


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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 2:17 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2014 3:13 pm
Posts: 139
Location: Sweden
Great review. It's interesting when a situation like this arises: You purchase a knife and it doesn't perform well. What are you going to do? As we have seen in many other reviews, all knives perform differently, have their pros and cons, and you may have to adjust your technique. But sometimes, not very often, the knife really lets you down.

I've bought a fair number of knives and it has happened to me once. Maybe that specific knife was a "lemon" with a bad grind, but I didn't bother contacting the vendor asking questions if this was normal or not. Instead I put the knife away for a future thinning/raising the bevel project for when I've gotten more confident with my sharpening. I'm actually looking forward to it. :) But if it had been my only knife and had been much more expensive, maybe I had acted differently.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 4:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:36 pm
Posts: 558
Location: NY, NY; New Haven, CT
I enjoyed reading this. Nice and descriptive, and a real sense of honesty throughout. Thanks for the nice review, Ryan!



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Ownership experience: Konosuke, Masamoto, Tojiro, Wusthof, Henckels, etc.
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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 7:12 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 2624
Thank you guys for the kind words.

Josh, I was cautious not to talk much about the steel. It came pretty sharp, held its edge pretty well, and felt on the hard side, but I did not spend a lot of time sharpening and wear testing the steel so I can't say much. The other reason I avoided saying too much is that since the grind limited cutting performance it was hard to assess the edge in isolation. Sorry, I know that is not very helpful but its all I got. :roll:

Limpet, I have several ongoing projects. One day these knives will either be awesome, or ground into oblivion on my garage floor...whichever comes first.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:39 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:05 pm
Posts: 324
That makes a lot of sense Ryan and I kind of expected that would be the answer. It's hard to get a good sense of the steel in a short time. I think I noticed some differences in the steel between the two Katos I had but it's hard to draw any conclusions with extended use and sharpening.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 16, 2014 10:56 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2012 2:05 am
Posts: 120
Nice review. I owned one a while back and agree with you; the knife doesn't perform OOTB. Very interesting as a project knife though. The steel is quite sublime.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 5:24 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:18 pm
Posts: 399
From what I've read and heard, the reason for the price point is that it's very much a project knife. You start with great steel, but have to do quite of bit of thinning and grinding to get it to perform well. Might make sense for those who don't have a lot of money, but have the tools/knowledge/skill to bring out the best in it. Or maybe some could afford a more finished honyaki, but are interested in putting in the work to bring it to its full potential.


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 Post subject: Re: Takagi Honyaki Gyuto
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 8:11 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:10 pm
Posts: 233
After my time with the knife, I have to say I agree with cedarhouse's review for the most part.

Very stout feeling knife and the grind was not pleasant. The handle didn't bother me at all though. It was nice and easy to sharpen, and, though not a great test, it kept its edge very well. I also could have done with a bit more rounding of the spine. While I felt it was to short, I absolutely love the edge profile.

This is a gorgeous knife which i had a lot of fun using, but ultimately it was not for me. At least not without a lot of work put in.
Thanks again to Dan for generously providing the knife for this pass around. It was a blast and I am very glad to have been included in this endeavour.


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