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 Post subject: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:50 am 

Joined: Thu May 29, 2014 8:38 pm
Posts: 1206
It's been about a month since I bought my first Kato in 210. The initial honeymoon period has passed with the knife so I figured this is a good time to post a more official first impression beyond the snippets of commentary in my Shig thread and elsewhere. As a preamble, I will post some pictures and measurements tomorrow to accompany this review.

OUT OF THE BOX

This particular knife came with a CKTG semi-custom, octagonal handle done in bubinga with a wenge ferrule. Fit and finish on the handle is excellent and it is pretty much bombproof. I can get a little sloppy while sharpening and the finish on the handle has done a remarkable job of repelling slurry. My one small gripe is that the handle is a touch too small in diameter for the knife. The tall neck (which I love), is slightly taller than the ferrules diameter. This flaw is probably more irksome to me than it would be to most as I prefer a bit of girth on my handles.

The edge out of the box was incredible. Very sharp, great balance of refinement and tooth and complimented the grind perfectly. Did not need a touch up for quite a while with pretty heavy use in a home environment.

The fit and finish on the blade is excellent. Choil and spine were beautifully rounded, but with some corner. The finishing of the blade is done vertically

THE SPINE

Kato's spines are a major point of differentiation for the maker. Measure at handle, the spine clocks in at 4.7mm. The spine actually has a curved/convex taper for the first 85mm for so (3.5 inches) where it reaches 2mm. From that point, the taper is more continuous towards the tip, but never reaches super thin levels, even at the grind.

THE GRIND/GEOMETRY

There's quite a lot to consider with the grind on this knife. Not to mention, most of the interesting stuff occurs in the upper half of the blade (vertically) and into the spine which make is harder to visualize. There is a distinct convex nature to the grind which is dominant upon first inspection and feel. The apex of the convexing roughly aligns with the point where the neck meets the choil. Up towards the spine, after the convexing subsides, there is very, very minor concavity (not nearly as pronounced as a Shig).
The grind is very asymmetrical, and I would suggest that right and left handed users are going to experience the blade quite differently unless it is order to suite the handedness of the buyer. Not to crimp the sales for Mark, but a simple octagonal handle will not make this an ambidextrous blade. Indeed, the use of convexing, concavity and slope is completely different on each side. On the dominant-hand side, there is actually modest concavity towards the edge after the mid-bubble. On the weak-hand side of the blade, the convexing is actually more pronounced, but the the grind towards the edge is flatter/sloped. Either way, the subtlety of the knife's geometry is striking and actually more nuanced than my Shigefus after close inspection.

THE EDGE PROFILE

Upon first use, my impression of the knife led me to believe (without a visual inspection) there was a massive flat section. This however, is not the case. The edge profile is closer to a TKC or Haru. The rear 25-30% has a nice flat, followed by a slightly curved slope and into a very modest belly towards the tip and a another 0.75 inches of flat at the tip.

THE STEEL

White number 2 clad in iron. In terms of reactivity for an iron clad knife (which will be the most reactive type of knife out there) is moderate given my experience. It is the least reactive when compared to a Shigefusa or Masakage Shimo, but still takes to acidic ingredients with some violence for the first couple of weeks. I've forced a patina and recently polished it off to let it form naturally. Post forcing the patina, a few weeks of use and subsequent polishing, it is now not reactive at all and developing well naturally.

As I mentioned earlier, the edge out of the box was incredible and held very well. Kato heat treats by sight, so no way to know the hardness classification. As I've posted elsewhere, I have had performance and retention issues with the knife after I put my own edge on it. However, given the OOTB performance, this is on me and not the knife.
I'm a novice sharpener, so this should read as the least informed section of the review. Generating a burr, or achieving levels of polish seems relatively easy given my limited experience with steels (proprietary semi-stainless, VG10, SRS15, W#2 and proprietary carbon). Thanks to Todd and Joe, I think I may have cracked my own sharpening isssues with the knife and am very optimistic about its current edge.

PERFORMANCE

I was initially blown away by this knife. The things it does well, it does very, very well (very much like the Haruyuki/Akifusa but on the other end of the spectrum). Briefly, this knife is a push cutting machine that is made to guide-true through the hardest/most demanding produce you can throw its way. It performs exceptionally well with softer ingredients to boot, but its nature/construction prevents the tip from flying through things like onions. Indeed, until you begin to chop, the experience isn't really that gratifying. That said, once the chopping begins, this knife performs as well as anything I've ever held.
Given the size of the knife (undersized 210), it's actually fairly handy at work like peeling the skin of a papaya or rind of a butternut squash, and given how insanely stiff the knife is, you could trim 2x4s with confidence if you had the inclination.
Using it for smaller chopping tasks (finely diced peppers, garlic, scallions etc.) is perfectly fine, but I find the smaller dimensions of the knife don't provide large enough sweet spots for me. I think in 240, it would be a different experience.
If you are a big fan of laser stay away from this knife with a 10 foot pole. It WILL NOT provide that experience. What it will do is blow your mind through produce that you would have reserved an old Wusthof for, provide a push/pull cutting/chopping experience that rivals anything out there and stack up to to knives that are 40-50mm longer in terms of authority and cutting power.

Final edit, I could see the knife being killer at rocking through low height, harder ingredients. The separation that is produced by the grind would be awesome here


Last edited by ChipB on Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:56 am, edited 3 times in total.


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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:14 am 

Joined: Thu May 29, 2014 8:38 pm
Posts: 1206
Oh, very important notes:
Ingredient separation is exceptional. Best I've seen. Anti-stick properties are OK. Again, worth reminding that this knife is an undersized 210 and my commentary is really placing it in the context of 240 knives. In that regard, the fact that a 205mm blade can best 240s in some regards is pretty damn impressive. The flip-side, no matter how impressive the knife, when you run into larger stuff like oversized, under-ripe onions, there isn't enough blade to carry light momentum through the cut. This is distinctly different than wedging though.
Also, a major attribute to the knife is the weight. 205mm of blade hits mid-7 oz territory according to CKTG. Haven't weighed the blade myself, and while there is a feeling of weightiness in the hand, it doesn't feel like a blunt instrument at all. Very well balanced with a pattern designed to accommodate.



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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 3:58 am 
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Great write up Chip, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences with the knife, as this is one knife on my short list. Well done.


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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:15 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:15 am
Posts: 1102
Location: Raleigh, NC
You'll hit a peak with the EP that lets you get a great edge on there. I honestly don't think there's an edge the system cannot master.

I'm glad to see your thoughts are evolving on this knife. As said before, you'll find yourself discovering new and exciting nuances about them for months or years.


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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:33 am 

Joined: Thu May 29, 2014 8:38 pm
Posts: 1206
I have no doubt and indeed wish I could erase half the twaddle I wrote about the Shig. While this is only a first impression, might be the only review I've written to date worth reading aside from later musings on the Haru.



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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:57 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:15 am
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Location: Raleigh, NC
Those initial reviews reveal a lot about a knife. Views may evolve over time, but I never discount my first impressions.


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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:13 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:57 pm
Posts: 597
Glad to read your thoughts on this. It sounds like a really exceptional knife. I'll be interested to see photos but from your description the grind sounds a bit like the one on my Kajiwara, which means I should put Kato on the list for the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:51 am 

Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:36 pm
Posts: 270
Location: NY, NY; New Haven, CT
Great write-up. I'll look forward to later updates! Although I only saw and touched the knife very briefly in person (many thanks for that opportunity!), your description comes to life all the more based on my own tactile experience with the blade. Your comment about trimming 2x4s is perhaps the most vivid in this sense: whereas I would read that as a bit of fun hyperbole in another post, after holding the knife (and reading Shaun's tests and the Kramer write-up about blacksmithing), I actually read it as "reality" or "factual" now—perhaps even understatement. I'm not sure if I've ever held a tool of any sort that combined such an intuitive sense of sheer strength and authority and finely crafted refinement. That thing reminds me of a mad kitty: still and purring on your lap until it decides to bolt and tears you to shreds.



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Ownership experience: Konosuke, Masamoto, Tojiro, Wusthof, Henckels, etc.
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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:04 pm 

Joined: Thu May 29, 2014 8:38 pm
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Ha! Joe that's a hilarious metaphor and it does have that quality to it.

My final thought after the first month of use is that the knife is not a one-and-done type of purchase in the same way that a Shigefusa is (at least for me). My opinion could change after I spend time with the 240, but this knife has a singular character, excelling incredibly well as a separator of produce, but really falling short in categories that are owned by lasers. I think if one buys this line of Kato it needs to be with the understanding that you are going to get a very unique knife that is unlike pretty much anything else out there, but it probably isn't the ultimate workhorse/athlete. I immediately want to pick up for certain things, but not everything.
This could be viewed as a little nit-picky as it really is a tremendous knife and if it was my "everything" blade, I would be very, very happy with it. That said, I think an awesome pairing with this knife would be, say, an HD2 or Haruyuki. Perfect compliments to each other. So if one owns a laser or similar style of knife and is looking for Yang to their Yin, this would be it.
I will be very interested to see how the 240 does and will keep you all posted.



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 Post subject: Re: Yoshiaki Fujiwara (Kato) 210 Gyuto W#2
PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:40 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:15 am
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Location: Raleigh, NC
Honestly, Chip, it might just not be the right knife for you whereas the Shig is. And maybe the Shig isn't quite perfect, either, and your dream knife is waiting out there. I have no doubt you'll be picking up or trading for some American knives in the near future. I would be surprised indeed if, reading your review, there isn't someone for whom the Kato is a perfect tool.


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