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Japanese Knives – What to Buy?


rgruby
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boy, that's a pretty but skinny knife - is it double or single bevel? (A real kiritsuke is single bevel and a cross between a yanagiba and an usuba, whereas lately the kiritsuke-gyutou has emerged, being nothing more than a standard gyutou with kiritsuke profile)

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For those who have lived in Japan or cook lots of Japanese food - what are common home kitchen knives? I've heard that very few people at home use usuba, and that nakiri are more common. I guess home cooks aren't doing much katsuramuki and sengiri and stuff like that?

I haven't lived in Japan or cooked lots of Japanese food, but people rave about Gyutos as a generally-good-for-everything knife.

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@Heidih 

Here's some information on common japanese found on knives, hopefully you should be able to find out a little about your knife from this

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/7963-The-kanji-on-our-knives

I'd try and figure out what kind of steel it's made from, then you can google and find the appropriate care instructions for whichever type it is.

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I haven't lived in Japan or cooked lots of Japanese food, but people rave about Gyutos as a generally-good-for-everything knife.

 

A gyutou is nothing more than a Japanese take (read: vastly superior) on a French-style chef's knife, so yes, they are are good for *almost* everything a Sabatier or Henckels could do, with the big exception of really heavy duty tasks like cutting through chicken bones or semi-frozen food. So yes, if you want a super high performance multi-purpose knife, even the cheapest Japanese made gyutous will do nicely! I have two, and I cook a lot of Japanese food as well as non-Japanese, and so far they've served me fine.

 

That being said, after a fair amount of reading other forums, it's my understanding that the Japanese home cook rarely uses them. After doing some research, it seems like the santoku, nakiri, and bannou bunka bouchou are the most common types in Japanese home kitchens.

 

Santoku are meh, I've used one before and everything it can do, a gyutou can do at least as good if not better.

 

Nakiri I've never used, but I've heard that they can fly through vegetable prep and be super thin, though not quite like an usuba. (Key difference, they're double beveled). But again, not quite as versatile as a gyutou. 

 

As for the bannou bunka, they seem like double beveled, kiritsuke-profiled nakiris, and therefore might be pretty awesome for veg work as well as things requiring a pointy tip - a good substitute for a gyutou perhaps?

 

Btw, gfron, I can't find your Kounosuke kiritsuke on cktg!

Edited by Hassouni (log)
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By the way, Michael, I've been reading kitchenknifeforums a lot. It seems to be populated by more objective people than the cktg forum, in that people will recommend and discuss non-cktg knives quite extensively. Jon from Japanese Knife Imports is a frequent poster, and he seems to REALLY know his stuff, based on professional experience as a cook in Japan and having spent lots of time with smiths over there. My next knife purchase (not planning on one for a while) might come from JKI or elsewhere now that I've discovered there are so many sources for Japanese knives.

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My latest - Konosuke Fujiyama White #1 Kiri/Gyuto 240 with custom handle from ChefKnivesToGo.com. Beautiful work as always and love the extra length on this one. My only negative comment is that I bought it on their Closeout page only to find it back on their regular page two weeks later at the same price. :/

Nice knife and yes that kinda sucks to see it at reg price for the same bills you paid at close out price

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Nice Kono.  A friend loaned me a Kono 210 Gyuto recently and it very much exceeded my expectations.  Hope you like yours as much.  I loaned him a Heiiji and he just said meh.  Go figure.

 

Did you have any input on the custom handle or is that an just an upgrade from the standard?  Regardless it looks good.

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I got to pick the wood. Its actually the reason I bought another knife - I really didn't need one - but when I bought my last knife (photo upthread) I immediately had buyers remorse because I didn't pick this specific piece of wood, and then there was the "sale," and it had to happen.

Nice Kono.  A friend loaned me a Kono 210 Gyuto recently and it very much exceeded my expectations.  Hope you like yours as much.  I loaned him a Heiiji and he just said meh.  Go figure.

 

Did you have any input on the custom handle or is that an just an upgrade from the standard?  Regardless it looks good.

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I've had buyers remorse with regards to my Mac knives ever since I visited Japanese Knife Company in London several months ago. A combination of the owner (who's even worked in a knife smith shop in Japan) kinda rubbishing Mac knives plus the outrageous selection they had there made me want to buy another knife.

 

Must. Resist. Temptation.

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I've had buyers remorse with regards to my Mac knives ever since I visited Japanese Knife Company in London several months ago. A combination of the owner (who's even worked in a knife smith shop in Japan) kinda rubbishing Mac knives plus the outrageous selection they had there made me want to buy another knife.

 

Must. Resist. Temptation.

 

Where in London is it?

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  • 3 weeks later...

It was quite the ordeal to get my knives through customs to Canada, but here's a pic with my new Mokuzo hand-made sayas using Bocote wood. Really beautiful work by http://mokuzotoronto.com . 

sayas.jpg

Edited by gfron1 (log)
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  • 4 months later...

American made Japanese knives - I've wanted a Carter for a while so I finally broke down and got one. A 224 gyuto.

11009984_10153194599079845_8740259721824

So here's the twist. I got it and the heel had a slight chip. I sent a pic to Murray and he said that he believed it was a natural, conscious decision. His explanation - as he grinds, he's grinding the blade edge and the heel edge. The forging process gives an approximate corner, and if he was going for a perfect heel corner then he would have to grind to get that point, but as you grind you are losing life in your knife...less metal. This is big enough that I"m not sure I accept that, but he offered a few options. The one I chose was that I'll use the knife for a few months and then send it back for a tune up. That's perfect for me because it doesn't really bother me except for the price I paid.

10995484_10153194599149845_9061690326796

Anyway, happy to own my first Carter and it was nice hearing Murray explain more about his process.

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 thanks for this

 

Id like to see how it goes for you with this knife.

 

if it were not for PayPal, an item Id do not trust, Id have to nice enough for me Japanese knives

 

i have enough knives and know how to sharpen them

 

so I do miss those two Japanese knives, but do not need them

 

please you have such a stunning knife  !!

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American made Japanese knives - I've wanted a Carter for a while so I finally broke down and got one. A 224 gyuto.

11009984_10153194599079845_8740259721824

So here's the twist. I got it and the heel had a slight chip. I sent a pic to Murray and he said that he believed it was a natural, conscious decision. His explanation - as he grinds, he's grinding the blade edge and the heel edge. The forging process gives an approximate corner, and if he was going for a perfect heel corner then he would have to grind to get that point, but as you grind you are losing life in your knife...less metal. This is big enough that I"m not sure I accept that, but he offered a few options. The one I chose was that I'll use the knife for a few months and then send it back for a tune up. That's perfect for me because it doesn't really bother me except for the price I paid.

10995484_10153194599149845_9061690326796

Anyway, happy to own my first Carter and it was nice hearing Murray explain more about his process.

 

Waiting to hear your full report - Carter has quite the rep, curious to see how his stacks against your Sukenari, Fujiwara Teruyasu, and Konosuke!

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Very early impressions. Cuts smoothly but not as sharp as my Fujis. Depending on what I'm cutting, I really like the lightness of the Fujis whereas this has a bit more weight (could just be the extra 30mm). Tarnished by the end of my first prep, but I'll work those out tonight. Very nice balance. It certainly fits in with the rest of my tools as far as quality so these aren't negative comments...its more a matter of distinction amongst the knives than good v. bad.

 

Price to quality...that's tougher. I'll pay the premium for a domestic master, but for a bit less I think I can get more with some others.

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Nice knife.  I've a couple smaller Carter's and enjoy them quite a bit.

 

The chip is on what is termed the "chin" or "ago".  The corner of the heel.  Can't imagine that being intentional - it should be one of the strongest parts of the knife..  Did Murray respond to your email / pic or was it one of his "guys".   Jason?   I've been wrong before, in fact twice today, but I would revist the question.

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AB is pretty sharp !    :huh:

 

however, there are two errors here :

 

"""   Your board needs to be heavy and it needs to be rock maple """

 

Ive made my own cutting boards for a long time  birds-eye was my favorite.  many of the pics I post are on one of these boards I constantly use.

 

made by hand, my hands, etc

 

 

however, the mate to the knife's edge is indeed the cutting surface

 

my Edge-Pro'd knifes love this stuff :

 

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/oxo-good-grips-reg-10-1-2-x-14-1-2-utility-cutting-board/112876?categoryId=12070

 

not plastic, polypropylene.  easy to clean, sanitize, etc

 

I can feel ( literally )  'good vibes ' from the knife through my hand as i use them,  esp. after  a session on the EP.

 

the board is the forgotten key to fine 'cutting, chopping. etc'

 

these boards benefit from a cloth of some kind under them so they don't wiggle around etc.

 

Ill leave the second error alone, you can find it yourself.  there are some hints above.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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Here's what Alton Brown thinks about knife buying.

 

Looks like Alton is off the Shun teat.  Good on him (though my cynical side says this may not have been his call)..  Recall he had a Kramer once upon a time.

 

"Best" knives are pretty subjective.  My preference is for Japanese makers when buying Japanese knives.  But I happily own a couple of Carter's, a couple of Marko's a couple of Butch Harners and a couple of Ian Haburns.  Fine knives all.  I'm not a fan of  "Cut Brooklyn" but if you like them then you should have them.

 

Will suggest that the Santoku and Nakiri are largely redundant and if a minimal approach is desired there is no reason to own both (or either).  A Gyuto can do anything a Santoku or Nakiri can do and has a tip for dicing.  But a Nakiri is fun.

 

@ Rotus  "these boards benefit from a cloth of some kind under them so they don't wiggle around etc."  A damp cloth underneath any board will help secure it and provide a tool for clean-up after the cutting.

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""  underneath any board ""

 

not my 4 + inch   book-mached  birds-eye board.  Bread-boarded 

 

it is so delicious and so heavy  i no longer use it. that's 4 "after the finely tuned split.

 

but I keep an eye on it and well   ....

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I'm a little miffed at Carter Cutlery right now. My knife, straight out of the box had a chip. The chip definitely had a lip the bowed over. I finally sent it back to them to fix. They sent me this message:

 

 
Nothing to worry about. As long as you are happy with the knife, then no time was wasted. The chip is not visible in the original listing of the knife, and we are confident it did not go out that way. The way the metal sort of "bowed" outward suggested that the heel collided with a hard surface. Murray ran some tests and found the metallurgy of the knife to be excellent. We sincerely appreciate your patronage and hope you enjoy using your new knife!
 

 

To me that suggests that they think I broke it and sent it back. And there's no way it could have broke in transit, or if it did, then the metal is pretty flimsy. They handled it in the end, but still for $700 I sure as hell don't expect to be blamed for something like that. Anyway, its on its return trip to me.
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