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Old 08-06-2009, 06:42 PM   #1
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Buying first Japanese knife?

So I've decided to finally make the jump to japanese knives, and i'm already lost. I'm looking to spend no more than $400...just curious to some of the better knives out there?

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Old 08-06-2009, 06:51 PM   #2
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Check these sites:

Products Japanese Knife,Japanese Kitchen Knife,Japanese Chef's Knives.Com

Korin - Fine Japanese Tableware and Chef Knives

Global Knives,Wusthof Knives,Henckels Knives,Ceramic Knives,Kitchen Knives,Shun Knives,Steak Knives

Also, what shapes and sizes are you interested in? How many knives do you want to buy for your $400?
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:20 PM   #3
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Check these sites:

Also, what shapes and sizes are you interested in? How many knives do you want to buy for your $400?
It'll be 1, maybe 2 knives.


If I had to choose a shape/size this is pretty much what i'd be going for:
http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/images/Img883.jpg

Gyuto 170mm
Total Length:285mm Blade Thickness:2mm
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:30 PM   #4
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I'd suggest a 240mm Gyuto (similar to French Chef's knife) and a 135mm or 150mm Petty (like a large paring knife) to start. I'm partial to the Hattori HD series. That would be a bit under $400 delivered. You might also like a Nakiri if you do a lot of veggies.
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Old 08-06-2009, 07:33 PM   #5
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This topic has been discussed at length in the knife forum. Check it out.
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:56 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by fire34fighter View Post
It'll be 1, maybe 2 knives.


If I had to choose a shape/size this is pretty much what i'd be going for:
http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/images/Img883.jpg

Gyuto 170mm
Total Length:285mm Blade Thickness:2mm
Those Mr. Itou customs are beautiful! Should be great cutters, too- R2 blades IIRC. The few people I've corresponded with that own them say they're very impressive. That's a pretty steep & unforgiving way to enter the world of J-knives but there's something to be said for skipping the training wheels and starting with the good stuff.

If you're talking $400 for one or two knives I suggest you look into the Hattori KF (or FH depending on where they're listed). These are semi-custom knives Hattori designed in conjunction with members of KnifeForums. I like a bit more substantial knife- 240mm is my preferred size for a gyuto. I really wouldn't go smaller than 210mm if you're only getting one. For the money the Hattori HD line is very nice, too.

FWIW I think my next purchase will be an Akifusa from EE.
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Old 08-06-2009, 10:49 PM   #7
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The best non-ceramic blade I've ever used has been the Kasumi Titanium line. And the blue color is pretty sweet looking, as well.

Runner-up would be either MAC or Shun.
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:18 PM   #8
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The best non-ceramic blade I've ever used has been the Kasumi Titanium line. And the blue color is pretty sweet looking, as well.

Runner-up would be either MAC or Shun.
You specifically state "non-ceramic" - do you have a preference for ceramic blades? I'm curious, as I've never tried one.
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:00 AM   #9
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You specifically state "non-ceramic" - do you have a preference for ceramic blades? I'm curious, as I've never tried one.
I do, but I would be in the minority here simply because I buy higher grade. A lot of people here (and you can find it in a multitude of threads) go out and buy a cheap entry level blade, use it, and then proclaim the entire material inferior, which I don't get. That'd be like me going out and grabbing a cheap "Chef Tony Special" at the local grocery store and proclaiming steel worthless as a result. It's apples and jet skis.

Yeah, if you go out and spend 40 dollars on the cheapest knife Kyocera makes, or spend 10 dollars on a ceramic pare knife from BB&B....odds are pretty good it's not going to perform as well as your $140 Shun. People expecting miracles or something, I guess.
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Old 08-07-2009, 09:04 AM   #10
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I do, but I would be in the minority here simply because I buy higher grade. A lot of people here (and you can find it in a multitude of threads) go out and buy a cheap entry level blade, use it, and then proclaim the entire material inferior, which I don't get. That'd be like me going out and grabbing a cheap "Chef Tony Special" at the local grocery store and proclaiming steel worthless as a result. It's apples and jet skis.

Yeah, if you go out and spend 40 dollars on the cheapest knife Kyocera makes, or spend 10 dollars on a ceramic pare knife from BB&B....odds are pretty good it's not going to perform as well as your $140 Shun. People expecting miracles or something, I guess.
There are plenty of people here who have also bought quality ceramic knives and did not like them either.

Like anything, they have their positives and their negatives and one persons experience will not necessarily equal another persons experience. I know of people who have used a good quality ceramic knife that chipped cutting soft food (just hit the board the wrong way) and others who have had the same exact knife and have dropped it on hard floors multiple times and cut through hard foods without a single problem. Just because your experience say one thing that does not negate other peoples experience.
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:23 PM   #11
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Check out the Takayuki wa handled Grand Cheff here. It'll out cut any knife mentioned here so far, is stainless and is incredibly easy to sharpen, something you're going to have to learn to do if you want a J knife. It's a tad softer (at 58 Rockwell) than the average J knife but much harder than the average G knife. I've owned a variety of Gyutos from $150 to around $300 and the Takayuki wa (it has to have the J handle - the Western handles have different geometry blades) is by far the best for all around purposes.
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:37 PM   #12
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Here's another idea. If you want a J that takes an excellent edge and lasts as long as anything else out there with the possible exception of powder steel it's the Yoshikane SKD. It's the knife on the top and left in pictures 2 and 3 of the referenced thread in my previous post. The Yoshie is a great knife. The steel is either SKD 5 or 11, not sure which. It is a tool steel and is classified semi-stainless. In looking at its geometry you might not think it would cut very well, but I gotta tell you it'll get the job done easily and you might have to sharpen once a year if you're a home cook.
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:37 PM   #13
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GB - I'd submit that there is a gem to be taken from that statement, though - if you want to try out a ceramic knife, don't go cheap, or you'll assuredly be disappointed.

Of course, I don't go cheap with any of my knives. I haven't taken the plunge into Japanese steel yet, but, other than my custom blades (which are really exceptional quality edges, despite how bizarre and impractical they look and how cheap I got them) I've got a fair bit invested in my knife collection, and none of it has been wasted money...
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:38 AM   #14
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I've heard the Yoshi is a real bear to sharpen, supposedly clings pretty stubbornly to the burr. Have you found that to be the case, Buzz?
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Old 08-09-2009, 07:03 AM   #15
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I've heard the Yoshi is a real bear to sharpen, supposedly clings pretty stubbornly to the burr. Have you found that to be the case, Buzz?
The sharpening "problem" is a byproduct of its greatest asset. The steel is extremely tough (abrasion resistant). It is similar to L6 or the Gokinko steel used in the Aritsugu A series knives.

The biggest gripes I've seen were from those doing major thinning of the SKD blade by hand. This is work for a motorized belt and I would send it to someone like Dave Martell to do the work for me. I don't find burr removal difficult with SKD. There are four techniques I use. One is to use a slicing motion through either cork or rubber. The remaining three are all trailing edge stropping motions with no pressure, the most common being on the stone that created the burr. The second is on brass, any kind of brass, a candlestick, lampshade, what have you. I use a quarter inch angle I picked up in a hardware store. The third is the hard felt Hand American pads and this is the best technique of all. Unfortunately the pads are unavailable at the present time but there might be a few up for grabs at the Hand American closeout sale on August 17th. I for one will be checking it out.

Once the Yoshie is sharp it stays that way as long as any blade I've seen so far. Touch ups are the same as any knife, three very light alternating strokes per side on a ceramic steel. Not to wander too far beyond burr removal, but don't use steel or diamond rods on any knife. Modern technology makes fine ceramic rods such as the Idahone superior no matter what they teach in culinary schools.

Here's my 240 SKD. Too bad the Stefan handle cost as much as the knife itself....
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Old 08-09-2009, 10:08 AM   #16
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Stefan does some nice work! One day I'll get one of his handles...

Funny you mention the brass for deburring- I started a thread at a different forum about just that. I find a brass rod very handy for deburring, too.
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Old 08-09-2009, 10:38 AM   #17
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Stefan does some nice work! One day I'll get one of his handles...

Funny you mention the brass for deburring- I started a thread at a different forum about just that. I find a brass rod very handy for deburring, too.
I just replied to your KF thread with this.
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Old 08-14-2009, 05:02 AM   #18
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Your first all purpose cooking knife should an 8 to 10" chef's knife or Asian style veggie knife like a Santoku. I challenge anyone to suggest a better knife for a beginner. There's almost no end to the uses of these, and you can basically do everything that an electric food processor does.

Just be sure you get a proper cutting board too, as it will affect the speed of your cuts, and the rate at which your knife dulls.
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:44 AM   #19
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I've heard the Japan’s Yanagiba knife , I have only one word to describe this knife. Amazing!
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Old 11-11-2009, 08:49 AM   #20
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I've heard the Japan’s Yanagiba knife , I have only one word to describe this knife. Amazing!
A Yanagiba hardly fits into a first Japanese kitchen knife category. It's a traditional single edged blade with one purpose only, to cut sashimi.

Sashimi bōchō (刺身包丁) sashimi knife
Yanagiba (柳刃) willow blade - designed solely for slicing raw fish. This common/pointed willow leaf design originated in Osaka (Kansai region).
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