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Need help with which Japanese Knives to buy for gift

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Hi...
I'm looking to buy some knives for my fiancee as a cross-engagement gift. Specifically, I'm looking for a Gyutou, Santoku, Petty knife and a slicing knife. I don't cook at all so know nothing about knives. He isn't a professional chef but will take good care of whatever he gets (I won't be touching them). I'm looking at Korin (we live near the store) but any guidance as to which are the best bet would be much appreciated! I should also mention that he's left handed and that the price limit for any single knife is probably $300. Thanks very much for any help!
post #2 of 30
Try this website.

JapaneseChefsKnife.Com Top Page
post #3 of 30
If you know anyone who reads Japanese, Aritsugu makes fabulous knives that are often a fraction cheaper than elsewhere, because they don't bother with advertising --- they don't need to. But their website is in Japanese... because they don't bother with advertising. They do ship.

Aritsugu Website
post #4 of 30
Korin, eh? I'm going to assume NYC, then.

If you're looking for Western handle knives, I'd suggest either the Misono UX-10 or the Masamoto HC. The Misonos are highly styled, comfortable, stainless steel knives. The Masamotos are slightly more traditional and made with really wonderful carbon steel. Masamoto are reknown for excellent quality and great feel in the hand. If you're fiancee loves carbon, get the Masamotos.

Another stainless line available at Korin is the Masamoto VG, which are styled just like the HC and have the same wonderful feel. The Misonos are more highly regarded than the Masamoto VG, and actually do hold an edge a little better. Yet another line around the top of your price range is the Nenox G Series. They're beautiful knives, but to my mind not worth the money. You can't afford the S series, so don't ask.

Since your fiancee is a pro, think 270mm gyuto, 270mm sujihiki (slicer), and 150mm petty. Korin doesn't show the Masamoto santoku on its website, but I know Masamoto makes only one in the HC line (180mm); and the Misono UX-10 is also 180mm. If he wants a santoku, he wants one and should have it. If you're planning a surprise, you might consider a 180mm gyuto, the shape is actually slightly more versatile than the santoku's in the hand of a skilled cook.

If you're looking for traditional Japanese handles, I'd suggest the Masamoto KS (hongasumi) series. But since the blade profiles you're talking about are basically western, I'm going to assume he wants the western style handles and blade profiles. Aritsugu (suggested by Chris) do not make Western handled knives -- and even some of their double edge designs are not lefty friendly. Furthermore, the Aritsugu A series is very difficult to sharpen. Unless your fiancee is a very skilled sharpener, don't even think about it.

As big a fan of several e-tailers (including Japanese Chef's Knives) as I am, I'd buy from a brick and mortar store in the NYC area as it makes returns possible. If you want suggestions besides Korin, I can make one or two. Two very good lines available in NYC from other retailers are MAC Professional and Sakai Takayuki Grand Chef. IMO the MAC Professionals are great knives, but not as prestigious as the other knives mentioned. The Sakai Takayuki Grand Chefs are really terriffic knives. However, buying them (from Seito Trading) is going to be a little more complicated than going through Korin since Seito will have to order most of the sizes and shapes you'll want.

Almost all of the better Japanese knives are delivered with right-handed edge profiles. Any good sharpener can move the symmetry to neutral or left handed. Korin charges $25 per knife. If you ask, Korin will also tell you not to sharpen to a neutral (50/50) symmetry. While everyone's entitled to an opinion -- that one happens to be BS.

However, since the quality of sharpening is as important (maybe more) than the quality of the knife itself, I suggest you buy your fiancee a really good set of stones and an appropriate steel to go with his new knives, but not from Korin (Korin will tell you not to steel Japanese manufactured knives -- also BS; and they're stone choice is neither good nor well priced). If you decide you want to look into this, let me know which knives you'll be buying as the top of the stainless set is slightly different than the top of the carbon set. The whole thing will run around $175 - $275.

Another nice addition to the set would be the MAC bread knife sold at Korin. You don't think of there being much difference in bread knives, but the MAC is worth the $85 Korin wants for it.

FWIW, as a lefty with professional knife skills, I'd want the Masamoto HC knives. But I love carbon and have lived with it for years. My suggestion is that if he's not already a carbon guy or isn't specifically interested in it than get the Misonos. Each of these lines is as good as mass produced knives get.

Don't forget to tell the big lug I said, "Congratulations. He's not good enough."

Best wishes,
BDL
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post #5 of 30
The knives listed are in the top 1% of all kitchen knives in the world. You don't always get what you pay for so you don't need to spend $300 a knife but if you insist say so in a reply and I'll attack your piggy bank. Get individual knives. Do not buy a set. People at the wedding will accuse you of getting sucked in by Macy's ads. :smoking:

My opinions:
one delete - Santoku, too much overlap with a Gyuto
two additions - (1) Messermeister serrated peeler - the best (and cheap)
(2) Mac bread knife here

Gyuto - Hiromoto 240mm AS - here Only the edge itself is carbon, Hitachi Aogami Blue Super Steel, easily one of the world's finest for kitchen cutlery, EASILY.

Petty - Sakai Takayuki 150mm model №10003 or №10065 here This is Swedish AEB-L stainless steel from which razors are made. Special order through Pam Otomo here

Slicer (Sujihiki) Kikuichi 270mm Elite Carbon here I get a thrill just looking at this brute.

All three recommended knives (beyond the Mac) are made of steels that easily take fantastic edges and stay that way for a long time.

You might think about a nice paring knife, but between the petty and the peeler you can do just about anything.

Good luck and have a great marriage.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
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Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
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post #6 of 30
Yo BDL. A little overlap as we both pecked away at our respective keyboards.
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #7 of 30
Yo Buzz. Yep. Also, even though our recommendations look different I know we're thinking very much along the same lines. Typical that we'd be very close but not quite the same.

But... (A) I didn't know Kikuichi even made a 30cm suji; and (B) If you were breaking up the set into a bunch of different manufacturers and lines are you telling me you wouldn't get the Misono Sweden 30cm suji -- I mean, the dragon alone.

BDL
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post #8 of 30
A) I ordered mine through FoodieForum Fred at his Knife Outlet store. They only carry 240 and 270mm of which mine is the latter.

B) The dragon is an attraction and so is the steel. If memory serves it's Sandvik 19C27 or something close, not 13C26. there is nothing wrong with that for sure and perhaps stainless is better suited for lez08's purpose. If so, that eliminates my Hiromoto (edit: also Kikuichi) suggestion and opens up the field. lez08, what do you think? Is your husband willing to put up with the extra care that carbon steel requires?

Another thing you brought up is sharpening and it is indeed important. les08, you can't run the knives that BDL and I recommend through a typical electric sharpener or the edges will be toast. Japanese knives are, for lack of a better word, different. Freehand sharpening is not difficult and with a little practice your husband will have edges he can be proud of. Ask away.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #9 of 30
Buzz,

The two Sandvik steels you've listed are stainless. The "C" in the formula stands for "chrome." There's a lot of speculation as to whether the UX-10 is 19C27 or 13C26, but AFAIK Misono isn't saying. If I had to bet, I'd put my money on 13C26. The Sweden (carbon) series seems to be some very pure form of 1095. Again, Misono isn't saying but the Sandvic deposit is very pure -- so that's probably what it starts with.

Were I buying Japanese manufactured western profile knives (which I may do), I'd buy Masamoto HC without hesitation. Also, if price weren't important, it wouldn't bother me to buy a more or less complete set. If price is important I usually suggest spending as much as possible on the chef's knife, the sharpening system and working from there.

Now that I think of it, I should have mentioned the importance of a board and a quality bayonet fork, too.

I fear we may be overloading Lez...

BDL
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post #10 of 30
lez, where are you? You must have some questions.

BDL - yeah, I'm very aware of the Sandvik and Udeholm stainless steels. When's the last time your razor blade rusted. ;)

For some reason I thought the Misonos were 19C27, like the Tojiro DPs - whatever. There doesn't seem to be much production available in 13C26/AEB-L. There are two custom makers in particular using AEB-L, Phil Wilson and Devon Thomas. les08's future hubby would love a Wilson Chef's knife but they're $400 and the wait is a year or so. Better yet, in my opinion, is Devon Thomas, because he knows more about heat treating AEB-L than anyone I've heard of. His knives are around RHC 63 with good toughness as a bonus. His son Larrin also will be producing lots of knives using that steel in the not too distant future.

les08, your post put a $1200 limit on knife purchases. I submit that for that price you can get four great knives, more than adequate sharpening equipment, and a beautiful end grain cutting board. There has been a substantial amount of information presented since your post. Try and filter through it and tell us your thoughts.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #11 of 30
Lez,

Our (Buzz and my) eagerness to help is cracking me up. I hope it's not scaring you off.

I had the feeling you wanted suggestions you could sort of "register" for, and that's why you wanted to more or less keep things at Korin (or somewhere else in Manhattan?).

There are only a few people who regularly contribute to this forum with a good knowledge of knives. Chris is new to us, but clearly knows a lot. Unfortunately, he seems to have missed the gist of your thread. When it comes to the hardware itself, Buzz might be the most knowledgeable of all of us. On the other hand, I think I know a little more about how to use them than he does. Between us, we ought to be able to provide a few, simple good choices.

Anyway we'll try and keep things simple as we understand you have a lot of other stuff on your plate.

BDL
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post #12 of 30
Mmmmm. I think I do know that answer. You stick the pointy end into the other guy first. Right? :rolleyes:
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #13 of 30
The ends are different?

BDL
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post #14 of 30
Yeah. At least that's the way I was taught when I used the "other" kind of knives.....




:D
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #15 of 30
Er... guys?

I think we need to hear from Lez. For one thing, I can't figure out what "a cross-engagement gift" might be. Does this mean she will buy this for her fiance in the same sort of way as he might buy her a ring? That's my guess... in which case registering is irrelevant.

As to Aritsugu, I agree with Boar that the A-series with the traditional Japanese handle is a bad choice, as it is deeply asymmetrical and thus tricky to sharpen. But most of their double-edged knives are in fact western handled (you have a choice of bolstered or otherwise), symmetrically profiled, with carbon blades sandwiched between thin layers of stainless, making care relatively easy where carbon blades are concerned. This gyuto is a pretty good example.

I would emphatically agree with Buzz about not getting both a gyuto and a santoku, which are essentially slightly different Japanese takes on the same basic thing. Get one, not both. But your future hubby will have to know which shape and size he prefers, which is why I think we should probably all keep quiet now until Lez can give some clarification.
post #16 of 30
Cheese it! The cops!

Chris - Nah. It's a weekend. My guess lez08 cruises this site at a more appropriate time, like when she's at work. :crazy:

Back to the skills issue:

BDL's knife skills

He's GOOD



My knife skills

I have a learner's permit.

I love the part about how good knives are "balanced". Find the point where the knife doesn't fall off your finger, instant balance. LOL Oh let's not forget that quality knives require full tangs. Double LOL
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #17 of 30
Okay Buzz, I won't worry.

As long as I'm on the subject of Aritsugu, I was just in there an hour ago and I talked to them about their asymmetrical knives and a couple other things. Some notes:

1. The asymmetry is approximately a 15-degree bevel on the front and 5 degrees on the back, but it depends a little bit on which knife size you buy. That asymmetry means that you sharpen it pretty much normally for a top-quality carbon on the front, and then **** close to flat on the back, which shouldn't be all that tricky.

2. They only do this with the A-style, which is available in both Japanese and Western handles. Almost all of their double-edged knives are symmetrical; the A-style knives are not common even at their shop, where you sort of have to hunt for them.

3. They have a vast array of lefty knives, both single-bevel and otherwise. I didn't compare rigorously, but I didn't spot any significant price difference.

4. The website appears not to be updated very often, and some of the prices are significantly off, primarily on the lower end of the range. The site is also exclusively in Japanese, so you'll need a Japanese-reading friend to buy something from them.
post #18 of 30
I think I've said it before: I am soooo jealous. Spending time in that shop must be like going to knifeaholic heaven. There are a few people on another forum who have a good deal of knowledge on asymmetric bevels. I have learned through them that they are there for a reason but it seems only the maker knows what it is. Good sharpeners use the factory bevels as their guide.

Did you notice whether or not the edges were located centered below the spine or offset?

Why must lefty knives have a 50% premium outside of Japan? I can understand why a retailer would only carry a small number of them if any, but what would be the big deal (read $$$) concerning a special order? A nice left handed yanagi would look very nice in my kitchen and would be there if it was priced reasonably.
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #19 of 30
lez08 - you mentioned Korin, so like BDL I assume you are in or close to NYC. There is also Seito Trading in Queens and you might want to take a look. The two stores carry many very high quality, wedding worthy knives, and it is a bonus to be able to handle them before making the purchase. If you could make anything of all the banter between this and your original post you are a very bright woman. :rolleyes:

How large a Gyuto?
What type of handle?
Stainless or non?
Sharpening equipment?
Cutting board? - There are a few really good ones and everything else will make short work of a knife's edge.
Knife storage? MagBlok comes to mind.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #20 of 30
My impression is that the harder steel and thinner blade profile of these Japanese knives may combine very badly with the plastic cutting board you describe. The plastic is unforgiving, and if your cutting technique isn't pretty terrific, you may start putting very small chips into the knife blade. (This has been happening to a friend of mine here in Kyoto, and I solicited a lot of opinions about what might be going on from the crazies at Fred's Cutlery Forum. Their conclusion: change boards, and work on cutting technique.)

I don't know much about brands, but I would certainly advise a fair-sized butcher-block board, i.e. one in which the wood grain runs up-and-down, rather than within the plane of the board. A board like this also makes a beautiful wedding gift, and with love and care can last a lifetime.
post #21 of 30
HD Series Japanese Knife,Japanese Kitchen Knife,Japanese Chef's Knives.Com

Sweden Steel Series Japanese Knife,Japanese Kitchen Knife,Japanese Chef's Knives.Com

I'm on my way to a wedding so have to do this quick. The two references above are for Hattori HD in VG10 steel, and the second is for Misono Swedish steel. They're both excellent knives, both stainless. Either one would be good but why not get the Misono with the cool dragon engraving, lower price, and, in my opinion, better steel. 240mm is probably the best overall size. There are lots more available of course but you asked about Hattori....

Cutting boards: google the boardsmith and boos and check out their END GRAIN boards only. They will treat your knives much better than any other wood. Never use plastic, glass, granite, bamboo (grass with glue) or anything else other than end grain wood - EXCEPT, if you don't mind ugly, a Sani-Tuff rubber board is fantastic. I use both a walnut end grain from the boardsmith and a Sani-Tuff and will vouch for both.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #22 of 30
the misono you linked is the carbon steel, great knife though.
post #23 of 30
I stand corrected. I was thinking Misono UX-10 which is stainless Sandvik 19C27. Both Misono versions are highly regarded.

A better choice might be the Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff model 10013 which is Uddeholm AEB-L (same as Sandvik 13C26), definitely stainless and takes a better edge than either of the Misonos. Takayuki should be in stock at Seito Trading.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #24 of 30
I am not familiar with these knives. With a brief look on the Internet I see they are constructed of steel typical of German knives. Not that it is bad, but there is much better steel available both from custom makers in the US and practically everywhere in Japan. One caveat on Japanese knives - they are sharpened to much more acute angles than the rest of the world and hand sharpening is a must. One pass through a Chef's Choice electric and you have an edge that will not cut nearly as well as the original knife. One of the beauties of the Japanese steel is that the edge will last much longer than the Germans with minimal maintenance, and if you don't want to maintain it yourself there are pros who will give you a new (read better than original) edge yearly as this is about as often as these blades, for a home cook, need to be resharpened. Between sharpening sessions, all these knives need is stropping or a very light touch with a ceramic steel.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #25 of 30
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the help!

Hi Guys....
Thanks so much for all of the information! I'm processing it all now (and being a total non-professional, its taking a lot of processing!) I am making the purchase myself and am also based in NY so could go to any of the stores mentioned. I'm probably going to take you all up on the suggestion of not buying both the guytou and santoku. Do you have a suggestion for a 4th knife? Maybe the MAC Bread knife? Thanks so much for all of your help, I would be pretty lost without it!
post #26 of 30
MAC bread knife, absolutely.

BDL
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post #27 of 30
Yep. Mac SB-105 here. I swear by it.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #28 of 30
Have you seen the Sakai Takayuki Grand Chef Slicer? I'd like to hear your comments on it. I already own a 150mm Sakai Tekayuki Petty knife and a 270mm Hiromoto Gyuto AS and am looking for a good slicer. What would you recommend to round out my collection??
post #29 of 30
hosko - I have never seen a Grand Cheff Sujihiki. However, like you, I own a GS 150 wa Petty and it is as thin as can be. Three days ago I put a very acute bevel on the left side only, merely touching the right side to help remove the burr. This is my sharpest knife so far, push cutting computer paper 2 1/4" from the pinch. This is very high performance and I am not worried about edge retention due to the way the knife will be used, ie., no chopping and no hard pressing on a board. By way of comparison, the 150mm GS is only about half as thick as my 140mm Aritsugu "A" Petty. This is very significant.

I have a 240mm GS wa Gyuto on order and am expecting it any week now. If the relative blade thickness is anything like the Petty it should be a razor. I need to mention that these are wa (Japanese) handles because I suspect that they are thinner than the Western handled versions. I'll find out soon enough.

I would think that the Sujihiki (slicer) should be thin as well, at least the wa version. If correct, I'm going to order one. I already have a Kikuichi Elite Carbon at my other place, but down here in salty Florida I prefer stainless.

I wish I could say more but I'll be sure and post when the Gyuto arrives.

Buzz
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
Buzz - with a Short Pilot Story

One day, long, long ago there was this Pilot who, surprisingly...........
was not full of crap....
But it was a long time ago.... And it was just one day. The End
Reply
post #30 of 30
buzzard - how do you store you knives. At the moment I just have mine in a draw but I don't think that's the best solution.
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