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Getting a carbon knife for the lady

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Just wondering everyones opinion on these choices:


Hiromoto Tenmi Jyuraku Aogami Super Series Gyutou 121$


Masamoto HC Series Gyutou 210mm 164$


Misono Sweden Steel Series Gyutou 240mm 134$


I'm leaning towards the Masamoto just because I already have one.  It is the best choice for bang for my buck?

post #2 of 16

Hi Brisket,


In alphabetical order:


Hiromoto AS:

A nice knife, but not exactly "carbon," as everything on the outside but a fraction of an inch of edge is stainless. 


If you're really enamored with the idea of an Aogami Super hagane in a san-mai knife, the Hiromoto is a reasonably priced way to do it.


I bought four of them about three years ago for our own use, and ended up giving them away or selling them very quickly. 


They sharpen fairly easily, but don't steel very well.  The handles are slender and not particularly comfortable for someone who doesn't pinch.  The profile is OK, but not great.  Fit and Finish is usually pretty good; but there's a lot of weirdness with the factory edge.  As with nearly old Japanese knives, plan on sharpening it to how you want it ASAP.


Linda didn't like the handle or the profile compared to "her" Sabatier.  The handle didn't bother me much, but I hated the "dead" sensation it turns out I get with all san-mai and warikomi.  While it's not exactly unusualy, the large majority of people don't seem to feel and/or care about it.  If you've ever tried a Shun, you either know or don't know what I mean.


Lots of people swear by and love them.  I can't recommend. 


Kikuichi Elite:

Great knife.  The Misono Sweden has a better handle (for most people) and an engraved dragon.  The Kikuichi is a lot less reactive.  They're very much in the same class.  I only mention it because you might not have heard of them.


Masamoto CT:

Same group as the Kikuichi and Misono.  Slightly more agile profile than either of those.  Masamoto "feel."  Not as attractive as the Misono, and not as good as  the HC.  Same handle issue (if there's an issue at all) as with the HC. 


Trade my K-Sab for a CT?  No.


Masamoto HC:

As far as I know, the best, mass-produced, western handled chef's knife made. 


Masamotos are special.  Why?  Nothing particularly stands out.  They're not the hardest, the thinnest, the best shaped handle, the most expensive alloy...  But the way everything works together?  Oh baby oh baby.


I'd rate the Masamoto CT as overall in the same group as the Sabatiers, but the different alloy in the HC puts it a cut above.


There's one known F&F issue that cropped up a couple of years ago with western handled Masamotos in general, and that's bad handle scales.  My impression is that Masamoto has pretty much taken care of it.  But, if you decide on an HC, you want to communicate with the dealer to make sure that yours were fit and installed correctly.


That's the only negative.  I can give you more of a rundown on the positives if you like. 


The one thing which stops me from saying, "just buy it," is that price seems to be driving you towards a 21cm HC instead of 24cm.  As good as HCs are, if 24cm is the right length for her she'd be better off with a 24cm Misono or one of the 10" Sabs than a 21cm HC.


Misono Sweden:

An excellent knife.  It competes in price with the Masamoto CT and Kikuichi Elite, also very good knives.  There's not much I don't like about the Misono.  Excellent profile, excellent handle, and the engraving is nice.  The alloy, whatever it is, is highly reactive; you'll probably want to force a patina rather than going with a baking soda regimen.  


Excellent edge characteristics.  May be profitably maintained on a steel, but use a good seel and be careful.  Great handle.  Very good profile.  Good F&F.  Great alloy which can be sharpened to stupidly acute edge angles and serious asymmetry -- if you like that sort of stuff.


Sharpens quickly and easily.  Can be steeled profitably.  You'll want to "touch up" pretty often though, to keep corrosion off the edge.


Mario Batali, who does not seem to have an endorsement deal, uses one -- for whatever that's worth.  His, by the way, has a forced, "mustard" patina.


Would I trade my Sabatiers' overall excellence for the Misono's better edge holding and better slightly better edge taking?  Maybe, maybe not.   Highly recommended.



K-Sabatier and Thiers Issard market several lines of excellent carbon knives, particularly K-Sab au carbone; K-Sab "Canadian;" TI carbon; TI "Massif;" and TI "Nogent."   They're softer than Japanese knives and need regular steeling to maintain their sharpness.  On the other hand, the edges don't need to go to the stones very often.  And yes dammit, you do have to sharpen around the finger guards.  You can sharpen on oilstones or waterstones without any issues, and to an edge angle even more acute than the nominal "Japanese standard" of 15*; and with some asymmetry at that.  They'll take and hold a serious polish, too.


They feel fantastic in your hand, in the cut and on the board.  Nothing quite like one, really.  When it comes to the gestalt of a knife, it competes evenly with Kikuichi and Misono.  It's only superior is the Masamoto HC.   


I sort of collect Sabs and own at least one of every type mentioned.  Highly recommended.


Bottom Line:

You've undoubtedly got sufficient reasons for not bringing up Sabatier on your own.  An 8" knife is short, and a very poor substitute for a medium 9-1/2" or 10", so that lets HC out. CT and Kikuichi are just that little bit of a whisper behind the others.


Misono Sweden 24cm for the win.


Don't forget to tell us what you choose,


post #3 of 16

i was drawn to the Misono Sweden for all the reasons mentioned... but i wanted the sharpess knife possible and Mark from CKTG recommended Moritaka over the Misono Sweden.

post #4 of 16

No offense, but a Moritaka gyuto is (a) very thick and prone to wedging, (b) has a Japanese, not western handle, and (c) has very straight geometry without much less belly than a typical Japanese chef's.


Pictures are worth many words.  Too much bandwidth for pictures of both in the same width, so here's a link to the 24cm Moritaka Kurochiand here's one to the Misono Sweden.   While you can't see how thick these knives are, differences in profile and handle are quite clear.


Moritaka thickness is over 4.4 mm at the machi (where the the spine runs into the ferrule).  Compare that to the Sweden, Masamoto HC and Hiromoto AS which are not much more than 2mm at the bolster.   



Yes the AS alloy (the hagane in your Moritaka, and also in the Hiromoto AS) is at or near the top of the heap when it comes to potential for absolute sharpness but maybe not as good as Shiro#2, and maybe no better than V2C (like the Masamoto HC). 


But no matter what Mark says, unless you're one heck of a good sharpener using an excellent polishing stone it's unlikely you'll ever get a Moritaka much sharper than a Sweden, HC or even a Sab.  In terms of cutting onions, the difference won't make much difference.   And speaking of practical sharpness, asymmetry is more of a factor than differences between very good steels. 


On top of that a Moritaka isn't amenable to a steel and must be trued on stones which means a lot of "touch ups," a lot of stone soaking and drying, a lot of flattening, and so on.


I'm not saying it's a bad knife, criticising your taste, discounting it because it's "warikomi," or comparing it unfavoarbly to some other wa-gyuto I might happen to like better.  I mean it's your knife and if you like it, I'm thrilled.  No question, Moritaka makes great knives.  It's just that I don't see a Moritaka as a good fit with Brisket's other choices -- still it might be worth thinking about if they're open to a thick, heavy-duty (as those things go), rustic, wa-gyuto. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/4/10 at 12:57pm
post #5 of 16

Odd that Mark would say that.  He's given me some good advice on knives.  Don't know much about Moritaka but the Misono Sweden not only gets ridiculously sharp, it's also the easiest to sharpen of any of my knives.  At acute angles it still keeps it's edge for a good while.  In fact, I have yet to get any other knifes in my kitchen sharper than my Misonos.


Brisket:  I have both the Masamoto HC and Misono Sweden and I'm using one of them every day.  Between the two I like the HC a little more but not a lot more.  If I were to choose between the two you have listed I would go with the Misono.  It really is a great knife and 240mm is just more useful than 210mm.  Some added bonuses of the Misono line are that the edge of the spine is rounded off (my index finger went numb before I rounded of the Masamoto), it has an excellent price point, and it ships reasonably sharp.  Not as sharp as it's capable of getting but sharper than any of the other Japanese knives I've ordered.


If I understand my steels correctly, the HC should have slightly better edge retention than the 1095 steel that I've heard Misono uses but I haven't noticed that.  If anything the Misono edge is the one that seems keep going and going.  I have them beveled a little differently so it's not exactly an apples to apples comparison but suffice to say the Misono Sweden can respectfully hold it's own against more expensive carbons.


Regarding the reactivity of the Swedish steel, it does react quickly but it's not as hard to care for as people make it seem.  If you cut something reactive just a quick splash under the faucet and a wipe down is all you need to keep chopping - it only takes seconds.  There also seems to be some discrepancy between what people are saying about its reactivity.  I personally find it only moderately more so than my other carbon knives.  Other people have said the same.  Still other people say that it's wildly reactive and even leaves black streaks cutting proteins.  I can only shrug my shoulders because I've been using it for a while and can't explain the different experiences.  It hasn't happened to me yet.  But it is more reactive, no doubt, so I put a light vinegar patina on mine recently and that seems to have eased any worries about "red rust".  It behaves very similar to all my other carbons now.  And the patina looks good to boot.


I added the Misono Sweden to the product list on Cheftalk and had every intention of writing a review of it last week but now I'm not sure when I'll get around to writing something thoughtful.  I'll try to get it up this week but it might not be until after you've made your purchase.  Good luck!



post #6 of 16
Originally Posted by SockpuppetDoug View Post

Odd that Mark would say that.  He's given me some good advice on knives.  Don't know much about Moritaka but the Misono Sweden not only gets ridiculously sharp, it's also the easiest to sharpen of any of my knives.  At acute angles it still keeps it's edge for a good while.  In fact, I have yet to get any other knifes in my kitchen sharper than my Misonos.


I don't know what is odd about it. I love the knife, so his advice is good. I asked for the sharpest and I got the sharpest knife I have used... don't know if it truly is sharper than Misono Swedish, but neither do you. Mark knows, so I went with his advice.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hmmmmm, tough choice.  They're both so sexy and I know she likes the feel of my Masamoto but I want to try Misono out.  Plus the longer Masamoto is out of my budget.  She wanted a 21cm knife but I think I will have to make an executive decision for her and get the 24cm.  I ordered the 24cm and was a little disappointed I didn't get it longer on my last knife.


Thanks for the chat guys.  Misono it is.

post #8 of 16

Originally Posted by Huy Bui View Post

I don't know what is odd about it. I love the knife, so his advice is good. I asked for the sharpest and I got the sharpest knife I have used... don't know if it truly is sharper than Misono Swedish, but neither do you. Mark knows, so I went with his advice.

You bought a knife because it was sharp OOTB?!



post #9 of 16

That wasn't really my point.  I don't doubt what Mark said.  And I'm not questioning your decision.  What I think is odd is that most kitchen knives that are used day in and day out are maintained at about 90% sharpness or thereabouts before they go back to the stones.  How long it stays there depends on the knife, the user and what the knife is being used for.  So if you're only talking about absolute sharpness how is that useful criterion?  If you're talking about the utility of having a sharp knife wouldn't you also have to factor in how easily it's going to take that edge and how good it's edge retention will be?  And even then (since BDL raised the point about thickness and wedging) - wouldn't this be a slippery slope as the optimal bevel for each knife is likely to be different?


In absolute terms when you say one knife gets sharper than another, most people kinda sorta know what that means.  But in terms of utility, when you start factoring in all the other things that go into using and maintaining a knife, what criterion are you going to apply?  We could name any number of knives that take a keener edge than anything mentioned in this thread but they wouldn't necessarily be valid choices.


I'm going to borrow a quote from Chad Ward that says it better than I can:  "So the real question is not “how sharp should my knife be,” but rather “how do I get maximum performance from my knife under a given set of conditions.” A sharp knife can be defined as one that has a keen edge that can hold up in repeated usage while producing the results we’re looking for in the kitchen."



post #10 of 16
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Originally Posted by Huy Bui View Post

You bought a knife because it was sharp OOTB?!



i love how you think i'm an idiot. sockpuppet seems to be new, so i will excuse his assumption that i am an idiot, but you should know better.



post #11 of 16


Huy Bui,


Sorry if you felt dissed.  If we were talking over beer while we fooled around with knives and stones, this wouldn't be a problem -- I not only respect you, but pick up plenty of information from you too -- which doesn't mean I always agree with you.  


You can be a little whack in the way you say things.  But that doesn't have much to do with the fact that sometimes I can be too blunt, too sarcastic, forget that irony doesn't always register in a post, etc. 


The OOTB thing was my post.  My responsibility.  My bad.   My apologies.


Nothing quite like getting back to the subject, is there?  On the content side of the ledger, if Mark genuinely thinks the Moritaka wa-gyuto he carries can be made and kept sharper in some way meaningful to cooking than, for instance, the Tadatsuna wa-gyuto he also carries, he's nuts


Perhaps the nature of sharpness itself as it applies to the making, pricing, purchasing, maintaining, and using kitchen knives should be explored in a separate thread.  Let's not hijack Brisket's any more than we already have.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/5/10 at 11:08am
post #12 of 16



Great choice. 


A 21 is a short chef's knife, while 24cm is medium.  They are very different.  If you don't have decent technique the 24 is awkward and difficult to point.  If you do, the 21 is just too damn short.


I'll be happy to help with technique if either of you like.



post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you BDL, I'll be sure to ask about technique soon.  I've recently been feeling like I should have a longer knife, mine is a 24cm at the moment, maybe you could tell me how that relates to technique and skill?

post #14 of 16

double post

Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/5/10 at 7:39pm
post #15 of 16

its fine, i don't let people get to me. no matter what you do in life, there will always be haters. when i come into a kitchen with knives that makes the Exec Chef drool, it is expected.


i don't know, the options i gave Mark were Misono and Moritaka and I asked for any other recommendations and he told me Moritaka... i originally asked for the DT ITK, but that is sold out, so price-wise the Tadatsuna could have been an option. the Moritaka is certainly a great knife though, gets crazy sharp and sharpens with ease. i think trying to argue which is best is really splitting hairs here and since its so dependent on personal preference, there is no point to it.


i personally like 270mm now that i have had some time with it.

post #16 of 16


The differences between 21 and 24, and 27 and 30, FEELS far more substantial than the difference between 24 and 30.  That's because a 21 is a short knife, a 30 is a long one, but 24 and 27 are both mediums.


Short knives are easy to point.  That is, it's easy to control where the point is when doing tip work, like scoring onions; and because the cook knows where the point is, the knife also feels safer. 


It's not a matter of height or hand size.  The worse the grip, the more the cook wants to stay with a short knife.   


The technical step which makes medium knives just as easy is learning to hold the knife in such a way that the point lines up with the users wrist and elbow.  One line, all the way up.  That way the user can aim the knife by looking at where she wants the tip to go -- and it will go there precisely, safely, intuitively, and every time.  


Learning to "pinch grip" is part of it, but only a part.  The rest is learning to keep your wrist straight.  It also helps if you put your left foot forward a little (assuming your right handed) so your forearm and knife (one line, remember) naturally square to the counter and board.  Controlling these things makes knife use very natural.  And that's the idea.  


Almost all of the elements of knife technique are easy to acquire.  Putting them together and using them will feel very unnatural for awhile.  But the transition is well worth it because cooking becomes so much easier, so much less a chore, and so much more fun; you're control of size allows you to cook better (things get done at the same time, things melt away, etc.); and onions won't make you cry (a combination of efficiency and sharpening skills).


Heck, the onions alone... What's that worth?


A 27 is more productive than a 24 but requires slightly better knife and significantly better board management skills -- not to mention a little more room on and off the board. The extra convenience of a 24 is worth more to most home cooks than whatever extra work she can squeeze out of a longer blade.  Most pros could probably get slightly better use out of the 27.


Consider the above in the light that none of this stuff is written in stone.  Cooks vary.  People feel differently about lengths -- you should go with what feels most comfortable, or, if you're working on your skills, what you think will feel most comfortable as they improve. 


That said, if you're trying to nail down "classic" knife skills you're doing everything right.



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