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advice please - first gyuto

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
After spending hours reading posts on this site, knife forum and others, I've educated myself about the market but can't decide which gyuto makes sense.

I'm a home cook (big family so lots of cooking but obviously nothing like the wear on a knife of a pro). I have good knife skills (use pinch grip, keep blade square to cutting surface,etc). I take care of my knives but don't sharpen knives myself. (I plan to learn to use a whetstone but haven't yet!). I am not a big person so favor 8"/210 mm. And I am a bit of a basher - smashing garlic with knife, etc. I've been cooking with wushofs for 20 yrs and they're heavy and a bit clunky and I have been covetting some Japanese cutlery!

Here are my contenders (all stainless - I can't cope w/carbon upkeep):

Misono, hattori (forum), mac pro, mac ultimate, blazen (ee)

Thanks in advance for your insights!
post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. How are they re: edge-retention? And how delicate are they? As I said, I try to be careful with my knives but I'd hate to chip an edge as I'm getting used to the thinner geometry. Good thought re: 240 mm.

Also, what do the 2 you recommend have over, say the hattori?
post #3 of 16

Misono makes three stainless lines, UX10, 440 and Moly -- which interests you? 

 

Misono UX-10 -- At about the time when western awareness that Japanese knives were better than Germans, and that Shun and Global had serious issues, the UX-10 hit the market like a bombshell.  It was the knife everyone wanted.  However, that's no longer the case.  A lot of people feel the knife is too streamlined, i.e., not tall enough off the board.  A few still find the profile extremely agile. A lot of people find the knife difficult to sharpen.  I think a lot of the opinions are more trend than substance -- and that the UX-10 is definitely not for everyone.  Even if it suits you to a "T" it's still very expensive for what you get unless what you want is a lot of styling.  Excellent handle (Misono and MAC handles are always extremely good), overly stylized profile, decent stiffness, thin enough, gets very sharp, not easy to sharpen, adequate edge holding.  Too expensive.

 

Misono 440 --  I've fooled around with a few of them and think they're very decent, but nothing to write home about.  They've been around for awhile but have never generated much action or interest in the US, with almost no internet presence.  In the same price range as the Masamoto VG and MAC Pro, without being as good all-around as either (as long with a few other blades I could mention).  Too expensive for what you get, but keep reading.

 

Misono Moly -- The next alloy down from the 440 in Misono's stainless line.  As is typical with Japanese makers, the F&F isn't as good either.  However, when push comes to shove it's very nearly as good as the 440.  In a lot of ways it's probably better than the UX-10, or at least more normal.  Whether you lose anything is a lot more dependent on knife and sharpening skills than the "lesser" alloy.  A recent price increase pushed the Moly out of the "entry level" class and into the next one up.  In my opinion, it's the best choice of all the Misono stainless lines.

 

Hattori FH -- Very, very nice and very expensive knives.  Beautifully made.  As good as VG-10 gets.  Very good handle, very good profile, a bit flexible, very thin, easy to sharpen, very good edge retention.  Not particularly chip prone, unlike nearly all other VG-10 knives.  Too expensive.

 

MAC Pro -- "Pro" is right.  Excellent all around knife.  Usually very good F&F.  Excellent handle -- perhaps the best in the business, very good profile, very stiff as Japanese knives go -- almost western, thin enough, very good sharpening characteristics, very good edge holding, maintains well on a steel.  Excellent warranty.  Excellent U.S. support.  If you have any problem with a MAC, MAC USA will only be too happy to make it right.  Don't let the graphics turn you off.  If I were buying a mass-produced, stainless, Japanese gyuto, this isn't the knife I'd buy but it's the one I recommend and gift most often.  The best choice for your bashing style.

 

MAC Ultimate -- A way to get the same knife as the Pro but spend more money.  It's made from a "better" alloy, but the alleged superiority is one you'll never experience in use.  However often you'd sharpen the Pro is how often you'd sharpen the Ultimate, etc., etc.

 

Blazen (from Epicurean Edge) -- A better, more refined version of the regular Blazen.  Unlike the other knives you've mentioned it's "san mai" (three-layer laminated).  In this case, the middle layer which does the cutting (called "hagane") is a metallurgical powder which Ryusen (the maker) takes to a high hardness.  It's a good enough knife, but many of its supposed virtues are more academic than practical.  For instance, the extra hardness won't net you much in the way of keeping you away from the stones, but does make the knife problematic to true on a steel.  Good F&F, good handle, adequate geometry, thin enough, reasonable stiffness, very good edge taking, excellent edge holding, some maintenance issues, nice saya.  Quite expensive.

 

If you want to play in this price range, the knife du jour is the Kikuichi TKC. It's been around for some time under another label with nothing but raves.  The nice thing about Kikuichi picking it up (and CKTG selling it), is that now it's well supported.  Not actually "stainless" per se, but sufficiently stain resistant that you treat it the same.  Good handle, very good F&F, very good profile, quite sharp OOTB, excellent edge characteristics, nice feel on the stones, stiff enough, thin enough, no real negatives.  More expensive than the MAC, not quite as rugged, but your other best choice.  

 

The right length for your knife has nothing to do with height or hand size.  The three most important factors are grip, skill level and available space.  Speaking of grip and skills you won't get anywhere close to your money's worth without raising your game substantially. 

 

And... It's always all about sharpening.  Sharpening freehand on bench stones is a great way to sharpen.  But it's not necessarily the best choice for you.  It is a skill which takes time and effort to acquire, and a quality kit -- even a relatively modest one -- doesn't come cheap.  An Apex Edge Pro costs about the same thing as a good set of stones, is almost as adaptable and is much easier to learn to use. 

 

Before going any further, let's talk overall budget for stones, knife, board, everything. 

 

BDL

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post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

BDL, you totally rock.  Thanks so much.  I know from the hours I've spent obsessing about cutlery that you're a great resource, so thanks for weighing in.  For budget, I'm probably around $400 for everything (I have a good board, but a so-so sharpener).  I can stretch beyond that if necessary, but that's my sweet spot.

 

As for which Misono, I was thinking UX-10, but I'll take a look at the Moly.  And great point about all of the positive press re: the UX-10 being a result of trend rather than substance.  I've been trying to read more recent reviews/comparisons of gyutos so that they capture the Hattori (Forum), and you're right -- there's less raves about the UX-10 in those more recent posts than in older ones.

 

I'll take a look at Kikuichi TKC.  And while I'm opening up the field, what about Masamoto VG and Togiharu G1?

 

And finally, I'd love advice re: sharpening.  I'm not adverse to learning to use stones, but my sense is that it's a steep learning curve.  So, something a bit easier is probably better at this point (3 little kids, not alot of time!)

 

Thanks in advance.  I really, really appreciate your sage advice!

 

(P.S. Cool website -  cookgoodfood.com)

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by cet1970 View Post

BDL, you totally rock.  Thanks so much.  I know from the hours I've spent obsessing about cutlery that you're a great resource, so thanks for weighing in.  For budget, I'm probably around $400 for everything (I have a good board, but a so-so sharpener).  I can stretch beyond that if necessary, but that's my sweet spot.

 

As for which Misono, I was thinking UX-10, but I'll take a look at the Moly.  And great point about all of the positive press re: the UX-10 being a result of trend rather than substance.  I've been trying to read more recent reviews/comparisons of gyutos so that they capture the Hattori (Forum), and you're right -- there's less raves about the UX-10 in those more recent posts than in older ones.

 

I'll take a look at Kikuichi TKC.  And while I'm opening up the field, what about Masamoto VG and Togiharu G1?

 

And finally, I'd love advice re: sharpening.  I'm not adverse to learning to use stones, but my sense is that it's a steep learning curve.  So, something a bit easier is probably better at this point (3 little kids, not alot of time!)

 

Thanks in advance.  I really, really appreciate your sage advice!

 

(P.S. Cool website -  cookgoodfood.com)


BDL posts for BDL, so take that more seroiusly than this post (besides, I've been travelling, and waking up to expensive beers, which makes me talkative).

 

But here's a first stab at some of your questions anyway:

 

- sharpening freehand: if you're gong to do it, even without devoting a lot of time, just DO it.  There are parts you'll get "wrong" or "wrong-ish", but the learning curve you're worried about probably isn't *that* steep.  That is, you won't sharpen as well as someone truly "good" very soon, but you might well get edges better than OOTB, better than most cooks ever see, very quickly.  So you'll get the tip "wrong" or some such.  You'll fix problems as you go.  The three little kids problem is more one of keeping the knives WELL out of reach for some years to come.

 

- the Togihari G-1: I have a petty from this line.  I love the knife.  I paid too much for it.  Both.  Over time, the sunk-cost is forgotten, and I love the knife for occasional use.  But I wouldn't get it again, at this point, at this price.... mine is primarily used for cutting small things quickly.  (A garlic clove.  A sandwich.).

 

If you're talking a Gyuto, the Masamoto VG is closest to a Sabatier profile, which BDL will tell you is "platonically ideal" (thus, if your prejudices match is, this is the profile you want).  In any case, no reason I can think of AT ALL to get the Togiharu over this, unless price is still paramount.  But the Togiharu (in general) used to be a bargain, not so much now.

 

(BTW, the UX-10 is a bit of a relic -- great knife, indeed, but others as-great for better pricing at this point.  That's not always been the case).

 

I'm not sure what you're asking about sharpening.  There are plenty of older posts from BDL talking about a couple of chef's choice electric sharpeners.  I have never used one. My own prejudices might be less-informed.  But I think either just getting some good stones and spending a bit of time (takes less than you might think to be "adequate") OR... getting some Mac knives and a rollsharp until you're ready for some time on the stones is a good idea.  That takes you away from all three of Togiharu, Masamoto, and Kikuichi.

 

If I were your guru (and I'm so NOT!) -- I'd say get the Kikuichi TKC and deal with sharpening on stones, now.

 

post #6 of 16

has anyone looked at the new Pro J Series by Kanetsugu? 

 

post #7 of 16

For what it's worth, I just got the Kikuichi TKC. As a fairly new freehand sharpener, I can get it sharp enough to shave my cat (if she'd stay still enough to let me do it). Could I get it sharper on an Edge Pro? I don't know. Would I have gotten good results faster? Maybe a little bit. Could you learn to freehand as fast as me? I don't know that either, but I know a lot of people will say the learning curve isn't as steep as it sometimes seems. On the other hand, 3 little kids is a lot of free time eaten up that could be used to practice sharpening. I don't really think there's a wrong way to go.

post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all of your thoughts.  Is the learning curve that much faster for Edge Pro Apex than freehand with stones?

 

Also, since I'm used to cooking with knives with some belly, am I better off looking for a gyuto with a bit more belly?  Or is this something you adapt to pretty quickly?

 

 

post #9 of 16

Love my kikuichi tkc

post #10 of 16

With a jig, you won't have to learn to eliminate wobble as you move the knife.  The jig does it for you.  You'll still have to learn "less pressure" -- like, a LOT less than you think, if you're like most folks, but in just about every other way you'll spend about 15 minutes learning what might take a few hours, minimum, to learn on freehand stones.

 

There are advantages to freehanding, though, and it's really fun to learn.  That and you'll be able to get a serviceable edge after some hours of practice, in all probability, which isn't much in the grand scheme of things.

 

Whether "more belly" is necessary given your experience with it depends on what you do with the knives, anyway.  If you really "rock chop" everything then it matters more.  On the other hand, if you look at (say, for example) Norman Weinstein's instruction... he uses Wusthof knives, so all kinds of belly, but the technique is adaptable to flatter knives pretty much instantly.  There are adjustments, to be sure, but they're obvious (and mostly around the fact that the German profile allows you to be more "tip down" in more situations.  This is almost automatically adjusted for with a French profile knife if you're actually using more length of the blade, as he demonstrates, rather than pure push-cutting or paper-cutter motion while "rocking").


Edited by Wagstaff - 8/23/11 at 7:10am
post #11 of 16
+1 with Wagstaff. Without any disagreement let me add a little to the belly discussion.

Belly doesn't so much assist a rock-chopping style, rather -- as the natural motion imposed by the geometry -- it creates one. There's nothing wrong with a German profile, or with better "Germans" like Wusthof, Zwillings (aka Henckels), Messermeister, Lamson, Victorinox, Gude, etc. -- some of which aren't even German.

Taste aside, the German profile's primary benefits are: (1) Some additional power which will compensate to some extent for an edge which is less than very sharp. (2) It doesn't penalize weak technique as much as a French profile. The French profile's primary benefits are: (1) Light weight. (2) Agility which rewards good technique. To better visualize the differences, use Teh Google and gaze upon the wonders that are the 10" Wusthof Classic, and the 10" K-Sabatier au carbone.

If you want to get an idea of some the technical distinctions in use, you can look at a Weinstein video and take a look at the "Guillotine and Glide" post on CFG. (There's also a grip and action modified from Asian techniques which is currently gaining favor, but let's not go there).

Japanese made gyuto profiles ("gyuto" is just another name for a cook's knife, don't let anyone tell you it isn't) tend to run from classic French to exaggerated French (flatter with a dropped tip). If you look at a Masamoto, you'll see that the edge almost exactly follows a Sabatier's, even though the top line runs higher towards the tip, then drops a bit more precipitously.

There are a few, but very few Japanese manufactured German profile knives, Shun is the standout but not the only exception. Most Shun cook's knives are actually exaggerated German (with a higher tip), and I really despise them. You don't have to.

When you get down to brass tacks the profile choice is far more about taste than anything else.

Speaking of taste... If you prefer a Wustie to a Masamoto that doesn't make you wrong, it just means you value certain qualities over others. Where people like me and Wag come in is illuminating the differences, not in telling you what you want.

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/23/11 at 8:41am
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post #12 of 16

Actually that adds a lot! (I don't know if that much more nuance might actually BE disagreement, but if it is, I'm wrong.  Or closer to wrong. NO problem admitting that).

 

Still, Weinstein is less guilty of "rock chopping" -- or less exaggeratedly so -- than most, and between his videos and the CFG "guillotine and glide" article is where I learned what to practice.  But mostly I'm curious, BDL -- can you "go there" for my benefit, with the "grip and action modified from Asian techniques which is currently gaining favor"?  If you wanted not to for good reasons, then of course I don't want to push! But I'd love to know what you have to share in this regard.   I'm not sure if you're talking about the lightning-fast push cutting I'm seeing people post on the forums -- and if so, I have all sorts of questions about it.  Like how that doesn't chip the very hard steels and such.  And you may not be talking about that at all -- onionskin-thin fish is a different thing altogether that I really don't need to learn about just now.

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

The guillotine and glide post was very helpful.  I definitely tend to cut with the tip touching the board.  But I can see the benefit of moving away from that -- and I expect I would move away from it if my knife weren't so damn heavy (Wusthofs are nice, but light they're not).  Am I right that you prefer Masamoto VG to Kikuichi TKC?  If so, why?

post #14 of 16
Masamoto VG vs Kikuichi TKC? I don't really have the time on the Kikuichi to do a detailed review, but if I were buying a stainless (or "stain resistant") yo-gyuto, and if those were my only two choices, I'd take the Kikuichi over the Masamoto VG.

I'd also take a Tadatsuna Inox over the VG, and am also hearing very good things about the Gesshin Ginga (sold by Japanese Knife Imports). However, the Kikuichi, Gesshin, and especially the Tad are all a fair bit pricier than the VG -- how much that that matters to you is a question only you can answer. So far, we've been talking about knives at a price point representing the "first really good knife" class. And if I were buying a stainless yo-gyuto for myself, like you I'd be asking a lot of questions and otherwise obsessing and running around like a madman.

It's probably a better idea for us to focus on what would work better for you, than on "what would BDL buy for himself?" My choices aren't always particularly rational or practical, nor are my techniques universal. Nor -- whatever style you choose -- do you need the world's greatest knife to learn good skills and perform excellent knife work -- one of the world's very good knives will do quite nicely.

Of course, I'm more than happy to help you spend as much of your money as seems fun to you. More is quite often funner.

BDL
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post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

The "what would work better for [me]" question is where I get stuck.  

 

I raises the philosophical question:  Jump in or just put a toe in the water.  Kikuichi TKC/Tad/etc. would be a bigger change from the Wusthofs I know so well.  But they sound like Platonically more ideal knives than, say, Mac Pro.  So, more long-term upside if I put the time in to improve my game.  And I am interested in improving my game (Guillotine & Glide is already figuring into my cutting). 

 

I just ordered an Edge Pro Apex because I also want to get a handle on my sharpening skills (I currently have one of those pull-through Chef's Choice dealies, but I have never liked it -- I look forward to participating/seeing what's going on than passing my knives through that horrible grinding mechanism). 

 

So, my inclination is to get something I can grow on. 

post #16 of 16
The Kikuichi and Tad are thinner, better finished, and will give you better edge qualities than either the MAC Pro or the Masamoto VG. Tradeoffs always have a price, in the case of the Kikuichi and Tad the price is only money -- and that's a very good thing. If you can afford it, wotthehell, knock yourself out and be happy. I can't tell you how much I enjoy playing with my Konosukes and of course I hope you have just as much fun.

If the money is a stretch, bear in mind they're all very, very nice knives -- far better than anything you've ever used -- and any one of them will keep you happy for a long time.

BDL
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