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Help me choose my first gyuto!

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Yay this is my first post here!

Im tired of using the same old kitchen knives in my house. I have a Henckles 10" and a Cutco 10". Ive been researching on all the knives for the past 4 days and it comes to my conclusion im going to get a Japanese knife!

Ok, so a little about me: Names Eugene, im 21 and have this crazy love, passion & drive to cook. Its like a drug to me... If i dont cook i get in a bad mood... I cook everyday for my family at home and Im about to start school for culinary arts and hoping to start working in a restaurant very soon so I was thinking it is time for me to upgrade my equipment.

BTW! Im a lefty, ive been using right hand knives for my entire life cause i didnt know that there was left handed knives. Im not sure if that even matters...

Ive been looking at Mac Pro cause of BLD's constant recommendation to everyone, Masamoto Gyuto, & Moritaka Gyuto.

Also i have no sharpening skills so i was planning to pick up an apex ep, do you guys think i should get the Apex 5 cause it has the Chosera stones?? (also planning to get the 120 grit to work on my old knives).


Sorry for all the questions, all your help is appreciated. Thanks guys for all your help! Happy i found this forum!!! My eyes and ears are opened to all help, looking forward to learn alot from you guys. Thanks again!

post #2 of 9
European style knives are inherently ambidextrous. You can use a handle which favors one side or another, or sharpen the knife asymmetrically so it does the same. But usually western makers use ambidextrous handles and profile the edges 50/50. There's no reason you can't use a western made knife with either hand.

Japanese made, western style, knives are usually made with ambidextrous handles and come from the factory with a right handed grind. It's cheaper to bevel the knife so it favors one side -- and that may or may not be all, some or none of the reason Japanese knives come that way. In any case it's not very difficult to move the asymmetry so the knife is either ambidextrous or favors a left-handed user.

Asymmetric knives act sharper, which is the primary argument in their favor. Symmetric edges are more durable and maintain better on a steel, which is one in theirs. On the debit side, asymmetry edges tend to push the edge away from the off-hand claw, and to "steer" in the hand of a wrong-handed user. Symmetric edges wedge.

Like you, I'm a lefty. My significant others have been righties though, and I've always sharpened the community knives (all of them until recently) asymmetrically in their favor. However, my grip and skill level makes some wrong-handed asymmetry a non-issue. That's probably not true for you.

Edge Pro makes excellent systems, but uou don't need the Choseras. They're a waste of money for most people, and that "most" almost certainly includes you. There's no reason other than curiosity to ever polish a western knife to 10000#. The Kit 3 is way more than good enough. However, considering that at their current sale price, Kit 5 isn't that much more expensive than 3 or 4, if you want them, why not? For what it's worth, Ben Dale, the Edge Pro guy says Kits 3 and 4 are not only better deals they're better altogether, and he's probably right. At the end of the day it's not going to make enough difference to lose sleep over.

Moral of the story: A lot of knife and sharpening stuff is like that. Don't make yourself nuts over tiny differences.

It's true, I most frequently recommend the MAC Pro and Masamoto VG for people interested in their first, good, stainless, mid-priced (?!), western-handled gyuto. While I like those two, there are plenty of other wonderful knives, and it's more important to match the knife to the cook than anything else. The last person who actually pulled the trigger based on my recommendation bought a fairly inexpensive Miyabi.

Moritakas are a different kettle of fish altogether. They're not only wa-gyuto but have a particularly flat profile. They're the poor man's Takeda -- slightly thicker, lots less money, and a better value. They're decent gyutos, but are more likely to appeal to a knife-hobbyist who wants something "different," than to someone looking for an everyday chef's knife. Most Moritakas come with right handed, "D" shaped handles, but you can order a left-handed "D" or an ambidextrous octagonal.

Don't get a right-handed "D," it's very unlikely you can work around it. If you ask around you'll hear plenty of stories about people (usually wives) who use someone's (usually a husband's) wrong-handed knife and think it's fine... But just frikkin' trust me.

You've already said something about your sharpening skills and kit. Thank you for that.

It would also help if you could give a better sense of your knife skills, whether your willing to devote some time improving them, what you expect from a knife, whether or not you have a good board, and your "soup to nuts" budget.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

BDL you are an awesome person! Thank you for your response!

Ok so it looks like im going to have to get a left handed knife. As for my knife skills they are pretty good, I know all the basic cuts like julienne, bruniose, dice, mince, etc. I am definitely the type to devote as much time to improve my skills anything, especially things that have to do in the kitchen!

I want a knife that would last a minimum of 3 years (I am a clean freak, I know that i would have to wipe, clean, wash everytime after use),  that is very durable, keeps its edge, overall well balanced...  OH btw! lol I have very abnormal shaped hands, my palms are bigger than average but my fingers are smaller than average, so something that has a comfortable handle for small fingered, big palmed people haha.

I dont really have a budget, but something reasonable (200-300) because this is my first j knife.

My board is some cheap wooden board off amazon, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003LYZZ8Y, have any recommendations for boards???

Thank you once again BDL you are awesome!!!

post #4 of 9
You want a fairly high quality wood board. End grain is best, but expensive. Over the years I've used quite a few Boos maple, long grain boards -- one of those would be a good choice for you. Don't skimp on size, make sure you get something big enough to work on without feeling cramped. An organized, uncluttered board is key to a good work flow.

As a rule, you don't buy a left handed chef's knife, you sharpen a left-handed bevel on a symmetrically ground knife -- which includes nearly all gyutos, whether wa or yo.

A knife good enough to use for more than three years is pretty easy. Anything in the MAC Pro/Masamoto VG class or better, will easily do the trick. That's one of the reasons I recommend them so often. Hey, it's only money. If you're talking about using the knife as a daily driver on the line... whether or not any blade can stand up for more than a couple of years to the amount of sharpening you may want to give it, is a different question altogether.

If you want a dedicated left handed handle, it's doable but it seriously restricts the range of available knives or puts you in the position of buying a custom handle. In my opinion, it's a losing proposition either way.

There are lots of good handles. As rough and ready rules, softer grips can tolerate narrower handles, and over-the-top grips can tolerate shorter handles. Once people learn some grip skills they're surprised at how unimportant hand size, height, and gender are in terms of both handle size and blade length. Don't take this wrong, but what I'm getting from you is that your grip could use some coaching.

No matter how good your skills are, some handles are more comfortable than others. You want something at least "very good." But so far we haven't figured out if you want "yo" ("western") or "wa" (Japanese). When we get to knives, let's start with that.

You're talking about spending close to $300 for an Edge Pro Apex Kit 5. Are you sure that's where you want to put so much of your budget? Let's figure this out before I start tossing out knife brand recommendations. In the meantime, I'll be happy to answer any of your questions about knife brands, sharpening strategies, or whatever, as I'm able.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/20/11 at 8:24pm
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am amazed at the knowledge you have and especially how quick you reply to posts!

I will look into a boos maple and try to get the biggest one that would fit on my countertop.


I tried to research what the difference is between wa- yo- but i cant seem to find it... would you be able to give me more input on this??


So technically I could just buy a right handed knife and I could sharpen a left handed bevel into it?? Would i be able to do that by my unprofessional self with the apex?? Or could i have someone else (like the website im buying it from) do it for me?? [sorry for the noobie questions bdl... i have so much to learn!]


As for my grip, I've always used the pinch grip and usually most comfortable with a push cut. Thanks for the coaching  link coach!


For the Apex, Yes im willing to spend 3 bills on that system. First because Im not going to have enough time to learn how to freehand sharpen my blades with stones, Secondly because it is on sale and it is only a couple bucks difference than the others, Third because you seemed to recommend Apex is one of the best sharpening systems for the people who do not know how to freehand sharpen knives :)


BDL i really do appreciate your knowledge and help, thanks!

post #6 of 9

The difference between yo and wa is the handle styles. For some people it doesn't matter. Other people prefer one over the other.








Depending on what knife you ultimately choose, you may not have to change the blade symmetry. It would be best to call or email the vendors selling the knives and find out for sure, as sometimes websites are kind of wishy-washy about exactly which knives and which brands are sharpened which way. The only other consideration for handedness is knives with a d-shaped handle. Yo handles, and octagon wa handles are usually ambidextrous. If it looks like a roundish wa handle, it may be another question you should ask the vendor, just to be sure.


I can't tell you about the Edge Pro.

post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for clearing that up Nicholas! I will definitely contact the vendors to see which bevel the knives are sharpened. I don't think i would like the d shaped handles but definitely I like the Yo handles. Considering everything we went over, Yo- gyuto, price range of $200-300, overall well balanced knife; which ones do you guys recommend??? Im still looking at the MASAMOTO VG, or any other better recommendations would be accepted. Please throw me your inputs! Thanks in advance! :)

post #8 of 9
Masamoto VG is a wa-gyuto; and a very nice one at that. The rap on the VG is that it's made from a very good, but not trendy, stainless. Has had a recent history with some F&F problems, but Masamoto fixed them; and their dealer network will take extra care to make sure you don't get a problem knife -- as long as you ask. The blade itself is nicely thin with an excellent profile. As Wagstaff said, my opinion of the profile is that it approaches a sort of Platonic ideal.

But some western cooks find the knife a bit too flexible; the term "whippy" comes up. If your cuts are consistently square across both axes, that is square to the food and the board, you won't feel the flex much. If not, you will. A Masamoto is not just the Japanese version of a lighter, sharper Wusthof... it's got more Japanese character than that.

If you're looking for more stiffness and slightly more of a western feel, the MAC Pro is a better choice. It's very much the equal of the Masamoto, but with a better handle, slightly thicker at the spine -- especially at the heel, fantastic handle, (usually) better F&F, and a less Sabatier-like but still very good profile.

There are all sorts of excellent yo-gyuto and wa-gyuto in your price range. All sorts = Too many to break down brand by brand unless and until you start breaking down what you want from a knife. If what you're looking for is a good all-round, stainless, yo-gyuto OR wa-gyuto, we can limit the pool to three or four good choices any of which would make you happy. If you want something special, you have to say what it is.

Off the top of my head I'm wondering if a Gesshin Ginga -- whether yo or wa -- might pique your fancy. Just for the helluva of it, take a look at the this -- don't forget to play the embedded video.

Technically and practically, it's not very difficult for a sharpener to move a bevel from right-handed to left-handed; especially if you don't try and do it all at once. Doing it with an Edge Pro would take more time and/or more sessions.

The generic Japanese angle for someone who doesn't take an obsessive interest in sharpening is 15*. It's a perfectly good angle, and a good balance between absolute sharpness and durability. Many high-end knives can be sharpened to a more acute angle, but they require more maintenance. Going acute is a complex subject, and we don't need to tackle it. If you're catching the bug and think you'll want to screw around with extreme angles, the Edge Pro Apex is not a good choice, but the Pro is. More money, though.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 8/23/11 at 7:47am
post #9 of 9

The Gesshin Ginga are most definitely "lasers" at least (!). I have a 210mm "wa-petty" (suji), and I can't get over how much I love it.  I was talked out of a laser as a first wa-gyuto by the vendor... but it's on my short-list for a next knife.

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