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Kikuichi TKC and Carbonext

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

So there's lots of speculation that these are essentially the same knife, just branded differently?  Is that correct?  It seems like across the message boards this topic comes up once in a while, but I'm not sure what the latest is. 

 

Do you guys think they're the same knife?

 

I love the kikuichi but at $200 vs $130 the price discrepancy is huge.

 

Do you guys think the Carbonext the way to go or is there something about the TKC that makes it worth the extra dollars?

post #2 of 18

Ah, a blast from the past!wink.gif  The answer is a bit complicated nowadays.  Originally we had the TKC.  According to a fellow knifegeek at FF, TK stands for "Toku Kou", which means "special steel", and C signifies it's a chef's knife.  Thus, TKC.  The first ones were sold under the Ichimonji brand.  As I understand it, Koki from JCK says the Kagayak CN is a re-branded TKC.  However, it appears that now the Kikuichi versions are being finished in a different factory than the Ichimonji ones were with a different bolster.  While the blades seem identical, my Ichimonji and Kagayaki TKCs do have subtly different furniture.  The seem to perform identically.  FWIW, I like the appearance of the Ichimonji version slighty better simply due to the different engraving.

 

If you compare the two currently available versions you have the CarboNext at the Kikuichi Performance TKC.  The former has a more rounded bolster while the bolster of the latter is more flattened and angular.  I gather it's comparable to an Akifusa/Ikeda in that respect.

 

For my dollar I'll take the CN.  But it's hard to say what you'll want to do with yours.lol.gif  It's probably too late for a short answer but I'd take the CN and hold on to my $70.  You'll never know the difference.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #3 of 18

You have to understand that many Japanese knives are made by a group of OEM makers according to contract specification. 

 

In the case of the Kikuichi TKC the general contractor is Kikuichi.  Kikuichi sets the specs and does the support, but the knife is still made by subs.  With the exception of the graphics, the Kikuichi TKC is supposedly the same knife as the Ichimonji.  Whether or not the Ki kuichi is made by exactly the same set of subs Ichimonji used is anyone's guess.  

 

Kagayaki is not a maker, or even a general.  Rather, it's JCK's house brand.  How much overlap there is between Kikuichi's OEM subs and Kagayaki's is -- again -- anyone's guess.   I'd guess there's some overlap, but more importantly the people who make the CarboNext are doing a very good job of cloning the TKC.  Their identities don't really matter.

 

Phaedrus handles a lot of Kagayaki CarboNexts and says the F&F is generally better than Kikuchi's.  The generic buzz has it the other way around.  The only CarboNext I tried was a very early sample, was pretty rough and had the same narrow handle that's typical of other Kagayakis.  I "opened" it for the owner, and it took an excellent edge easily.  My limited experience aside, have a great deal of respect for and trust in Phaedrus.  Putting everything together, my guess is the odds of getting a well finished knife -- with the exception of a well-profiled and sharpened edge -- are similar for both brands.   

 

CarboNexts are notorious for coming without even the most basic edge shaping, let alone sharpening.  If you're seriously interested in a CarboNext, you should plan on having it profiled and sharpened by someone competent before using it.  Phaedrus, just possibly, may happen to know one.

 

If you're someone who worries about down the line issues, both Kikuichi and CKtG (the seller handling the TKC) are far superior to JCK.  

 

If I were buying one for myself, I'd probably get the CN; if buying one as a gift, it would be the TKC; but I wouldn't actually buy either for myself or as a gift. 

 

BDL

post #4 of 18

If I could get an Ichimonji/Kikuichi/Kagayaki TKC with the exact profile of my Akifusa I would buy five of them and then never buy another knife again!

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #5 of 18

BTW, it's not like the vendors make a secret of the fact that there are many OEMs building knives for many brands.  Occasionally a maker may, for political reasons, keep it on the QT but for the most part it's common knowledge.  For example the Hattori HD is merely finished by Hattori; another company makes them.  My understanding is that the Artisan line sold by Japan Woodworker is the same as the Akifusa line imported by EE but with different markings- and IIRC both are made by Ikeda.  Etc etc.

 

With the CN vs the TKC I do think the former has better overall F'n'F but isn't sharp OOtB.  If you just want a superior knife for working the line, save $70 and get the cheaper one.  If service after the sale is a big issue for you, get the Kikuichi.  Mark @ CKtG is great and will make sure you're taken care of.  I haven't had any troubles with Koki at JCK either but I haven't needed to get something replaced yet.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well I'm a home cook looking for a nice looking all around gyuto w nice aesthetics although it doesn't need to be Damascus. I had thought the TKC was a nice step up from the mac but maybe I'm mistaken? Ive been practicing my sharpening on the beston, bester, SR kit by the way.
post #7 of 18

It's a quantum leap from the Mac in many ways; ultimately it comes down to what you want and what you're ready for.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #8 of 18

Don't know about "quantum step," or even if it's a step at all.  Depends what you're looking for.  The CN and TKC have better edge taking and holding abilities.  Whether you have the skills to exploit the former, and the workload to appreciate the latter is something you answer, not us.

 

The MAC combines a great handle, with excellent stiffness, and excellent support.  MAC F&F is very good to excellent, and if there's any problem at all with the way the knife ships Mac will replace it immediately; their warranty is excellent (not quite Shun or Henckels, but the next half-step down), as is the support from MAC USA (as good as anyone's).  The MAC comes very sharp OOTB, sharper than the TKC and much, much sharper than the CN.  The profile is different than either of the semis, wider, but I rate their profiles as equally "very good."  The MAC Pro's edge properties are only very good (appropriate for VG-1) for a Japanese knife in the price range, in contrast to the two semi-stainless knives which are clearly excellent. 

 

As I said, it depends what you're looking for. 

 

At this stage of goodness and price generally, and between these three knives specifically:  Unless you have a predilection for something in particular, the choices don't make much difference.  You're going to get an excellent knife that will change the level of enjoyment you find in cooking no matter what.  I had a friend who used to call distinctions without a difference, "picking fly [specks] out of pepper;" and that's pretty much what we have here.  So, don't stress.  You're going to get a great knife.

 

I'd take a look at the big differences, and decide accordingly.  Avoid the CN unless you can either sharpen it when it arrives, or get Rob Babcock or someone like him to do it for you.  If you want a stiff blade, great handle (it is a really great handle), and/or great support get the MAC.  If you want the hot knife, great graphics, and prestige get the Kikuichi.  If you want the Kikuichi without the graphics, prestige, trendiness, or high price, get the CN.

 

If I were buying a stainless (or semi-stainless) knife as a gift for an enthusiastic, skillful cook who wasn't a knife nut, I'd buy the MAC Pro; and have bought five as gifts, so far. 

 

BDL

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input guys, I really do appreciate it.

 

I'm looking at this purchase, if I get it right anyways, as a 10 year investment.  I'm pretty confident in myself that if I get it right the first time I'll avoid upgrade-itis and not be replacing this knife in 2 years because I just have to have something else.  Unless of course I'm completely unhappy... which brings me to this question...

 

 

Regarding the TKC... just how big of an issue is the "semi-stainless" nature of the knife.  I get that if I cut a bunch of lemons with it and throw it in the sink over night I'm likely to wake up to a problem.  But that isn't going to happen.  I always hand wash my knives after use.  However... I might not always hand wash the knife within minutes after use, meaning, I might be plating and cutting some things and I go right to eating.  So the washing might be a half hour later.  Obviously, I have enough common sense that if I was cutting something particularily aggressive like lemon I'd probably take the time to at least rinse it before I went and ate for 30-60 min.  But another question I have is what about drying the knife, water marks... is that an issue?  I typically hand wash, rinse and then set on a kitchen towel without wiping.  I don't know if I haven't found the right technique, but everything I use to "wipe" my knives ends up sliced up... my sponges don't last too long and I don't want to be ruining towels all the time so it's worked well for me to essentially let them air dry.  Lots of times I'll angle the knife so that the water runs down the blade to minimize the water spots even on stainless.

 

I'm OK with ponying up $30 or even $60 extra bucks for aesthetics that are going to make me happy.  Again, I'm hoping to get 10 years out of this knife.  But I don't also don't want to be frustrated because my chrysanthemum is stained within 6 months and looking like crap.  I'm OK with having the edge discolor a little bit or even patina :)

 

 

post #10 of 18

I haven't gotten any of mine to discolor from onions or lemons.  I haven't tried basil- that would be a good test as basil will often turn semi-stainless knives.  The CNs have proved pretty close to stainless in my experience. 

 

If you want improved looks the chrysanthemum does look cool!  IMOHO the Ichimonji version has the coolest appearance, but that's just me.  Don't worry a bit about staining- even the most highly stained carbon can be polished to like-new again so long as you don't let it pit out and rust.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Don't know about "quantum step," or even if it's a step at all.  Depends what you're looking for.  The CN and TKC have better edge taking and holding abilities.  Whether you have the skills to exploit the former, and the workload to appreciate the latter is something you answer, not us.

 

...As I said, it depends what you're looking for. 

 

 

I was speaking only for myself.  The CN & TKC are both reasonably thin and the steel is superior to pretty much any stainless I've yet seen.  My criterion is primarily maximum sharpness capability with edge retention being somewhat less critical to me; I don't mind resharpening but I insist on the knife taking a good edge to start with.

 

I'm not sure how the conversation came down to just the CN & TKC.  If someone's willing to spend slightly more, as the OP clearly is, maybe the Konosuke HD should be in the mix.  I see they now offer a Western handled version, too. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohdkn.html

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #12 of 18

As you know, I really like my Konosukes; but the wa gyutos are awfully thin for someone without good skills.  The yo handled versions might work -- what do you hear about it?

 

Something like the Richmond Addict 2 you reviewed might be a good choice in the sense that it's thin but doesn't trip the scale at "anorexic" like a Konosuke wa.  Also the Gesshin Ginga, and if it's not too expensive, the Tadatsuna Inox yo.  The Tadatsuna yo is very impressive.   

 

BDL

post #13 of 18

Right now Mark has them, but I haven't got much info out of him yet.  He says he thinks they're finished in a different factory than the Wa versions.  I asked him for some measurements at a couple points on the spine but I haven't heard back from him (either he's really busy or he forgot I asked about it).

 

BTW, I'm getting my threads mixed up...I see now that the OP was specifically discussing the CN & TKC.  As they say in the vernacular, "my bad."

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I'm not looking for something really thin by j-knife standards.  I'm actually specifically avoiding some knifes that are viewed as very thin.  I want to be able to mince in peace with my mediocre skills :)

 

I think I've got it narrowed down to the MAC pro and the Kikuichi.  As much as value aesthetics and I don't like the graphics on the MAC, it seems like too good of an all arounder.  I might even buy the MAC and force the graphics off the one side with some alcohol and a q-tip (or whatever is known to work).  Do you think the Kikuichi is noticably thinner and will "dig" into a cutting board more due to it's thinness?  I have a Hattori HD 6" petty which is extremely thin and light, I don't need this gyuto to be super thin & light, but I don't need a german tank either (already got one of those in the messermeister). 

post #15 of 18

The TKC isn't a laser; it's a little thinner than most of my knives but certainly not a waif at all.  The final edge applied will determine what you get.  I will say that the TKC is more for an advanced user; if you're not comfortable with opening it (or have someone lined up to do so) the MAC will be more of an OOtB solution for you.  Where the MAC is a good daily driver the TKC is a bit more of an Indy car... and a DIY project.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 

Does "opening it" = thinning it?  I plan to become a competent sharpener, not necessarily an expert that pushes the limits of what the knife can do.  Nor do I plan on reprofiling or doing other advanced sharpening techniques on it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post

The TKC isn't a laser; it's a little thinner than most of my knives but certainly not a waif at all.  The final edge applied will determine what you get.  I will say that the TKC is more for an advanced user; if you're not comfortable with opening it (or have someone lined up to do so) the MAC will be more of an OOtB solution for you.  Where the MAC is a good daily driver the TKC is a bit more of an Indy car... and a DIY project.



 

post #17 of 18

It's a direct translation of a Japanese term and means profiling a user appropriate geometry, as well as the first good sharpening.  That definition doesn't really apply to pre-profiled gyutos.  There, a better meaning includes creating the first user-appropriate (and sometimes user-specific) profile -- as well as the first really good edge.  Oh.  Wait.  Sounds like the same thing, but it really isn't.  Two-sided western edges are a lot easier. 

 

Traditional Japanese knives as sold in Japan come from the manufacturer with a basic "chisel" or "clam-shell" variant profile and not much else.  It's up to the retailer or consumer to refine and polish to whatever is truly desired. 

 

Gyutos are a little different.  Nearly all manufacturers at least raise a burr on both sides, and deburr.  Some ship better quality edges than others.  However, it's still true in Japan that knife shops not only provide initial sharpening for domestic users, but life-time as well.   There aren't a lot of really good variations; mostly you choose an appropriate angle and sharpen your best flat bevel with or without a micro-bevel. 

 

What "opening" a gyuto comes down to is re-profiling a specific, less generic, and less careless profile; and sharpening the first, really good edge as well.  Opening can include flattening, thinning, and some other junk.  A lot of knives come with very good profiling, and don't really need opening; some come sharp OOTB and don't need sharpening to be -- at least -- usefully sharp.

 

If you're not going to get very serious about sharpening, either don't buy a CarboNext or get someone to open it for you.  I'd extend that to not getting a CN or TKC at all, because you'll never experience what those knives do best; and you can get a whole bunch of other benefits with different knives.  Phaedrus may have a different viewpoint, and it's a good idea to consider his as well. 

 

FWIW, Phaedrus and I come at the business of making recommendations from slightly, but only slightly different perspectives. 

 

Most -- but not all of the time -- I try to help people choose a knife which: 

1) Makes prep so easy it puts the joy back into it, or at least removes most of the burden;

2) Will sharpen easily to a very high degree of sharpness;

3) Is easy to sharpen and maintain; 

4) Has the appropriate characteristics for the user's actual knife skill level;

5) Has the right profile to work with the user's natural action;

6) Is comfortable with the user's actual grip;

7) Provides an appropriate level of F&F;

8) Provides an appropriate level of prestige for its price;

9) Offers good enough ergonomics and edge properties to reward the user as his skills improve; and

10) I'm thinking.    

Sometimes -- but not often -- people have very particular needs or 'druthers which need addressing before these more general considerations. 

 

Phaedrus and I may not reach the same conclusions because of differing priorities -- he's a little more production oriented than I am, and a little more optimistic about other people's sharpening skills -- but I can't think of a time we've actually disagreed.  I've learned a lot from him over the years about all sorts of things, and you should too. 

 

In any case, you've become sufficiently sophisticated to focus on what you do and don't want, rather than accepting anyone's opinion wholesale.  Which, by the way, is part of the reason I seldom recommend my own choices unless someone specifically asks about them. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/21/11 at 8:27am
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post


Something like the Richmond Addict 2 you reviewed might be a good choice in the sense that it's thin but doesn't trip the scale at "anorexic" like a Konosuke wa.  Also the Gesshin Ginga, and if it's not too expensive, the Tadatsuna Inox yo.  The Tadatsuna yo is very impressive.   

 

BDL



Not to confuse you even more, but BDL makes a good point- the Richmond Addict 2 is a very, very nice knife.  It's thin enough to be very light and agile but sturdy enough to take some serious abuse.  It's a bit of work to sharpen but the new batches are pretty sharp OOtB.  Plus CKtG offers a "high end sharpening" option for an extra $20.  I used a 1st Gen Addict daily for five weeks in a pro kitchen before I felt it needed to go back to the stones.  The new 2nd Gen Addict is made of CPM-154, a slightly better steel, so I suspect they'll hold an edge a smidge longer.

 

Disclosure:  I'm not affiliated with CKtG but I do some sharpening for Mark occasionally.  And yeah, my work is one of the options you can choose when purchasing an Addict.  Although, between you, me & the walls I'd probably get mine sharpened by Ken "The Schwartz" Schwartz!  He's truly a wizard.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
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