I happen to like my big heavy western style knives! Granted the blade is thinner than a western style knife, I notice chefs have little nicks and chips in their Japanese knives, and seem to perform no better than mine with things like sushi and more advanced techniques in Japanese cuisine, "cut so thin you can read a menu through it." IMHO I think its just a status symbol among executive chefs.
Whats with all the hype over Japanese knives?
Good Japanese made knives get sharper and stay sharper longer than Germans. They're also lighter and more agile with less tendency to wedge. Not all Japanese knives are good, and that includes some fairly pricey, popular knives with an unfortunate tendency to chip -- like poorly sharpened Shuns; but a great many others are excellent.
If you believe a properly sharpened Wusthof Classic chef's knife can portion sushi -- let alone stand up to an entire service of precision cutting -- as well as a properly sharpened Tadatsuna White #2 yanagiba, that says more about you, your skills, and your level of discernment than about either knife.
I could speculate as to why some pastry cooks prefer, clumsy, soft, heavy German knives which never get very sharp, wedge at the least excuse, and need constant steeling, but it would be rude.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/22/11 at 6:53pm
Oh speculate away! Please! I've actually worked both sides of the kitchen, so your pastry chefs can't cook (thus have no clue about knives and their usage) doesn't hold any water... its also getting old. The modern pastry chef is a totally different animal than years past. They would only let me identify myself as chef or pastry chef not both, if I could I would. Oh and my knives are Brazilian and American made. Wusthof and Henkels are not up to snuff for me. I ask this question because I only see young hot shot chefs (with the spikey hair and lots of tattoos using them) the old timers use Germans religiously. I have put many a chef to shame and make them seriously question spending $1200 on a knife with cool etchings and a cute little wooden carrying case. Awesome marketing, gullible Americans.
90% of the time it's just hype and bragging rights.
Where the good Jap knives realy shine is in cutting meat, this is where a really sharp edge shows up. To get to this stage, you need to unerstand about blade geometery,and sharpening techniques. Again, the large majority of knife owners do not have this knowledge or the aquired skills A sharp edge is not infinite.
Because of the blade geometry and materials,Japanese knves can take a much more extreme bevel, which allows them a wicked sharp edge,but also a very fragile one. It is a trade off,but then all steel alloys are a compromise of toughness, brittleness, hardness,edge rentention and the ability to resist acids.
Where the German style knives shine is in about 75% of the other related work tasks in a commercial kitchen. Cutting and coring cabbage (What better to cut Rot Kraut then a Henckels?) Chopping herbs,peeling and cutting squashes, boning out meats, and "in my day" hacking up 5 kg slabs of couverture.
I can also take paper thin slices of smoked salmon with a 30 yr old "Driezack" (older name for Wusthof) smoked salmon knife made especially for this purpose,an the design goes back over a hundred years. On the other hand I have to admit that many japanese knives are ideal for cutting delicate meats like fish.
I hve amused myself to no end by listeing to "japapense knife conversations". You would think that the rest of the world had, prior to 1945, manufctured it's tools, ships, weapons, surgery equipment, barber equipment, etc with pointy willow sticks hardened in the fire pit....