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post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have been slowly getting into Japanese steel and love the knives I have purchased.  Now I am interested in a yanagi and the prices are astronomical!


I went to an Orange County restaurant supply and bought the industrial Russell International High Carbon Stain Free P47006 - Japan 300mm yanagi for all of $30.  Even after stone sharpening on #1000 and #6000

it does not get as sharp as my INSANE Dexter Prodex PDB131-6 Semi Stiff boning knife.  In fact, that $12 boning knife is shaper than my OOTB Tojiro DP 12", Miyabi by Zwilling Santuko, Global G-17 11", Wustoff Grand Prix I and Shun!  (Thanks to Boar_d_Laze for the insights to buy most of the above)





The Masamoto Ao-ko Layered Steel Hongasumi Yanagi 12.9" (33cm) - Right Ebony handle and Ebony Saya $1600 is THE blade of choice for Nobu Masahiro and most japanese sushi chefs.


The Mexican sushi chefs in the OC swear by Global yanagi's $175


What is the advantage?   They are all carbon steel including my $30 Po-Boy yanagi.  Which is the true razor/lazer blade?  Can I get my Russell that sharp?







post #2 of 9

Could be technique, a flaw or just not great steel.


Yanagis have to be sharpened a certain way. Sharpen the beveled side and then flip it over and lay it flat on the stone to remove the burr. The back side is set with a "dip" that sets the proper geometry to do that.


If there is a flaw in the making it can cause problems.


Anything in the Dexter International line is not Dexter's best steel.



post #3 of 9

I'm not very knowledgeable about traditional Japanese knives.


The two most knowledgeable people about yanagi and deba I know who contribute online (blw and KC) do so at Fred's Cutlery Forum, but neither is very active right now.  You might as well register and raise the question there, but you're going to get as much noise back as real information.  There are some good people on the Knife Forum.  As always, the trick is separating the wheat from the chaff.


If you want to know why some knives are better than others, I probably know enough to discuss that insofar as the more popular knives.  If you want to know the basics of sharpening them, I know the basics but just the flat-bevel basics.  My experience is limited and old.


Good yanagibas are expensive, but excellence starts at around $300 with a knife like the Masamoto KK 300.   When you spend substantially more you're buying things other than pure performance.  Mostly prestige.  At a certain level of quality the primary differences between knives is sharpening. As a practical matter, a properly sharpened, $1,000 aogami #1 honyaki won't cut any better than a properly sharpened, $300, shirogami #2 kasumi. 


To the limits of my knowledge if you buy stainless, you're buying at the very low end and stainless isn't worth even the relatively low investment unless you're buying for fun.  Based on my admittedly limited experience I strongly recommend against buying a Global yanagiba. 


As a purely practical matter, mostly for reasons of price and sharpening, I think a Konosuke 300mm White #2 suji would serve better than any yanagiba for portioning fish as well as general slicing.   


A LOT of good sushi men use sujihikas during the day and bring out the yanagibas at night for the dinner crowd.  If you think I'm telling you that a yanagiba is part propaganda, you're right.  If you're going to get serious about using a yanagiba, you want to learn the deba too.  They are a team.


Like the day time sushi men, I use a gyuto and suji for medium and small fish fabrication.  I used to use a butcher's instead of a gyuto or deba breaking big fish like an Asian fish market, but I don't do big fish.


If you're asking which yanagi to buy for yourself, get a Masamoto KK. 




post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks Jim,


My error.  I just sharpened the beveled edge and not the flat side.  Will try.


I appreciate it.



post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Ah the wisdom of Boar_D_Laze!


Wow.  I thought there would be a reasonable alternative to the Masamoto.


How does one try out a Japanese high end blade without buying on-line?


The closest I get is watching the insanely cool Salty Videos and yes, he does use

a sujihiki over a yanagiba but has both and about $50,000 worth of Japanese steel.


Is there a single restaurant supply that has any of these high end blades in the LA area?


BTW, thanks to your posts, I purchased my Globals, Tojiro DP and the 14 inch Sabatier Nogent

Carbon Steel Classic that takes an onion to dice in 45 seconds.





post #6 of 9
Originally Posted by FryTheChef View Post

Thanks Jim,


My error.  I just sharpened the beveled edge and not the flat side.  Will try.


I appreciate it.



I think we have solved the problem ;).


It isn't LA but down the road here in San Diego there is The Knife Merchant where you can lay hands on many a top notch blade.






post #7 of 9

Azen in J-Town has Masamotos in stock.  You can have lunch at Mr. Ramen.


Get your little heinie over to Japanese Knife Imports in Venice and see what Jon has to show you.  It and he are incredible resources.  Impossible not to find something you like.  Something you can afford may be a different story.


My feeling about a yanagiba is if you're going to get one, don't get a toy, get a real one.


There are tons of great sujis running around.  You don't have to worry much about try before you buy.  Buy from a good retailer like CKtG, seek the owner's (Mark's) advice, and let him know what you're up to.  Between the two of you it's unlikely you'll make a bad choice, and if you do -- pay the return shipping and try again. 


My Konosuke HD 300cm suji is an incredibly good knife.  I can't imagine anyone with skills not liking it.  If you want a western handle, the Misono Sweden (carbon steel) is fantastic.


Thanks for the kind words,


post #8 of 9

is there a theoretical benefit to using a yanagi over a suji beyond personal taste?

Edited by ruscal - 11/4/11 at 10:22am
post #9 of 9

Compared to a suji a yanagiba is stiffer; has more weight; and is sharpened (and meant to be sharpened) with a single side bevel, which means a lesser "included angle," less wedging, and (everything else being equal) the potential for greater absolute sharpness. 


They tend to be chippier, more prone to rolling, more fragile (don't use around bones) and more difficult to maintain.


As a practical matter, there's more practical difference in comparing users' sharpening and knife skills, than in their respective blades.   



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