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Yanagibas and Sujihikis

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I have read many of the postings regarding slicer knives, and not having experience with either a Yanagiba or a Sujihiki I begun to wonder what the differences are in terms of use and capabilities. I do understand that one of the main differences is one bevel vs two respectively, and beyond that, what are the capabilities of each? For those of you that have examples of both, how do you use them? if you had to chose one or the other, which one would you choose and why? is 270 mm ideal? is 300 mm that much better? If you have a good Gyuto, would you still consider a Yanagiba or a Sujihiki? I am curious about your thoughts and grateful for your answers.

post #2 of 18

OK. I'm not at all one of the experts here, but I'm gonna try to answer for you just in case I'm right. I kinda think they're pretty much the same knife sorta, long slicing knives. The Sujihiki being a "Western" styled knife and the Yanagi being "Japanese". They should be long (I think they start at 270), thin (not tall) and screamingly sharp. The idea for using them is to make nice long single-stroke cuts on beautiful fish or meats. One(1) cut - One(1) slice. NO, saw cutting. I believe Yanagi are single-bevel and Sujihiki are double-bevel. Yanagi are for sushi and sashimi. I believe of the two, the Sujihiki is meant to be more utilitarian, usable for more things than just the fish. 

 

You really need some sharpening skills. NO, I don't have either. I'm just a boring chef. I've seen sushi chefs working, and that is cool to watch. I hope this all helps. 

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post #3 of 18

A yanagiba, in addition to being "single bevel," is significantly heavier and stiffer than a suji.  Yanagibas are more or less dual purpose, and those purposes are to slice and portion. 

 

A suji is a Japanese take on a western, "double bevel" (i.e., sharpened on both sides of the blades) slicer.  They are relatively light and usually fairly flexible for their length.  Their weight and flexibility allows them to be used for trimming as well as portioning and slicing. 

 

Suji edges are typically more robust than yanagiba edges, and may be used with more assurance around bones and other obstacles.  I use my 300mm suji for most gyuto purposes -- not saying that it's a good idea or that you should, but only that you can (if you have the right grip).

 

Yanagibas take sufficiently more skill and practice than sujis to get the most out of them. 

 

In order to do western style knife work, sujis are usually partnered with gyutos and petties, while yanagibas are traditionally partnered with a deba and a usuba.  That's a significant difference because gyutos and petties have little in common with debas and usubas.

 

If you don't already have a good chef's/gyuto and a petty those should be your first acquisitions.  If you do, know how to sharpen and use them, then it's time to start thinking about a suji.  There's not much a suji can do that a gyuto and petty can't -- but the things a suji does well, it does better. 

 

If you have the board size and the skill to keep your knife square to the cut, a 300mm knife is slightly superior for portioning and slicing; however it's slightly more awkward for trimming.  Most people want something shorter for trimming than 270; and I usually use something in the 6" to 10" range.  One of these days, I may buy an 210mm wa-suji, and reserve it just for trimming.  

 

From a practical standpoint unless you prepare a lot of traditional Japanese foods, I'd learn the western knives before venturing into better, traditional, Japanese profiles.  If you're looking into buying some Japanese knives for the sheer fun of using something different -- knock yourself out. 

 

It's almost axiomatic:  If you've got to ask, you want a sujihika and not a yanagiba.

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

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post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much guys for the helpful and sensible advise. I do cook very frequently, but not usually Japanese food or Sushi. Most of the recipes I prepare are from Spain. I have begun sharpening my knives with a King 1000 grit stone, and i begun to experiment with a Kayaki petty 120 mm (I bought it after reading BDL's reviews and recommendations), and I am waiting to receive a Kikuichi V10 Gold Steel 240 Gyuto, so it seems the next logical step will be a Sujihiki, after I play with these ones and get the MAC Superior Bread knife.I have come back and forth thinking about carbon steel vs stainless, or at least semi stainless, since I cannot guarantee inmediate care for the knife in my home, and I am frankly lost on the choice. I have seen the profiles of the K Sabatiers au carbone slicers that BDL loves, and I find the absolutely beautiful, but wonder if I can provide the frequent care and sharpening they deserve. I also love the lines of the Masamoto VG, KK, and KS in both the western and japanese handles, but they are in the limit of what I can afford, and the issue of stainless vs carbon shows up again. I have read the reviews of Moritaka (although I am not sure I can get used to the look of the kurouchi finish), MAC, Kanetsune, Tojiro, etc. I do a fair amount of protein slicing at home and the slicer will see much use, although probably not for other things. My wife is a fairly good cook and her go to knife is a Wusthof Santoku, while mine is currently a 10" Global chef knife. Any further thoughts or suggestions are very welcome. Thanks again
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Where it says "Kayaki" it should say "Kagayaki" from JCK.
post #6 of 18

What exactly, or ideally, is a Sujihiki or slicing knife used for?  I have an old Sabatier 10" carbon slicer which I use to butterfly chicken breasts.  Other than that it doesn't see much action.  When you guys talk about portioning and trimming cuts of meat, just what are you referring to?  Are these knives used to slice something like a ham or roast?  What other tasks does this style of knife used for.  Any and all explanations are welcomed.  Thank you.

post #7 of 18

I use mine as a general slicer but also use it a lot for slicing fish.  I reprofiled mine to some where around 70/30 to 80/20 grind which seemed to make it even sharper due to the thinner profile.  It's my pseudo yanagi

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post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
I do not have one which is why I am looking for advise, but these are some of the tasks where I see myself using it:
I) Octopus: "Pulpo a Feira" is presented in individual slices of the cooked octopus on top of individual slices of potatoes and sweet paprika on top.
II) Serrano Ham. Jamon Serrano is traditionally cut in very thin slices straight out of the leg (bone in) while you are chatting with friends and family and serving tapas in the kitchen for everybody...
Iii) Lamb; several ways, one of them is that I roast the lamb of leg at vy low temperature for 7 or 8 hours and the meat becomes so tender that unless you have an exceptionally sharp knife to carve pretty thin slices, it comes apart in chunks (they are delicious any way)
IV) Beef; one possible use is to use it on a pan seared/oven cooked thik slab of NY strip that is then sliced and served with the juices cooked with brandy and melted Cabrales cheese
V) Chicken, roasted and sliced
VI) Fish: ocasional tuna sashimi, paper thin slices of red snapper with ponzu sauce, cod with different sauces Basque style)
My mouth is watering while I write.
post #9 of 18

 

Quote:
My mouth is watering while I write.

100% agreed on that wink.gif

 

 

 

Quote:
What exactly, or ideally, is a Sujihiki or slicing knife used for?

 

 

Hmmmm "what is things that you slice"?

 

Or maybe things that you need to slice very, very thin?

 

Or how about things that you need to slice precisely?

 

Or even when is a long thin very sharp knife a better choice over another shape or profile?

 

Sorry for reading into things a bit (that's just me lol) but this seems like a very good subject for discussion.

 

Maybe even would make a good stand alone thread being there are so many apprentice or home cooks on the forum that could really benefit from different ideas, and to be honest I think it would be interesting to see how different people both professional and at home approach similar cutting tasks.

 

Back to slicers lol.

 

Since I no longer have a dedicated slicer I have learned that most all of the slicing jobs I had used my previous 8" Heckels Pro S for can be done with another knife. I have also learned that some of those tasks may be a bit easier with a dedicated slicer, and also have become really curious about how a Suji or Yanagi would perform compared to the 240mm very asymmetrically ground gyuto that I have been using the past year or so.

 

I do not own a single bevel knife so the idea of a yanagi gets the brain moving, but the practical side of me thinks for someone like myself or most who do not cut a whole lot of fish etc, and do not have a lot of experience with the Asian "style" the Suji would be a more sensible decision.

 

Far as what to slice etc that is almost endless. From those who will use a Suji as others would a chefs/gyuto to just about any protein a slicer can be used. Sure for many tasks a good petty, gyuto, santoku or other knife can do the job, but sometimes it seems life is about excess and not modesty or even that many on the forums are as much collectors as cutters lol.gif

 

Personally I had used my previous slicer mostly on different meats. Those that come to mind are london broil, flank steak, skirt steak, ham, chicken, and some others, but I think it got more use because at that time it was one of the sharpest knives I had and one of the thinnest too so it did get more use than I believe a suji would if added today.

 

It was used some on fish, but was better for meatier fish like salmon than it was for more flaky softer ones.

 

I think I will start a new thread on where or when to use which knife etc.

 

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Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

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"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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post #10 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Casaluz-Chef View Post

I do not have one which is why I am looking for advise, but these are some of the tasks where I see myself using it:
I) Octopus: "Pulpo a Feira" is presented in individual slices of the cooked octopus on top of individual slices of potatoes and sweet paprika on top.
II) Serrano Ham. Jamon Serrano is traditionally cut in very thin slices straight out of the leg (bone in) while you are chatting with friends and family and serving tapas in the kitchen for everybody...
Iii) Lamb; several ways, one of them is that I roast the lamb of leg at vy low temperature for 7 or 8 hours and the meat becomes so tender that unless you have an exceptionally sharp knife to carve pretty thin slices, it comes apart in chunks (they are delicious any way)
IV) Beef; one possible use is to use it on a pan seared/oven cooked thik slab of NY strip that is then sliced and served with the juices cooked with brandy and melted Cabrales cheese
V) Chicken, roasted and sliced
VI) Fish: ocasional tuna sashimi, paper thin slices of red snapper with ponzu sauce, cod with different sauces Basque style)
My mouth is watering while I write.


 

I'm pretty sure you want a suji

post #11 of 18

You use a narrow knife like a suji when the knife will have a substantial part of its profile in the cut, and/or you want a very straight, smooth cut.

 

Carving is one form of slicing, but not the only one.  Carving is what you do when you're making slices to go on the plate.  Slicing can be a form of portioning -- the last step in knife-prep before bringing the food to the heat. 

 

In any case, the ideal technique for slicing -- whether portioning or carving -- is a long, single, draw stroke without any "sawing" back and forth.  While you can't always achieve the ideal, the closer you can get to it the better your cuts -- as long as you keep the knife straight.

 

Trimming, which usually means things like removing silver-skin or fat from red meat, is another traditional task for a suji.  However, it's usually easier to use something shorter and more agile than the knife you'd use for portioning.  8" is probably pretty close to ideal for trimming, while 12" is more like it for the other stuff.   More often than not, I use a petty for trimming (and boning) red meat. 

 

If you do a lot of red meat work, you might want to consider something like a cimeter for "steaking" -- especially if you're cutting "bone-in." 

 

You can use a suji to chop, just as you'd use a gyuto -- but you need the right kind of grip to avoid smacking your knuckles.  Also, the suji's narrower profile won't give you much help or feedback in staying square to the board.  The inherent difficulties are why some cooks like to use a suji in that way -- it both hones their skills and validates them.

 

There's really nothing a suji can do that a gyuto can't -- or vice versa.  Sujis don't stick in the cut, gyutos are easier to keep square.

 

As Jon said, a suji (or two) would be good for you.

 

BDL

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post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wonderful explanation BDL, thank you so much, as well as thank you to JBroida, LennyD, Scoobado97, Iceman, and Carpenter for taking the time to answer.  I do not know what a cimeter so I will do a bit of reading on that.  My petty is 120 mm and it feels short for trimming bone in meat. Reading your post I realize that most of the Serrano Ham I have seen is done "sawing", although I am fairly sure now that it was due to less than sharp knives...I have been re-learning how I use a knife since I started reading your posts and others. Thank you again. What I am reading points to a stainless or semi stainless Suji either 240 mm or 270 mm, either clad or single steel, with a wa handle in the sub $250 range.

post #13 of 18

Jefe, this is what a 10" Forschner Cimeter looks like.

fr40539.jpg
It's a professional's knife, and probably a waste of time for most home cooks.  But it works very well in the home kitchen for someone who does big, heavy-duty, red meat work -- as I do (mostly for barbecuing and grilling).  I also use the knife for other heavy-duty tasks such as portioning ribs, skinning pineapples, splitting gourds, and so on.  It's an odd sort of cross between a slicer and a chef de chef. 

 

It won't get as sharp and do fine tasks as well as either my 10" Sabatier au carbone slicer or my 300mm Konosuke HD suji -- but you should have a good idea of what place in the universe Forschner's occupy. It's an outstanding knife, and I love it but wouldn't trade either of my other slicers for it.  That said, if I were doing competitive barbecue, it's the first knife I'd think of taking to a comp.

 

120mm is a little on the short side for a boning knife -- but not terribly.  Most European style boners are in the 6" (150mm) range.  I'm considering adding a longer petty/slicer -- say 8" for trimming and boning; and/or perhaps a curved, 7" or 8" curved Forschner "breaker."  But I have to add that I don't feel handicapped by any gaps in my current knife kit, so it could be a long time. 

 

I'm not sure if there's a good, semi-stainless wa-suji in your price range.  There are at least a couple of good stainless knives though, and I feel comfortable recommending the Konosuke SS as one of them.  You should give Jon a call at JKI and talk to him about possibilities in your price range.  Not many people know the subject like he does, and few dealers carry as well chosen a selection.   

 

BDL

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post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much BDL, yes I can see the use of the cimiter. I will follow up on your advise and contact Jon at JKI. Best.

post #15 of 18

In addition to what has already been mentioned, non J knife options include traditional Slicers and Carving knives, Fillet knives, and Salmon Slicers.

Dexter Russell and Update International also have their versions sold by restaurant supply vendors.

post #16 of 18

 

Quote:

You use a narrow knife like a suji when the knife will have a substantial part of its profile in the cut, and/or you want a very straight, smooth cut.

 

Carving is one form of slicing, but not the only one.  Carving is what you do when you're making slices to go on the plate.  Slicing can be a form of portioning -- the last step in knife-prep before bringing the food to the heat. 

 

In any case, the ideal technique for slicing -- whether portioning or carving -- is a long, single, draw stroke without any "sawing" back and forth.  While you can't always achieve the ideal, the closer you can get to it the better your cuts -- as long as you keep the knife straight.

 

Trimming, which usually means things like removing silver-skin or fat from red meat, is another traditional task for a suji.  However, it's usually easier to use something shorter and more agile than the knife you'd use for portioning.  8" is probably pretty close to ideal for trimming, while 12" is more like it for the other stuff.   More often than not, I use a petty for trimming (and boning) red meat.

 

Just some thoughts on the above as it seemed to jump start my brain a bit :)

 

Judging by your first sentence would you agree that most should be able to get a straighter cleaner cut with a suji over say a gyuto?

 

Do you believe this is to do with the height of the blade or some other attribute? Also  I have seen many home and pro cooks use a primarily handle grip on a slicing knife, and am curious to your thoughts on if this could have any bearing on the straightness of the cut etc?

 

Since I have tried several different ways or styles of carving I find your single draw comment very interesting. I know I have witnessed everyone from family members and friends to people all dressed up at carving stations at various locations and events sawing away like an old school carpenter. I had learned long ago to always attempt to use the entire length of the blade (when possible) and watching the "sawing" always made me wonder why.

 

Now on that note I have to admit that with the tools I have most of the larger tasks I have taken etc just seem not to be liking to be accomplished with a single drawing motion (small items and trimming excluded from this) and am curious what you believe to be the best way to handle those situations?

 

When I first commented etc I had thought almost completely about carving, and was also thinking about larger taller items like a roast, or ham etc. but I guess you make a good point that there are many different cuts that are actually slicing. Still I find that without any dedicated slicer most all are now tackled with either a gyuto or petty (240 and 120 respectively), and except for some of the more delicate or unusual times etc it really seems to be a non issue. I guess this is why I continue to question my need for a "slicer" and if it is not more about curiously of a suji or yanagi or even just nothing more than collecting.

 

Also I am pretty sure most would agree any additional advice or thoughts on properly attacking this type of task is more than welcome!

 

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Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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post #17 of 18

 

Quote:
I'm not sure if there's a good, semi-stainless wa-suji in your price range.  There are at least a couple of good stainless knives though, and I feel comfortable recommending the Konosuke SS as one of them.  You should give Jon a call at JKI and talk to him about possibilities in your price range.  Not many people know the subject like he does, and few dealers carry as well chosen a selection. 

I think the Konosuke HD 240 wa suji is right around $200, is this a reasonably good choice?

 

Is there any preference on blade material in this type, or does the reduced amount of chopping and therefore also a reduced amount of hitting the board etc make this not as important as it is for a chefs/gyuto etc?

 

Sorry for all the questions, but the lack of information or knowledge on my part is a good part of the reason I decided to go with another gyuto as my last purchase over the suji or slicer because there were just too many unanswered questions etc.

 

 

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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post #18 of 18

Sorry if I am repeating myself on this one, but what is the thinking on using a longer petty (180-210 range) as opposed to a suji?

 

I like the price difference, and have to think that except for the larger stuff that would benefit from a much longer blade that it should work fine, and even better for the smaller tasks.

 

"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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"love my country" but "fear my government"  Something is just wrong with this

 

 

 

Looking for info on entry level J-knives? Need help on finding the most bang for your buck? Hope you enjoy learning from the info here, I know I did!

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/63213/tojiro-dp-f-809-240mm-g...

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