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Honesuki Questions

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'm in the market for a Honesuki and have a few questions:

 

1) I'm left-handed and am wondering if the single bevel (whether 90/10 or 70/30) designed for right-handers on most Honesukis will be problematic for me?

 

2) Does a right-handed knife perform the same for a left-hander, or is it just a thing of preference?

 

3) Would it be a pain to re-profile a right-handed knife to work for me?

 

4) Would it be best to order a left-handed version from the knives available at Korin?

 

I'm still new to Japanese knives, so answers to these questions would be really helpful.

 

Also, what recommendations do you all have? I'm considering the Fujiwara FKM, Mac, Tojiro DP, Togiharu, Suisin High Carbon, and the Misono Molybdenum. These are all in the sub-$125 range.

 

Thanks!

 

James

post #2 of 12

1) I'm left-handed and am wondering if the single bevel (whether 90/10 or 70/30) designed for right-handers on most Honesukis will be problematic for me?

 

Problematic?  Yes. 

 

2) Does a right-handed knife perform the same for a left-hander, or is it just a thing of preference?

 

It's not "just a thing of preference."  Extreme right handed bias gives the knife a tendency to "steer," and to rotate when used left handed.  The more force exerted, the greater the tendencies.  In the case of a knife meant to cut through chicken bones, that's a fatal flaw.

 

3) Would it be a pain to re-profile a right-handed knife to work for me? 

 

Most chisel edged knives are actually forged either right or left handed and can't truly be converted, ever. 

 

4) Would it be best to order a left-handed version from the knives available at Korin?

 

If you absolutely, positively must have a honesuki, than yes. 

 

I'm still new to Japanese knives, so answers to these questions would be really helpful.  Also, what recommendations do you all have? I'm considering the Fujiwara FKM, Mac, Tojiro DP, Togiharu, Suisin High Carbon, and the Misono Molybdenum. These are all in the sub-$125 range.

 

My personal take on honesuki in general is that they are completely unnecessary in a western kitchen.  If you're looking for a practical solution to a practical problem, I suggest re-thinking whether or not you need one.  What tasks do you think you can do better with a honesuki than with something else?

 

Regarding particular knives, I don't have enough experience with the profile to do a comparison.

 

BDL 

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response. I tried a friend's Honesuki and loved it. I do a fair amount of small scale butchery (chickens, ducks, lamb saddle, etc.) and have got a good amount of usage out of my 6" Victorinox flexible boning knife. However, based on the use that I got out of the Honesuki, I was thinking it would combine the benefits of my boning knife with those I would get from a Japanese petty (which I was also looking into). Basically I was thinking it'd give me two uses out of one knife for which I now require two knives.

 

Am I wrong in thinking this? What would you recommend as an alternative?

 

James

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

 

My personal take on honesuki in general is that they are completely unnecessary in a western kitchen.  If you're looking for a practical solution to a practical problem, I suggest re-thinking whether or not you need one.  What tasks do you think you can do better with a honesuki than with something else?

 

 


What other knife would you recommend?  I have a Tojiro DP, which I use often to break down and debone poultry, square off racks of ribs, etc.  Not trying to justify my purchase, but just wondering.

post #5 of 12

Mano,

 

"I have a small petty which I use often to break down and debone poultry, square off racks of ribs, etc.  Not trying to justify my purchase, but just wondering."

 

Following the conversation, but lost a little when you mention you have a Tojiro DP...just curious what type of knife that is...from what I've seen there are quite a few different knives in that series so I guess it may be helpful to know which knife it is that you have been using to debone poultry, etc...fwiw I personally prefer a stiff, straight, short (5") boning knife for that purpose.

 

Good luck,

Chinacats


Edited by chinacats - 3/25/12 at 7:44am
post #6 of 12

A honesuki

post #7 of 12
I use my TojiroDP honesuki for boning chickens, spatchcocking a bird or cutting into parts. The blade seems to hold up very well to cutting through small bones with little edge damage. One of the few knives I sharpen infrequently and it still push cuts paper like I just sharpened it. I use it for cutting up roasts for grinding or cubing but a petty would work even better for this task. I just don't have one yet

You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning

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You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning

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post #8 of 12

I usually use a petty for breaking and boning poultry, and any one of several heavy duty knife for splitting backs and breasts.  That said, what I use and recommend isn't very important.

 

A honesuki is all about the yakitori, designed to be strong and heavy enough to cut the knuckles off poultry bones and do a little vegetable prep as well.  Compared to a petty or anything else narrow enough to turn in the cut, it's not a particularly good boning knife.   In any case, chicken bones out so easily you don't need a specialty knife, all you need is a sharp point and your fingers (shhh, don't tell Anne Burrell).  FWIW, a garasuki is the Japanese knife designed to split chickens. 

 

More, a honesuki is not the equivalent of a classic, French "desosseur" style boning knife nor is it a replacement if you're doing technical meat work.  Not to go too far off on a tangent, desosseurs are a pain to sharpen and don't do anything a petty won't.

 

I'm not saying "do it my way," nor even trying to suggest that my way is better than another which uses a honesuki.  However, it's a good idea to know what the knife is supposed to do before assuming you need one because you've erroneously come to believe it's "the Japanese boning knife" (actually the honkotsu); add in the expense of a left handed version of a knife which doesn't have a real purpose in a western kitchen and you've got to at least wonder.  

 

My generic advice is to keep improving your sharpening kit and gyuto until you have exactly what you want; then your other few, core knives.  In the meantime, if you need specialty knives for meat work get Forschners.  If you're sharpening kit is in a good place, and you have a good gyuto but don't have a good petty, I'd spend money on a petty a lot more readily than on a honesuki. 

 

BDL

post #9 of 12

BDL, thanks for the education.  That's what I was looking for.  After 16 months my kit of 4-5 knives is pretty much complete and I've come to the conclusion that once anyone owns good knives, sharpening is what it's all about.  Guys like you, Broida and some others are phenomenal resources, more in terms of utility as opposed to "what knife should I buy?"  

 

 

post #10 of 12

Thanks again for the information you all so readily share. I love how BDL goes to great pains to explain his pragmatic ideas and ideals in the most logical way possible, while at the same time not dismissing the opinions of others. I may still want a knife with a very specific (and limited) set of functions -- perhaps more for its aesthetics or possibly for expanding my own skill set -- but I will surely concentrate on my core set and sharpening skills first.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for this, BDL. That's really helpful.

 

Do you have petty that you commonly recommend?

 

James

post #12 of 12

I'm not sure about "commonly."  I have a 150mm Konosuke SS, and Sabatier Nogent 6" slicer which I like equally.  Because the Kono is the knife of choice for anything acid -- including "bar" work, it probably gets used more often.  Besides those two, I've got three or four Sabatier and Forschner petty/parers which get used for all sorts of stuff -- often things which are only indirectly food related.  If I were a minimalist, I probably wouldn't keep them; but I'm not.  My knife kit borders three contienents:  Japanese excellence,  Sabatier "collection," and "too cheap to throw away anything potentially useful."   

 

A lot depends on how much abuse you're going to give your knife.  If it's going to do all the string, plastic packages, boxes from Amazon as well as all of the huge variety of petty tasks it's going to get sharpened a lot and will wear out pretty quickly -- so you'll want to keep the price down.  A related criterion is whether or not you want a knife you can maintain on a steel.  On the other hand, you might have a bunch of crap parers you used for all the utility stuff and want a petty you're going to reserve for surgery. 

 

Since it will probably end up as one of your two most used knives, you'll probably want something better than a Forschner -- but whether that means a Fujiwara FKM on the entry-level end, or a Gesshin Ginga on the "good as you can get without wasting money" end, I can't say. 

 

To my mind, petties are all about the "useful" without even a nod towards the stylish; but that's just an opinion, and the Nogent is pretty darn stylish. 

 

BDL

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