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Massamoto KS vs Moritaka KS vs Richmond Ultimatum

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Ok, so I'm in the market for a new knife.  I've narrowed it down to the Massamoto KS, Moritaka KS and Richmond's Carbon Ultimatum.  Does anyone know if there are any substantial differences between quality of steel, F&F and ease of sharpening, since all three have similar profiles?

post #2 of 13

The Masamoto KS is made from Hitachi White no. 2 (aka shirogami) carbon steel.  The Moritaka KS is made from Hitachi AS (aka agogami super).  The Richmond comes in a choice of 52100 carbon or AEB-L stainless (AEB-L is the Uddeholm twin to Sandvik 13C26).  With each knife the alloy is properly hardened and has excellent edge taking and edge holding properties. 

 

We can go into the differences between alloys if you like, but the distinctions are subtle enough not to make much real difference in performance.  Bottom line, it's mostly a matter of sharpening and maintenance.  All four knives will reward great sharpening; and while they won't punish mediocre skills, the magic of the profile will be lost and none of the knives will function as they should.  

 

The Moritaka KS and Richmond Ultimatum profiles are copied from the Masamoto KS, which itself is a close copy of a typical Sabatier chef knife.  I'm a huge fan of the Sabatier/Masamoto profile and may (or may not) have been somewhat influential in promoting it.  In any case, at 10" (or so) it's got the right combination, of belly and flat to be as good as it gets for a a classic, tip down action. 

 

F&F is probably best with the Masamoto KS, and a very close next best with the Richmond.  There have been long standing issues with Moritaka grinds on many of their knives.  As far as I know, these have not come up with the KS.  Just don't expect Moritaka F&F to come to the same level as Masamoto's.  Ever. 

 

The Masamoto has the most mystique by far.  Of course it does.  It's a frikkin' Masamoto.

 

Out of the box sharpness (for whatever that's worth) is certainly best with the Richmond. 

 

If you've limited the universe down to those four knives, the next step is choosing between stainless and carbon.  If stainless, you only have one choice.  If you've never used carbon, don't underrate the importance of this choice.  Stainless is so much friendlier, and with the really good, modern stainless steels like AEB-L, you don't lose much. 

 

Most of what you do give up with AEB-L compared to White No. 2, AS and 52100 is feel on the stones.  Each will sharpen to the limits of your ability, and in order to sharpen one high performance alloy better than another you need to be a helluva sharpener.  Even then, the differences will be very minor.    My experience is that White No. 2 and 52100 sharpen slightly quicker than AS or AEB-L and that both White No. 2 and 52100 feel slightly better on the stones than AS, which feels better than AEB-L.  But slightly is the operative word.  If there's a takeaway here it's "don't get lost in minutiae."

 

Because of the differences in F&F and because AS is so reactive compared to White No. 2 and 52100 the Moritaka is probably the least of the remaining carbons.  To my mind, the choice comes down to whether you want to spend the extra 100 smackeroos for the real deal Masamoto or save them in favor of made in the US of A Richmond.  Bear in mind, that when it comes to the practicalities of sharpening, maintenance and cutting onions, the experience will be very similar.  But don't discount how you'll feel about owning one or the other.  That counts for quite a lot. 

 

I've had substantial time with the Masamoto KS and loved it.  It was tops on my wish list for a long time, but was replaced there by early buzz about the Konosuke HD, which I subsequently purchased and like just as much as I liked the Masamotos.  If I were adding to my current kit I'd go with the Richmond carbon as much to support the US knife industry (and Mark Richmond as one of its leading luminaries) as for any other reasons.  Much as I love it, from what I understand the Masamoto KS doesn't offer enough to make it my choice.  Given the other choices, I'd put the Moritaka last.  But that's me. 

 

Do yourself a favor, after considering what I've said call Mark at CKtG and have a heart to heart. 

 

Your thoughts?

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/14/12 at 7:59am
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

BDL, 

 

As always, you have simplified my knife shopping troubles with another great post.  I'm also a big fan of the Sabatier profile and have a carbon  one myself, but I would like to get something a little bit sharper and thinner. There's two things I believe in wholeheartedly when it comes to shopping:  Always try to buy American made products and always try to get the best bang for your buck.  As much as I would love to have a Masamoto in my knife roll, the ultimatum looks to be the clear winner.  I'll be waiting on Mark to release his carbon line.

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

BDL, 

 

I'm surprised you don't have an Ultimatum already!  Mark also has added an "M390 steel" that he's marketing as a super-steel.  Have you tried it or heard anything about it?  I can't seem to find any reviews for it on any forums.

post #5 of 13

I've had my M390 Ultimatum for a week or ten days now and I'm really liking it.  I'm only using it on the line (no prep, at the moment I just cook the line) so it's just cutting proteins etc but after over a week of use it will still shave hair- I haven't even stropped it.  The one minor disappointment for me is that rumors of it being almost identical in shape to a Masamoto KS have been exaggerated.  Maybe that was the goal but it's no nearly as flat along the edge as my Moritaka KS.  Still, it does have a pretty long flat spot. 

 

I'll add that it was the sharpest knife OOTB that I've ever seen.  Sharper than a Shun.  In fact the only new knife that compares was my Nubatama, and only because it was finish sharpened by a sword polisher in Japan.

"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 #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Phaedrus, 

 

Thanks for the heads-up.  After taking a closer look at the Ultimatums, I did notice they have a subtle continuous belly.  Being a huge fan of the Sabatier profile, this throws my game plan completely off.  I might have to drop the $300.00 for the Masa KS after all.  Nevertheless, thanks for the Info.  

post #7 of 13

Phaedrus didn't compare the Ultimatum to the Masamoto KS or to a Sabatier.  He compared it to the Moritaka KS, which I believe not only runs flatter than the Ultimatum but to the Mas and Sab as well...  But (a) there may be individual variations (Moritakas are generally known for inconsistency); (b) I don't know for sure; and (c) suggest that you ask Mark Richmond who's seen LOTS of Masamotos, Moritakas and Ultimatums. For the little it's worth, my guess is that Lamson, the OEM making the Ultimatum, is a lot truer to the Sab/Mas profile than Moritaka.  But -- again -- ask Mark.

 

There are three basic profiles.  German (lots of belly), Asian (flat, with little belly), and French (splits the difference; some belly at the tip and a straight run into the handle).  German profiles favor handle-pumping "rock chopping;" flat blades favor up and down "push cutting;" and French profiles favor a forward, gliding action.

 

The right profile depends on the action you're either most comfortable with or which you'd most like to promote.  When I first learned to use a knife I learned with a French profile and the French action is still the one I find most comfortable and instinctive.  So, at least in my case, flatter is not necessarily better.  That doesn't mean that I'm not very comfortable using knives which don't have a classic French chef's knife profile.  For instance, I frequently use my 12" Konosuke as a chef's knife as much because I enjoy it as because it happens to be the knife which is on the board. 

 

If you have decent skills (including a good grip), and allow to "listen" to the tool, your action will comfortably conform to the shape of the knife. 

 

BDL

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post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 

In hindsight, I should have just included in my original post that I'm looking for the Sabatier's Japanese clone.  Hmm, Am I looking for a unicorn? The chef I apprenticed with before starting culinary school put me on to the Theirs-Issard's and I've been with my 10" for a while.  I've tried German profiles, but I almost always resort to push-cutting, which is counter-intuitive with that much belly. Most of my co-workers have Shun's and wouldn't trade them in for anything else...Ah to each his own.  Getting back to the aforementioned knives, check-out this review:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GzVqGLIL8A.  According to SaltyDog, the Moritaka and Masamoto profiles are pretty much the same, but like you said Moritaka's might vary.  I might just take your advice and give Mark a call and see what he says.  Who knows, I might end up with an M390 which supposedly takes forever to dull, but is extremely hard to sharpen.

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

Phaedrus didn't compare the Ultimatum to the Masamoto KS or to a Sabatier.  He compared it to the Moritaka KS, which I believe not only runs flatter than the Ultimatum but to the Mas and Sab as well...  But (a) there may be individual variations (Moritakas are generally known for inconsistency); (b) I don't know for sure; and (c) suggest that you ask Mark Richmond who's seen LOTS of Masamotos, Moritakas and Ultimatums. For the little it's worth, my guess is that Lamson, the OEM making the Ultimatum, is a lot truer to the Sab/Mas profile than Moritaka.  But -- again -- ask Mark.

FWIW, at another forum a member made a video showing the Moritaka KS, Masamoto KS and the Honyaki Masamoto.  In the HD video he clearly compared the KS's and noted that they were identical.  It really does appear he's right.  Of course, that alone is neither here nor there.  If you want a very very flat edge, this probably won't float your boat.  However, it's a lot flatter than most gyutos.  Using it today I consciously compared it to all the other knives in my case and the only ones with less belly/longer flat spot were my Moritaka KS and my Akifusa 240mm.  I think my 240mm Nubatama may have a slightly longer flat spot but I took it out of the case to make room for the Ultimatum so I'll have to compare later.

 

Maybe I can drag out the ol' digital camera and try to take some pictures to compare some of the ones I have.

"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 #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoGIc85 View Post

According to SaltyDog, the Moritaka and Masamoto profiles are pretty much the same, but like you said Moritaka's might vary.  I might just take your advice and give Mark a call and see what he says.  Who knows, I might end up with an M390 which supposedly takes forever to dull, but is extremely hard to sharpen.

Ooops, missed this post.  Salty is the guy I was talking about above.  Have you watched the video where he compared them?  It shows a bit better than I can describe.

"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 13
Thread Starter 

Phaedrus, 

 

Mystery solved on this one.  Check it out.  http://www.chefknivestogoforum.com/ks-profile-knives-t1108.html 

post #12 of 13

For some reason that link doesn't work for me.  Overall after using the Ultimatum I'm very happy with it.  Not far from the ideal gyuto for me.

"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
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post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoGIc85 View Post

  Mark also has added an "M390 steel" that he's marketing as a super-steel.  I can't seem to find any reviews for it on any forums.

 

 Here's a few threads;

 

 

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/9294-Any-Ultimatum-m390-reports

 

I like this thread because it touches on an issue this forum (IMO) is really getting bogged down with;

 

http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/5481-M390-Steel?highlight=ultimatum

 

On KKF you may also want to search for the thread where Salty posted his Ultimatum that was tweaked by Mario.

 

This thread drifts a bit. Not sure if this is the one from Fred's where a member got one with a bent tip but you can search there as well;

 

http://www.foodieforums.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?11371-grind-on-richmond-ultimatum/page2&highlight=ultimatum

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
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