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venturing into Japanese knives - need advise

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 


I love cooking, but I'm not professional Chef - just home  cooking for family, friends and occasional party.


I grew up with German knives and never knew anything else. Now I got an offer for a set of brand new Shun classical knives (10" Chef's knife, bread-knife, 4" utility and a ham-slicer, although not sure Japanese know much about ham??) for a ridiculous price that will not make sense to refuse ;)


...however, getting these knifes, I started reading more and more about Japanese knives, and realize that Shun is more of a "mass-market" thing for westerners, rather than a proper Japanese knife.


So, I'll probably buy this set, but I don't think I'll be able to sleep peacefully until I buy myself a really good proper Wa-Gyuto. I'd also buy an Edge Pro set, because I don't think my freehand skills on Wusthof knives will be OK to attack a tender Japanese 15-degree blade.


What I'm currently looking at, are either 270mm Masamoto KS Wa-Gyuto or 270mm Ikkanshi Tadatuna White II Steel Wa-Gyuto. ...I also really really love the look of Shigefusa Wa Gyuto 270mm Kitaeji - the "damascus" pattern is to die for, but if I understand it is near impossible to get hands on one of those at the moment and the cost is prohibitive to me. I'd go as far as 300-350 USD for a Gyuto...


Are my choices OK? Is there any other blade that would be near the quality of Masamoto or Tadatuna but with a damascus pattern like Shigefusa in this price range? ...also, I prefer the octagonal pattern of the handle, but these can be replaced anyway with a custom handle like Stefan Keller's.


Any help and advise would be much appreciated!


P.S: I am looking at this Tadatuna Gyuto from Takeshi's store, but I'm worried it might not be the "White II" steel? With some knives it clearly says "white II", but with this one it only says "white" - do any of you know if Tadatuna even makes knife that is "white" not "white II" steel? 



...I asked Takeshi, and hi's reply was not very convincing: "I think that it is white II steel. Thank you."   ...So, he "thinks", but I'd like to be sure.

Edited by snowman12 - 2/13/14 at 4:54pm
post #2 of 9
I'm not going to comment so much on your knife choices but make sure you have thought about a couple things before dropping a good amount of money on a new j knife. You say you have used German and are looking at shun classics. The profile on these knives are very different than the knives you have suggested. I personally am a big fan of the flatter profile of the KS but its not for everybody. Think about what type of cutting motions you use. As far as the Tad goes is there a reason you want white #2. White #1 is excellent as well. Being a home cook I wouldn't get too hung up on steel. Typically any knife you are considering at that price point will be quality steel.
post #3 of 9

To snowman, Chris is right you don't need to worry too much about the the metals. I just have a few questions I wanted clear up? 

What conclusion made you set your bar so high, there are great knives under $200 range. 

Have you ever use a carbon knife before?

Do you know how to maintain a carbon knife?

Would you consider a non carbon knife? HD? Stainless? 

Did you like your shuns? Why or why not? 


I have both the knife you are interested in, a 240mm in the ks and a 270mm in the tad but in the stainless version. Both a bit different but nonetheless great knives. The tadatuna is a laser because it is thin behind the edge and very light weight. The KS on the other hand is not but is still thin behind the edge, but not light enough to be classified as a laser. Both will take a crazy edge. 


As Chrismit, said gyutos have a different profile compared to the german knives/shuns (much more belly on the knife, balance point closer to the handle not a big deal just depends on how you hold you knife) you are currently using, keeping that in mind let us know, the style of cutting you normally use, and the basic prep you will be cutting? 


On a side know, how about a Masakage Shimo or Yuki Line it is a White #2 color core and has a damascus on it. The 270mm is in your price range too. Also if you do decide on the Tad, don't worry about getting the wrong knife or the wrong metal, I have met him in person and he was a great guy. After reading this post I am now considering on picking up the white steel for myself too. 


Hope this helps,  

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks Chrismit and Allen for fast replies and suggestions.


Like you say - I perfectly understand this is a different kind of knife and I will have to learn how to handle them properly. But in a way - the more I read about knives and watched some cool youtube videos, the more I see that I'm missing a whole lot in technique... and in that respect a Shun is thinner and sharper, but still has a belly curve much closer to a German knife...

I feel that a proper Japanese Gyuto would allow me much more enjoyment in learning a new skill... this is also why I would aim for a top-end knife: use Shuns as a "transition" phase and also my wife really likes them aesthetically - so why not. But at the same time get myself one special toy: a top end Gyuto and learn by using it. Then slowly expand the line - surely I see an addition of a petty knife and a Deba, and perhaps in future even a Yangiba. But I want to grow into that, not buy the lot and realise it's not for me. 


So I'd start with a top-of-the-line Gyuto and see how it grows on me ;)


Allen, thanks for the tip: Masakage looks stunning with that pattern! :)

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

...after seeing this youtube video of Konosuke Fujiyama Blue #2 Gyuto 240mm, I'm having troubles deciding again.

I was almost set for Tadatuna, but this one is just stunningly beautiful!   Also Konosuke HD doesn't look a poor alternative to Tadatuna, considering it's high revies here.


Guys, please help me decide.   I know I am now talking about two completely different types of knife: a lightweight laser (136g for Konosuke HD 240mm or 147g for Tadatuna Gyuto White II 240mm)   vs. quite a bit more hefty 194g of Konosuke Fujiyama Gyuto 240mm.


To expand a bit on my post before (particularly answering Allen's questions):

> What conclusion made you set your bar so high, there are great knives under $200 range. 

...price is not that big of an issue for me. I would like to choose something I would really enjoy - both in its top quality and aesthetics. I'm not a professional Chef - I, however, love good home cooking and like to put a lot of effort / passion into it. So, I don't need a knife to take me through 8-hour cutting/priming and just care about it's quality/durability. I understand I should opt for a MAC Pro in this case. But I don't lie its western design. As I said - I grew up with German knives. Now it's time for something different! ;)   ...I just love the way a proper octagonal wa-handle looks on a nice Japanese steel.

So, so sum up: I'm willing to pay a certain price for an object that I feel will give me much pleasure to look at and to work with in the kitchen ;))


> Have you ever use a carbon knife before?

...No. I'll be honest. Only quality German stainless-steel knives. Shuns are first "sort-of" Japanese knives that I came across. And it got me interested. Now I'm hooked, but I still don't own any other knife.


> Do you know how to maintain a carbon knife?

...No. But I plan to buy an Edge Pro Apex (4 or 5) to start. And really learn properly - take time. Practice on Shuns ;)  ...And of course, read this forum to learn more!! ;))  


> Would you consider a non carbon knife? HD? Stainless? 

I was thinking: carbon Gyuto as the main tool. Then perhaps stainless petty (i.e. Tadatuna Inox line has a nice petty) because I'm pretty sure my wife would use the petty as well (not the Gyuto - she's afraid of Chef's knives for some reason). I would consider other materials than carbon, but based on what I read here, if I really want to experience the ultimate sharpness, carbon is the way to go?


>Did you like your shuns? Why or why not? 

...First impression: loved them. However, soon after reading more and seeing these beauties - the Shuns look like a cheap mass-produced stuff for selling to the western markets. I may be wrong in the judgement, but they certainly don't bring out any emotion in me... the are definitely OK knives! But for some of these others - they look damn sexy. Almost knives with individual spirits - each one unique in a way...


So, to sum up: I have no experience, and I'm not entirely sure which Gyuto is best for me. I feel, however, that this is really going to be my next big cooking adventure and I'm looking for something that I will like visually, that I will be certain is of top quality and that I will be able to grow into and most likely in the future extend the collection.

post #6 of 9
First, the Fujiyama is an absolutely amazing knife in every way. However, it is fully reactive carbon no ss cladding. Also, if you don't know what you are doing with sharpening I don't know if this is what you would want for your first crack at a j knife. That being said, if u love it and have the cash I'm not going to tell you not to get it.
As far as sharpness goes and you being a home cook and new to j knives I don't think you would notice much difference between the high quality semi stainless and stainless you are looking at when compared to carbon. The hd is another outstanding knife, has pretty much all the benefits of carbon but doesn't need the care of carbon. It may still patina but not nearly as fast or as much as the Fujiyama. It is however a true laser. I love it, others don't. If you haven't held a knife this light it's hard to convey how it feels but it will definitely be a big change from heavier knives. Not in a bad way, just a change. I personally have a kono and a heavier knife. I use them both and love them both but there is something about the kono that just makes if feel like an extension of my arm, when that's what I'm looking for there is no comparison.
If your shuns look mass produced to you the kono hd may not be for you vthe aesthetics are nothing special, pretty typical handle, no hammered or kurouchi finish etc, but man that thing can cut. If the appearance is very important to you I would look up some pics of carbon knives after they patina, they are pretty different looking when compared to new. You can keep the patina off but it is more work and in my opinion not worth the hassle but to each their own.
You are looking at some excellent knives, you really can't go wrong with any of them
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Firstly, thank you again, and particularly Chrismit, for your helpful advise. At the end I decided to go with the Konosuke HD2 240mm Gyuto. I also bougt an Edge Pro Apex set to keep it sharp. This will be my "learning" knife... I'll let you know how it turns out. Once I feel I'm comfortable with this piece, I'll probably buy also the Blue 2 Fujiyama, but perhaps it is a bit delicate at this stage...



post #8 of 9

For a heavier knife you might also consider one of the Richmonds, like the Ultimatum, in 52100 steel.  You can also get it in M390 super steel, if you put your name on the list



post #9 of 9

I have been where you are and I will not write you a long advice about how different japanese are and how much you need to be aware of... A few other people in this forum can give you very good advice. I have the Masamoto KS and it is absolutely espectacular. I enjoy enormously using it and feeling it in my hand. It has changed the way I use knives (along with the mentioned advice). I cannot imagine that you will find anything you would not love in that knife, although of course that is a big assumption since I do not know you. You might have already purchased the knife, but if you have not, Masamoto is a great choice and in the unlikely case that you do not like it can be sold easily. Enjoy

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