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First japanese knife as gift? (Or sharpening system?)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 



I'm a total newbie, based in UK... I've been reading these forums for days and there's so much amazing information on here! Problem is that I've now got totally stuck trying to make a decision, so hoping you can help me...


I want to buy my OH his first Japanese knife for his birthday (which is actually today :\ I've been indecisive for so long I've kind of messed up, but I see him this weekend so might be able to turn it around!)


He's a good home cook, always reading, watching, and learning, and cooks often. He makes lots of soups (chopping roots, cabbage,  herbs, etc), maybe not so much fine slicing of things, i.e. more 'home cooked' than 'fine dining' in style. He tends to buy meat from his local butcher de-boned and prepped etc. (though he has mentioned he's interested in learning more about meat prep).


I was thinking a Santoku (but maybe Gyuto?). And something about 8" as any longer might be a bit unwieldy for a non-pro home cook.


He currently has a standard set of 3 Sabatier pro knives (i.e. western) which he's pretty fond of, which makes me nervous about buying him something more traditionally Japanese. But then I also want this to be something a bit special and different - maybe ignite more of an interest in Japanese knives, and better kitchen knives in general.


So... I'd been looking at this


They're UK based, so no risk of import duty, and they have a money back guarantee in case - when he holds it - he really doesn't like it (another worry about buying something like this blind).


It's a bit above budget (budget is £100) but he won't know.


I also found this UK site but very quickly felt bewildered by choice of products and checking out reviews. I usually end up on US forums for advice and reviews (seems you have better knife forums than UK), but then the info isn't as relevant for buying in the UK (within budget).


Based on reading these forums, and maybe because of decision paralysis, I then started to think that maybe a better gift would be a sharpening system. He has none - not even a honing rod. And maybe a wooden magnetic knife holder too.


And there again, a whole world of information and possibilities - eek!


So I'm reaching out in the hope that you might be able to help get me out of this indecisive mess I'm got myself into - really appreciate any UK relevant advice you might have (even if it's a 'that Santoku looks ok as a start - just go with it')



post #2 of 9
The Masakage Yuki is a fine series. Just in case you hadn't realized - it's got a carbon steel (non stainless) core clad in stainless on the sides. Are your OH's Sabatier pro knives stainless or carbon? If they are stainless, this gift will require some small changes to the maintenance and cleaning of the knife. The handle may initially want some oiling with wood oil/mineral oil.

Santoku is fine. I'd probably lean to the 210-240mm size gyuto because I trended away from the length limitations set by smaller knives. Neither should be drastically different enough to throw him off (we're not talking traditional like single beveled knives). But do keep in mind the knife will be thinner and with a lighter handle than the Sabatiers.

I don't know what the deal is with cuttingedge, but their prices look REALLY high to me. I've basically purchased the 270mm Yuki for the price they are charging for the santoku. Maybe they are factoring import fees in? If you are willing to look at some international vendors, Japanese Chef Knife and Japanese Natural Stones have free worldwide shipping if you spend X. Can't say you definitely will or won't get charged an import fee though.

Sharpening supplies is a fine idea for a gift as well- I'd probably rate that above a knife holder as a good gift. looks like they've got decent prices on Naniwa stones.

Best of luck with the gift!
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for replying foodie :)


I do want carbon steel (pretty sure the Sabatiers are stainless) as it's about trying something new. This being clad sounded good as it would help with maintenance.


I had been wondering about gyuto being a better all-rounder choice for a first knife, so with that in mind, I had a bit more of a hunt around and think I've narrowed it down:


I guess at this point I just need to know if any of those are ones I should definitely avoid.


Then I'm just left with the decision on price-point. The UK stocked ones are what they are; anything outside UK and I'm looking at shipping (£10-20 I think) and possible import costs (no idea what those might be yet). If I go cheaper (it is his first of hopefully more such knives) then I can get sharpening things as well (would a combi stone be a good start?), or I go a bit dearer and either ignite a passion in him to go get his own sharpening things*, or get sharpening things as another gift later in the year.


*if I were to do this the other way round, and spend out on sharpening with the idea that he'll sharpen his Sabatiers and then get excited and go and buy his own Japanese knife (or I could), what would a good starter sharpening set comprise, and should I get him a honing rod? (realise that it might not work to buy sharpening stuff for a Sabatier if the idea is to get him to go Japanese carbon steel...)

post #4 of 9
Note that all cladding is not stainless. Of your list, the Yuki, the Eden dento, and the Syousin chiku have stainless cladding. The others are clad in basically soft iron and are prone to reaction. I might caution those as a transition from stainless, especially as with some of the lower budget knives, the cladding may have a higher content of impurities that are even more rust or smell prone.

With the JCK knife you would be looking at free shipping but a small possibility of import fees. If you shop from there I would recommend looking for one of their knives that says it is stainless clad as opposed to fully reactive.
Combo stone wouldn't be a bad idea. You could also get a singular middle grit stone roughly in the 1000-3000ish range.

If you spend out on sharpening for the purposes of usage on the stainless sabatiers, it's not that you'd necessarily need totally different equipment so much as it is that you need a coarser stone for knives that have been used but not sharpened than you would need to just maintain a new knife for a relatively long time (considering home usage). For example, I might recommend a 400-1000 grit Naniwa for fixing up the stainless Sabatiers (depending on what shape they are in) but with a new carbon core J-knife, a Naniwa pro 2000 would keep it going (so long as it was not let to get horribly dull or chipped) for many many months.
Minimum set- at least one stone, flattening device (be it a flattening stone, a diamond plate, coarse sandpaper, or drywall screen backed onto a hard smooth surface). As a home user, you can use the stone for basically the same purposes as a honing rod, in addition to proper sharpening.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for taking the time smile.gif

I went for the Yuki in the end, even if it's a bit expensive - at least no risk of import costs and associated delays, and as its U.K. it gets here tomorrow so hits that original birthday pressie need. Not that that's the only reason, but - getting confirmation that it's good - with my indecision and his weekend visit approaching fast it helped. It's only a first step and I needed to stop agonising so much.

I went for the 210 gyuto instead of santoku as well from what you said and from wider reading. Also took on board what you'd said about going for the ss clad, to help narrow the field, and then chose the Yuki over the Eden because I read somewhere else that Eden is Masakage, but not as good a grind (apprentice work maybe). Not sure if that's the case, but for the sake of £10 ... Also Masakage seems to be a respected name based on yours and others comments, and as a knife newbie that helps. I also think it's a slightly nicer looking knife for when I watch him cook wink.gif

Fingers crossed he likes it!

Also going to get a Naniwa 2000 or combo. I've got a fairly coarse whet stone my dad gave me that I use on my cheap knives to keep them sharp, though it needs flattening, so will get sorted on that front too - flattening is not something I knew about til now (I love sharpening, and really interested to learn more). Not going to get a honing rod.

Thanks for the advice and getting me through the decision with a clearer idea of what sharpening system I need - very much appreciated smile.gif
post #6 of 9

I think it's a good choice!   The stainless cladding makes it easier to maintain, and white steel is the easiest to sharpen.  Carbon steels are already easier to sharpen than stainless, and white is the easiest to get scary sharp.  Overall it's a great choice for a first venture into Japanese knives.

post #7 of 9

Good choice! No knowledge on the origins of the Eden series of knives.


On the flattening - how frequently you will flatten depends on sharpening and also the stone. If your existing whetstone is an oilstone, those don't seem to dish at an appreciable rate. Synthetic waterstones are largely made to be slowly broken down, and will need at least occasional flattening.


Stone choice at this point probably reasonably comes down to your remaining gift budget. I haven't used the Naniwa Combo 1k/3k stone but it should be absolutely fine for your purposes. The Naniwa Pro 2k is a good stone, I've got the 'older' version of it and it works pretty quickly and leaves a decent finish. Good to know you've got the coarse whetstone covered.


Are you the sharpener of the house? :) Good to know that no matter what, the new knife should get some loving stone attention. :D

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

He loved it! He's started reading forums, watching videos... and I got lots of yummy food over the weekend, so success :D


My existing stone is in quite a state (I realise now I know more about this), so definitely needs flattening. Tbh I think I might keep that in the garage with the tools and start afresh with a new set for the kitchen.


That thinking is because I bought a Naniwa 1000/3000 (2k was a bit pricey to begin with) thinking it would be for me, but he's snaffled that too - it's a good thing of course, but I'm now left with no new toys and I was kinda looking forward to sharpening with a nice stone.


There's something really meditative and pleasing about sharpening knives :)


Thanks again!

post #9 of 9

There are a lot of videos out on the internet and you can get bad advice for sure.   I recommend point him to this one by JKI


Or the one from Korin is also very good

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