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Tadafusa--Gyuto recommendations

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've read various threads with recommendations--all helpful. I'm looking for a Gyuto knife that's in the $100-200 range and 210mm or above, though I've often felt that a longer knife feels a little clunky (but that is mostly referring to the current Cutco knife I have). I went into a knife store today in San Francisco and the employee recommended this exact knife: I do like the handle (a little bit big) and the feel of the blade. I'm wondering your thoughts. I've seen it for cheaper: , but that's with a different handle. The store owner/employee did mention, what I've come to understand in my research, that brands like Shun, have become more factory than smith (and, it seemed, included Masamoto in this category).


I'm really look for the best bang for my buck. Don't care for names, etc; though it does seem like certain knife makers develop reputations because they make good knives. Go figure. I'm willing to do whatever maintenance required for a high carbon blade if that will get me a nicer knife (that will hold an edge longer and sharper).


I know this post might be frustratingly vague for some of you who know much more about knives. I'm willing to answer questions that could hopefully hone in on what I don't know I'm looking for.


Thanks so much!



post #2 of 13

Hi Jimmy, welcome to Cheftalk


The profiles (shape) that most J-knives have are going to feel a lot better than your current Cutco. The Cutco chefs knife profile is not good (in terms of usable length and usefulness of the tip, how your arm/elbow/shoulder may have to move to use parts of the knife). You may very well feel fine with something like a 240mm J-knife. 

Handle difference between the bubinga with the metal bolster and the wa-handle is certainly going to account for some difference in that price. I'm envious of your location! Would love to be able to visit Bernal in person...they stock a lot of good stuff. I would also ask them when they expect to get another batch of Wakui Shirogami knives with the octagonal ho-wood handle. The 210 and 240mm of those should be under $200 considering the 270mm is currently stocked at $228.


What kinds of foods are you regularly prepping? What cutting motions do you utilize? What kind of board do you cut on? What kind of in-hand feel do you want from your new knife (hefty, super light, somewhere in between)?


What are your plans for routine sharpening?

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Ha! Yes, I'm from Vermont, so I'm sure you can imagine that I'm appreciative of all that a city has to offer. As it happens, Bernal is two blocks from my house. That being said, while it would be nice to purchase a knife locally, I'm also looking for the best possible knife for under $200. I'll ask about the Shirogami. I've heard longer blades usually stay sharper longer, but doubt I'd want to do more than 240, as that would probably feel awkward, unwieldy. 


So--I'm looking at also purchasing the Ohishi 1000/6000 block, if that is the one you'd recommend. I've been learning to sharpen, and that kind of maintenance is something I want/look forward to taking on (though I wouldn't look forward to sharpening more than every four months or so:)


As for prepping, I do a lot of vegetables: sweet potatoes, onions, peppers, etc. I do some meat--any bone stuff (every butternut squash), and I could employ the ol' Cutco. Right now, I'm cutting on a Walnut/Maple board a friend made me (that's a nice 14 by 22 or so inches). It's not an end grain, but if end grain is much preferable for keeping a blade sharp, I could make one. I'd want this knife to last a long time. It's a birthday present from my parents; now that they're getting up in age, their gifts have a weirdly sentimental quality. (It's also why I want to keep the price below $200).


I don't want something that's much in weight (as it seems the German knives are). But super light would probably feel a bit whippy as well (though maybe just takes some getting used to). Probably something in between. Knife motions: slice, chop, mince, push cut, rock chop (but that might not be great for a nice Japanese knife). But alas, I can adapt, learn new techniques.

post #4 of 13

You could also ask Bernal how often they do some sales/promotions. I only knew to follow their Instagram fairly recently and thus caught the tail end of their 'Shirogami Appreciation Month' in August which discounted their stock of knives using Shirogami/White Steel.


It's hard to list a 'best' because that kind of thing is personal. We can give suggestions for 'very good of a certain type' and hopefully some of those types match up with you


There's a laser dimensions knife (Ikazuchi) that is stocked at Japanese Knife Imports right at $200 for the 240mm, but you would have to pay state tax for that one. A touch over 5 ounces for the 240mm, very agile, good edge retention, but maybe might run light for your preferences. Especially considering that you tried out the metal bolster Tadafusa.


A great contender for pure performer is the Itinomonn 210-240mm (I think only the 210 is in stock right now) from Japanese Natural Stones. Though this and the Wakui might be similar? I really hope you can check out and possibly mess around with any of the Wakui's at Bernal, looking at the extreme taper to the edge and seeing how it feels to you. And ask about when people tend to choose a knife like Wakui over Tadafusa and vice versa.


I like the Misono Swedish Dragon for the bling and the more familiar western knife feel. Note that it's fully reactive, whereas the Tadafusa, Ikazuchi, and Wakui/Itinomonn are at least stainless clad, and you'd be dealing with patina management. This will run a bit softer in the steel than the others mentioned thus far, has a really nice profile, is something of a middleweight for a western-handled knife (subjective categorization), and sharpens up quite easily. The Ohishi knives stocked at Bernal are others that would that more familiar feel.


If you like your board and it's doing what it needs to then I wouldn't worry about it for now.


I would suggestion doing walking/mincing with as little pressure as you can with one of these knives. The edges can be thin enough to actually stick into the board, then twisting/torquing on that is not going to be great for edge stability and retention (yay touch-ups!). And this'll come with the change in knife profile (shape) too, but motions like forward push cuts are going to feel more effective than a rock chop. 


I don't have personal experience with the Ohishi brand stones, but if the Bernal guys use and stand behind it and the price is good, then go for it. My starting stones were a set of Beston 500, Bester 1200, and Suehiro Rika 5k - all soaker stones, but have gotten loads of random other things since. 

Once you get some sharpening experience under your belt and have a stable edge with fresh steel, then your more frequent maintenance is probably going to be light touch ups on the fine stone, a quick routine. And the frequency of which is really going to be on your usage and sharpness standards :3 Though you actually have the option to just send stuff back in to Bernal periodically (dunno the $ rates). Or, do they do sharpening classes? That could be really fun and helpful.

post #5 of 13

I believe the Wakui is a heavier knife, but still very thin at the edge, and a very good heat treat of the white #2.  Like a narrow version of the wide bevel knife, very good food release.

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks, this is a really helpful response. Since I last wrote, I've visited Bernal again; and now think the employee or owner has tired of me. I was able to cut a grape fruit with a tester (but that grape fruit was to be later consumed by said employee), so I took it easy; it was hard to get a solid feel for its sharpness. I've also done a bit of digging, mostly on Chef's Knives to Go, and have come across some knives which would seem to be great contenders, a couple of which you have mentioned.


The 270 Wakui Shirogami knives is a mammoth. Probably too big for my liking; even the 240, which I cut the grape fruit with, seemed large. I do like the wieldiness of the 210 Wakui. It seems that there are conflicting thoughts on this forum and others about advantages of length: some say that if one is going to buy a Japanese knife one should only purchase 240+, others suggest it doesn't really matter. Thoughts? Since I've never really used a Japanese knife myself, I am pretty clueless hereand if 240 really is preferable, I could probably get used to that. If you asked me now, which feels better in my hand, having visited Bernal, I'd say the 210.


The shorter 210 and 240 Wakui Shirogami knives are newer--the handles changed and the price point increased. Given the cost increase, I figured I'd take to the web and compare knives. It seems that there are some real benefits with Super Aogomai, vs. white steel (on the Wakui's), in terms of maintenance and edge retentionat least, that is my understanding. I've culled some of the AS knives under $200 on Chef's Knives to Go and am wondering your thoughts on these. (certainly wondering your thoughts on this one--seems like a great knife, with a beautiful look!).


I believe this is the one you recommended over at JKI: Seems great. Also comes with a Saya, which is a plus. Bummer about state sales tax.


Don't know much about the Itinomonn 210-240mm. Would AS steel be preferable though?


Bernal does do sharpening classes, but they're pricey. I think $75. Current views now are that Youtube would suffice. Could be something I look more into.


Thanks a lot for your help!

post #7 of 13

If you liked the 210mm then don't feel bad about that. My personal experience involved stepping up from a 6-6.5 inch chefs to a Tojiro DP 210mm and then within a month or two feeling like that became too short for my cutting motion - in terms of 240mm knives having something more of a flat spot, being able to work with that extra length. And 240's been a good place since then except for when I'm being silly and want to use a sword. I can't say what will happen with your experience and adaptability, though.


Take the Kohetsu's off your list has the stainless clad version of roughly the same knife for about the same price after shipping from AUS. Edit - sorry did not see that the original link was also stainless clad. 

And similarly the same website has Shiro Kamo's R2 Damascus for not too much more than the soft iron clad AS.

In general being completely new to J-knives and non-stainless knives, I would be hesitant to recommend something that is soft-iron clad as your daily driver. Depending on the amount of impurities in the cladding, they can be pretty darn reactive/rust prone or stinky. This is another reason why initial recommendations were pretty much all stainless clad.


I think you're getting too hung up on the specific steel type. That's just one of the things that goes into making a knife. Other aspects like profile and grind affect your usage and also edge retention by ways of how much force you need to go through foods, where along the knife's edge you're hitting, etc.


If you'd be amenable to a laser the Ikazuchi is going to be one of your best bets in the <=$200 range

post #8 of 13

Yes as Foody says, the Ikazuchi fits what you describe as your preferences.  I use a 210 Takamura R2 steel laser for most of my tasks, and I have huge hands that can handle anything.  I recommend the Ikazuchi for you as carbon is much easier to get real sharp.


I have a humble 10" Victorinox for breaking down the big/hard stuff, of course it has had some TLC in thinning the tip area and edge, but I actually only use it about twice a month.


Primarily I'm fine slicing raw vegies and some charcuterie with the Takamura, mostly in-hand and otherwise very light board contact.  Actually have a petty that sees most of the serious board work, like mincing cilantro (very finely on the stalks) or fine slicing garlic, shallots and celery, and I fly through those like lightening, thin as 0.25mm on the celery (perhaps the easiest vegetable to slice thin).  Scapes are probably the the most difficult of anything you might want to slice real thin, too mushy.  If I ever get into eating them regularly I may have to find a knife [and board] special just for them....

Edited by Rick Alan - 10/26/16 at 5:23pm
post #9 of 13

I have a nice 210 Goko for sale that borders on laser with Sandvik's version of AEB-L clad in damascus for sale.  I have the 240 version as well I can part with.  PM me if you're interested in details.  


They look like this -

post #10 of 13
Originally Posted by Mike9 View Post

I have a nice 210 Goko for sale that borders on laser with Sandvik's version of AEB-L clad in damascus for sale.  I have the 240 version as well I can part with.  PM me if you're interested in details.  


They look like this -

That's gorgeous

post #11 of 13
I have the same 240 that I rehandled.  It was a great deal at $120.  I am like 99% sure it is the same OEM blade as this knife   If you ever take the handle off, the tang is a pretty distinct shape.
post #12 of 13

Little correction maybe, all reference to the damascus I've seen is 19C27 steel, better edge retention, not as fine grained as their AEB-L equivalent of 12C27 and 13C26.

post #13 of 13
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