Japanese Chef's Knives vs. Western. Another One of those Threads? You Bet!

Discussion in 'The Mess Hall' started by OldSchoolYoungin, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. There are thousands of threads on the subject spanning myriad forums, and here's another one :biggrin1:

    Firstly, I'm experienced most with Western style chef's knives; particularly German; Henckels, Wusthof, etc. My favorite is an 8" Zwilling Henckels stainless that's basically Santoku-ish in blade style. I'm looking to expand my horizons, though, and have looked towards Japanese, if not Western Style Japanese-made knives.

    Santokus are OK, but I lean more towards the Gyuto-ish style. I like the longer cutting edge and less "hop and chop" of the rounder bellies of Western knives.

    So, here's what I want:

    Price: Prefer not much more than ~$150-200 or so.

    Uses: All. Also, I'm a blade beater. That is, my chef's knife is my everything. I don't want to risk chipping an edge or breaking off a tip because I decided to get a little overzealous with a chicken. It needs to chop, slice, mince, fillet and, in some cases, debone.

    Steel: I do a lot of Thai and Indian cooking, so I think stainless is the way to go. Not huge on lots of blade maintenance, either. I'd rather just run the knife under the tap, wipe it off, and set it in the drying rack. Done.

    Size: Over 8".

    Balance: I'm a pinch gripper and prefer my balance to be at that point. Not really too picky about it, though. If it feels good, it's good.

    Really have my eyes set on the Hattori HD 240mm Gyuto: http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/HDSeries.html Looking for experience and comparisons.

    Thanks :thumbup:
     
  2. I think the HD-8 is one of the top five sold knifes on that site. I will soon order a knife there but, it will be the Kagayaki KV-8L. I tried both and prefer the Kagayaki. First of all I like the WA-handle and 270 mm blade is more "fun" then 240 imho. The Hattori is probably slightly better finish but the Kagayaki is more bang for bucks. But I don't think any of those knifes like the beating so much. Maybe you should get a Chinese claver and practice. Trust me .... you can get really good with it.
    Just like watching the intro of this movie - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs5WiddD7i0

    You can always find more to compare with here ... http://www.chefknivestogo.com/
     
  3. I don't know how well the de-boning would work with that knife. I just got my first j-style knives which were the Suisin Inox Western 240 and 150 petty. They were pretty sharp right out of the box but very thin. I think trying to debone with them would beat them up. I think that's why they make thicker debas. I like the handle on my Gyuto but feel the handle on the petty is on the small side for my hands.
     
  4. Also, I kept my much thicker and heavier Calphalon chef knife for deboning because it can take the abuse.
     
  5. Very nice suggestions, Jim!

    I can modestly add the Watanabe to that excellent list:

    [​IMG]

    Kuro-uchi Gyuto knife Blade: 180mm
    Total length: 320mm Width: 45mm Thickness: taper spine 3.5 - 1.5mm

    Double bevel, Blade: Yasuki blue steel core with stainless outer, Handle: burnt chestnut wood

    http://www.watanabeblade.com/english/pro/gyuto.htm
     
  6. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    If you're using a pinch grip, I'd recommend you start with a Western style Japanese knife, then move on to the traditional handles once you fall in love with the blade, if you're so inclined.

    The Hattori is a beautiful knife, but the 240 is almost always out of stock at JCK. That should tell you something about its appeal. At 3mm, it has a slightly thicker spine than most, and may feel more similar to your old German knives. If you want to use it for rough use (not generally a good idea) one option (assuming you know how to sharpen) is to sharpen with a more obtuse angle towards the heel of the knife but leave the toe end thin and acute so that it can do what it does best. Several years back, Hattori changed its production process so the knife is not hardened as much as it previously was. They used to harden to ~RC63, which is at the long end of what VG10 (a great cutlery steel) is able to hold. After many complaints of chipping, they reduced hardness to ~RC60-61, which is just about perfect for that steel.

    As for size, it's a good idea to go "one up" from what you're used to in German knives. If you use an 8" German, go for a 240mm (~9.5"). It will be far more nimble the the 8" German. If you're used to a 10" knife, go for a 270mm.

    I am one of many of us who have a bunch of high end German knives that I keep in a drawer labeled "shovels".
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  7. Every time I'm about to pull the trigger on a knife, I come across something more appealing. Still completely undecided at the moment, which is nothing new to yours truly.

    Awesome!

    Yes, I think I'm going with a Western style Japanese for my first.

    In reference to rough use, I'll probably just hang onto some of my Germans in that case. I'm still fond of them, after all. Or hell, I'll just get a Chinese cleaver. I've seen you mention cheap Chinese ones before. Any recommendations?
    As for sharpening, I'm very good with Western; not so sure about Japanese. I'm actually reading your old thread on the subject right now :thumbup: This is gonna take some practice.

    Thanks for the post, I was looking at the Kagayakis, too. More motivation to just get a cleaver instead of worrying about rough use, also!
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  8. Doc4

    Doc4 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    Knives don't have triggers. That's guns you are thinking about.

    :a20:
     
  9. Alacrity59

    Alacrity59 Moderator Emeritus Contributor

    I really like the Nakiri I bought in the group buy a couple of years ago. I've a few Japanese knives now . . . all lovely and useful but the Nakiri filled a hole. If I had to downsize my knives I'd have my gyuto, nakiri, paring knife, and bread knife. (My favorite paring knife just now is a Japanese one). It is hard not to go this route when we do group buys here involving Jon Brodia as a knife supplier and Dave Martell putting an edge on them that will make you sigh with appreciation of how sharp a knife can be.
     
  10. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    I have a bumper sticker that says "Ted Kennedy's car killed more people than my gyuto."
     
  11. Oh crap.

    Looks like it's gonna be a Hiromoto Aogami Super 240mm Gyuto from JCK. Couldn't resist...
     
  12. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    Nice knife. Sharp as the dickens and with only a few mm of exposed carbon, it's easy to maintain. It also takes on a nice three tone look- s/s cladding, carbon patina, sparkling edge.
     
  13. If you want to chop stuff and cut through bones and what not, look into a Global knife. They are a Japanese knife which can handle western styles of use.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
  14. Global is probably one of the most overated knifes on the market. And loads of fakes out there too that are even worse. The only (more or less) people who have those in a Pro kitchen use them because they got sponsored.
     
  15. In my unprofessional experience, I'm not too big on the Globals, either. Definitely a step up from what most home cooks use, though.
     
  16. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor

    I was never a big fan of steel handles, except on the occasional cleaver.
     
  17. And it's here, already. Not in my hands, but it's here! Normally work until 3pm, but stuck it out until 5 only to come home and find a "you missed me" notice in my mailbox. Crap. Oh well, will be redelivered tomorrow! :thumbup:
     
  18. ouch

    ouch Moderator Contributor


    Let's see. Ordered on a Sunday, arrives on a Thursday, with a holiday in between. Not too shabby.

    Good luck!
     
  19. :thumbup::thumbup::thumbup:

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    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 8, 2017

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