Konosuke HD Wa-Gyuto

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Konosuke

General Information

Best of the Best Japanese Handled Chef's Knives

Latest reviews

Value
5.00 star(s)
Performance
5.00 star(s)
Handle
5.00 star(s)
Blade
5.00 star(s)
Purchase Date
2011-07-14
Purchase Price
$300.00
Pros: Sharpness, Shape, Weight, Thickeness
Cons: Handle is a little narrow
This being my first review, i thought i should review the thing i like the most in my chef bag. 

The Konosuke HD Chef knife. 

This knife is in my hand 10-20hrs every week. Being a youngster (CdP) I have the privilege of being one of the guys who do 75% of the prep work in the kitchen. And 75% of that is done with this knife. 

The shortcomings of this knife are few and far between, in fact I only have one real gripe:
  • The Kono HD cannot handle heavy work. If you are breaking down lobsters, hacking through butternut squash or cutting through the breast plates of a box of chicken - this is not the knife for you. Being a laser, this knife is not meant for this job. I use a takeda deba for all of these things... though my Italian, french and english compatriots all use their chef knives (i cry a little on the inside). 
Then again who would buy a laser to do that stuff anyways. Now for the juice:
  • Sharpness - Thing stays sharp through a whole day... i do not steel, i do not bust a stone out in the 3-5 oclock doldrums though i do strop occasionally. But regardless this knife at the end of the day, is ready for more. 
  • Sharpening - Super Easy, takes a little more love than other knives, but this thing reminds me of AS or White2 steel - stupid sharp. 
  • Weight - "light chopping" this thing is lethal. Emincer onions or concassed tomatoes becomes a job of pleasure and speed. The weight of the knife still chops....though this is more because the edge is so scary
  • Thickness - This knife does not really wedge, it is too thin. When chopping fast it leaves the food on the board, not sticking to the knife....which is awesome especially if you hate mandolins and want to make 2 gastro trays of potato boulangere. 
All in all, I cannot recommend this knife enough. If you already have a knife that can do all the brutal jobs that a chef knife is expected to do (that others expect it to do), then this will up your prep game big time. 

HP
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Value
5.00 star(s)
Performance
5.00 star(s)
Handle
4.00 star(s)
Blade
5.00 star(s)
Purchase Date
2010-10-05
Purchase Price
$300.00
Pros: Light. Agile. Great Profile. Sharpens Easily to Incredibly Sharp. Stays Incredibly Sharp a Long Time
Cons: The Knife is a "Laser," Very Light and Fairly Flexible. The Handle is on the Narrow Side.
Welcome to the Wonderful Word of Lasers:

"Lasers" aka "Kate Moss knives" are a relatively new class of chef's knives which is becoming increasingly popular.  Their outstanding characteristic is thinness combined with high-end knife alloys.  Making very thin knives out of good alloys is not easy, and I suspect their recent emergence depends on new or at least refined, techniques.

So far, all the lasers are wa-style, which means they all have Japanese style handles, and the peculiarly Japanese machi/tang.  The Japanese style tang is substantially lighter than a full-tang western style, and contributes to Kate Moss knives featherlight nature.  But who knows?  Western handled lasers may be around the corner.

Because of the edge geometry which is a combined product of alloy and thinness, they can be made very, very sharp and very acute.  Furthermore, at any level of sharpness they seem sharper than their thicker cousins by virtue of their resistance to wedging.  

The number of manufacturers and their availability is increasing.  Konosuke is a very new entry in the class. 

Until the Konosuke HD, the available high end lasers have either been made from a group of very limited and excellent stainless and carbon alloys, including AEB-L, G3, White #2, and perhaps a few others.   The HD breaks new ground in alloy type.

Enough introduction.  Let's get down to specifics.

Tale of the Tape - Getting the Measurements Out of the Way:

My knife is putatively 27cm long -- but it's a little shorter along the edge and a little longer from tip to handle along the spine.  

It weighs 6 oz.  Thickness is around 2.1mm at the spine where the machi meets the ferrule, and maybe 2.0mm at the where the machi ends and the back begins.  Light and thin no matter how you slice it.

A Very Special Alloy:

The HD's alloy is different.  It's a semi-stainless HSS (high speed tool steel), which resists corrosion about as well as the stainless knives, can be hardened to levels approaching White #2's, and resists wear better than either.  It's not uncommon for Japanese manufacturers to guard the specific identity of an alloy, and so far Konosuke is unwilling to specify HD by a more identifiable name or particular steel maker.  I know someone who had the steel analyzed and even knowing its composition was still unable to make an identification. 

Edge Characteristics, or

Exotic Alloy Is As Exotic Alloy Plus Exotic Geometry Does:

Whatever this stuff is, it's great.  Wide spectrum great at that.  My HD excels at three of the four edge characteristics:  edge taking; absolute edge quality; and durability.  The fourth, maintenance, can be a slightly mixed bag depending on the degree of asymmetry to which the knife is sharpened.

Hardness is rated at 61HRC. 

Sharpening:

Absolute edge taking is hard to judge, limited as it is by the sharpener's abilities.  My impression is that the HD is as good as White #2 and any of the Blues, and (at least) slightly better than any laser stainless.  It's not quite up to White #1, but nothing else is either.

It will certainly take, should be given, and will hold highly acute edge angles.  It will also take and hold a very high polish.  I stropped mine all the way down to 0.25u diamond, which is a highish for a straight razor and absolutely ridiculous for a chef's knife.  FWIW, a finish of about 0.1u -- which would be a 10K stone, about -- is well beyond adequate.   

It's a very easy and quick knife to sharpen.  But profiling can be a little tricky.  Unless and until you've had a lot of practice establishing bevels that acute you're likely to scuff up the face a little.  I'm estimating my edge angles at slightly tighter than half my usual 15*, call them 6* - 7* ish.  I've also currently got the edge asymmetry at around 80/20 (lefty). 

In addition, the feel of the HD on the stones is the best of any (near) stainless.  It grinds smooth without any sensation of grittiness or chatter.  

Edge durability is, so far, outstanding.  It's a little hard to judge because the knife is going to act very sharp anyway, unless it's very dull.  It certainly holds its edge better than my Sabatier chef's -- which is more impressive than it sounds, because the Konosuke is too asymmetric to use a steel. 

What Does All of That Edge Stuff Mean as a Practical Matter?

It means the "effortlessly gliding through" a cut is as difficult as it gets.  The knife definitely "falls through" with no more effort than its own weight.  And remember, it weighs practically nothing. 

Ergonomics - F&F, Handle, Profile, Feel, Balance and All That Stuff:

Fit and Finish is impeccable.  It's as beautiful as an absolutely plain knife can be.  The spine and back (some kitchen knife guys call the back the choil, but other knife guys mean something else) of the blade are nicely crowned (rounded over) so as not to hurt your fingers.  The "engraving" is hand struck, the handle has a natural buffalo horn cap as well as a ferrule, the saya is well made, the pin has a cunning silver cord, et cetera, et cetera.

As already mentioned the handle is on the narrow side as wa-gyuto handles go.  If you wrap your fingers all the way around the handle it might be an issue for you.  Jon Broida (Japanese Knife Imports' owner), who has smaller hands and whose grip is only marginally tighter than mine says he prefers the Suisun and Tadatsuna handles.  It's not only a total non-issue for me, I think the handle is excellent.

The profile, "French" at its best, is outstandingly good, with just the right amount of straight, leading into a gently arced belly and mid-line point. 

In one sense, the knife is proportionally as blade heavy as any wa-gyuto The knife is so light that "balance" is irrelevant.  

Using the profile to help establish the chopping action on the board, is as good as a Sabatier or Masamoto.    

Value:

How can any working knife be worth as much as this one costs?  Especially when there are a lot of knives which will do a spectular job for around half the money. 

Yes.  The Law of Diminishing Returns started kicking very hard at around half the price.  Masamoto HC, MAC Pro, Misono Sweden, K-Sabatier au carbone, Masamoto VG, Kikuichi TKC are all significantly less expensive and all within angstroms of being as good in nearly every respect.

No.  I can't tell you how to value the extra quality and performance for this knife or any other at this price level. 

It won't confer extra knife handling skills or -- outside of its edge characteristics -- make you a better cutter in any way.  And I suppose it's worth adding that a wa handle is no big deal one way or the other.  If you can use a yo handle you can easily adapt to a wa in minutes, and vice versa

It's a lot of bucks, and the biggest possible bang.  If you want it, it costs as much as they charge.  Not only that, you'll probably have to get on a waiting list.

Wrapping it up:

For me, purchasing the Konosuke HD wasn't about buying a perfect or even the best all-around wa-gyuto.  Carbon sabatiers occupy that position in western chef's knives, and don't even cost very much. 

If what I wanted most was something as all-around and as nearly perfect, I would have bought a Masamoto KS.  But I chose the HD over the KS because I wanted something really different.

The HD's overall feel in the hand and on the board is as good as a Masamoto or Sabatier -- and that's what I value most.  Despite being a laser there aren't any more practical restrictions to using this knife than on any other thin, hard, Japanese knife.  If you're going to use any one of them as your go-to gyuto, you'll need a heavy duty, second knife for heavy duty tasks. 

The HD is not a Henckels Classic, not for cutting through chicken bones, fish heads, or through any one of a number of other things.  But if you can hold it straight, you can by God cut a squash.

Bottom Line - Highest Possible Recommendation.:

Until the Konosuke, the Masamoto KS was the best all around wa-gyuto I'd ever used.  Now there are two.  Sometimes perfect happens and you just have to learn to live with it. 

BDL

Comments

Thanks for this review. I have been playing with a few of these new breed of knives and must admit they are sharp but I guess old dogs hold on to old dogs. My old (42 yrs) carbon blade that was a 10 inch, now just about 7.5 inch is not too far behind the Hattori, Masahiro, and Takeda in sharpness. It does not hold as well by a long shot. I was interested in the Konosuke due to its blade width, geometry and the semi-stainless factor. My worry is the durability of these thin blades. I have been known to hit the edge of a pan or two in the heat of the slam or smack some garlic cloves on the side. I have never broken or even chipped any of my old blades yet but they are not the super thins. Thanks for the imput. I think I'll save some dough and do a Masamoto HC. 
 
A beautifully written review, BDL. You have terrific word smithing talent and it was very informative too. I am new to these Japanese knives and their aficianados; I'm soaking it all up like a sponge. Thanks for your review!
 
I agree... these things are in a different league. I've had other good knives, Japanese and German, but it was a Konosuke 'laser' gyuto that showed the biggest leap in cutting performance. Like you I keep other more heavy-duty knives in reserve for tough nasty jobs, although if I were sufficiently wealthy I'd love to try a Konosuke HD out on some tough stuff to see if might do better than we expect. Good review!...
 
Thanks a lot for this mouth watering review.
But before I start looting and pillaging the entire neighbourhood to find the means to order this knife at Chefs Knife to Go ... If I have understand your posts on several threads rightly, the #1 White has your preference ?
I ought to be patient, get my knives one by one.
Thanks a lot for all the help, and have a wonderful weekend !
 
yah Nicko - by stopping i mean running the knife over a chromium oxide loaded strop... which is a piece of leather with a bit of paste on it, that polishes the edge of the knife. i find that this not only helps to keep the knifes' edge alined but it is more precise than when I use a steel, ceramic/glass or otherwise.
 
It's been almost 4 years since this post, given the change of the market, do you still recommend the Konosuko?
 
The reason I ask is that you also indicated that if you had to buy a knife now you would purchase a Tenmi Jyuraku AS series but, responses in time change opinions.
 
Jack 
 

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