First Japanese knife (yet another topic)

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Joined Mar 11, 2017
Hey,

So many topics on this subject, countless threads being read, yet I feel the need to start my own... I'm about to purchase my first Japanese knife, which will be my first decent knife also. I'm at home cook, and would like to step up my cutting game a little. 

I live in New Zealand, so my choices are fairly limited. Most online knife shops that get recommended here don't deliver to NZ. 

Here is what I'm after...

- 16-18cm all purpose knife. I'm slightly inclined towards gyoto, however will be just as happy with a chefs knife or a santoku. I find them all fairly comfortable, so I know I'll get used to it.

- Simply for visual pleasure I'm looking at damascus steel, don't judge me.

- Budget roughly US$150-170

What I found so far...

- Yaxell Ran Santoku is available locally here, I held it and it feels comfortable, reviews are quite mixed about the brand. I can't say I fell in love with it.

(http://www.blademaster.co.nz/shop/Shop+by+Brands/Ran/36001.html) it's currently on special in the store so fits the budget

- Sakai Takayuki, not a lot of info online, hardly any reviews. I like how it looks, but don't know how it compares to Ran (https://www.japanny.com/collections...e-chef-s-gyuto-knife-210mm-with-shitan-handle

- Kenshin Santoky (https://www.japanny.com/collections...r-damascus-japanese-chefs-santoku-knife-180mm)

- Not really considering Shun's, but they are widely available too.

I almost bought the Ran today, but decided to do a bit more research. The reason why two other knives are linked to Japanny - so far it's the only website that delivers to NZ that I found. 

What else should I be looking for? Lots of advices on other threads were linking to websites that don't deliver to NZ, so my choice is a little more limited....

Thanks!
 
2,486
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
160-180mm is a very short blade for a principal or anchor knife. Is there a reason you're thinking in such a small scale? I normally advise a minimum 240, preferably 270. Certainly a French-style chef's knife (such as a gyuto) will be awkwardly balanced at 160mm.
 
2,486
492
Joined Oct 9, 2008
Once we work out the right shape and length, we're going to have to talk about things like sharpening, just so you know in advance....
 
1,061
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Joined Aug 6, 2015
JapaneseChefsKnife should deliver to NZ

There's also some ebay sellers like BluewayJapan and others who deliver worldwide

Japanese Natural Stones delivers worldwide, and Knives and Stones in Aus should deliver to you just fine. 

I'm guessing you're wanting full stainless? Know that these high polished blade finishes with the 'Damascus' etch will show scratches easily
 
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3
10
Joined Mar 11, 2017
160-180mm is a very short blade for a principal or anchor knife. Is there a reason you're thinking in such a small scale? I normally advise a minimum 240, preferably 270. Certainly a French-style chef's knife (such as a gyuto) will be awkwardly balanced at 160mm.

If I am going to go with gyuoto, then will certainly go with a longer blade. But i do find 18cm chefs knives comfortable (my hands arent that big)

In terms of sharpenning, well aware of the importance, currently my skills are very limited, however I found a local specialist on japanese knives that sharpens them and teaches. My plan is to get the w/stones a bit later, perhaps after 2 professional sharpenings.


Foody518, are you referring to carbon being my other option? Thanks for the website recommendation, i'll take a look.

Anything can be said about RAN?
 
2,865
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Joined Nov 15, 2012
I along with most here don't care for VG-10 if you're spending in the 3-figure range, especially for beginners as it doesn't sharpen easily.

Of the 3 so far I'd pick the Takayuki, a thinner pointier tip really helps a lot.  I didn't know they made anything in AUS-10, it's very good steel, holds an edge well.

A 210 is just fine for most prep, but you should have a beater knife of 240 or better, a 10" Vic Fibrox is nice there, there are also some cheap Chinese cleavers will do the job there even better.
 
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3
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Joined Mar 11, 2017
1,061
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Joined Aug 6, 2015
Yes I was referring to carbon steel. There's a lot more blades and better performers than those you found in the similar price range if you include carbon and semi-stainless options. Keep an eye on Itinomonn Kasumi when it restocks

Honestly if you care more about the blade than a handle, there's ebay sellers for Tanaka VG-10 Damascus 210mm gyuto with a so-so western handle for <$125 incl. EMS shipping (or else the shipping speed and delivery time is fairly variable).

I've purchased a petty of that ubiquitous hammered VG-10 damascus patterned line, wasn't thrilled with how thick the thing was at the top half of the blade. Wonder if the dimpling makes for a thicker blade one needs to start with.

Wouldn't suggest a santoku as your main knife unless your prep is very specific, small quantity, and never includes larger sized foods. The 200mm Ran chef's knife profile looked rather curvy relative to anything I'd use, the 255mm looked a fair bit better on that regard. But that stretches your budget. Know nothing about the grind or performance otherwise of the Ran.

Hand size has little to do with using a longer blade unless you're looking at stuff with *really* beefy handles to match, particularly if you go wa-handle, have only had one case of a wa-handle feeling too big for my size S hands (and that handle is CLEARLY larger than the handles of everything else I own, and aren't any of your choices, though I don't have experience with the Ran). I'd also suggest you looking into learning to pinch grip if you aren't already.

If the local specialist is legit, except 2 sharpenings from him/her to be maybe half the cost of a good entry level stone.
 

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