Japanese Knives

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by buckeyes1425, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. buckeyes1425

    buckeyes1425

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    Hello

    I'm looking to big my first Japanese knife. Now this is not my first time.using them so haven a general familiarity with them. However I am completely lost in Wich one I want have broken it down to few I like. Mac,Fujiwara,Masamoto. Prices very on these but that's not the issue here. I want the best for my money even if its a little more. Currently a cook so a workhorse and will be sharpening with waterstones as well which will be a whole different thread.

    Thank you in advance for your help.
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    When you say "Fujiwara," you probably mean Fujiwara FKM. The FKM is a very nice, but entry level knife. The MAC Pro and Masamoto VG are each about twice the price of the FKM and both are at least one level full up.

    Fujiwara FKM is good AUS 8 at about 58 RCH, (usually) good F&F, fairly good handle, good value.

    The MAC Pro and Masamoto have a lot of similarities, and are both (I think) VG-1, hardened to similar levels, and have similar edge geometries.

    The MAC is a bit wider at the spine and significantly stiffer -- almost as stiff as a European knife; it has a more universally liked handle (great handle), is less expensive, and has incredibly good US support (along with an excellent warranty).

    The Masamoto is thinner at the spine, a little thinner at the edge, and has that great Masamoto gyuto profile. There were some F&F issues a few years ago, but seem to be under control. In any case, your dealer can go through his stock to make sure you get a good one. The Masamoto yo handle is very good, but not as good as the MAC. Some people find the Masamoto "whippy," but they're no more flexible than most other knives of the type.

    If you're all about the profile, the Masamoto is worth the trade-offs. Otherwise, at least between the three you're asking about, it's MAC. I've had a lot of time with both knives. If I were buying, I'd get the VG for myself; but think the MAC is better for most people, and bought a MAC for my daughter.

    BDL
     
  3. buckeyes1425

    buckeyes1425

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    For me as long as the edgecan get sharp and stay sharp and decent handle can deal with the rest. Is there another knife you would recommend.
     
  4. williamchan87

    williamchan87

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    if you can get a hold of any of the 3 go for the fujiwara if you wanna save a few bux, MAC is you want a very sharp knife, but more prone to chips, masamoto if you get the money, but if you get wrong masamoto series that isn't a VG, then its a carbon knife which means it need alot of good care or it will rust. 
     
  5. scubadoo97

    scubadoo97

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    A lot more care is just wiping down the knife after use and washing and drying promptly.  Not bad habits to get into with any knife
     
  6. williamchan87

    williamchan87

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    Ya, I know its not much more, but alot of people are too lazy nowadays to take good care of their knives, I personally have a few and love carbon knives.
     
  7. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    No offense dude, but Jeeze!
    BS.  Which MAC is more prone to chips than which Fujiwara?  On what evidence? 

    Fujiwara FKM is a nice entry-level knife, and I'd call it a better value than a similarly priced MAC Original (opinions differ), but it isn't in the same class as MAC Pro at all.  As far as I know (and I know quite a bit) the MAC Original, Chef, Superior and Pro series aren't any "more prone to chips" than Fujiwara FKM. 
    More BS.  Profile -- which is entirely a matter of taste -- aside, what's inherently better about a Masamoto VG than a MAC Pro?  VGs are a little bit thinner but not as stiff, so that's a mixed bag.  Edge properties are identical.  F&F, handle, guaranty, US support, price, favor the Pro.  If I were buying a knife of that class for myself, I'd buy a Masamoto because I love the profile; but I think a MAC is a better choice for most people and not only recommend them to just about anyone who asks about a first really good knife, but have bought half a dozen or so as gifts. 

    Also, I suppose you'd better warn prospective Fujiwara buyers to make sure they buy FKM and not FKH, because Fujiwara FKH series knives are not only "carbon," but considerably more reactive than either Masamoto CT and HC.  Further, carbon needs a little extra care right away, but doesn't need "alot of good care" unless you think rinsing and wiping is a lot.  And, while I agree with you that carbon isn't for everyone, it's unlikely anyone asking for and following advice on Chef Talk will buy a carbon knife by mistake.

    Otherwise, good stuff.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  8. kitchen beast

    kitchen beast

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    Of the before mentioned knives I must say ive either owned or used all of them and  the Mac Pro is my personal favorite. If your interested in trying a Wa handle knife instead of a western handle you might want to check out the Yoshihiro stainless knives at japaneseknifeimports. The steels used in the Mac Pro and Yoshihiro stainless lines seem to have a similar description. 
     
  9. lennyd

    lennyd

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    ,

    I can't argue the thought behind this, and as time goes on and I purchase new more expensive knives, or get a chance to use different knives owned by others I find I am truly respecting the incredible value of my Fujiwara FKM gyuto (also the various Tojiro DP I have owned or used as well, but these were not requested by the OP).

    Are there differences between sub $100 so called entry level knives and the many products out there costing many times more? Well sure there is, but so far I have not personally used a knife that matches the differences between the quality German knives I had in the past and the "entry level" Japanese knives that replaced them. There are differences and with that comes advantages and improvements, and some are very very welcomed changes, but I just can not seem to find that same level of change between J knives as I did between Germans and J knives etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2012
  10. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Really? MACs are chip prone?

    OK, I presume I have the exception to the rule. I currently own and use, give or take, a dozen MAC knives of various shapes and grades and have done so for over 10 years and have yet to have one chip.

    Then again, I follow the advice given by Harold of MAC Knife USA and do not abuse my knives /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
     
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    What an odd thing to write. 

    Your entire basis for the claim that MACs are chippier than Fujiwara FKMs is that unidentified MAC owners have said on the internet their MAC knives are "chip prone."  The one thing you are right about is that "scientific" just ain't in it.  

    Finally, and just curious:  What makes you a knife expert? 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Originally Posted by KnifeExpert  
    You said that unidentified people "on the internet" had given the opinion that MACs were chip prone.  You did not say whether or not those opinions related to Fujiwara or not.  The absence creates an implication they did not.  In any case, the opinions of unidentified internet people without a great deal of further context are not "evidence" by even the loosest standards of reliability.  

    Adding some context:  A few years ago a lot of folks, including some professional cooks, complained (on the internet and elsewhere) about the relative chippiness of Japanese made knives compared to those made in the west.  Considering the types of alloys and hardening used for most Japanese knives, compared to those used by western makers, it's a fair critique.  However, (in my opinion at least), the extra agility as well as the edge taking and edge holding properties, made the tradeoff in "toughness" worth it 

    And I stand by the "BS" comment.
    There's no need to get personal. Also, why the "LOL?" 

    I've never said that 6" chef's knives or nakiris are worthless, only that I don't understand their purposes -- at least as most people use them.  While I might have said they're worthless to me, but probably not.  In any case, "worthless," and "worthless to me" are entirely different things.  I've also never said that a 6" petty is "must have," only that it changed the way I prepped for the hugely better.

    Not to pursue the tangent too far, a petty is different from a nakiri or a chef's in the sense that the nakiri and chef's are primarily meant for chopping while the petty is meant for just about anything else but.  So that's another false dichotomy.  If you want to explore my thinking farther, I usually compare the 6" narkiri and chef's to a more standard chef's of around 10".  In my opinion, given reasonable technique, the longer chef's is more useful for almost every chef's knife task -- including chopping.  I've also found that a 6" petty gives away NOTHING to a shorter parer, and very little to a slightly longer "utility" knife of similar profile.

    Vis a vis short chefs and nakiris, what really chaps is the idea that a short knife is more convenient for chopping a small amount.   But everyone's entitled to their opinion.

    As it happens I do have a 7" chef's ("Nogent) which I like quite a lot.  I bought it to use as a kinda-sorta deba," i.e., for breaking down fish.  But because I like it so much I find myself inventing things for it to do which would be as easily done with another knife.  One of those is cutting small veg into very fine dice -- shallots for a mignonette, e.g., because even though I've got pretty good skilz, a shorter knife requires less attention to point.  Even so, I don't use it much. 

    Caveat lector.  Before taking my use is an example or guide in any way, consider I have my own stupid reasons for doing stupid things, and don't recommend them.  For instance, I'm as likely to cut brunoise with my 12" suji as the little Nogent.  Just vanity, is all. 

    My actual recommendations and critiques are usually very mainstream.

    I have a LOT of personal experience with MACs of every series except "Ultimate," and have a fair amount with Fujiwara.  I often recommend Fujiwara as entry level Japanese knives, and seldom recommend the similarly priced MAC Original or Chef's.  I do frequently the MAC Pro 9-1/2" and 11" fine-edged chef's knives, but as "first very good ," or first, good Japanese" stainless, yo-handled, mass-produced knife -- NOT as "entry level."  When making that recommendation I also usually talk about the Masamoto VG, sometimes the Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff, and sometimes a number of other knives.  I almost always make clear that even if I were looking for a knife in that class, the MAC Pro would not be my choice for myself. 

    We can get into MAC Pro vs Fujiwara specifics if you like, although (a) I don't think they're really comparable; and (b) wonder if we've already down so -- with you using a different screen name.  More often than not my MAC recommendations comes up in the process of educating someone who started with the idea of buying a Shun or Global. 

    Although I'm not an expert and don't consider myself one, based on my personal experiences with MAC as a knife user and someone who's taught more than a few knife skills and sharpening classes, as someone who is and has been friends with a number of pros who use them, and as someone who keeps pretty close tabs on the knife and cooking boards, I've neither experienced for myself or heard or read many if any people complaining about MACs as being "chip prone" compared to other Japanese knives.   On the other hand, I've heard quite a bit about how well MAC USA handled chips whether they were caused by bad manufacture, shipping accidents, or user error.  

    Do you have anything to say beyond trying to bust my chops? 

    And what makes you a knife expert beyond your choice of screen names?  Can you write something about your own journey along the knife path?

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2012
  13. twyst

    twyst

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    [​IMG]
     
  14. lennyd

    lennyd

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    I do not intend to stir things etc. But with all the various experts (OK got to stir a little lol) maybe you more experienced members can help me to understand something better.

    My question is about just how much more someone can expect to gain from a MAC over a Fujiwara or even a Massamoto etc.

    This is a serious question, and since I am preparing to write about my experiences with my Fujiwara FKM and also the more recent addition of a Konosuke HD as well as the differences between them and their respective costs and value etc I am very interested in hearing opinion on the comparisons of the MAC and Massamoto to the Fujiwara.

    I am also intrigued by the idea of these two knives being considered on the same level as from what I have read in the past many had considered Massamoto to be one of the better if not best profiles and performers for anywhere near its price range etc.

    Those who have been around a couple years may already know that my buying decisions are more often driven by value though sometimes also influenced by quality, performance, and some "flash". Therefore I would find the info on comparison of these Knives helpful and since I do not intend to be buying them just to compare etc I am looking for first hand experiences that I can trust.

    As an example I have found that both the Fujiwara and Konosuke cut, and perform very well, and though their differences are as large as their similarities both do the task at hand with ease and far exceed any of the previous western knives I have owned in every area.

    I now know very well just what one gets for the additional $200 over the Fujiwara cost to purchase a konosuke but I would like to be able to relate the same way with what one gets when spending an additional $100 on the MAC and also how ever much more Massamoto has increased to as well.

    To be honest I like both my current gyutos and have learned that they are both excellent values for very different reasons, and though the Konosuke may out perform the Fujiwara in many areas (it better @nearly 4x the cost!) I still use both often and still find the Fujiwara too much a value to let go.

    Thanks in advance :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Fujiwara FKM is either AUS 8 (pretty darn sure) or something very much like it.  MAC and Masamoto are both either VG1 (almost certain) or something very much like it.  MAC and Masamoto have superior edge taking and holding properties. All three knives are roughly equal in terms of toughness, need for steeling, etc.  

    MAC is considerably stiffer than either of the other two (something a lot of people care about).  MAC and Fujiwara are both thin. Masamoto is the thinnest and most flexible of the three; and some people complain that it's "whippy."   

    Masamoto had years of F&F issues, mostly surrounding their handle.  In the last few years, they've changed handle material in the VG line from wood to POM, and that seems to have been solved the problem.  Overall, Masamoto VG F&F is at least "okay" in general terms, and good to very good as far as other Japanese knives in the price range go.

    MAC Pro F&F is by and large very good to excellent by anybody's standards; and if there's any problem, MAC USA will quickly, promptly and cheerfully replace the knife or  -- if the problem was very minor repair it.  Taking warranty and manufacturer support together, MAC is one of the three best Japanese manufacturers in the US.  The other two are Shun (don't like their knives) and Miyabi/Henckels.

    Fujiwara F&F is "entry level," and can be spotty.  FWIW, I didn't see a greater percentage of bad FKMs than VGs during Masamoto's rough period; but most of my information about this comes from asking a few dealers and not personal experience.  I don't know if any non-professional sees enough knives to go beyond the "anecdotal."  

    OOTB sharpness is up and down for all three brands.  Sometimes you can get a well sharpened knife... but don't count on it.  I've never thought of this as very important for my own knives, but since I do give knives as gifts I want to know that the knife will be sharp enough to use right away, and sharper than what nearly anyone has in their block.  So far MAC hasn't disappointed me.  My general impression though is that Fujiwara does better than MAC and a lot better than Masamoto at this thing.

    "Profile" is a matter of taste.  I much prefer Masamoto's -- but there's no reason anyone else should.  It's very similar to the Sabatier profile, which I use as a reference because a lot of people have tried a Sab at one time or another.  The MAC is a little wide.  The Fujiwara is okay, but unexciting.  It's definitely "French profile," (as opposed to "German"), but otherwise unexciting.  Both the Masamoto and MAC feel "eager" in my hand (if you've used a Kono, you know what I mean), but the Fujiwara doesn't it.

    In terms of size, shape, and comfort in a wide range of hands, I think the MAC handle is one of the best in the industry.  It's better than the Masamoto's, and the Masamoto's is better than the Fujiwara.  Respectively, I'd say:  Excellent, very good, and slightly better than okay.  By way of comparison, Hiromoto handles are "too short, too thin and uncomfortable."

    I've had a few Masamotos for various time periods over the last ten years or so.  It's the best "in the hand" and "on the board" brand for me; it was the most like Sabatier without giving up any of the virtues of a Japanese knife.  However, my Konosukes have changed my mind a little about "best."  Nevertheless, if I were trying to fill just about any particular niche in my kit, there's be at least one Masamoto on the short list. 

    In addition to making the Pro my generic recommendation because it's the best compromise between Japanese and Western virtues, I've bought about half dozen MAC Pro chef's knives over the years as gifts for people I know who are coming from typical German knives and don't have my knife or sharpening skills.  They're extremely well made, comfortable to use, and issue free; and their level of quality fits my idea of gift giving. 

    I was already "past" needing an entry-level knife like the FKM when it first hit the US market in a big way, plus I was really turned off by Fujiwara's carbon line, FKH; so maybe it took me a little extra time to warm up to the FKMs and see them as excellent for the price.  Along with the Tojiro DP and Richmond Artifex (made in the US) I see them as one of the three best entry-level knives. But not as good as either the Masamoto or the MAC. 

    You asked,

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2012
  16. lennyd

    lennyd

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    "You asked "

    Sure did lol, and as previous you did not disappoint ;)

    Actually your recommendations for the Mac almost led me to purchasing one (ditto for the Massamoto but at the time it was beyond my budget & when the budget was right the Konosuke HD won the battle ). In hind sight I do wish I was able to get to use a MAC, but am also happy I was able to ser just how large a value and strong a performer my $75 Fujiwara really us.

    Even though I do not have a spot or need to fill I would still like to get some tome with a MAC both for curiosity and also for comparison so that I can have a better understanding of what it is like and round out my experience to include the $150-$200 range etc.

    Since I somehow skilled right past the MAC and all the others in that price range when I got the Konosuke HD (by far the nicest, sharpest feeling, lightest handling, and best performing kitchen knife I have ever owned or handled for that matter!) Which I still believe was worth the up charge etc.

    I think I may have asked something similar during my initial jump into J knives, but just what does one and specifically a home cook or beginning professional cook get for the extra investment etc. I know my way of seeking value or even just determining it in a knife is not what every knife nut is wanting to discuss but I did and still if not more so now believe that like many things in life there is much to be gained by the value leaders for most users, and many times even more available to the more experienced once you reach a certain higher end product. Of course the user needs to have the skills to take advantage of the little changes that a higher end product offers, and I think many beginners could be paying for improvements they can not take advantage of.

    Even though I have found the blade of the Fujiwara more than adequately still and also do not have an issue with the Konosuke either (to me prep is similar to golf, and if you push to hard you do not get nearly as positive results as when you use a light grip and plan etc) but I do hear what your saying and know the issue is real, but do question the relationship between the increase in stiffness of the bladeamd the increase in price over the Fujiwara.

    Now I know I am in a unique situation from the skills I learned years ago and my previous allocation of free time to work on them again, but in a stress free non professional environment. Still I can fully appreciate the true value of the Fujiwara as well as its ability to perform and I do mean perform well and way beyond any of the German made name brand knives I have owned or used in the past. I prefer to keep this a discussion and not get into any BS sessions like we all have seen on other sites but I am not sure I share your opinions that are on the negative side on the Fujiwara and especially when the potential user may not have the experience or skills to give any value to a much more expensive MAC, Massamoto, or even my favorite the Konosuke HD.

    To be clear I know there are many things that are better with many of the more expensive knives (trust me I am well aware of the many things my konosuke improves on etc lol) but for the year prior to my konosuke I was very happy with the Fujiwara (as well as the few Tojiro knives I had) and it helped to improve my prep and pretty much everything to do with my cutting and what was being cut to a large extent.

    Also F&F on the one I received was excellent and though it did not make it to the next morning the factory edge was fine and better than any Henckels I had before.before.

    I know prices have increased since but at approximately half the cost if a pro-s chefs of similar size it was beyond a great value, and much as I am a fan of VG10 the somewhat softer steel holds up well and except for the Tojiro DP in VG-10 there is not much I have knowledge of that gives it a run on value at this price point etc. Plus much as I do like the DP series knives I have I still find the feel and profile of the Fujiwara gyuto (but again for the average noob this is splitting hairs and most would be happy with either ).


    I still find what you say about the massamoto intriguing, and much more so than the MAC as it seems to fill in more of the needs of a skilled hand than the MAC (similar to how the konosuke HD does) and somehow is another example of why I believe spending another $200- $300 over the entry level Fujiwara or Tojiro makes more sense etc.

    Hope that was clear because it is a little difficult to express and all the knives we are discussing are very good performers that will outshine most if what people are replacing etc.
     
  17. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Sorry for all the spelling goofs. Android seems to think it knows what I mean to say lol.

    Will try fix it up when I can get to a PC.
     
  18. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Since you're already using a Konosuke HD, unless you want to try a specific length or can afford a couple of hundred buckaroos to satisfy your curiosity,  I don't see much of a role for either a Masamoto VG or MAC Pro in your kit.

    BDL  
     
  19. lennyd

    lennyd

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    Good point.

    The purpose of the knowledge is multifaceted and the area that applies to my personal knives is related to a future purchase of a different style blade, and most likely a slicer etc.

    There is one other reason that I believe very important and that is to try and make this all a little easier for others to be able to comprehend in the future as I still remember just how overwhelming or confusing this all can be for someone new to j knives trying to gain the knowledge to make a informed decision.

    I think we all need to realize how the info we discuss may influence others and I really would like to help others to not make a purchase they may not be comfortable with or worse just not buy a j knife due to pricing concerns.
     
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Hmmm.

    A good $300 suji will be better than a good $200 suji which will be better than a good $100 suji -- everything else being equal and assuming you're close enough to knives and sharpening to appreciate the differences. 

    Whether or not those differences are worth the increased price depends on your own evaluation.  We can talk about the nature of those differences, but you're the only one who can possibly say how they should be valued.  For example, if you think your Konosuke HD is enough better than your Fujiwara FKM to justify the rather large difference in price, chances are you'll want a really good suji too -- assuming a suji occupies an important place in your kit.  If it's sort of an afterthought, or something you don't use frequently, you may not want to spend the money. This all goes to ways of thinking about knives rather than the knives themselves.  They're both important.

    BDL