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Dec 13, 2008 04:48 PM

Japanese chef's knife: Tojiro DP or something else?

I've about decided to replace my kitchen workhorse, a Henckels 8" chef's knife, with a 210mm gyutou. Unfortunately, I haven't found any Japanese cutlery in Sacramento other than Shun, Global, and MAC. I'd travel to the Bay Area if there were someplace there with a good selection, but a trip to San Diego, NYC, or Tokyo just isn't in the cards. So it's looking like I'm going to be mail-ordering blind. (One possibility would just be to have a dozen or so knives shipped to me, pick one, and return the rest. But it appears that many of the online retailers only accept returns for credit, so that's problematic.)

Price isn't really an object (within reason - the initial expense of the Hattori KD-32 would pale by comparison to the alimony payments), but value is. So at $50, the Tojiro DP looks like a serious contender. On the other hand, the Masanobu VG-10 looks very cool, and I've heard all kinds of good things about the Hattori and Nenox blades. And there are a dozen or more other brands that are available on the net at various prices.

The main thing I'm looking for is hard steel; I'm tired of having to hone the Henckels several times while preparing a single meal. The blade needs to be stain-resistant, because it will occasionally be left on a damp cutting board for an hour or more at a time (I know I should cultivate better habits, but probably won't). Function is more important than form, but an attractive knife will get the edge, and a butt-ugly logo (yes, MAC, I'm looking at you) is a drawback.

I know that at least a handful of hounds have experience and expertise in this area. If you could please share some of it with me I would be deeply appreciative.

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  1. I have the Tojiro DP, and I'd say it has all the features you're looking for: value, hardness, stain resistance, and a nice look. Hattori and Nenox look better/use higher quality steel, but cost more than twice what you'll pay for the DP. And if after a year or two of using it you're not happy with the DP, you're only out $50.

    I'd suggest getting the 240mm one though.

    1. Alan, I have a 240 Tojiro DP gyuto. It is an excellent knife for the money for sure. The steel I think is Sandvik 19C27 which is pretty hard and wear resistant. This steel is also used by Suisin and other high end knife makers. It sharpens and hold its edge very well. It has a Rockwell hardness rating of 61. The only thing you may read negatively about the Tojiros is that their fit and finish is not as good as other Japanese knives. I've seen some pictures of older Tojiros that looked a little rough but it is an exception to the rule. The fit and finish of mine is just fine but I have seen theTogiharu moly and the fit and finish is a little nicer but the steel is softer. The only thing I can say negative about the Tojiro is that the handle is a little blocky but it doesn't bother me at all. I have 3 Tojiros in all. A 240 gyuto, a 270 sujihiki and a 150 honesuki. All purchased from Korin on sale and a bargain if you ask me.

      One thing you need to note is that unlike the Henckel the harder Japanese steel is more prone to micro chips. You can't hack away at herbs or vegetables on the board like you do with the Henckels. Remember more slicing than chopping is used in Japanese knife skills. The micro chips can easily be sharpened out on a 1000 grit stone in a jiffy.

      As for stain resistance you can leave the knife wet for hours without ill effect. It is stainless steel but I read someone posting that they had a spot of rust after the knife was left after cutting a lemon over night.

      I think the Tojiros would be a great introduction to Japanese knives. You may want to consider the 240mm. It's not that much longer and without the bolster you will pinch up a little anyway.

      4 Replies
      1. re: scubadoo97

        Regarding the poor fit and finish of Tojiros, there was a place you could send knives to get them re-fit with a new handle. I think Dave (the knife sharpener) may have had something to do with it.

        1. re: Soop

          Just to clarify, I've had no fit or finsih problem with my Tojiros. Yes you can get a knife rehandled. A really nice wa handle would look killer but will cost you.

            1. re: Soop

              Yup, Stefan is the man! Really nice work

      2. In the same price range: Togiharu

        I haven't used it, but I have their petty and am pretty impressed with the quality for price. No issues with fit or finish on mine.

        3 Replies
        1. re: The Loaf

          I like the looks of the Togiharu, but the steel isn't much harder than the Henckels. How do you find the edge retention on your petty?

          1. re: alanbarnes

            So far, so good. Was very sharp out of the box, and since it is fairly new, I haven't done anything more than touch it up. Long term... who knows? But having said that, the factory edge has held up at least as well as my Misono UX10 did when it was new.

            Whatever you get, let us know how it works out.

            1. re: The Loaf

              I've heard good things about the Misono UX10, Loaf, how do you like it?

        2. I would also suggest the Hiromoto brand found at Right now they have a sale until the end of the year. Normally I would recommend their Aogami Super steel series, but you need completely stain resistant, so their cheaper line with Japanese VG10 steel is good too.

          1. Thanks, everybody, for all your input. I really liked the Hiromoto AS, but the carbon edge scared me off. And over on there were a lot of recommendations for the Yoshikane wa-gyuto, but I couldn't find it in the configuration I wanted at a price I was willing to pay.

            So I decided to get something more mainstream, like the Misono UX-10 or the Masamoto VG-10. I called in San Diego for more info, but the person there didn't have much assistance to offer (although she did offer to email Koki in Japan and ask for suggestions). So I called (their prices were better anyway) and the person who answered the phone was VERY helpful.

            I told her right off that I was trying to decide between the Masamoto and the Misono, although I was open to other suggestions. She spent quite a few minutes asking me what I was looking for, how much I wanted to spend, and leading me through their website asking what I liked and disliked about various knives. She finally recommended the Togiharu G-1 as having fit and finish comparable to the Misono, with only very slightly softer steel, good design, and a price that was significantly lower (it was actually less expensive than either of the other knives I mentioned). Plus, i like the fact that it has laser-engraved kanji on the back side instead of printed roman lettering. (Does that make me shallow?)

            Anyway, out came the credit card. it should be on its way across the country by now. More to follow...

            6 Replies
            1. re: alanbarnes

              Oops, forgot you have to use a square image.

              1. re: alanbarnes

                I have the Hiromoto AS, and I have to say the carbon steel is not a problem. Just wash it and wipe it off when you are done, and it stays pretty pristine. Plus, the patina looks awesome.

                1. re: vanillagorilla

                  So anyone here think this will be his only Japanese knife? hehe

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    I have quite a few. A Global pairing knife, a Tosogata santoku, and a Tojiro DP usuba.

                    1. re: vanillagorilla

                      yeah I kinda figured you did. The statement was directed at Alan on the purchase of his first.

                  2. re: vanillagorilla

                    I just bought a Hiromoto AS recently, a 240mm gyuto, and there were several areas of the edge which were visibly rough/dull. In a paper cutting test, it would always snag slightly in the same areas. I had to smooth the edge out with a 4000 and then 12000 grit waterstone to get it to cut smoothly. Now it's definitely a great knife.

                    So to the OP, even though you hear stories of how awesome these japanese knives are, examine the edge carefully when you get it to make sure it doesn't need and touch up/polishing.