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Please tell me that I don't need a sushi knife

jwyfrancis Feb 13, 2010 07:52 PM

I make and eat sushi about once a week, and I have a set of Wusthof culinar knives that work okay. I also have a Wusthof santoku knife that I keep sharp. Being the kitchenware whore that I am, I am beginning to really really want a specialty sushi knife. If I decide to get one, I want a very nice one, you know the kind that gives you joy, just to hold it in your hands. Well, I shouldn't splurge on one right now. Please tell me that I don't need a sushi knife.

  1. Chemicalkinetics Feb 13, 2010 08:28 PM

    You don't need a yanagiba.

    1. almansa Feb 14, 2010 09:32 AM

      Yeah, don't be silly. You don't.

      1 Reply
      1. re: almansa
        Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 10:15 AM

        High five (Agree).

      2. scubadoo97 Feb 14, 2010 12:34 PM

        Do you block your own fish? Are you slicing fish for sashimi? A yanagiba will make that task more enjoyable. Being your the kitchenware fiend that you say you are, I say get one.

        Well someone had to do it :-D

        45 Replies
        1. re: scubadoo97
          almansa Feb 14, 2010 01:01 PM

          But then which one, and spend how much? I'm just as happy with a good slicer - like a Misono UX-10. Now if you want to spend well over $500, then maybe go for it. Personally I'd opt for a really big flat screen TV, or maybe an iPad. Ok, not an iPad. How about a good digital SLR? But maybe I'm bitter since my knife was stolen.

          1. re: almansa
            Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 01:36 PM

            Almansa
            Who stole your knives? Did your wife toss them out? What a crime!

            Scubadoo,
            A yanagiba is probably the most difficult knife to start in Japanese cutlery. It is arguably the most expensive style. A passable yanagiba is at least $300. A good one is close to $1000 and many are >$2000. An average quality yanagiba costs more than some of the best German Chef’s knives. On top of that, good yanagiba knives are always made Hoyaki, which takes more skill to care, maintain and sharpen than Kasumi knives. There is also an entire set of skill to correctly use a yanagiba. Any knife can cut a fish. A yanagiba can slice through fish meat without crushing it and producing a perfectly smooth surface, but it isn’t just the knife, skill is needed to wield this knife. Maybe I am slightly pessimistic, but unless the person has the skill to use it, to care, to maintain and to sharpen a yanagiba, I can see the knife get mistreated.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              scubadoo97 Feb 14, 2010 04:19 PM

              Well there are some yanagis under $200 that have recevied good reviews from some at FoodieForums and KnifeForums and as I hope you could tell my previous post was with tongue in cheek but the OP says they make sushi every week and is a kitchenware "hoar" so a proper tool is not out of the question.

              I really don't think it's that difficult to use or take care of. The basics are still the same. Just don't use it to cut the smoked brisket and if you don't know how to sharpen it send it to Dave Martell.

              Personally I currently use a sujihiki to slice my fish. I just turned a near 4 lb side of salmon in to Nova lox this week end and I reprofiled my sujihiki to be severely asymmetric to approximate a yanagi but alas it is not a yanagi.

              I slice a fair amount of fish but not as much as the OP and have thought of an inexpensive yanagiba. Just not a Shun

              1. re: scubadoo97
                Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 04:52 PM

                Scubadoo,

                Thanks. Actually, I couldn't tell it was a tongue in cheek, but now that you mentioned it, yes, I can see it now. I agree with you that the basics to take care of a carbon steel yanagi-ba is similar to other single bevel carbon steel knives. However, I am unsure if the original poster actually has expereinced other Japanese knives. All I could gather is that the original poster has a set of Wusthof knives. A Hoyaki yanagiba is pretty expensive to mess up than say an usuba.

                You reprofiled your knife for a fish? Please tell me you are not converting it back and forth. You are getting worse than me with that OCSKD illness. I manage not to sharpen my knives this weekend, even though I wanted to.

                What is a good yanagiba that is under $200? I will need to put that on my wish list. The original poster may also benefit from this information. What's up with you and Shun? Did you guys had some bad relationships or something?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  scubadoo97 Feb 14, 2010 06:41 PM

                  Tanaka yanagiba
                  http://cgi.ebay.ca/Japanese-TANAKA-ch...

                  Mr. Tanaka's is one example of a traditional J-yanagiba

                  As to Shun there are reports that their yanagibas are not truely traditonal and a back bevel is applied. I have not really held one or inspected it but this is what I've heard from some that have use one.

                  1. re: scubadoo97
                    Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 07:19 PM

                    Scubadoo

                    But it is a kasumi knife! The original poster wants "very nice one" , so a kasumi knife isn't going to do it :)

                    Anyway, just teasing you. Kasumi knife is cheaper and is more than enough for me and will be easier to maintain and handle. I need to think about this. I have always held back because I don't think I have the skill for a hoyaki knife. What I am personally concern is that if an ura-oshi has been done to it. Many J-knives are sold with a dead flat on the back. I have contacted several sellers on eBay and they either say that ura-oshi is not done or they are not sure. Good thing is that epicurean edge (EE) has ura-oshi done to all its knives, so I am saving my money to get one from EE. Well, my current plan is getting an usuba first, anyway.

                    I have no idea about the Shun yanagiba, but since it is a VG-10. I won't judge it with the same criteria as a shiogami knife.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 08:45 PM

                      Please pardon my ignorance, but what is kasumi? What is ura-oshi. Thank you.

                      1. re: jwyfrancis
                        Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 09:39 PM

                        Jwyfrancis,

                        Japanese knives are made in either "Awase " or "Honyaki". Awase is basically a clad knife: A very hard carbon steel is clad with a soft iron or steel. Kasumi actually means “mist/fog” and it is used to refer the hazy pattern on an awase knife, so often people just call an awase knife as a kasumi knife. See the hazy pattern?
                        http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=569&photo=1&size=b

                        Japanese knives are made much harder than German knives. While your Wusthof knives have a 56HRC hardness, most Japanese carbon steel knives are >61HRC. However, a very hard knife is prone to chipping. This softer clad metal serves to absorb shock, protecting the hard carbon steel from cracking. When the carbon steel does crack, the clad metal stops it from cracking too deep. Finally, the cladding also makes it easier to sharpen because you are only sharpening a partially hard surface.

                        Honyaki knives are made from single hard carbon steel and are considered superior. These knives are forged by hands and cannot be mass produced. They are much more expensive than awase (kasumi) knives. They hold their edges much longer and are considered professional knives. Unlike an awase knife, a honyaki knife has no softer metal to protect it from cracking and is more difficult to sharpen. Here are two honyaki knives.
                        http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=86475
                        http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=86493

                        Ura-oshi is partially removing the the flat side of a single bevel knife. In other word, the flat side is made to be slightly concave. There are at least two reasons for that. One is to make the knife cut better. Two is to make it much easier to sharpen. When the flat side is 100% flat, you will need to grind a lot of metal to sharpen the flat side. However, when the flat side is really slightly concave, you will only need to remove the outer metal.

                        Korin has a good section explaining uraoshi. You will need to scroll down to the middle:

                        http://korin.com/Our-Services

                        The reason I made a point about uraoshi is that, although most Japanese knives sold in Japan have this done, many Japanese knives sold in the USA do not. When you do get a knife without uraoshi, it can be very difficult to find someone to do an uraoshi for you because most American knife sharpeners are not custom to these services and probably have no idea what you are asking for. So you basically get stuck with an unfinished knife for awhile. Of course, you will eventually get it done, but it will cost you extra. In Japan, it won't cause you much because every Japanese knife sharpers know how to do it. Here, who knows.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                          jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 11:55 PM

                          You are so full of knowledge that I feel like I should pay for your replies. Thank you so much.

                          1. re: jwyfrancis
                            Chemicalkinetics Feb 15, 2010 07:52 AM

                            Jwyfrancis,

                            Absolute, no need to pay me :)

                            I feel like an idiot telling you that you cannot get a good yanagiba for less than $300, which is not true and I had to backtracked that statement. You can get a good yanagiba for ~$120. You simply cannot get a good professional Honyaki knife, which probably is >$500. Best wishes.

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                            d
                            danlind3 Jan 26, 2014 09:58 PM

                            Hi Chem,

                            I disagree that Korin explains uraoshi well. I think the current link is: http://korin.com/Services/Uraoshi-Sha... I'm tempted to get a usuba, and from them b/c they do uraoshi for free. But.... I'm not clear what the sharpening does. If one part of the cutting edge is supposed to be flat, how do we explain grinding/sharpening down the flat part? What does the work along the top do? Round the choil? Why do they say that a knife w/o uraoshi can't be sharpened well? They make many assertions, but I don't see the logic. I'd buy a logic, I just don't see explanations. JKI has a vid on this, but it too is not clear as to the whys and what is being achieved. So I am very puzzled. Is the cut depicted at Korin actually concave? That would be wild! But Korin say nothing about that, nor are the pics clear. Heck, the before and afters aren't even of the same knife. Thanks for any links or info on this!

                            1. re: danlind3
                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 26, 2014 10:13 PM

                              < Is the cut depicted at Korin actually concave?>

                              Yes, the so-called flat side of a traditional Japanese knife is actually ever slightly concave.

                              http://www.knifeforums.com/uploads/1235676837-Hamaguriba.jpg

                              http://www.knifeforums.com/uploads/12...

                              So basically, the so called flat side is not dead flat, and the so called bevel side has more than just one bevel. It is made up of several sections.

                              Have you narrowed down your gyuto/chef's knife purchase?

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                d
                                danlind3 Jan 26, 2014 10:44 PM

                                Thanks to you all, I was more creative! I sprung for this: http://www.epicedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=91618 Wow, you have a good memory. Those sites are very precise, but they don't correspond with where Korin claims to grind/sharpen. It's hard to tell, but does Korin grind in above the edge, upwards of the edge? I don't see that in their page. I see the grind down the edge that should be flat and perhaps round the upper/choil edge. Indeed, their before and after knives are different! So I don't know how to interp all this. Isn't the point of a usuba one flat edge? Grinding concave after the edge might be useful, but I haven't found a good expl of what uraoshi is supposed to achieve. Looks like it might deprive a knife of its single edge. http://korin.com/Services/Uraoshi-Sha... I think this is the new Korin explanation, but I don't think it explains much. Thanks as always, Chem.

                                1. re: danlind3
                                  Chemicalkinetics Jan 26, 2014 11:37 PM

                                  This Tojinbo Damascus Chef's Knife looks to be a very good knife. As mentioned before, I really like the kurouchi (black rustic) finish. Is the knife working out for you or is it too early to tell? I hope the FnF is sufficient for you. I know you were really into FnF.

                                  <Those sites are very precise, but they don't correspond with where Korin claims to grind/sharpen>

                                  I cannot speak for Korin, but if it is uraoshi, then it should be the grinding of the so called "flat" side. The entire thing, not just part of the back side.

                                  <Korin grind in above the edge, upwards of the edge?>

                                  Hmm, I am confused. What is the difference between "above the edge" and "upward of the edge"?

                                  < Isn't the point of a usuba one flat edge?>

                                  As you know, the back side of a traditional Japanese knife is not absolutely flat. It is believed that a slight concave back side help form a better edge and also help cutting food.

                                  <Grinding concave after the edge might be useful, but I haven't found a good expl of what uraoshi is supposed to achieve>

                                  Two things.
                                  First, when you buy a knife in Japan, there is a good chance that it does not even have an edge. The seller will grind the knife for you after the purchase. *See the attached photo* Removing the metal from the back side of the knife (removing section A and B) is called uraoshi.
                                  Second, uraoshi is to be performed whenever you sharpen your knife. We sharpen both sides of a double bevel knife, right? Even for a Japanese single bevel knife, we need to sharpen both sides. One major difference is that you want to only sharpen the flat side (slight concave side) ever so slightly. You don't want to over do this. Over doing this will make this flat side too flat, and make the knife worse.

                                   
                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    d
                                    danlind3 Jan 27, 2014 06:27 PM

                                    I think I was being redundant in 'above...' and 'upward...' in case one wasn't clear. In any case, thank you. I appreciate the J philosophy of sometimes leaving an OOB knife to be sharpened as the new owner sees fit. And I understand the concave part of the blade. What I don't understand is:
                                    1. Why would one sharpen A? Does it let veggies slide off more smoothly?
                                    2. Doesn't sharpening B create a double bevel blade?

                                    The Tojinbo seems really sharp OOB, the hammering pattern seems a bit random, and it is a bit thicker/heavier than I was hoping, but I may be spoiled by the Kono. As for so many tools, some aspects turn into bennies in some circs. Bottom line tho: it seems great so far. I chopped up mushrooms into feathers last night. (or so it seemed!). A fun frontier for me will be trying to sharpen a steel that hard. Thanks for asking.

                                    1. re: danlind3
                                      cowboyardee Jan 27, 2014 06:49 PM

                                      Everything left of the dotted line in the above illustration is removed by the initial sharpening (if the manufacturer didn't remove it for you). So when you flatten down section A, you do so because you are flattening down section B until a single bevel edge is formed. You can't flatten one without flattening the other - the knife is laid flat on a stone to do this. If you were to raise up the spine so that you were only sharpening at B, you wouldn't be creating a single beveled edge, but a double beveled one.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee
                                        d
                                        danlind3 Jan 27, 2014 07:02 PM

                                        Bingo! That makes sense! Epiphany! This is a most amazing forum. And thanks Chem too for the pic and moving things along. Just wow. I wish Korin was as clear. Thank you!

                                        1. re: cowboyardee
                                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 27, 2014 07:04 PM

                                          <Everything left of the dotted line in the above illustration is removed by the initial sharpening>

                                          Thanks for cleaning this up.

                                          Like cowboyardee said, the initial sharpening does take a bit more metal. Once you get the knife back to your home, you will only need to lightly sharpening the back side.

                                        2. re: danlind3
                                          Chemicalkinetics Jan 27, 2014 06:56 PM

                                          <1. Why would one sharpen A? Does it let veggies slide off more smoothly?>

                                          I cannot speak with full authority, but it would seem to me that it makes sense to sharpen section A and B at the same time. You just lay the knife flat on a stone and go back and forth. I cannot say what will happen if you only sharpen B, and not A.

                                          <2. Doesn't sharpening B create a double bevel blade?>

                                          Not really. Your bevel is still on one side. You need to sharpen the back side because, at the very least, you need to remove the burr. There was a good video, but I couldn't find it. Basically, you focus on section C (the bevel) side is at least 10 times more than A and B (back side). You really only finish the back side with a very fine stone.

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCY5CK...

                                          <the hammering pattern seems a bit random>

                                          A bit random is not necessary a bad thing.

                                          it is a bit thicker/heavier than I was hoping, but I may be spoiled by the Kono>

                                          Yeah, I read the spec. This has a 2.5 mm blade spine, so it is a normal spine thickness for Japanese knives. Konosuke is on the thin side, so....

                                          If you don't like the knife, I wonder if you can return it back to the store, or maybe it is way too late for that.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            d
                                            danlind3 Jan 27, 2014 07:54 PM

                                            I like it, I've used it, I will learn more from and about it (from steel to effects of hammering), so no returns. The hammer pattern means humans have been here, and I like that. But some hammer patterns in this line on the EE website are a bit more ordered than others. I love human made things. To me Souk Ceramique is more fun than the decals applied to much of today's "high end" bone china.

                                            I think Cow straightened things out for 1 and 2. If the concavity goes from end to end, and if you have to lay the knife flat on the stones to turn the "flat" side of the bevel from concave to flat, then both A and B get flattened.

                                            Chem, you are a sympathetic and thoughtful person, thank you.

                                            FWIW, I did return a 10" Kramer knife to CKTG for bulging rivets (hence the kono w/ the free money). So I'm not immune to returning. But interesting that CKTG has the 8" version on clearance for just that problem. What a situation. I can't believe Kramer is happy with his partnership.

                                            1. re: danlind3
                                              Chemicalkinetics Jan 27, 2014 08:19 PM

                                              <to turn the "flat" side of the bevel from concave to flat, then both A and B get flattened.>

                                              Just want to be clear, you won't want to turn the back side completely flat. You still want it to be concave at the end of the day.

                                              Have fun.

                                              1. re: danlind3
                                                cowboyardee Jan 27, 2014 08:27 PM

                                                "If the concavity goes from end to end, and if you have to lay the knife flat on the stones to turn the "flat" side of the bevel from concave to flat, then both A and B get flattened."
                                                _____
                                                You've got it - but a heads up: the back side should still have a concavity - the flat parts after sharpening should only be small sections at the spine and the edge of the knife. You probably understand this already, but it's not clear from your post, and I would hate to have you completely flatten the back side of a nice, well made yanagiba due to a misunderstanding.

                                                ETA: chem beat me to it ;)

                                                1. re: danlind3
                                                  j
                                                  JavaBean Jan 28, 2014 08:22 AM

                                                  Traditional single bevel knives are supposedly very difficult to make / grind, correctly; with an usuba the most challenging. Although the better ones don’t have the blatant bending, warping, and overgrinds issues that poorly made ones commonly have, and may appear ok (flat / true / straight), it needs to be “opened” or sharpened on stones for the first time to become really ok.

                                                  Flattening the backside is part of the opening process…only needs to be done once. The objective is to get the backside on the knife to sit flat, only grinding away the metal surrounding the concave section…the dotted line in the Korin pic. DO NOT flatten out the concave section. Once done, I only touch the backside when sharpening / de-burring on a finishing stone. BTW, I believe uraoshi sharpening is meant to restore or deepen the concave area itself.

                                                  Also note, C is not a big flat bevel. It’s actually a hamaguri / clamshell / compound bevel. It’s common to have at least two bevels (one from the edge to the cladding line and one from the cladding line to the shinogi line) , and perhaps a third + in between.

                              2. re: scubadoo97
                                jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 08:44 PM

                                Thank you for your input, scubadoo.

                                1. re: scubadoo97
                                  Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 11:15 PM

                                  Scubadoo,

                                  Ok, I have just stumbled on a Shun back bevel article you mentioned on foodieforum. I have only read 5-10 posts on it. If the Shun yanagiba has a small back bevel, then it can be troublesome. It isn't about non-traditional anymore, it is just a pain to deal with. Ok, it depends how deep that back bevel goes. If it is a microbevel, then it is fine. Everytime I grind the back (flat) side, it will goes away. If it is a sizable back bevel, then it is bad. It will be too small to click/lock onto the whetstone like the large primary bevel, and it will be too large to ignore. Oh, humanity.

                                  1. re: scubadoo97
                                    j
                                    jccampb Feb 15, 2010 04:31 PM

                                    I got my Shun Pro "Usuba bocho" (right handed in my case and Shun doesn't ship the lefty to the 'States) and the other side is flat with a slight (uraoshi) scallop in it (honyaki steel, and handmade). The shape is "higashigata" style (the square tip). I know it's not 'the best' you can get but I'm not using it for production only my own pleasure at home and having a blast with it. eventually I want to teach myself to do Katsuramuki with it on carrots, Japanese radish, etc. considering that the actual machine to do it with is outrageously priced -sigh- Obviously I got the Usuba from EE as well for the reasons folks have already commented on.
                                    http://www.zensuke.com/450025.html
                                    jccampb

                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: jccampb
                                      scubadoo97 Feb 15, 2010 04:44 PM

                                      jccampb, very nice Usuba. Watch your fingers peeling that carrot and daikon :) I shred carrots and daikon for sushi by planking and laying out the planks like playing cards before doing a fine julienne. I tried to do katsuramuki on a daikon and got about a 10 inch sheet but then said to myself "I really like my fingers" and gave up on it. The machine is crazy expensive. I remember seeing one at Sushi Samba in South Beach and for what they charge for a roll they can afford it.

                                      1. re: jccampb
                                        Chemicalkinetics Feb 15, 2010 05:26 PM

                                        jccampb,

                                        I won't quiet call a Shun Pro VG-10 knife a honyaki. My concern of the Shun Pro usuba bocho is that the edge is not entirely flat which will make it more challenging for Katsuramuki

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          j
                                          jccampb Feb 18, 2010 07:02 AM

                                          gomen-nasai ... you're right of course ... and holding it up and looking at it? it isn't 'entirely flat' -sigh- but I sure can't bring myself to buy that machine for katsuramuki, ne? Okaini nai (at least for that bit of "conspicuous consumption")

                                           
                                          1. re: jccampb
                                            Chemicalkinetics Feb 18, 2010 07:47 AM

                                            Why are you speaking Japanese to me? :) Fortunately, those are only Japanese phrases I can understand, along with some random phrases from animations, like “you have 3 seconds to live” and "you are already dead" -- which I cannot use in real life.

                                            Actually, I think a little curvature in the Shun usuba makes it more useful for typical vegetable cutting. I absolutely agree with you that you don’t want a machine for Katsuramuki, unless you want to mass produce it. It is just much cooler to make Katsuramuki with a knife. Just imagine you invite your guests over and demonstrate you can slice layers and layers of daikon with that knife. Having a machine which spins the vegetable around is not the same.

                                            The Shun usuba edge is not straight and is curved up, especially at the tip, but it appears to be decently straight for 1/3rd of the edge close to the heel. You can make Katsuramuki. You just won’t able to use more than half of the knife which may be enough. I think that is the one complaint many have for Shun – too much curvature in its non-Western knives. Let’s it be the Santoku, Usuba, Chinese cleaver… they all have too much curve.

                                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                      scubadoo97 Feb 16, 2010 05:28 PM

                                      Chemicalkinetics asks "You reprofiled your knife for a fish? Please tell me you are not converting it back and forth."

                                      No I reprofiled it so it would be sharper than ####. It's what I use for cutting lox, trimming fish before cooking, cutting fish for sashimi, nigiri, cutting maki rolls cutting fish for ceviche and tuna for tartare. It will slice a tomato see thru thin. This is my one knife that will on it's own weight fall through a tomato. With the asymmetry it is the sharpest knife I have and I have been bitten by it a couple of times from just touching the edge. I will keep it this way unless there is a good reason to change it. I have it at near an 85/15 profile with a steeper grind on the front of the knife. So it's asymmetric with a wider and steeper bevel on the front and a very small more acute angle on the back side.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97
                                        Chemicalkinetics Feb 16, 2010 05:37 PM

                                        Cool.

                                        Why keep the front (knife tip) thicker and the back (knife heel) thinner? I thought it is usually preferred the other way around. Anyway, I broke down and reprofile another knife yesterday. Hopefully, I won't do it again anytime soon.

                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                          scubadoo97 Feb 16, 2010 05:58 PM

                                          No the front side of the blade. The side that's to your right while holding the knife in a cutting position.

                                          1. re: scubadoo97
                                            Chemicalkinetics Feb 16, 2010 06:07 PM

                                            Scubadoo,

                                            Oh that front side. By the way, you assumed I am right handed, which I am.

                                            So what two edge angles did you put on? I know you have the edge come down asymmetric at 85/15, but there you have various edge angles to do that. By the way, "a wider and steeper bevel on the front" ... isn't that not traditional? I thought one would keep the edge facing outside (front) with a bigger edge surface. In the case of a single bevel, the the bevel is on the side facing outward (front), right?

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                              scubadoo97 Feb 17, 2010 04:23 AM

                                              Yes I assumed you were a righty. The front of the blade is the right side if you are holding it in your right hand and the left side if you are a lefty and cutting with your left hand. The front will have the steeper and or wider bevel if asymmetric.

                                              To tell you the truth I don't know what the angles are that I used. Maybe 15-18 on the front and around 10 on the back but I didn't measure and didn't use my EdgePro so I really don't know. I knew I wanted a higher angle on the front. I don't get too obsessive about the angles I just estimate it and try to hold it there while free hand sharpening. On touch ups or between stones I find the angle and try not to change it.

                              3. re: scubadoo97
                                w
                                wattacetti Feb 14, 2010 02:04 PM

                                I agree. Get one. Or a takobiki, which can also slice but has the extra-special capability to work with octopus.

                                However, as Chemicalkinetics has pointed out a couple of sticky points with this, one compromise which takes less upkeep is Shun's yanagi-ba.

                                1. re: wattacetti
                                  Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 02:27 PM

                                  Wattacetii,
                                  Good suggestion on the Shun yanagi-ba.

                                  Jwyfrancis,
                                  I don't know if you have much expereince with single bevel carbon steel knives. If you don't, then you may want to start with a stainless steel yanagiba as Wattacetti suggested. You should not get a traditional Aogami or Shiogami yanagiba (a very nice one, as you originally suggested) unless you can sharpen and care for a knife on a stone.
                                  The Shun Pro yanagiba, suggested by Wattacetii, is inexpensive (relatively speaking) at $140. While it is not a traditional professional yanagiba, you won't have to worry about demanding a honba-tsuke, hand sharpening your knife every session on a flat stone.
                                  At the end, you still don't "need" a yanagiba, but you can always try an inexpensive stainless steel yanagiba.

                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                    jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 08:51 PM

                                    Thank you Chemicalkinetics. I definitely appreciate your suggestion. I won't be buying for a while, though. Before I make the splurge, obviously, I have a lot to learn. Caring for a special yanagiba seems like a fun hobby to get into, though. Yet, I am not sure whether I'd have the skill or the patience for it. Much to think about. Thanks.

                                    1. re: jwyfrancis
                                      Chemicalkinetics Feb 14, 2010 10:05 PM

                                      Jwyfrancis,

                                      I think it will be nice to start off with an awase (kasumi) or stainless steel yanagiba. Yes, a honyaki knife is considered better, but unless you are a professional sushi chef, you will barely notice its benefits, while noticing all its troubles. Between a stainless yanagiba and an awase (kasumi) carbon steel yanagiba, the stainless one will easier to care for. I think you are absolutely correct that you can get a good home cook yanagiba for less than $200. You will find any of the ~$100 yanagiba knives will cut much better than your Wusthof knives.

                                      Knife sharpening is not very difficult. It takes a person about a week to get a handle on knife sharpening, while it takes a person at least a month to get a handle on cooking. That being said, most people have started cooking at young age, while never sharpened their knives, so there is a catch-up to be made. Knife sharpening skill benefits all your knives. I have a Wusthof Ikon paring knife, and I have put on a much finer edge on it than its original factory edge. You can dramatically improve your knives. It is a real joy to cut with a finely polished knife. To practice, start with your really cheap knives which you don't care. If you don't have cheap knives, go to Walmart or something and buy a $5-10 knife to practice.

                                      Both Scubadoo and cowboyardee are better knife sharpeners than I am, so they can give you better advices.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                        jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 11:52 PM

                                        Thank you, that was very helpful. I think I'll follow your suggestion and go with the stainless one. I still have the cheap knives that I started cooking with. I'll practice on those. Thanks again.

                                        1. re: jwyfrancis
                                          Chemicalkinetics Feb 15, 2010 07:31 AM

                                          Jwyfrancis,

                                          Get whatever you like in the price range you are comfortable with. I don't want to bully you into a stainless steel knife. The good thing about getting an awase (kasumi) knife is that it can be much cheaper. As long as you are careful about keeping it dry, it is a good investment. Here is a Tojiro Shirogami (white carbon steel) awase knife for only $76 with free shipping. It also has the back side slightly hollowed out from the factory -- uraoshi done:

                                          http://cgi.ebay.com/JAPANESE-TOJIRO-SUSHI-KNIFE-WHITE-STEEL-YANAGIBA-240mm_W0QQitemZ250579987733QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3a57bb2d15

                                          or this awase yanagiba from Epicurean Edge for $71 (shipping not included).

                                          http://www.epicureanedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=569

                                          A stainless steel yanagiba is one less thing to worry about. This is a Korin AUS 8A stainless steel yanagiba. You can get one for $130 with a free service of uraoshi (you will have to request the free service as you check out the item). No free shipping, so it will probably cost you closer to $145.

                                          http://korin.com/Stain-Resistant-Yanagi?sc=22&category=52108

                                          Beware, a carbon steel knife (awase or honyaki) will not remain shiny forever. So if you really like a shiny knife, then you are stuck with a stainless steel yanagiba.

                                          I have re-read on the Tojiro Pro SD knife. You can get one on eBay for $166 including free shipping and the flat side has already been slightly hollowed out:

                                          http://cgi.ebay.com/JAPANESE-TOJIRO-PRO-SD-STEEL-SUSHI-CHEF-KNIFE-YANAGIBA_W0QQitemZ250575324064QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item3a577403a0

                                          The handle is 18-8 stainless steel, while the blade is entirely made out of a SD Molybdenum Vanadium Steel, as shown in this Tojiro brochure on page 6 (last page):

                                          http://tojiro.ca/Site_2/Catalogue_PDF...

                                          To be honest, I am not sure how stainless this SD Molybdenum Vanadium Steel is. My guess is that it is more stainless than a white carbon steel, but not officially stainless with 13% chromium. Something to find out before getting it. Best wishes.

                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                                            jwyfrancis Feb 15, 2010 07:04 PM

                                            Chemicalkinetics, thank you so much for all the great links. I am excited that there are a lot of different options for me. I really appreciate it. :)

                                            1. re: jwyfrancis
                                              Chemicalkinetics Feb 15, 2010 07:08 PM

                                              Jwyfrancis,

                                              Best wishes and when you do decide to get a new yanagiba, let us know, so the rest of us may learn a little. Thanks. :D

                                2. re: scubadoo97
                                  jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 08:03 PM

                                  I don't block my own fish, but I'd be thrilled to learn. I make rolls, sushi, and sashimi. All of my family members LOVE sushi and sashimi. Today, I decided that we won't eat out at sushi restaurants for a while and save the money for a decent beginners yanagiba. I'm thinking of either a Tojiro Pro or Tanaka. I've been reading a lot on Fred's Cutlery Forum at the Foodie Forum and my head is practically spinning with way too much information. Ah. . . the sweet joy at the anticipation of a new knife. . . Pure glee! I just hope I don't trash the one I get, I don't know the first about sharpening with a whetstone. I have a lot to learn.

                                  1. re: jwyfrancis
                                    scubadoo97 Feb 15, 2010 04:26 AM

                                    I don't block fish either. It takes a lot of tuna to turn out a nice block with the grain running the way you want it. I make sushi at home most of the time. Only go out for sushi with friends or if out of town. I agree with Sam that you don't need a yanagi but you could waste a lot of money on other things that you don't use much so if your heart is in it then go for it. You could always sell it on FoodieForums or KnifeForums if you tire of it.

                                3. cowboyardee Feb 14, 2010 02:06 PM

                                  You don't need a yanagi.

                                  If you don't do your own waterstone sharpening, you SHOULDN'T get a yanagi.

                                  If you're a pro sushi chef/cook, a yanagi is a good idea. However even some sushi chiefs just use very sharp double beveled slicers - typically a sujihiki which is really just a Japanese made western style slicer. Or even just a good long chef knife or gyuto.

                                  Functionally, you should just focus on keeping a good sharp edge on any knife you use for cutting fish. A yanagi is probably the easiest single beveled knife to use, but even so it requires adjustments to cutting technique to have good control of it. Most people will see better results (immediately at least) with a very sharp double beveled knife.

                                  All that said, I have one and tremendously enjoy learning to use it and sharpen it. But I'm not gonna kid myself that it's something that I need in any way shape or form.

                                  1. Sam Fujisaka Feb 14, 2010 04:02 PM

                                    1. I've been eating sashimi and sushi all my life.
                                    2. I've been preparing sashimi and sushi for the last 50 years.
                                    3. You don't need a special knife for sushi - e.g., for cutting nori maki rolls
                                    4. I have a very nice yanagiba - sashimi knife - for slicing fish.
                                    5. But I very rarely use it. I use a light, fast, cheap Tramontina slicer for blocking and a light, fast 5" Sabatier for slicing.
                                    6. You don't need it; but you can have my yanagiba/sashimi knife if you pass through Cali.

                                    Oh, and welcome to ChowHound!

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                      Delucacheesemonger Feb 14, 2010 07:42 PM

                                      Sam ,l will be in Los Angeles later this week and weekend, let me know where to pick up the knife.

                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                        Sam Fujisaka Feb 15, 2010 12:06 AM

                                        Cali = a city in Colombia. email before you get here.

                                        I was born and grew up in California.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                          Delucacheesemonger Feb 15, 2010 05:31 AM

                                          Damn, but will email

                                          1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                            Sam Fujisaka Feb 15, 2010 06:22 AM

                                            Well, have a great time in LA; and hope you find some good menudo/mondongo while there.

                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                        jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 09:04 PM

                                        Thank you Sam Fujisaka, I'd love to get my paws on your yanagiba, but you are way too far! Thanks though.

                                        1. re: jwyfrancis
                                          Sam Fujisaka Feb 15, 2010 12:17 AM

                                          You really don't need one.

                                          Although you probably already have it down, I'd much prefer continuing to improve my sushi making - a lifelong task - rather than getting more knives and associated information of questionable utility. I now look for accuracy, speed, and comfort in my knives: the two knife combo I mention above - maintained as sharp as possible - does the best of jobs.

                                      3. jwyfrancis Feb 14, 2010 08:08 PM

                                        Thank you all for sharing your wonderful wisdom and experience. It is much appreciated. After some research last night, it became obvious to me that I can't afford "a very nice one". So my price limit is $200 or less. I'm certain that I could find a decent beginner's yanagi. I think I'm gonna get it on Ebay. It looks like there are a few reputable sellers on Ebay that Foodieforum members are happy with. I am eager to learn to properly care for my new knife.

                                        I whole-heartedly agree with all of you who replied that I definitely don't "need" one. Thank you for trying to talk some sense into me, but it I don't get one, I'll be lusting for a yanagi every time I slice raw fish, which is quite often. Again thank you all for your suggestions.

                                        1. h
                                          hoodetiquette Feb 16, 2010 07:26 PM

                                          Im from the projects in brooklyn ( I like to note that sometimes) I love to make sushi, I jus started tho, so why would I need a sushi knife? sounds like its for more skilled sushi makers, I cant even get the rice right yet.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: hoodetiquette
                                            jwyfrancis Feb 17, 2010 06:21 PM

                                            Hoodetiquette and Sam Fujisaka, you are both right. I don't need a yanagi. I guess it's just more a matter of "want", rather than "need". Many people in the Foodieforum and the Knifeforum have talked me into going for a more versatile sujihiki, and I agree with them.

                                            Hoodetiquette, getting the rice perfect is definitely not easy. But I cheat, though. I have a nice Zojirushi rice cooker with the sushi setting, and it does all the work for me. I don't know what I'd do without this rice cooker. Yanagi, I definitely don't need, but this Zojirushi rice cooker, I most definitely can't live without.

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