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May 28, 2010 06:55 AM

Which of these knives would you choose?

A chef friend of mine recently decided to upgrade form his culinary school chef's knife to a Japanese Gyuto. Since I had recently gotten into J-knives, and researched some, he asked me for some recommendations. These were some (all 240mm) that I was considering.

Here is my short list (so far):

Misono Gyuto UX10 ($215)
MAC MBK-95 ($170)
Hiromoto TJ Aogami Super ($145)
Japanese Chefs Knives (JCK) Kagayaki KV6 VG-10 ($118)
Tojiro DP Gyuto ($100)
Togiharu Molybdenum Gyuto ($80)

Here is a little more information about the chef.

(1) doesn't want to break the bank.
(2) is used to a European blade. He might like a bit curvier than a really flat blade.
(3) works a lot with fish, but doesn't want to buy a separate J-knife.
(4) has pretty big hands. The handle might be an issue.
(5) doesn't know how to sharpen with stones (yet).
(6) uses the knife a lot. Durability/stain resistance?

I was thinking of ordering three of the knives to road test them as there is no store in the area that carries these brands (except maybe MAC). We'll see what happens if we both like the same knife.


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    1. re: jeffreyem

      I love knifeforums and narrowed my list down based upon reading way too many posts there, but sometimes I like to bump things out of the Japanese knife stratosphere. I'm going to be asking a lot of sharpening questions there in the next couple weeks.

    2. I don't think Hiromoto TJ Aogami Super is stainless at its core. I am not sure if Tojiro's core steel (cobalt alloy) is stainless either, but it is certainly more stainless than Aogami carbon steel. Kagayaki is VG-1. Not sure about it. Some think VG-1 is as good as VG-10 at a lower price point. No idea.

      Misono looks good though, but it is more expensive.

      1. Any of your choices are good ones that I suspect you/he will be very happy with.

        The Tojiro is stainless. Great knife. Very easy to sharpen by hand. Okay edge retention. Excellent factory edge. Probably my highest recommendation for someone unfamiliar with J-knives looking to try one for the first time if they're willing to learn how to hand-sharpen. Some people occasionally take issue with the handle, but my hands are fairly big, and I like the handle just fine.

        The Hiromoto is not stainless, though once it forms a patina (which it does very quickly) it acts surprisingly like a stainless steel. Great knife. Will take and hold the best edge out of the knives you mentioned, but still thick enough that you don't have to baby it. The factory edge is only so-so though.

        Haven't tried or sharpened the Kagayaki.

        MAC is very nice. Good performance and edge retention. Excellent factory edge. A bit overpriced at $170, IMO.

        Togiharu is very nice as well. Good price. A bit harder to sharpen well than the Tojiro though, and as such I prefer just paying the extra $ for Tojiro. YMMV.

        With the Misono, at $215 you're paying in part for its looks. Which is fine - they are very pretty. A little slow to sharpen up without much of the usual payoff in edge retention. Excellent factory edge.

        Your friend needs a way to sharpen his knife reliably - a good pro, a set of stones, an edgepro, etc. This is more important than having a great knife in the first place. If he does not have a method, and is unlikely to learn/find one, I might recommend Shuns just because they offer free (minus cost of shipping) sharpening for life. They do not make gyutos, however.

        9 Replies
        1. re: cowboyardee

          Great advices. Except Misono does not look that great to me. It looks too futuristic to me. Does it look good to you?

          The UX10 seems very popular though -- in term of sale volume.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Depends on what you're looking for. To me, the Misono has a similar visual appeal to a recent model sports car. It has nice clean lines, bright cladding, the stylishly angled bolster. That and the bold lettering make it easier to identify at a glance than most gyutos, which I suspect is a big part of the reason for its popularity and reputation among pro chefs and cooks.

            That said, my personal taste is for something more rugged- and traditional-looking. I like the look of my Hiromoto with slightly scuffed cladding and a (sometimes) dark patina.

            1. re: cowboyardee


              Did I tell you that I went to Salt Lake City for a confernece? During the one week conference, I went to the Nake Fish sushi place and the young chef were using two knives. A white paper carbon steel yanagiba which I forgot the name and a Hiromoto Aogami Super Gyoto. He like the Gyuto quiet a bit because he said stainless steel clad surface make it more convenient. It was kind of nice to talk to a real person about knife and not worry about freaking him out.

              I rather have a Wa-Gyuto look. I always like wood handle. Though I think I regret getting a wood handle boning knife. Having blood all over the wood handle just seems weird. That maybe the one knife which haivng a plastic handle is definitely better.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I like the wa handles on my nakiri and yanagi. A ho wood handle on a boning knife would definitely be a little hard core, but all those guys at the Tsukiji fish market seem to have wa handles - a lot of them cover the handle with tape.

                Have you seen Stephan's (from knifeforums) custom-made wa handles?
                Someday... someday.

                The main reason I sharpen knives for other people is really just so I have people to talk knives with (as well as getting to play with more knives than I could afford). If I go long enough without an outlet for my knife fixation, I start bringing it up at inopportune moments and freaking out my wife's friends (my friends, thankfully, are used to it).

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  Wow, those are beautiful wa handles.

                  I have only sharpened my friends' knife just to give me opportunity to practice, but you have very good points.

                  Don't worry about your inappropriate knife discussion moments. I topped you by bringing my knife sharpening interest on a date night. She totally freaked out. :)

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    Several years, later, but that is too funny! Can understand her concern if it was a first or second date. I am a woman and would love to know all there is about sharpening my knives. Doesn't it seem like it's mostly men, though, that are obsessed with sharp knives and sharpening techniques?

                    1. re: pinkmagnolia921

                      :) She does not cook, so I think it freaked her out more -- since she probably doesn't use a kitchen knife very often.

          2. re: cowboyardee

            Thanks for everyone's advice, and I got a good laugh about the inopportune knife talk stories. I once got into some knife talk at a party even when I knew less about knives than I do now and two hours later the host was unimpressed. Especially when the other person went home and brought back all of his knives to show me.

            I think I am definitely going to try out the Tojiro as one of the three knives. The Hiro is intriguing to me also, but I am undecided as yet.

            I think my friend would like the MAC for some reason, so even though it is priced a bit high, I may go with that also.

            I am going to troll knifeforums to see if there is some more info on the JCK knife. It's a good price.

            1. re: smkit

              Hmm, why would the host be unimpressed when another guess went home to bring his knives to the party. That sounds like people are having fun. It wasn't like you scared someone and he went home for good.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              So far I got the Tojiro DP 240mm and it really is a fabulous knife for around $100. Unfortunately, I ordered it days before Korin had their June sale, which would have reduced the price by another 15%.

              I was so eager to open the Tojiro and try it out, that I only had arm hair for the shaving (not good), and now I am wondering how long it will take that forearm spot to grow back. With that said, it was very sharp out of the box. I also loved the balance, thinness of the blade, and the fit and finish was better than I expected. I still haven't road tested it that much as my friend has it right now.

              Next will be the Ichimonji TKC, but I have been waiting for Chefknivestogo to get them in stock. They finally got the 210 and 270 mm in, but the 240s are still on the way. Hopefully in a few weeks they will get them in stock.

              I eliminated the Misono and Togiharu.

              And though I would personally love to get the Hiro AS, I didn't think the high carbon would be good for my friend starting out on J-knives and working mostly in a professional kitchen. Maybe later though.

              As for the third knife, I would love to get the wa-handled Devin Thomas Forum 240mm from CKTG (not on my original list). That knife isn't in stock either, and it is a bit pricer, but I am intrigued by the good words on knifeforums and would love to try the AEB-L steel. Here is the link.


              There is also the possibility that I may go the Shun Elite route. I think I want to have one wa handle in the mix as they seem to fit my friend's hands better. I don't think I will go the MAC route.

              Of course, things can always change.

              1. re: smkit


                Don't worry. I shave my arm hair all the time. Just don't try to shave your eyebrows. That is the only really embarrassing place :)

                I just ordered the Tojiro DP 210 mm from Chefknivestogo. I have never used a Gyuto and want to test one. I figure if I like Gyuto, then I can upgrade. If not, it is not too expensive and I can always give it away or stock it as part of my collection.

                That Tojiro you bought is for your friend who is a culinary student, right? All the other talks about Hiromoto AS, Devin Thomas and Shun Elite are for you or for your friend? Won't your friend only need one Gyuto?

                So many wonderful knives to try. So little money and time for me to play :)

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  We are basically road testing them together -- it's more fun that way. We will each likely keep one and then resell the other on knifeforums, or just like you said -- add it to the collection. After the gyuto, next will be a sushi knife.

                  1. re: smkit

                    :) Keep me inform. I am interested to know.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I broke down and pre-ordered a 240mm Hiromoto AS Gyuto. Dave Martell is rehandling some Hiros OTB, and the buyer gets to choose the type of wood and pins. I think it is going to be a sexy blade (and handle). The price is $233.

                      The Hiro was on my list, then off it, then on it again, but I couldn't resist after reading so many good things about this knife.


                      1. re: smkit


                        :) Is this for you or for your buddy? I have also heard many good things about Hiromoto AS that I am sure you will like yours. Hey, so what's up with the rehandling? Do you know what the new handle will look like? Best.

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          This one's for me -- though I might let my buddy try it out for a week.

                          If you go to Dave's blog he has some pictures of a rehandle he did recently and some sample wood pictures. It is going to be hard to choose a wood.


                          If this rehandling project goes well, I think Dave will be adding this to his line of services. He will also be sharpening the new knife and rounding the spine in addition to the new handle.

                          1. re: smkit


                            I didn't Dave is doing rehandling now. I guess the original handle on Hiromoto AS is wood composite, and these are whole wood handle (stabilized). These wood samples look very nice. The English Walnut and the Brown Marple look beautiful and natural, but the Blue Maple and the Purple Maple really grab attention.

                            You know what you should do? After you receive the knife, you should write a quick review and post a photo here. Best.

            2. So I got my cutstom rehandled 240mm Hiro AS in and I also nabbed a Devin Thomas 270mm wa Gyuto in the 10 minutes before they sold out. These DT blades were created with the input of the knife nuts at Knifeforums and are really great. Both are more expensive than the ones above, but they are fabulous knives and will either satisfy me or just make me want to buy more. I still need to give them both a good road test though.

              I would also highly recommend Dave Martell's knife sharpening service (and now rehandling service). That thing cuts like a light saber and looks fabulous. The link below has some pictures.


              3 Replies
              1. re: smkit

                I love that handle on the Hiro AS. Very jealous. Enjoy those knives. Pics of the Devin Thomas?

                1. re: smkit

                  The DT is a thing to lust for. Enjoy it to the hilt.

                  1. re: smkit

                    Nice handle, man. I also like the bluish oxidized steel on the knife blade. I think my knives obtain a nice bluish patina when I clean them using bar keeper's friend after the sharpening. I only need to use the bar keeper's friend once and they will slowly obtain the bluish color in time. I learn that from trial and error, so it may be real, I may simply luck out. If I don't use the Bar Keeper's Friend or acid to first wash the blade, then I may get the brownish patina, and I like the blue one.