View Full Version : Watenabe 240 Wa Gyutou
01-24-2005, 06:24 PM
I just received my knife from Watenabe. It is laminated blue steel with ebony octagonal handle and horn ferrul. This is a gorgeous knife.
It feels good in the hand. I was concerned about the balance, but it is close to being neutral...not quite. I use a pinch grip. When I open my hand, the knife balances on my index finger which is just ahead of the heel. This is a considerable distance from the ferrule. Keep in mind that the balance relative to the heel is more important because the heel determines where you hold the knife. What I am saying is that the heel is foreward of the ferrul also, thus your hand will be very close to the balance point. If you were to pick it up to check the balance and stick your finger in front of the handle you would think it was way blade heavy. It is just barely blade heavy if held correctly. The rat tail tangs on these knive are pretty beafy.
Fit and finish is excelent. The blade is so pretty. I looked down the edge from behind the handle. The taper from the spine to the edge is a thing of beauty. I think he purchases the handles but I could be wrong. It is nice but this is my first traditional handle so I don't have anything to compare it to.
I have only chopped a carrot with it. With no effort it is possible to slice carrots thin enough to read through. I am not talking about slow, meticulous work here. I am talking about chop, chop, chop. This is the sharpest knife I have ever held, and the geometry of the blade allows for effortless thin cuts.
I am happy with my purchase. Will it be a knife that can stand the heat of a pro kitchen? I don't know yet. It would be a shame not to give it a chance.
Fit and finish
Togadashi finishing would bring it up to a 6 on scale to 5
Nice handle but not mind blowing
I realy like the hand feel and balance of this knife. Japanese handle are pretty much alike, thus ergonomics all comes down to the blade. I love the shape and balance.
I have a feeling this will be a 5. It is too soon to tell. The quality of the edge is without question. The material should give it great wear resistance. The toughness of the blue steel is what I am concerned about. I expect this to handle moderatly textured foods of all types. If it does this without me having to repair chips often...then this will be a 5.
I wasn't afraid to buy this knife because I knew that if I didn't like it that I could talk Fred into trading me for something. Well Fred......Get Your Own.
I already have a 300mm version of the knife which, I can assure you, is blade heavy by anybody's definition. Like yours, though, it cuts wonderfully. I wouldn't expect perfect balance from a 300mm bladed knife so it hasn't been either a surprise nor a hassle. Mine is also aoko kasumi but mine has an octagonal Ho wood handle. I see no reason it can't do just fine in a commercial kitchen. Dandy knife, huh?
01-24-2005, 08:06 PM
I had read your review some time ago. You really owe yourself a 240mm. One of the guys on KF did a comparison of the nenox and his Wa Wa... both in 240mm. He showed the balance being clearly foreward of where mine is. Variation is to expected. When I balance it on my finger, I am not touching the engraving. I always knew I could weight the handle of mine if I really had to. I have been using a 270mm Tojiro and it is decidedly blade heavy. I expect that in a 270mm and don't see it as a flaw, but as characteristic of that style of knife. I have become accustomed to it.
I couldn't be happier.
And thanks for the review. I might have been prone to go bigger if I had not read that.
01-24-2005, 08:08 PM
Your review is for the 270mm
Yes, 270mm. I guess I need some rest. I can't even remember what knives I have any more. I went to the kitchen and measured it. 270mm indeed. Sorry. I do have a 300mm gyuto on order. It is the new Tojiro powder steel model. That one should be handful. Good cooking.
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Yes, 270mm. I guess I need some rest
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Maybe just buy less knives LOL /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
01-25-2005, 01:54 AM
I remeber a thread talking about the towel that Watenabe includes with his knives. I thought it was a headband. Here is the explanation from the master:
"The cloth is called Tenugui and is traditional hand towel in Japan. It is used for wipe your sweat, storage the blade, wear as a hood for cooking and blocking off sunlight, headband and... If you are injured, you can tear up the cloth easily with your hands. So you can use it as a bandage for stop bleeding."
That's one multiple functionality piece of accessory.
/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
As they say in the hitchhiker to the galaxy: Always take your towel with you and do not panic!!!
01-25-2005, 01:05 PM
Fred you cheater, /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif I asked for the 300mm powder steel for my birthday, I guess you'll get one first /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/frown.gif
Let me know how you like it.
p.s. I'm still trying to get the muffin recipe from my dad but he's old and very forgetful /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
It's OK, the class was finished some time ago. You can see the recipe I used in the recipe forum.
01-27-2005, 10:39 PM
I have put this knife through its paces in a pro kitchen the last few days.I have used it on all kinds of vegitables, raw and cooked meat, and even fruits. I even sliced a hundred dinner rolls with it today. The blade has a full patina now and does not discolor the food. The edge has held up longer than anything I have owned. I have not babied this knife and yet the edge is as straight as can be. On my shun and tojiro I will find rough spots on the edge after a couple days of hard use. Not on this edge so far. The edge could use a pass on a fine stone, or I am sure it could go through the busy weekend without any maitanence. It is still the sharpest blade in my bag after being the only knife used for several days.
There has been no learning curve or break-in period as far as getting used to this knife. You ever meet a stranger that feels like an old friend the second you meet them. That is this knife.
The only real question I have is: Can I ever go back to stainless?
You know, I've asked the same question. My block has three gyutos in it - all three are carbon steel. It has been like that for two months. The stainless blades are currently on the bench.
01-28-2005, 01:05 PM
How noticeable is the difference betwene shiroko and aoko in terms of edge quality and retention? I know the way it is made would effect it, but lets take two blades from watenabe for example. Would you or I notice a sizable difference?
I have gone backwards in my learning curve. Instead of getting an entry level shiroko and striving for an aoko, I allready have the aoko and am wondering if I would now be dissapointed by the shiroko.
01-28-2005, 03:22 PM
Yeah, what Retrevr said... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
I've been looking at his kurouchi santoku knife with the aoko/stainless option ($80+$15=$95) pretty hard.
It looks like one heck of a knife. It seems like the stainless lamination would be worth the $15 and then you get blue steel for "free".
Any thoughts from those of you who have Watanabe knives?
I don't know how to answer that, Retrvr. I think it is fair to say that both have the same hardness. Theoretically, aoko is more abrasion resistant and I don't doubt that it is. I don't, however, notice the difference in use. I think the reason is that the hagane is thin enough that the differences aren't readily apparent. Perhaps in a honyaki knife, they would be more apparent.
Without question, the Japanese cooks consider aoko to be superior and it costs more from every single maker. Nevertheless, I consider the differences to be somewhat subtle. I don't own an aoko honyaki knife. I only have aoko in kasumi construction. I could care less which hagane it had in kasumi construction. But remember I keep my knives really sharp all the time. I think they get sharpened well before they even need it. Hope this helps.
Scott, I've never had or used a stainless knife from Watanabe. I have 4 Watanabes and all are kasumi with a white or blue steel hagane and an iron jigane. So I have no experience at all with stainless. To me the two haganes are equivalent in kasumi construction, at least in my meager experience. My opinion of Watanabe's knives is high. I didn't realize what a good knifemaker he was until I ordered some of his higher end products. I bought an aoko kasumi wa-gyuto which you can read about in both my review and Retrevr's. I also bought an aoko kasumi deba which I have yet to use. I do admire it, though, and I can tell you it is spectacular in terms of fit and finish. His kuroichi pieces aren't as nice as some others I've seen, but his pro level knives are there with the best of them.
01-28-2005, 04:42 PM
Just my 2Ct., I own a Watanabe petty with blue steel core for 5 weeks and I only steel it. I also have taken it very carefully on a 6000 grit stone (only twice), it's still amazing sharp and I'm lucky to own it.
Two weeks before I had received a Mizuno 200mm slicer, white steel core. It appears to be much more brittle, less edge holding and I don't like it very much. I'm not shure if this is the result of a better heat treatment by Shinichi Watanabe or if blue steel is tougher but it appears to be a question of steel.
01-28-2005, 04:53 PM
Have you ever heard of anyone polishing up the knives on their own with a Dremel or something? I had been toying with the idea with my yanagi as my wife thinks it is "dirty". /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif
The stainless clad santoku he had pictures of (see the link above) didn't have any black from forging on it, though it wasn't polished.
I was also wondering how his knives felt with a pinch-grip. Many others I have seen have a relatively square/sharp spine and the "heel" of the blade (the part at the back of the blade near the handle) which can wear on the fingers. However, his knives appear to have a moderate chamfer in those locations, though it isn't clear.
I really like the idea of buying from a craftsman like Watanabe, but with quality comes price... and about $110 is a lot of money for me. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif
01-28-2005, 05:27 PM
Scott, it doesn't matter if a knife or a washing machine is expensive. You'll own it for many years and the purchase price (term?) doesn't really matter over the years. The day I bought a good knife I was able to buy a piece of ham instead of slices and since then I save money though the knife was expensive.
I've forgotten the saying but it goes something like this. "The pleasure of quality remains long after the price is forgotten."
01-28-2005, 10:50 PM
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His kuroichi pieces aren't as nice as some others I've seen, but his pro level knives are there with the best of them.
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Let me see if I understand you correctly. You aren't as impressed with his kuroichi as his other knives? This would be understandable. OR You have been more impressed with other makers kuroichi knives. If the latter, whos kuroichis have you found to be better?
My gyutou is on the board all the time. I was thinking of getting a few smaller knives including a mukimono. I suspect that with a lesser used knife and one that does not hit the board all day long, that shiroko would be more than addequate. I was tossing around the idea of also getting his shortest kurouchi yangi which is yasuki white steel to get accustomed to a single bevel before I drop a greater amount on a kasumi grade. What is yasuki? ( I think we need a gloassary section on the site). I think the shiroko would probably do the job just fine in a kasumi yanagi for me but at the given price points I would probably spend a few more bucks on blue.
Anyway...to summerize....whos kuro uchi do you like? and
\what is yasuki?
01-29-2005, 01:34 AM
Yeah, but the problem is that I'm working on my PhD right now, which means that I'm not working... but my wife is. And she doesn't share my fascination with good knives, especially since I do all the cooking... /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif
In my experience his kuroichi knives have blades that are too thin - at least for a yanagi. I like the Fujiwara better and even the Hirotomo (which is significantly less expensive.) I like the thin blades in his kuroichi santoku, however. I have no idea what yasuki means but I think a glossary would be a good idea.
01-29-2005, 07:03 AM
Scott, I didn't think about an eventual money problem, sorry.
When I need to buy an expensive knife I just starve about two weeks, so I save a lot of money.
Btw., I second to Fred, pleasure of quality remains.
P.S., of course your wife is right to save you from poverty /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif
01-29-2005, 09:05 AM
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I have no idea what yasuki means but I think a glossary would be a good idea.
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"YSS" or Yasuki Steel Works/Hitachi Metals. They are the ones making the blue/white steel from the iron sand technique.
The source of the name is Yasuki City, Shimane Prefecture in Japan where the best iron ore (i.e. least amount of contaminating Sulphur and Phosphor) is unearthed. These ore are the row material for the YSS steel, often used for the Japanese edged tool, as explained above by Lee.
01-29-2005, 02:49 PM
Do you know which problems are caused by phosphor?
01-29-2005, 09:59 PM
Yeah, I used to do that too... when I was single (not knives, but computer stuff). Now I have a wife, two daughters (2 and 5), and I don't work (and probably won't for another year) money is much tighter for hobby purchases.
As I said earlier, I really like Watanabe's craftsmanship from a philosophic perspective. He really seems to take pride in his products and I like how accessible he makes himself. In another year or so I'll probably get my first Watanabe knife, but until then I have to keep conscious of my budget.
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