Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watanabe Blade Wa Gyuto

I just knew sooner or later I had to buy a gyuto made by Shinichi Watanabe. He is famous for his high quality hand forged kitchen knives. After using high end kitchen knives for a couple of years now, I have learned which types of knives are best for me. I could live with just two knives: a 210mm gyuto (Japanese version of the chef’s knife, or French knife) and a deba knife (Well, and a cleaver which can cut through chicken bones. That makes three knives). I now have three gyuto:

A Ryusen 210mm Blazen, powdered steel, stainless. Light as a feather, sharp like a razor.

Shinichi Watanabe
... and my brand new 210mm Watanabe wa-gyuto (link shows 240mm version) made of Blue Steel with keyaki wood octagon handle. The above photo shows the 240mm version. I’m so impressed by this knife. It’s made from carbon steel, which is not stainless. A wa-gyuto is a gyuto knife with a traditional Japanese handle.

Takeda Hamono
I own another gyuto made by Takeda Hamono, a 240mm gyuto. This gyuto is a little long for my taste - and cutting board - but very usefull for big vegetables like cabbage. I will keep my Takeda because prices of Takeda knives have shot up since I bought mine. It’s a good investment. I also have a Takeda nakiri bocho and a small Takeda banno kobunka bocho. All my Takeda’s are made from high quality Aogami Super Steel (AS), or Blue Steel #2, from Hitachi Metals, at the core, layered between softer, low carbon steel.

Deba bocho
The other indispensible knife would be a Japanese deba knife. You can’t really cut bones or hard food with a gyuto - the edge is too delicate - so here comes the deba in play. Of course they come in a variety of shapes. A thinner mioroshi deba is used for precision work like filleting fish or deboning meat. A heavy Western deba (double bevel) can be used to cut through chicken bones like butter.

Watanabe deba
I have two Watanabe deba from the cheaper standard series. These knives are made from White Steel and have crappy cheap handles. Other than that, they are of very high quality. I have a 150mm Watanabe kurouchi (=rough surface) deba, White Steel (Hrc62 to Hrc64) laminated to a wrought-iron back, and a 165mm Watanabe mioroshi deba, White Steel.

Because these knives are so hard - at least Hrc62 - they can't be used to cut bones other than fish bones. The edge will easily chip. I’m thinking of replacing the handles as an upgrade. Update: The Epicurean Edge charges 25 USD for replacing the handles + the cost of the wood. My deba knives are going on a trip to the USA.

What is the difference between White Steel and Blue Steel? Click here and scroll all the way down. See the complete manufacturing process (website Moritaka Hamono).

Oops. I forgot my Franz Güde breadknife. It's a monster, blade length 32 cm. Olive wood handle. It's indispensable .. and almost half a meter in length.
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