There has been a lot of talk and controversy about kurouchi gyuto by Kiyoshi Kato recently. They were (and still are) being sold for over two thousand USD, and some people have questioned their cutting ability.
Being the lucky owner of two KU Katos, it seems to make sense to show how these knives cut, and speak a little bit about (the difference between) these knives.
KU Kato Standard (‘Standard’)
The first knife of this comparison is a standard KU Kato I got from Morihei in Tokyo in October 2018. The whole Morihei experience was amazing, but I think it would have been impossible to get this knife without the help of a dear friend.
Overall, this knife is very big, thick and heavy, even in comparison to other big knives like Kato, or even my Togashi “The James” honyaki. I have used the knife on a few occassions already (hence the patina), and personally I don’t think it is as bad as people had led me to believe it would be.
The fit and finish is alright. Obviously it being a kurouchi knife, the spine and choil are not eased. This is of course not what one would expect on a very expensive knife, but I think it is part of their charm.
The look of the kurouchi is quite rustic as well (did I frame this right?), with some scuff marks and spots here and there. It adds to the charm of the knife, but I understand people may expect differently.
The handle of this knife is quite big (too big if you ask me) and will be changed eventually. The knife did not come with a saya.
KU Kato Workhorse (‘Workhorse’)
The 240mm Workhorse is an even bigger knife than the Standard. This knife truly gives you a very powerful feeling because of its weight and size (please refer to the measurements below). I feel very fortunate to own one, and it has quickly become a favorite in my collection.
As with the Standard, the spine isn’t eased or rounded, but not sharp, and the choil is sharp-ish. Again, there is not really a way around this if you want a knife to keep the full kurouchi look. Similarly, the kurouchi look is quite rustic, although it has less scuff marks than the Standard. The bevel of the Workhorse still contains an unusual combination of a kasumi look and grind marks, but that will of course change in the future!
The handle on the Workhorse is a perfectly sized D-shaped burnt chestnut and horn handle (probably my favorite handle material). The knife did not come with a saya.
Measurements and profile
|Length of blade along the edge (heel to tip)||231 mm||248 mm|
|Height at heel||51.03 mm||52.67 mm|
|Thickness of spine at handle||5.74 mm||5.73 mm|
|Thickness of spine at heel||4.90 mm||5.41 mm|
|Thickness of spine halfway||2.53 mm||2.58 mm|
|Thickness of spine 5 cm before the tip||2.17 mm||2.16 mm|
|Thickness of spine 3 cm before the tip||1.86 mm||1.87 mm|
|Thickness of spine 1 cm before the tip||1.16 mm||1.22 mm|
|Weight||242 gram||269 gram|
|Point of balance||39 mm in front of handle||53 mm in front of handle|
|Maker||Kiyoshi Kato||Kiyoshi Kato|
|Sharpener||Kiyoshi Kato||Kiyoshi Kato|
Below, I have some more pictures to make a comparison between the choil and spine of the Standard and Workhorse.
Now to the cutting comparisons! Below you will find a (poorly filmed) video where I will cut a big carrot, half an onion and some bell pepper with each knife (every time starting with the Standard). Just one note: these knives are used with their out of the box edge, and have not been thinned or modified in any way (as you can see….). One little disclaimer: first time making a halfway decent cutting video, so go easy on me :).
By popular request, I have included the same video without the annoying soundtrack below (prepare for cracking noises):
One thing is clear: you won’t go and chop a bunch of big carrots or a pumpkin with these knives. They are pretty thick, and cracked their way through the carrot. But on the other hand, I have to admit the carrot was pretty big, and the knives give a sensational feeling when cutting through ingredients. Especially the Workhorse is a pure cutting monster, and I’m sure I am going to enjoy using this knife.
The Workhorse seemed to struggle a bit more with the carrot, but was a smoother cutter on all other ingredients. Most notably, the tip of the Workhorse was more useful cutting the onion (which is a bit odd given the measurements of the tip).
To conclude, I guess people are partially right if they doubt the cutting ability of a kurouchi Kato, but damn, they are spectacular knives.
Unfortunately I cannot comment on edge retention yet, being a topic that has sparked some debate in respect of Kato’s heat treating. I will report back in the (near) future!
Any tips, questions or remarks: please comment below or send me a message!