Keeping up with Mazaki

Power. Strength. Beauty and Precision .

What can one expect or have already experienced from the “new” Mazaki from JNS 240mm? This knife has changed my overall view on knives in general.

It started at first glance. From profile to weight. To predicted performance. And from the many others telling me how incredible it really is.

My name is Daniel, On IG I’m @dmasterflex. Currently a Sous Chef at three high caliber restaurants with 12 years experience. This review is based on a weeks worth of performance in our kitchens. Where excellence is demanded. Standards are high therefore creating a perfect playing ground for such a knife.

This is a follow up review on how it held up with heavy professional use.

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Knife review: New Mazaki 270mm gyuto

A link to this knife review has been posted on KKF and KMS.

The blade – A while ago a few European (first JNS, followed by Cleancut) makers introduced knives by Naoki Mazaki, a young blacksmith from Sanjo, Japan.  I recently bought the latest addition to the Mazaki offering from JNS, very effectively called the ‘New Mazaki’. This is my first 270mm knife, as when I started out with Japanese knives I really liked smaller and more nimble knives (also more logical being a home cook I guess).

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Knife Q&A part 2

Because the first part of the knife Q&A I did was such a success (I love hearing everyone’s input!), I decided to do another round now. There were many questions again:

Q: @zucker_macher asked: which knife do you like to use?

A: I like to use several knives, for instance my Kiyoshi Kato 240 workhorse gyuto and sujihiki, but I also love my simple Hinoura Ajikataya and Takamura R2 gyutos!

Q: @joskan_prlic asked: what is the best stone price/quality wise? @alex.miliarakis asked what is the best finishing stone? @chris_saplala asked for a recommendation of a polishing stone for a Masamoto KS kiritsuke. @bomaomaar asked if a kityama is a good finishing stone for a beginner.

A: As a synthetic polishing stone I do recommend the Kitayama. It is a very good stone, good size and still affordable. My other favourites are the JNS 1k, Shapton glass 500 grit (get the double thick one!) and the Watanabe AI2000 (which I think is the same as the Shapton Pro 2000. I also recommend the JNS 6000.

Of course you can go crazy with natural polishing stones, but I recommend first getting some experience with synthetic stones!

Q: @bignaldo83 asked: is there any real advantage to a double bevel knife compared to a single bevel knife?

A: Yes, there definitely is. Double bevel knives (can) have stronger edges and therefore the edge can withstand more contact with cutting boards and don’t steer through tall/hard ingredients (if sharpened/ground equal on both sides).

Q: @jdudley238 asked which stones I would use to sharpen VG10, in particular which grits.

A: For VG10 I wouldn’t go too high in grit, maybe use a 1k stone followed by a 3k stone and then strop.

Q: @rick05uave asked what makes a natural sharpening stone great (instead of just good).

A: this is very personal, but I think everyone likes a good size stone, with smooth feedback, which leaves a nice edge and scratchless polish…

Q: @ethantaberham asked how one should work his or her way up different grit levels.

A: this depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you just want to sharpen an edge, you can make pretty big jumps actually (I usually do 1k, 8k, natural finishing stone). Of course this depends on the refinement you are trying to achieve and the steel you are using!

If you want to polish the whole bevel of a knife, you will need a few intermediary steps to make sure you take out all the scratches (for instance 500, 1000, 3000, 5000, natural polishing stone).

Q: @henryaispuro asked what is the highest grit you can sharpen at, without loosing toothiness for vegetables.

A: this highly depends on the steel. Some steel (like SLD) is really toothy, while other steels are not. Generally for vegetables I wouldn’t go higher than 6000 grit on Japanese knives, but I think 3000 can be enough as well easily. In any case, don’t overcomplicate this. Try some different finishes and see what works best for you!

Q: @santirendon25 asked which is better, natural or synthetic whetstones.

A: this answer is both simple and complicated at the same time: they both have their purpose. Generally synthetics are better at lower grits, while naturals can have certain advantages for polishing and finishing. This is even more difficult because every natural stone is different.

Knife and stone Q&A: part 1

So recently I discovered a new feature on Instagram: asking questions in an Instagram story. This gave me the idea of doing a knife and stone Q&A, and I have to say the response has been mind blowing! I received numerous questions, which I hope to answer (to some extent) all below. I think this is more aimed at beginners in Japanese knives, so the real knife nuts can better scroll to some other post :).

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Tatsuo Ikeda honyaki fuguhiki

This is the most special knife I have. By a mile. For me it is part nostalgia (because the maker unfortunately passed away), part rarity, but mostly pure craftsmanship.

I haven’t had the balls yet to sharpen or use it, and I probably never will (insert joke about small balls here). As a result, this is not a review, but just a post about a knife where I try to give some more background information and hopefully some OK-ish pics for everyone to enjoy.

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Trying a sujihiki… again

The first sujihiki (and third Japanese knife) I tried was a 300mm Toyama Noborikoi sujihiki. While I loved the knife, it was just way too big for me (after all I’m just a simple home cook), so I sold it. That has put me off sujihikis for a long time…. until now!

Last week Maksim from JNS posted a Kiyoshi Kato sujihiki on his website, and I was lucky/quick enough to be able to buy it. After some very very fast shipping (thanks Maksim!) the knife arrived from Denmark this Monday. First impressions with limited use are extremely good so I will write a review on this very soon! Please find some quick and dirty pics below.

 

Kin Shirushi Narutaki Asagi

The Mustard Brick

Intro


Let’s address the elephant in the room: “How is a stone that vibrant, mustard yellow an Asagi and not a kiita?”

It’s a matter of typicity and other colours present on the stone. And it’s also a numbers game –  Kiita (meaning yellow plate)  and tamagoiro (meaning egg colour) are way less common than people think but often used in connection with just about any slightly yellow stone because they are so sought after.  In terms of typicity, kiita is often, but not always, slightly softer.  And perhaps the most revealing is the side on view and bottom view of this stone which shows a truly remarkable split personality.

Asagi Town
The transition

Usage


So, we’ve been introduced and we know more-or-less who our dance partner is, but how does she dance?  Friability is not an adjective one can use with this stone.  It is relentlessly unyielding of its own particles, but that’s not to say it’s doing nothing while being rubbed.  When one is establishing an initial polish and scratch pattern with this stone (and many other hard stones) it benefits from lapping with a diamond plate. At a microscopic and fractal level, this exposes a lot more surface area of stone per unit area of knife area being pressed into it.  But this phenomenon can only be taken advantage of by having enough, considerable, downward pressure applied on your recently roughed-up surface. What you’ll find is a black inky suspension on the stone

Freshly lapped with lots of pressure applied

What i find with a technique such as this is a darkening of the resulting finish on clad, san mai knives which I posit has something to with scratch depth and light reflection.  What this technique also does in my novice hands, is make the finish more susceptible to variation in the form of scuffs and streaks, a steadier hand than mine might not have this problem.  The other caveat with this technique, and harder stones generally, is that when a lot of pressure is being applied to a stone, you’re far more likely to dislodge scratchies.  That is, stray particles that strafe the cladding but generally leave the core unmolested.  Below is a quick edit of the more pressure-heavy part of a sharpening kata.

This then brings us to a second polishing sequence and technique whereby we take full advantage of the stone’s hardness and fineness.  With this technique one smooths out the surface as much as possible with a tomonagura and then buff over the surface of the stone with way more water than would be used in the first technique and a far softer, more gliding motion.

Kin Shirushi Doi polish

Although a far more subtle process, the stone all but roars into life at this point and warrants the (not inconsiderable) price of admission.  Things start to shine like crazy and get very, very sharp. It excels on harder steels with finer grains and I have enjoyed some spooky edges on Doi; Kato; and both Bloodroot and Comet Knives’ flavour of 52100, both of which seem to be exceptionally fine-grained

Final Thoughts


Overall the stone fills some niches for me.  On the rare occasion where I need sashimi-slicing, clean, ultra edges, this is the one for single bevels or when I just want a short sharp burst of ultimate refinement on gyuto for a few dinner preps.  I also find myself reaching for it when I’m honing my one and only kamisori, the edge is comparable to that off a Maruka.  I have also rounded one of the long edges of the stone and I use this to finish hairdressing shears, the rounded edge allows me to finely debur the ura of Japanese scissors in a sort of modified, micro uraoshi.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed the post. Hit us up with any suggestions or questions or content requests.

Knife review: Hinoura Ajikataya 210mm gyuto

A link to this knife review has been posted on KKF and KMS.

The blade – This month I got a 210mm Mutsumi Hinoura Ajikataya Gyuto, from Cleancut. This was the first time buying something from Cleancut for me. Eventhough they don’t have an English website, or advertise for international sales on social media, it was not too difficult to buy from them. After some back and forth on Instagram, they sent me a Paypal invoice and the deal was done. Later I saw that I was supposed to e-mail them, but this worked out pretty well.

Reason for getting this knife is that I still have very little kurouchi knives, and after the Tanaka I’m totally loving them again!

The price of this knife is around 270 USD (including VAT) and does not qualify for any free shipping. I paid 22 USD for shipping within Europe, which is not too bad but not great either. In any case, this knife is seriously cheap without VAT (for buyers outside the EU), at around 217 USD (excluding shipping).

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The baby Comet has arrived!

A couple weeks ago I finally managed to score my first gyuto from Comet knives (look him up on Instagram, his work is truly amazing!!). It’s a gyuto, 185mm along the cutting edge and 47mm tall (pardon the quickly taken photographs). I didn’t have a knife in this size so far, and more importantly, no Comet, so I didn’t hesitate to buy this.

Today, it arrived! The knife was well packed and honestly the sharpest knife out of the box I ever cut. Trey from Comet knives hand sharpens every knife until perfection (unlike most Japanese knives which have the weakest out of the box edge you could imagine, if they come sharp at all), so I got to use it right when I came home from work. Initial impressions are very good, it is a mean knife and I’m totally convinced this is not the last Comet I will get!

Tomorrow I will get another shipment of amazing stuff, so stay tuned for more….

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