Sometimes the Internet can be a bit too informative (for a newbie)

Sometimes the Internet can be a bit too informative (for a newbie)

Posted by James ZHang on 5th Jul 2019

It is absoutely important to do our homework before buying anything, I totally agree. However, the web can be a bit too informative for someone just getting started with Japanese kitchen knives.

Over Researching

I remember when I just started as a knifenut, I was just like everyone, crazy buying all sorts knives, right or wrong, suits me or not. From 90mm paring to a 300mm yanagi. I read (the long gone) Knife Forums, and all the reviews that I can find; carefully compare the test reports, and do my research in order to figure out which knife, steel, grind, maker, profile, length (the list goes on), that I might (never) need.

While I completely agree that the posts and reviews are extremely useful and informative, I can also fully understand how it can confuse someone that has just dived into the world of Japanese kitchen knives, as there are just so many terms in J knives, too many aspects that defines a good knife, too many steel types, and too many knife profiles. 

I have received emails from customers that are using Victorinox yet trying to discuss about the difference between blue steel vs aogami super and “the impact of cladding to the performance” which I wasn’t even sure if I understood the question. I had to reply back nicely saying at this stage he probably can’t really feel the difference, based on the fact that he had zero experience of J-knives. This is a classic example of over researching on the Internet.


Everyone's situation is different

Reviews and comments are sometimes limited to what the knives the reviewer have used before, and what he / she are cutting with. One can only have access to a certain number of knives, hence the reviews are only valid in the samples that the reviewer have experienced. Sometimes a review is just based on a quick session with very limited cutting, and limited produce to cut with. Sometimes a reviewer loves to cut vegetable but if you are a meat lover, the review therefore has limited meaning because for example, the food penetration which is vital to cutting rock vege like potato is not as important when you are primarily dealing with raw protein. A reviewer may prefer a Gytuo that is tall, with large flat spot, and a pointy tip since he does a lot of slice-n-dice as well as push cutting, but it could be completely irrelevant to someone who is coming from a German style knife and primarily does rocking. What I am trying to say is, it is hard for one who is just starting to truly identify what is really important for he or she AT THIS STAGE.

Bottom line

My experience is, for someone who just started, a lot of the important aspects that defines a GREAT knife, is sometimes meaningless as he or she doesn’t even have a clue about what those terms mean, and what he or she likes. It is probably best to just get a decent priced stainless knife and start cutting. IMO being stainless is probably the most important element for a beginner as he or she is just not ready to embrace the wonderful world of carbon knife, yet. It is better to first learn how to properly cut with a Japanese kitchen knife, learn how to do free hand sharpening, rather than worrying about keeping the knife from rusting. For that matter, I always recommend Tanaka Ginsan or Kurosaki R2 :)