I have been curious about Japanese knives for a long time. The opinions are generally fairly polarized – people either love them or they’re not a fan. After years of wondering if they were worth the investment, I decided it was time to take the plunge and see for myself:
This is a HOCHO knife. It’s a form of Santoko and is an all-purpose kitchen knife.
Most Japanese knives have a very different edge than others. I am used to a symmetrical edge – if you looked at most of my blades, you’d see that the edge is like a peak of a mountain and but sides of the knife curl towards the blade to create the edge. These knives are different – one side is flat while the other curves into it. To explain as a ration, most knives have an edge that comes from 50% of the left side of the knife and 50% of the right while most Japanese Knives change that balance and go as far as 0% on one side with 100% of the curve coming from the other. I suppose this is why the first question that Eugene (from Knife, Toronto) asked me if I was left-handed or right.
The Zanmai Pro is close (but not perfectly) to being a 50-50 ratio but does have a slight bias. Using an automated sharpener on this knife (or a person who doesn’t know that) will likely destroy it’s intent in a single sharpening. I’ll be heading back to Knife for one of their workshops where they teach you to use a stone to properly sharpen your own blade (they will also sharpen it for you). I am told that this blade will get even better after a few sharpening sessions.
Japanese Knives are also known for cutting as you pull the blade through an item as opposed to pushing them through. This is very useful, especially for more delicate items like fish as it will cut the item without crushing it. Remembering to cut like that is taking some adjusting but it’s fun to experiment.
It’s a little too early to pass any kind of real verdict on this tool other than to share that I’ve been using it for a few weeks and have been loving it. It’s well-balanced, efficient and feels like a tool (in the best of ways). I’ve used it for vegetables as well as a variety of proteins and it has been awesome!
What’s your favorite kitchen knife?