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Henckels 34507-240 Miyabi 5000S 240mm(9.5") Yanagiba
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Henckels 34507-240 Miyabi 5000S 240mm(9.5") Yanagiba Knife

Loaner knives make a good source of the free test knives, at least for me. Substantial portion of the kitchen knife reviews on this site are based on loaner knife tests. In a way, loaners are more interesting that brand new knives, as they provide free data on knife durability, usability and so on. Well, all that of course needs to be considered in conjunction with the user and his or her habits. In that, just because one knife came to me with few dozen chips on the edge doesn't necessarily mean failed heat treat or a bad knife, perhaps the user was misusing or abusing it :) Things happen... Anyhow, the other day, around December 2012 I got an offer to test few knives, and one of those knives was Miyabi 5000S series yanagiba. By now, I did manage to accumulate half a dozen Miyabi kitchen knives reviews from various series 7000MC, 600D Morimoto editions, 5000MCD and a few more. All of the reviewed knives were loaners, just like the 5000S series yanagiba reviewed here. I knew about 5000S series Miyabis, because at some point there was a mixup on one of the dealer's site and 5000S series were sold as different series knives, which obviously lead to complications, although that's an old story. In short, 5000S series is the westernized version of the Miyabi kitchen knives, where westernization comes not through the design change, but through the choice of the blade material. 5000S knives use German X50CrMoV15 steel or some variation of it, with Henckels proprietary ice hardening heat treatment process, which I suppose is some sort of cryogenic treatment. Well, from the design point of view, that's not much of the westernization is it, but as far as the knife use goes, by replacing hard steel with much softer one, knife use pattern changes and so does its performance. Part two making the knife more westerner friendly would be the use of the symmetrical edge, vs. traditional chisel edge on yanagibas. Basically, if you want to be precise, it's a westerner friendly knife, not a westernized one. And since we're digging those details, apparently, 34507-240 model number is for the one with symmetrical edge and 34507-241 is for traditional Japanese chisel edge yanagiba. Miyabi website does mention both edge types specifically, although if you try to find 5000S series information in Miyabi's non flash version of the website, you won't succeed, it simply isn't there. However, 5000S series does exist in Miyabi's flash version of the website. At this point I am not sure if 5000S has been discontinued or not, one version has it, other version of the same company site doesn't have it, go figure. I guess, that's enough about the knife naming and Miyabi website issues, let's move on to the knife itself.

Henckels 34507-240 Miyabi 5000S 240mm(9.5") Yanagiba Knife Packaging

General

- Like all other Miyabi knives I have seen and reviewed, model 34507-240 Miyabi 5000S yanagiba was packaged in a nice black box with Miyabi logo on it. There's also clear plastic cover so that you can see the knife inside the box. As I knew from the owner of the knife, the knife hasn't been used much, nor has it sharpened. I still did the usual inspection after opening the package. Overall, it is a quality knife, well made and executed. Blade finish was very nice, even satin finish. Shinogi is well defined and follows the contour evenly. The bolster is smoothly ground and transitions into the handle flawlessly. The handle made out of Pakkawood complete with buttcap and insert was also nicely fitted, no gaps, cracks or any other blemishes were detected. In short, it is a well made, very elegant knife, as it should be :) I mean, yanagiba pattern in general is very slender and elegant by itself, it's hard to screw it up, just make things right and it will look beautiful. And, I was in for a big surprise, when I was examining the blade for the first time, I saw for the first time yanagiba with a V edge. I've seen microbevels on the back side of the yanagibas, I've done them myself. This however, was not a microbevel, but a very substantial, mirror polished bevel, forming standard V edge. At that moment I haven't had done any research in to 5000S series knives, I just found out what its series was actually. Later that day I went checking on Miyabi site, ended up on HTML version, which had no info on 5000S, and it took some time till I found out why it had V edge. Before that I even contacted the owner and asked if he had ground that bevel on the ura or had someone grind it for him, the answer was no. Eventually I dug up Miyabi's flash version of the products page and read about symmetrical/asymmetrical edges in there. Anyway, it was important to learn what and why about the edge, since I was about to test the knife and knowing X50CrMoV15 steel I knew I'd dull it considerably in my tests, and therefore, I'd have to sharpen it again. So, I needed to know what was the original design. Like I said, it is a beautiful knife, well made too, ad that's where my compliments end. I don't think X50CrMoV15 steel or any of its clones, even at 57HRC belongs in an yanagiba knife, I mean seriously, it is a protein slicer, you need very thin edge and 57HRC steel is nowhere near to what other alloys can offer at higher hardness. Frankly, I don't know who's more to blame, Miyabi or buyers. Either they were forced to produce that because customers wanted it, or it was an experiment? One of the promo points for 5000S series is that the steel doesn't need as much care as other, harder steel series form Miyabi. Simply put, you can neglect it with less consequences, and band on the board or countertop without ricking breaking the knife in half or severely chipping the edge. Don't worry, or don't fool yourself, it will dull readily, but hey, it won't break! Anyhow, one way or the other, 5000S series are more budget friendly, and shall we say, more novice friendly knives than the rest of the Miyabis. Although, come to think of it, Miyabis made out of VG-10 steel which is called CMV60 in their classification, is hardened at 60-61HRC and costs about the same. So, budget is rather mute point. What is real is the sad fact that knife makers like Shun and Miyabi get lots of complaints about chipped edges and broken tips from the users who clearly abuse those knives, which are just fine in my opion, but compared to much softer western knives they are more fragile. The benefit is of course increased cutting performance and edge holding ability, but when you abuse the knife and chip the edge or break the tip benefits are gone along with the pieces of the edge. Sucks. So, I figure to cater that crowd Miyabi produced 5000S series knives, with soft X50CrMoV15 steel. Can't say I am too happy about that though. 5000S series causes quite a bit of confusion, people bought it thinking it was VG-10 steel, other people bought it as a real Japanese knife, and got disappointed with it, not everyone knows difference between VG-10 steel, ZDP-189 and X50CrMoV15. One just sees classy looking knife from Japanese maker and that's it. Yeah, I am sure there were plenty of people happy with it or who didn't care at all, but IMHO it was unnecessary.

Blade

- Miyabi 34507-240 5000S Yanagiba features 240.00mm(9.45") long blade, which measures 35.35mm wide at the heel, and 3.61mm thick at the same spot. In short, it's a long, slender blade as its name suggests - Yanagi means willow in Japanese, so the word translates into something like willow leaf knife. On its own 240mm blade is quite long, but as far as Yanagibas are concerned, 240mm is rather on the short end of the spectrum. 300mm is far more typical for the yanagiba, and 360mm long ones are no rarity either. Out of the box sharpness was alright, but nowhere near to what I have seen on traditional Japanese yanagibas from Aritsugu, Watanabe and others. The obvious explanation is that because of the V edge, edge thickness is twice as high, it was closer to 30° than 15° or less on other yanagibas. It's not just the V edge to blame though, since you can sharpen V edge to whatever angle you want. 57HRC steel imposes its own limitation, it will not support 15° edge in any configuration for a reasonable amount of time, especially that apparently the knife is marketed to the people not really being careful with their knives, so the thick edge becomes a necessity. As I mentioned in the general section, I hade no complaints to the quality and craftsmanship of the knife, it is really well made. Just, I think X50CrMoV15 steel at 57HRC doesn't do the knife justice and it looses a lot of cutting performance because of that, however it does gain durability, which isn't really necessary for the knife of this type, but that's how it was made, and it was apparently useful at least for some people. On the left side of the blade, there is model number and other information regarding the knife, and on the right side we have Miyabi logo, some Kanji and Zwilling Henckels Japan stamped. Compared to other Yanagibas I've had tested and owned before, Miyabi's yanagiba was about 1mm thinner at the heel, although the width was about the same. Other than that, there was nothing peculiar about the blade, just the unusual grind, otherwise it is a typical yanagiba blade.

Handle

- Like many other Miyabi knives, the handle is made out of Pakkawood, dense and durable material. Looks very cool too when properly done, and Miyabi definitely did a good job on that handle. Stainless steel buttcap and insert between the ferule and handle look very elegant. I did mention in other Japanese kitchen knives reviews that D type handle isn't exactly my favorite, but overall it's a solid, tested design and works well in various grips. Blade to handle proportion is good, I mean purely from visuals point of view. Handle is a bit slimmer than custom handles on my other yanagibas, but in line with what I have seen on other knives of similar type. Running ahead, I'd have to say, the handle was the only part I didn't have a problem with during subsequent testing. Overall, the handle is reasonably comfortable and secure, even when your hands are oily or wet. Steel buttcap doesn't help much for fish and protein slicing, but when used as a general food prep knife, it can be handy, for crushing garlic cloves for example. Except, yanagibas as a general food prep knife take years of practice, and X50CrMoV15 steel yanagiba is an unlikely candidate for that role, for a person who spend decade learning its proper use. I did try to use it as a general food prep knife, but alas, there were no pleasant surprises, the knife performed just as I have expected based on my previous experience with X50CrMoV15 steel kitchen knives. Although, that is about the steel and its performance, the handle was quite satisfactory in terms of comfort. Overall, pakkawood is a durable material, able to withstand water and food acids, but it does need some care, otherwise it will tarnish and eventually develop cracks. Needless to say, this knife doesn't belong anywhere near the dishwasher. X50CrMoV15 or whatever else, wash it by hand, even if Miyabi says 5000S series require less attention, they don't mean you can stick it into a dishwasher.

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