At the end of May 2010 I was contacted by Michael, Henckels Japan rep. He's the nice guy who answered many open questions regarding Henckels production knives and provided a lot of details about Miyabi knives. All that helped great deal while working on Henckels 34584-180 Miyabi 7000MC 180mm(7") Santoku Knife Review, and in addition to that few other mysteries were resolved, specifically the COM-60 steel naming, which I'll talk about a little later, in the blade section. Anyway, as Michael said, Henckels was about to introduce a new line of Miyabi knives, 600D Fusion series, which would be Sur La Table Store exclusive, and he inquired if I was interested in testing and reviewing one. The specs of the new line were also provided and I had to choose from bunch of knives which one to test. It's pretty loaded lineup by the way including: 3.5" Vegetable knife, 3.5" Paring knife, 4.5" Sheepsfoot Paring knife, 5.5" Utility knife, 7" Santoku HE, 4" Mini Chef's knife, 6" Chef's knife, 8" Chef's knife, 10" Chef's knife, 9" Slicer, 9" Bread knife. Out of all those goodies I've picked the 10" gyuto. The chose was influenced primarily by two reasons, a) my experience with gyutos is better than with other types of knives; b) gyuto being multipurpose knife is more versatile and can be used on wider variety of ingredients compared to other knives in the 600D Fusion series. If I had a chance for more than one knife, I'd pick something else too, no problemo :) But if it's just one, then it better be something more versatile. Well, at least at that point I wasn't specifically interested in other knives. I told Michael that I wouldn't keep the tester blade, and offered to return it after testing, or pass it to other knife guys for further testing. Michael, or Henckels represented by Michael opted for the passaround, and that's how it went. All things aside, giving a new knife to bunch of very demanding knife guys was a bold step from Henckels Miyabi division and my respektz to them for doing that. Few more emails were exchanged and then I got the test knife, on 06/07/2010.
General- Henckels Miyabi 600D Fusion line knives are made using warikomi cladding type. Total of 65 layer damascus steel(pattern welded), of which 64 layers(32 per side) are jigane, i.e. softer, highly stain resistant steel, and the hard core layer, hagane in the center. The usual technique designed to protect hard steel core from the elements and excessive lateral forces. Shun classic kitchen knives series use the same make style, although the number of layers is just half, 32 layers of jigane. Not that it will affect the overall knife cutting performance, but the theory is that more layers provide more flexibility and springiness. I've never measured that, but one way or another, more layered knives are considered higher end. After all, it tames more work to make them. The distinguishing feature of the 600D Fusion line is the handle. As far as I understand, it was a collaboration between Henckels Miyabi, iron Chef Morimoto, I refer him here and there in bunch of reviews, and Sur La Table was involved too, well it is their exclusive line of knives, so that was expected too.
The knife arrived packed in a nice, see through plastic box, with black base that had the matching insert for the handle. Overall package looked very respectable. Initial inspection revealed very well crafted knife. I couldn't find any defects or flaws in the knife. Every detail is precisely machined and well fitted. No gaps between any components. Out of the box sharpness was very high considering it was a production knife, and it really blew Nenox S1 honyaki gyuto out of the water in that department. Overall, it's a large gyuto, thin, even compared to other gyutos, its quite lightweight for a gyuto too, western knives of the similar size are twice as heavy, so no comparison really. Balance is close to the handle, and to me it was just fine. As I always say, balance is overrated for one, and very personal thing for pretty much any knife, unless the maker manages to develop something really weird. Blade/handle proportion is pretty much ideal if you ask me. As far as the knife handling and nimbleness go, 600D gyuto is a remarkable specimen. The knife simply begs to be used.
Blade- Henckels 34313-270 Miyabi 600D Fusion gyuto has the blade which measures 255mm in length, that's just a hair over 10". Here's the strange part, as usual Henckel model number includes blade length in millimeters, and that 270 in the 34313-270 should be just that, 270mm, which would make 10.5", but the spec says 10" and that's what it is. To me it'd be better if it had that extra 15mm added in length, but on the other hand, it has just the same 15mm over 240mm ;) Anyway, I am sure most of the people are not as picky about the blade length and many other aspects of the knife performance as I am, and if you are like me, well, then now you know. As I said, the blade is fairly thin for the gyuto of that size, just 2.20mm thick at the heel. The width which is about 53mm at its widest is fairly common for the gyutos within 240-270mm blade length range. The blade spine is nicely rounded, which is a welcomed feature. Not too many high end knives sport rounded spines, and on some I've done that myself. It makes a difference for prolonged use, especially when you are mincing veggies on the board using two hands. One rather interesting aspect is the geometry. I can't quite place it, what is the difference, but it's different from al the gyutos I have. it's not as upswept as the Shun Gyuto knife I have reviewed before. And it isn't quite the slim French style like Akifusa(Ikeda) Gyuto. It's has more curved edge than other gyutos, while the spine is still straight. Somewhat different concept. Can't say I consider it perfect or better than others, I like bunch of my gyuto blade geometries better that this one, but as usual the beauty is in the eye of the beholder ;) As far as performance is concerned, the blade is just fine. The rest is a matter of taste. Oh, I almost forgot, the steel used in the blade. In Henckel's classification the steel is called CMV-60, and translated to standard names that is our good old Takefu VG-10 stainless steel. As for the 60, it's the target median value of the hardness, 60HRC to be precise, and 59-61HRC is the acceptable range, which is common standard range in knifemaking.
I already mentioned high initial sharpness of the knife. The bevel grinds were even and while it wasn't the 100 000 grit mirror polish I put on the knives myself, I'd guesstimate it was finished well above 3000 grit. Most likely 5000 grit or higher, because I only needed 10 minutes or so on the 10000 grit naniwa chosera superstone to polish it at the 10K level. The edge had asymmetrical V grind, and my estimate was about 15° per side sharpening angle. Later on, when I started using the knife, I was surprised how high its cutting ability was. I've asked Michael and he said the specification calls for the 50/50 edge, i.e. symmetrical, but since I got the early model, may be the workers didn't know yet. Also, the designed edge angle is 9.5°-12° per side. That's a really acute edge. In fact I haven't yet seen a production knife with the edge that acute. I did measure the edge on my knife, and according to my measurements it's somewhere between 13"-14" per side. Although, measuring the edges with 1-2 deg precision, that's a pretty difficult work. Since the blade was new, and pretty well sharpened to begin with, I had no need for serious work, like I said, 10 minutes on 10K stone, followed by stropping on 0.50µm and 0.25µm diamond loaded leather strops with 0.30µm aluminum oxide abrasive film between those two. even if the difference is small, the edge quality improvement is clearly there. The reason I sharpened edge is that I wanted to have the identical base conditions for my tests, and especially because the previous testing with Nenohi Nenox S1 gyuto test. Based on two sessions I felt it was performing no better than VG-10 steel knives even if that, so I've had to have the same starting edge finish to validate those conclusions.
Handle- The handle is one of the best parts of the knife. I very rarely say that, and that's not to say the blade is bad :) The handle is western type, not too many fancy curves, and still, it is very comfortable in a full grip, in a pinch grip, in a choke grip. The slabs are fixed on the full tang using triple rivets. Typical for western handled knives. The distinct feature of the 600D Fusion line - two red spacers sandwiched between the knife tang and the slabs. I thought the material was pakkawood, which is a really dense, black wood, but no, I was wrong, it is glass reinforced POM. Feels really solid though. According to Henckels japan, the material choice was prompted by desire to prevent the handle damage in the pro environment. The finish on the handle slabs is very smooth, which I like a lot. Grip is still secure, later when I was testing the knife, at some point my palms and fingers were covered in avocado paste, which needless to say was very oily and slippery. As usual, I'd wash my hands before handling the knife, I don't need extra adventures with super sharp knives, but for testing purposes I did start cutting with oily hands, for next 10-15 minutes or so I was using the knife with really slippery hands, never the less the blade continued to be relatively stable in my hand, and I assume it was partly thanks to the fact that the handle wasn't round or D type, partly to the POM's grippy, yet smooth surface. However, I strongly advise you against doing the same with your knife, at least not on regular basis. Safety first ;) Obviously, if you are experimenting, then it's up to you.
Usage, Original Edge- As usual the knives that end up in my hands for short period of time undergo pretty standard set of cutting chores. Obviously, I keep changing the routine, refining it and at the same time I try to make the tests more standard, more and similar from test to test, at the same time considering the knife design, edge angle, and whatever other relevant factors. For most of the kitchen knives vegetables and boneless meat do make perfect testing medium. Plus my diet requirements call for certain amount of salads per week, which is also quite constant recipe. Good thing is it contains about 20 different vegetables. Anyway, number of ingredients aside, I cut about 4kg(10-11lbs) green mass in one session, all minced and shredded. The idea is that I perform same motion repeatedly for prolonged time and variations over the time don't make difference on average. Besides, the session lasting 2-3 hours gives really good idea about knife performance and comfortability. I've had knives that pretty much caused cramps or at least significant muscle tiredness in my fingers and palms after those hours of use. So exactly the same things were done with 600D Fusion gyuto knife. And if I say it worked well, that's the result of pretty intense cutting, not because I got excited after playing with the knife for 5 minutes ;)
First week, or to be precise, during the weekdays I was using the Miyabi Fusion gyuto for very minor works, whatever came up, here and there, but it's pretty much negligible. I did figure out that the handle was really comfy in several grips and the cutting ability even of the initial 5K finished edge was really high. Then, on Saturday, I've spent about 30 minutes total to prepare the edge accordingly for the upcoming main testing. I already described what I did in the Blade section above. Considering the results of the testing previous week, and the questions I've received on knifeforums about details of the test process, I've decided to keep more detailed log of the test next day. The whole cutting process was on the end grain cutting board from Dave, the boardsmith. Just emphasizing the knife friendly board here. The edge degradation was monitored using cherry tomatoes. I've described the method in other reviews, but in short the test is to cut the cherry tomato placed on the board using just the weight of the knife. Obviously the knife needs to be quite sharp. It's not the best sharpness level achievable, but still respectable. The following is the detailed log of the cutting test, and if you are not into those details, skip to the next paragraph.So, here's the log of the test:
- Start - slices through tomato with any part of the blade, less than 1" long slice;
- 2lbs Misc veg. leaves mix chopped - No degradation detectable;
- 0.8lbs Green Collard chiffonade, ~1mm thick, then cut in 3 perpendicularly - Belly, which was constantly in contact with the board started having difficulties, the heel is same as start;
- 1lbs Italian parsley - no change is observable from the previous step;
- 0.5lbs Radish 1mm matchsticks - belly at the same level, the heel needs ~2" distance to make the cut (used mostly heel part to chop the matchsticks);
- Green Onions 1lbs, minced - belly is duller, needs ~4"-5" to make a cut, heel is at the same level ~2";
- 2lbs broccoli minced greens and stems - belly no longer passes the test, the heel still does, ~3"; Used 10 strokes per side on borosilicate rod to restore the edge, first 3 inches of the tip still can't pass the test, the rest of the edge is restored, passes the test again), last ~4" don't need steeling, still passing the test.
Past that point, most of the veggies left to cut were softer compared to the ingredients above. The only harder thing to cut was Brussels sprouts. I cut about 1.5lbs. Shredded. After I was done with that, the heel failed the tomato test too, however I brought it back with 5 strokes per side on the borosilicate rod. The summary of the whole thing, is that the knife did hold up really good for 60HRC VG-10. At the end of the test the blade heel still could manage to cut those tomatoes using just the blade weight, the belly which dulled the most, obviously from continuous contact with the board during rocking motion cuts, couldn't pass the tomato cutting test at the end, and I couldn't restore its sharpness with 10 strokes per side, although that was enough to restore crisp edge past belly to the heel. However, longer steeling session, to be precise, 20 more strokes per side restored it to the level of slicing the control tomatoes with its own weight again. To clarify, this is the steeling after all cutting was completed, post 3 hour long session, not the one described on step 6 in the log above. Overall, I'd say the performance was comparable with what I saw on Shun Classic series and Tojiro Flash kitchen knives. By the way, to keep things in perspective, whenever I state any part of the knife failed to pass the tomato test, you have to remember we're talking about cutting the cherry tomatoes using just the weight of the knife, that's way sharper than most of the knives you buy in the store. Another factor is the weight of the knife, 600D Fusion gyuto is less that half of the weight of the similar western kitchen knives.
Comparing to the other knives - the main performance comparison this time was the Nenox S1 gyuto. Which was run in the same series of tests twice in the row prior to the tests
of the 600D Fusion gyuto. So far 600D gyuto came out on top. I didn't keep the log as detailed in Nenox tests, but the sequence was the same, ingredients mass was also same, and
Nenox failed the tomato test right after tomatoes, but it failed throughout the whole blade, including the heel, while 600D blade heel still passed the test. Considering the
blade on Nenox S1 is slightly longer, 600D gyuto achievement was more impressive. I couldn't restore the edge Nenox S1 as I did on 600D either. Another major difference, once I was
done with all the veggies in both tests(Nenox S1 and 600D Fusion gyuto) I had to cut the leftover control tomatoes, and Nenox S1 kept squashing them, while 600D gyuto was able to cut
the with a little pressure, undamaged. Obviously, those two knives are very different styles and that might determine your choice, although the price difference is severe ;)
Comparing to Shun knives, I'd still pick 600D Fusion. Shun classic series are the closest comparison with Miyabi 600D Fusion line. And in that comparison Miyabi 600D is a clear winner in my opinion. The blade geometry and the handle make it much better knife. I'm no big fan of neither German style, big belly kitchen knives, nor the D-type handles on them and 600D Fusion Morimoto Edition solves both problems for me. If you think the same way, well there you go ;)
One more close match would be Tojiro Flash series kitchen knives. Same clad type blade(62 layers), the main difference being that Tojiro hardens VG-10 steel to the max, at least according to the specs, 62HRC, while 600D Fusion gyuto is 59-61 HRC, with 60HRC median hardness. Even 1 HRC can make a difference, especially when it's close to the upper limit. Tojiros have a reputation for being chippy and Shuns do not. I do manage to use my Tojiros without chipping, but couple times when my guests handled them I did find a chip in there. So, you'd have to consider that aspect, when comparing 600D Fusion with Tojiro Flash. And the handles of course. I did like the handle on Tojiros, western type, comfy, although lately I feel they're rather on the heavy side. As far as ergonomics and comfort goes, I prefer 600D Fusion handles. So, you'd have to handle those two, unless you can make up your mind by pictures and this review.
Conclusions- In my opinion the knife performance to price ratio is really high. It is not a cheap knife for an average buyer, but considering the prices on other knives, I am referring to mainstream kitchen knives from major makers, they do come pretty close to the price of the Fusion series, while their cutting performance is severely lagging compared to Miyabi Fusion knives. Forget western knives, Henckels Fusion gyuto knife performed much better than the Nenohi Nenox S1 gyuto, and that's almost 600$ knife for the record. Now, is it the best knife I have ever seen? No, I have better ones and Miyabi themselves make better knives too, although they are more expensive and the steel used in them requires more experience and care, so they may not be the best for everyone. Still, for what it is, VG-10 knife at 60HRC, it performs exceptionally well and its build quality is very high. I like the design, usability and overall performance. And all that in the package that comes for 140$. IMHO a very good deal. At this time, if my budget was in the vicinity of 150$ and I wanted high performance knife that was relatively easy to maintain, Miyabi 600D Fusion gyuto would definitely be on the top of the list, the rest is up to you.
- Blade - 255.00mm(10")
- Thickness - 2.20mm
- Width - 53.00mm
- OAL - 390.00mm(15.35")
- Steel - VG-10 steel at 59-61HRC
- Handle - Glass Enhanced POM
- Weight - 245.10g(8.29oz)
- Acquired - 06/2010 Price - 140.00$
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Last updated - 08/26/13