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Yoshi Blade 4.5" Ceramic Santoku
Kitchen Knife Review

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Yoshi Blade 4.5" Ceramic Santoku Knife

I'm not quite sure how did I hear about Yoshi Blade knife company first time. Either I was researching ceramic knives, which I do periodically, to monitor the ceramic kitchen knives progress, which sadly isn't going anywhere near rapid, or someone asked me if I had seen or handled one. At any rate, those two events occurred close enough. That was the spring 2010. March to be precise. I went to Yoshi blade website and checked it out. To be honest, after seeing their claims on the website and their video, I've decided to simply skip it, I've seen enough "miracle knives" promoted everywhere, and they vary from junk to scam. Why bother. Then, I've changed my mind, 20$ ceramic knife, after all it was cheap and it'd do for testing ceramic as a blade material, if all else failed. Which did by the way, sadly, but it was hardly unexpected, given the outrageous claims from the maker, it's very hard for any knife from any material to achieve even half of what they claim. I am not quite sure about the security on their website, nor trust them all that much. And the fact that you can only buy those wonder knives from YoshiBlade, doesn't add to my confidence a bit. So, I've opted for ebay. Ended up with pretty much the same price for the knife plus "free" peeler. Gotta love those free items, you must pay fixed amount, but second item is free ;) well, whatever, 20$ isn't something that bad to satisfy curiosity. That's how I ended up with the Yoshi Blades ceramic santoku knife.

Buyers Beware

- Apparently I was right to stay away form the YoshiBlade website when purchasing their knives. Further research revealed numerous reports on various consumer websites, and all have the same complaint, the YoshiBlade website is using rather shoddy tactics to lure customers into buying more items, but at much higher price. In other words, after clicking buy button on the buy one get one for free for "incredible" 20$, customer is led through confusing sequence of the pages offering other goodies and if by mistake or choice you agree to just one of those, you end up with a purchase anywhere from 70$ to well over 100$. So, 3 YoshiBlades at 100$+ or more doesn't seem to be a good deal at all. Especially when you were not planning on it. Everyone who fell victim to this scheme reports the same thing, it's close to impossible to cancel the order, takes months, tons of time and nerves. So, if you shop there, watch out, or better yet avoid them altogether. I very rarely recommend something like this, but in case of YoshiBlade I simply have no other choice.

Update 2015

- Now there is a website as well where pissed off YoshiBlade customers express their frustration yoshi-blade.pissedconsumer.com. A lot of complaints for one company, and I am quite sure no 20$ knife would receive that many complaints, if it weren't for the outrageous claims they've made. On the other hand, I suppose YoshiBlade wouldn't be able to sell that many knives without those overinflated promises regarding their product.

General

- YoshiBlade knives are made in China and distributed in US by Idea Village. Yoshi blades ceramic santoku knife arrives packed in a plastic box, which in turn was in a cardboard mailing box. The knife plus the peeler. I gave away the peeler as soon as I opened the box, few of my friends were with me when the package was discovered in my mailbox, and having already completed Kyocera ceramic peeler review, which wasn't anything remarkable anyway, plus my own review backlog which is about 30 reviews backed up... I gave to a friend, and he in turn gave it to his parents. Anyway, packaging is ok for the knife and peeler at 20$. The knife itself comes with a plastic sheath, black with several breathing cut outs in it. Obviously, ceramic doesn't rust, but moisture in the sheath is still undesirable, breeding ground for bacteria after all. That's my guess, and perhaps the only useful purpose for those, might be designers wild fantasy too. The knife is light - 97.40g(3.29oz), because it is a ceramic blade knife, but it was heavier than expected, I've had reviewed Kyocera OK-45 ceramic kitchen knife, which has slightly shorter blade, and weighed half as much. As far as I can tell, and it's obvious looking a those two knives, the increase in weight comes mainly from the handle, the blades were not that difference overall.

As for the build and quality, it was ok good for a 20$ knife. Handle is hard rubber, and feels quite comfortable in the full, or broadsword grip. I didn't think much of the details during the initial inspection, overall I was positive about the knife quality and build. No big defects, just the gap between the handle and the blade, on the right side. Nothing that can affect cutting performance, but a gap in that place, will easily get clogged with food leftovers, hence the risk of FBI, no, not the feds, the Food Born Illness. Unless you brush the gap thoroughly there will always be something in there. Well, there isn't much to it, blade and the rubber handle, but I am sure you can screw that up too, at least Yoshi blades didn't. Running ahead, I have to say, that handle is one of the biggest design problems with this knife, the finger guard part to be precise, details in the handle and usage section. For the record, apparently in the later models, Yoshi blade did correct that problem and currently sold knives, at least on their website, do not have the finger guard on them. Actually, there are two packs on ebay, one with a fingerguard and another without it. If you buy one on ebay or any other source, make sure it doesn't have the finger guard, pretty much ruins the knife, it's not all that usable to begin with. Although, removed fingerguard doesn't solve most of the problems with the 4.5" santoku knife anyway, those are inherit deficiencies of the blade geometry.

Blade

- The santoku from Yoshi blades comes with some severely serious warnings, both printed on the paper on the sheath, and extruded on the sheath from the other side, that the blade is Extremely sharp and you must use Extreme Caution when handling the knife. Apparently because it is extremely sharp :) Far be it from me to be ironical about knife and gun safety, ever, but given initial the sharpness of the knife, I couldn't help but to smile. The knife is sharp out of the box, but at best it is mediocre sharp. For one, I very rarely see factory knives really sharp, and I am a knifehead, besides the hundreds of knives I've reviewed already, I've had a chance to handle couple thousands more I guess, and factory knives hardly ever are extremely or scary sharp. Second, ceramics as a blade material has serious drawback, and it is the inability to take really sharp edge, at least it is never as sharp as a good steel. I figure Yoshi Blades had their reasons for placing so many warnings on the blade, but I can't help to think it's designed at least partly, to impress unsuspecting buyer. I haven't seen so many this thing is very sharp warnings on other, sharper knives. Anyway, the blade is 118.00mm(4.65") long, 1.78mm thick and at its widest, it measures almost 34mm. For the santoku knife, it is a puny one. Not that I consider santokus to be big knives, as usual, the biggest you can find without going to custom makers is 180mm(7"), but sub 5" blade for a santoku that's a little bit too small if you ask me. Besides, as Yoshi blades claims, this is the one knife that can replace drawer full of knives!. We'll talk more about that below, but seriously, how in the world one small knife is going to replace them all... For the record, I took the micrographs of the new, in the box knife edge, to compare it later with the knife after use.

Handle

- The handle of the Yoshi blade ceramic santoku was the part I liked the best when I inspected the knife initially. I've tried it in full grip, pinch grip, reverse grip, ok later isn't really for kitchen use, but it felt comfortable and at home in my hand. Hard rubber used in the handle is grippy, provides quite secure grip, and more or less can withstand elements and food acids. Most likely, it will get damaged in the heat though. I suspect this knife will not be dishwasher friendly. I figure, once I destroy this knife testing, I'll stick the handle for a while in a dishwasher to see how it holds up. Now the bad part. The weekend I got Yoshi santoku knife, and next two weeks as well I was busy testing Nenohi Nenox S1 honyaki gyuto and Henckels 34313-270 Miyabi 600D Fusion gyuto. Each of those knives needed sharpening, testing, which lasts about 3 hours for eash session, and other things I had to do. Basically, I never had time to seriously use the knife. Which is why I never realized the design flaw until few weeks later. The handle has a finger guard, which in theory is good, every knife marketing person will tell you it is designed for safety and prevents your hand or fingers slipping down on to the blade. Technically that is true, but just the half of it. The other half, of the truth is that on the knives with more or less wide blades you don't need neither a bolster nor the finger guard to prevent your fingers from slipping down on the blade. Sadly, this fingerguard extends well below the blade and that is a problem, which I didn't see until I've started to cut vegetables on the cutting board. I did expect lack of knuckle space when I saw the knife, but that fingerguard problem was unexpected. Simply put, half of the blade can not come in contact with the board, so half of the already short 4.5" blade is useless for cutting on the surface leaving you with just a little over 2" of the cutting edge. For the knife that one intends as a general purpose knife (and let's not forget, Yoshi Blades claims a lot more than that) it's a disaster. Funny, how I missed that part on initial inspection and for a few days later on, when I was using the knife for small cutting chores. Well, like I said, that has been fixed, looks like that at least. However, if you decide to pick up Yoshi Blade, make sure it doesn't have that fingerguard, which will limit already handicap knife further down. More testing to come, and now let's analyze Yoshi Blades bold claims about their knife.

YoshiBlade Warranty(or what you don't see online)

- There is no official warranty posted on YoshiBlade site. Searching their website for the word warranty yields nothing. Besides website promotions you have a FAQ section, which reiterates promo bulletpoints, which we'll go through in the next section. However, the interesting part is in the brochure that comes with the knives. For starters, their warranty is just 5 years. Next, YoshiBlade care and maintenance guide is far more interesting and realistic than the website. It explicitly warns you against:
  • Using the edge or the side to chop food; I don't know how would you use the side of the blade to chop anything, perhaps it's warning against side impacts which would make sense.
  • Using to cut frozen food;
  • Using to cut hard cheeses;
  • Carving poultry or meat with bones;
  • Cutting on marble, stone, glass or tile;
  • Bend, twist, pry, or apply force to the tip or the side;
  • Using the side of the blade to smash garlic or other foods;
  • Overheating the blade;
Now, that is a long list :) And it is all absolutely true and applies to all ceramic knives 100%. What is not ok, is the fact that there is no mentioning of any of this online, which by the way is the only place you can buy YoshiBlade knives, and on top of that, the rules listed above are contradicting YoshiBlade claims and videos on their own website. In other words, I think it is very dishonest to say your knife replaces drawer full of metal knives, can shave metal off of the steeling rod without damage and then after sending the knife to the owner tell him/her all of the above. A knife can shave metal with no damage, but can't cut frozen food?

Analyzing Yoshi Blade Claims

- There are three parts to that, the bulletpoints on the title page, the FAQ on separate page, and the video on the same page, which seems to be a splice of two infomercials, like those on paid late night TV shows. Few ladies there are very happy with Yoshi blades and make claims just as bold. I do have a problem with all three, bulletpoints and the infomercials because both are very misleading and full of incorrect information. Let's analyze some of it.

Bulletpoint: Ceramic knife that's guaranteed to stay sharp, repeated in the FAQ and on the video, plus matching claim form the video This knife will be as sharp on day 500 as it was on day 1 out of the box. - Absolutely false claim. Ceramic knives dull, and depending on their use they may dull faster than the steel knives. Major ceramic knives makers do not make the same claims and they are using either the same Zirconium oxide(ZrO2) or better material, Zirconium Carbide(ZrC), that's the black ceramic knives you've seen. For the record, Zirconium Carbide ceramic knives hold their edges longer than Zirconium Oxide used in YoshiBlades, but are slightly more brittle too. In general, they are considered higher quality. I've tested several ceramic knives including much more expensive Kyoceras and they dull. So does the Yoshi blade knife. There is no magic.

Bulletpoint: One YoshiBlade can replace a drawer full of metal knives - Generally speaking, that is a false statement, they do not specify what knives. Unless they mean drawer full of butter knives, it is absolute BS. I didn't have to buy this knife to know this statement was false. 4.5" knife will not function the same as 12" slicer, and obviously there was a reason that slicer was made 12", not because someone didn't know what to do with all the extra metal. Boning knives, bread knives, etc. Any of the knives that require more strength than just soft vegetables will not be replaced neither by YoshiBlade nor any other similar ceramic knife, it simply doesn't have enough strength, and as a result it either will chip or break. Can anyone believe this small knife can replace a Deba knife?

Bulletpoint: Santoku design is ideal for precision cutting and thin slicing - False 100%. For starters, this statement contradicts their major sales claim about replacing drawers full of knives. If the knife is optimized or ideal for cutting and thin slicing, then it has to have a thin edge, and preferably long blade too. We already know the blade is short. If the edge is thin, which on YoshiBlade santoku isn't, then it will not work for harsh ingredients, boning, disjointing, etc. Second, nobody at least in knife world considers Santoku knife to be ideal for either precision cutting. In Japan, where santoku originated from, you never find them in a pro kitchen, it is considered a home cook's knife, where it is somewhere between the dedicated vegetable knife like Nakiri and a gyuto, a chef's knife. Being a double grind edge knife, it will never match single grind edge knives like Usuba and yanagiba. So, in the end, no, it's not true about neither santokus, nor about this particular YoshiBlade santoku. The blade of that size and geometry is not ideal for much, if anything.

Video: The fragment where they are shaving butcher's steel with the YoshiBlade knife. It's a fake, for one, and it is absolutely misleading that's two. It will chip the edge, don't do it. Once I complete few other tests, I'll do it myself, and post the edge micrographs here. But, regardless, to shave that much metal in 5 strokes as they show on that video, that outperforms the industrial cutter :) Besides, where did they find black butcher's steel anyway. Resorting to a cheap trick like that...

Video: Ceramics is 10 times stronger than steel - That's true, but again, part of the truth. They do not say which steel to begin with, and steels vary in strength to great degree. The important part is the plasticity, ceramics has pretty much none of it. This is the problem and a culprit behind the chipping. And this is the reason you should keep your ceramic knives away from bones, hard crust bread and other materials like that, plus glass, granite, hard plastic and similar cutting boards. For the records, unlike Yoshi Blades Kyocera and Boker do warn you against using knives on bones and other hard ingredients. Yoshi Blades does disservice their customers by omitting that fact.

Video: Pricing - The promo video shows Kyocera 6" ceramic chef's knife listed at 116.95$ and they (YoshiBlade) tell you how cool it is to get their knife for 20$. Now, their knife being 20$ is true, and I won't deny, it is cheap. However, when comparing things, one should compare apples to apples, not oranges. Comparing 4.5" rather narrow santoku with 6" chef's knife isn't exactly a valid comparison. Second, 117$ is MSRP, because you can get the same Kyocera ceramic 6" chef's knife for 80$. If you want more fair comparison, then there's few picks, going by blade length, 4.5" Kyocera utility knife is 36$, and 5" one is 45-50$. 5.5". That's comparison by blade length. And if you want a santoku, then you can pick up Kyocera 5.5" santoku for 54$. I'm not really advising to go buy ceramic knives actually, just pointing out that the price difference is not 1:6 as YoshiBlade claims but closer to 1:2 or 1:2.5. Another fact one might also consider is Kyocera brand reputation, and those knives are a little better designed, as a minimum, Kyocera santoku has enough of the knuckle clearance. Also, Kyocera honestly warns you on their website against the use of ceramic knives on bones and other hard items, while YoshiBlade rather irresponsibly claims their 4.5" santoku can replace drawer full of knives and no cautions whatsoever, except the false claim about Yoshi 4.5" knife staying sharp forever, or 500 days at least. One aspect that's definitely positive about YoshiBlades is that they offer free replacements. If they stick to their promice, it's a good thing, but I am not so sure how many times they will replace a dull knife. I'll try the replacement later on, we'll see how it works.

The rest of the video is also very suspicious. Gently tapping the cucumber on the steel knife and then whacking it on the ceramic knife to prove that later cuts better. That's rather low blow. And really misleading too, steel can be sharpened to a more acute edge, i.e. sharper than ceramics. What is the point of that fragment anyway. Steel knives come so dull they can't even cut a cucumber? That's an obvious fallacy. if the knife is already so dull, then what, ceramics can't get dull? Sure it can. I've sharpened enough of the dull ceramic knives myself. The deficiency of the short blade on the YoshiBlade santoku can be seen on their own video by the way. Slicing meat requires few sawing motions, and that is exactly why slicing knives are long, because they allow for a clean slice in one long stroke.

Other Reviewers

- Sadly, there are quite a few sites promoting YoshiBlade knives with equally meaningless and false reviews. I won't link those reviews here, there is no reason to promote them, regardless of what the reason is, their ignorance or Yoshi sponsorship. Statements like - Ceramics is 40% sharper than steel is absolutely false, and meaningless, if not stupid. Sharpness is simply the thickness of the edge angle and thickness. And today, high quality steel knives can attain thinner edges than ceramics, at least usable ones. Ceramic that thin will chip very easily.

Usage

- Frankly, this should be called attempted usage, or inability to use. Simply put, the knife sucks for majority of the cutting works. So far I have tried various ingredients, cutting techniques, but there is nothing this knife would work better than a dedicated knife, or even simply feel ok on its own. Major problem being the fingerguard. No wonder YoshiBlade removed it from the later model. Since the testing is still ongoing I'll just list what I think was more conclusive and important.

YoshiBlade Santoku as a paring knife - Short verdict, no good. Major problems being wide blade for a paring knife and a fingerguard, plus the transition between the blade and a handle, it's rather sharp and doesn't feel very comfortable in a choke grip. I've tested the knife on radish, parsley, cherry tomatoes, and several other small vegetables. I already said, the knife is pretty much useless on the board, so choke grip and paring knife works were more suitable. Except they didn't do much. The fingerguard was getting in the way, I couldn't really use the blade heel and that's pretty much the most useful part of the blade in a choke grip. The other version of the YoshiBlade santoku would've done much better, but its wide blade isn't exactly the best fit for the paring knife. The tip is also too blunt or round for a paring knife. Attempted removal of the potato eyes wasn't exactly the easiest I've done compared to other paring knives. Besides, cutting ability of the knife is not very high, and that of course is a handicap for any type of cutting, but in choke grip, when the edge is towards your thumb or other fingers that is especially undesirable, since you have to apply more force, hence less control.

YoshiBlade Santoku as a santoku knife - Well, that is its official and designated use isn't it :) Simply put, the YoshiBlade is one of the worst performing santokus I have ever handled or used. I have 8 other santoku knives reviews online, all of them were put through a lot more, simply because I could use them more. The short blade of the YoshiBlade santoku, further shortened with the damn fingerguard, leaves just about 2.5" of useful blade on the board. Needles sot say, it is nearly useless for majority of the cutting works you would do with a santoku knife on the board. The blade that short on a santoku is a bad idea to begin with, add there insufficient cutting ability, the fingerguard, which is getting in a way and you have a really bad santoku, or a kitchen knife. The bad part is, because you have to apply excessive force and make few cuts instead of one, the blade gets more worn than it should and that will shorten the edge lifetime, at least sharp lifetime.

Other uses - Obviously, 4.5" knife is no good for slicing, and being a ceramic knife I can't use it for any type of work involving contact with bones, disjointing, other hard cutting works. That leaves pretty limited scope for the use of this knife. I have few more tests regarding the edge durability, and later on the overall knife strength, which will probably end up destroying the knife, or attempting to get a replacement knife. We'll see how it goes. Either way, I will keep this page up to date.

Specifications:

  • Blade - 118.00mm(4.65")
  • Thickness - 1.78mm
  • Width - 33.89mm
  • OAL - 248.00mm(0")
  • Steel - Ceramic at ~90HRC
  • Handle - Rubber
  • Weight - 97.40g(3.29oz)
  • Acquired - 06/2010 Price - 20.00$

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Last updated - 02/09/15