Truth be told I wasn't planning on buying this knife at all. By Match 2009, I already had 5 gyuto knives in my kitchen knives collection and I can say without any bragging, those were real good knives too. The collection included Aritsugu 270mm A-Type Gyuto, Sanetsu 270mm ZDP-189 Gyuto, Watanabe 270mm Honyaki Gyuto, and a couple more 240mm ones. Still, I got interested in Tadatsuna gyuto. Mainly because there was a discussion on the knifeforums.com, where the photo was posted comparing few gyuto spines. Tadatsuna was the thinnest of them all. It was a really curious knife. At that point I have decided to get one for me. After all, thinner knives do cut better, except I wasn't very sure how would this thing perform exactly. 270mm long blade at 2mm width was the combo I haven't seen or handled before. Besides, knife dudes at KF were pretty excited about Tadatsuna knives. The only thing to decide was the steel. Tadatsuna primarily uses two different steels in their knives, INOX and Shirogami or white steel. INOX is the abbreviation formed from French - Inoxidant, i.e. stainless. Exact composition unknown, although there are a few rumors floating around, one of them stating Tadatsuna INOX is the good old VG-10 steel, which I am having hard time to believe. Few days later after publishig this review I was contacted by fellow knife entuisiast who clarified INOX mystery, which wasn't a mystery at all - Tadatsuna uses Hitachi Ginsanko (silver paper 3 steel) in their INOX line. It's the same formula as VG-1 and Sandvik 19C27. Lots of people swar by it. I have no experience, so I'm just realying the word out there ;) Anyway, I wasn't interested in INOX version, I wanted Shirogami version and obviously something had to happen with it :( In that, Tadatsuna managed to cancel Shirogami steel knives, although after receiving multiple requests he indicated the possibility of restoring the production of Shirogami knives somewhere around fall 2009. In short that sucked. The word was that the smith working on the Shirogamis left the company. Whatever it was I didn't really find out, because couple weeks later Takeshi of Aframes Tokyo managed to dig up white steel version gyuto for me somewhere and 2 days later I've had it in my hands :)
General- Full name and title of the maker, or the brand to be precise, is Awataguchi Ikkanashi Tadatsuna. As I have learned from Takeshi, Awataguchi is one of the eight entrances in Kyoto, Japan, and apparently that was one of the places where famous knifemakers lived and conducted their business. Just like any good gyuto or other quality knife from Japanese knifemakers, Tadatsuna Shirogami gyuto arrived in a nice box, with saya strapped to it. The saya isn't like any other I have seen before. Not much of a difference, but it does have a strange half circle cut out on the opening side. Not so sure why. As for the rest it is your usual Japanese saya. wooden scabbard in other words. Black horn pin holds the blade inside the saya. As usual I have carefully inspected the knife after opening the box. The blade was flawless, no scratches, no damages to the edge, sharpened edge is very even and grind lines are very even. The small problem was in the handle. Tadatsuna WA type(octagonal shape) handles have a wood pin in the middle, I assume holding it on the tang. On one side the pin was skewed to the side, and somewhat depressed into the handle. The other side was flush with the handle much better. I didn't really pay any attention to that, the rest was perfect, no complaints. Thanks to its incredibly thin blade, just 2mm, the whole knife is also incredibly light - 180.00g(6.09oz). It's 50%-70% less weight than other Gyutos I've mentioned in this review, and 2-3 times lighter than western knives, even the much shorter ones.
Handle- I have mixed feelings about this particular handle. On one hand, the Wa handles are my favorites. Tadatsuna handle is one of the better WA type handles I have seen on any Japanese kitchen knife. Ergonomics, size, proportions, all are pretty much perfect. The problem is, the handle was the only part of the knife that had a defect, and sadly after less than one month of use the blade developed horizontal play. Bear in mind, I have half a dozen other gyutos alone to use, so it's not like this knife was going through the same paces as in the pro chef kitchen. Total number of uses would be 5-6 at most. 1-1.5 hours max at a time. I've never had that happen to me with so many Japanese kitchen knives going through my hands. I still believe I got the lemon, because with so many Tadatsuna users on knifeforums it's be widely reported if it ever was a persistent problem. However, that doesn't make me any happier with my knife. The only comfort is that I was going to replace that handle with Stefan Keller's custom piece anyway. So, for now the knife is temporarily retired. In short, it is a good handle design and it is a well made handle, unless it develops a play like it did for me. Things happen, even with ~300$ knives.
Blade- Tadatsuna Shirogami gyuto sports 270mm long, and just 2mm(!) thick blade. Geometry-wise it is closer to French style chef's knife that to belly rich German knives. Although, this isn't your typical French chef's knife either. In short, this is in between those two, and that's your gyuto geometry. Needless to say, blade is more than twice as thin compared to similar or even much shorter western counterparts. As for the width, it's quite wide at 51mm in the heel area, although still falls behind the Watanabe 270mm Honyaki Gyuto - 58mm, and Shigefusa Kitaeji Gyuto - 56mm. It's not narrow by any means though. Original edge on the blade was evenly ground, and had very high initial sharpness. Still, I was able to improve its sharpness by giving it 20 passes per side on 0.5µm diamond spray loaded leather strop and then 10 passes per side on 0.25µm diamond strop. After that mandatory stropping on a plain leather strop and the blade was blazing sharp.
As I mentioned few times already the blade is made of Hitachi Shirogami(White)
steel. It is a very pure, high carbon alloy, not too many ingredients in it. Because of that it does get very sharp, sharper than Aogami steels, although, edge holding ability suffers a little bit because of that. I
mean the absence of other elements in the alloy. At any rate, nobody can say Shirogami steel at 63HRC doesn't hold a good edge though :) If it is enough for pro chefs and they can
make it though the day without sharpening, in home use that means weeks with proper maintenance, that would be steeling, and(or) stropping it, prior to every use. I do exactly
that. So far all I had to do was couple fallbacks to 0.5µm diamond loaded strops and that's it. No sharpening was required in almost 2 months period. My best guesstimate
about the edge angle is ~15° per side, or 30° included edge angle. Which is, moderate for the gyuto. Not thick, but not that thin either. Eventually, I will go at least to
10° per side. We'll see how it will hold up. I've mentioned that Shirogami steel gets incredibly sharp. Well, one of the indicators of that is the simple fact that both
Tadatsuna Shirogami knives tend to bite into the wood cutting board, even though I am always using very light pressure and being real careful with those blades in general. I'm
referring to this gyuto and Tadatsuna White Steel Kamagata Usuba.
Shirogami or INOX? - One more interesting detail. Shirogami steel is not stainless steel. As usual, non stain resistant steels are clad with stainless steel layers in Japanese kitchen knives, that is san-mai style. Based on initial use I was pretty sure it was clad blade, no characteristic patina, no rusting. Turns out I was wrong. Tadatsuna shirogami gyuto is made of single, solid piece of white steel. At some point I was even unsure how did it all that work, because the same Shirogami steel Kamagata Usuba from the same Tadatsuna took patina during its first use. Even though I cut the same stuff with this gyuto, it is resisting patina better. I've considered that may be Takeshi made a mistake and I got INOX version instead of the Shirogami. I've conducted an experiment to check my suspicions, that is I've cut several different types of veggies and left the knife unwashed for couple hours. No sign of patina at all. I seriously started thinking that either it was INOX or at least clad with stainless steel. However, after asking the question on knifeforums kitchen section, several members pointed out that the blade was most likely covered with lacquer. I've examined the edge bevel, and indeed, even under 5x magnification I could see chipped lacquer layer. So, the mystery was solved pretty easy. The two photos attached to this paragraph show the lacquer layer chipping mentioned above.
- Blade - 270.00mm(10.63")
- Thickness - 2.00mm
- Width - 51.00mm
- OAL - 415.00mm(16.34")
- Steel - Shirogami 62-64HRC
- Handle - Magnolia Wood
- Weight - 180.00g(6.09oz)
- Acquired - 03/2009 Price - 309.00$
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Last updated - 08/26/13