Paring knife from Tojiro was one of the three hi-end kitchen knives I've bought during my Spring 2008 kitchen knives upgrade program. Of the three (paring, 150mm Gyuto and 180mm
Santoku) it turned out to be the most successful and useful knife. At lest it is the most used and my primary paring knife until now. Closely followed by Watanabe Small Knife.. At that time I was still rather inexperienced with better Japanese knives, but overall
fit and finish, attractive design and more importantly Rockwell hardness of the VG-10 steel core used in the knife pretty much at the limit were the reasons for getting those three
knives. Besides I really liked the handle on Tojiro flash series. Overall, Tojiro Flash series knives are rather expensive, by any standards. On the other hand, you are getting top
notch quality knife, 63 layer damascus san-mai VG-10 stainless steel core knife, which is hardened to the max. That can be a good or bad news depending on your use, but if you're
getting into the knives at that price range, I assume you know what you're doing and you can take care of your knives too, let alone using them properly.
Back then when I was getting those Tojiros they were quite hard to find on the net. There were only one or two places you could buy them. Few months later situation changed and now you can fined various Tojiro knives all over the internet. So far on the positive side that didn't affect Tojiro knives quality at all, they're still the same top notch quality. On the other hand wider availability didn't really bring down prices either :) Although, with more sellers chances of finding a bargain is greater. Good luck!
Initial inspection- Tojiro's Flash series are higher quality knives compared to their standard line. Haven't seen other knives from Tojiro, but Flash series come in the nice black boxes. Visual inspection revealed no defects or flaws in the product. Fit and finish are pretty much perfect. Thee are no gaps between the handle and inserts or blade. Edge sharpening job is also very good. Out of the box knife could shave in both directions effortlessly. Very rare to see the knife that sharp even from the custom maker, let alone mass produced knife. Balance, at least on the Flash series knives is handle heavy and it's quite pronounced, especially on smaller knives like the paring knife being reviewed. So, if you have problems with that you might look elsewhere, at least other series from the same Tojiro.
Blade- Blade has typical geometry for the paring knife. Narrow, pointy blade very maneuverable and versatile for delicate and precision knife works. As mentioned above the blade is using traditional Japanese San-Mai technology. That is, softer metal jacket over the super-hard steel core. In this particular case with Flash series, lamniation layer is made out of 63 layer Nickel stainless steel. Etching isn't overly aggressive, but the pattern is clearly visible and looks very nice. Well, all damascus steel looks very nice IMHO.
Cutting core, as I've mentioned above is made out of VG-10 steel which is hardened to 62HRC. As of today, 62HRC is the highest hardness, I have ever seen, or heard of for the VG-10 steel from any maker, Japanese, US or Europeans. VG-10 is a very good cutlery steel and many manufacturers use it in their hi-end knives. I've already had experience with Fallkniven White Whale K2 knife, which also sports VG-10 steel, although at 59HRC. Even that 59HRC blade clearly outperformed comparable knife from Global, namely 180mm Santoku. Needless to say, Tojiros perform a lot better. Obviously, the edge that hard requires special care, but it cuts a lot better, because you can grind much more acute edge on it, and lasts much longer.
Original angle was 30° included, or 15° per side. Which is quite thin compared to European counterparts. I personally think it can be lower on the paring knife which is never(or should never be) used for harsh cutting. After couple sharpenings I've lowered the edge to 12° per side and improvement is very apparent, but that's clearly no limit, which I will try to push sooner or later.