Being a knife collector and Japanese kitchen knives enthusiast, naturally I try to "spread the knowledge" :) Well, if not that, then on occasion, or quite often I have to explain why do I need 40+ kitchen knives, what's the point, what's the difference, but hey, that's fun too. Besides, every one in a while, I manage to enlighten one more non knife person and get him/her into Japanese kitchen knives, i.e. really good kitchen knives. Can't say I am successful all that often, but whenever I am, it's still one more person using a good knife. Anyhow, Watanabe 240mm Miroshi Deba was a present for one of such converts. He has already picked up Yoshikane Hammer Finished petty knife, Shun Classic DM0716 paring knife, and few other things. Once he sort of described the knife he wanted, which sounded sortta like hefty gyuto knife, designated use for vegetables and cheese cutting. Vegetables are ok with bunch of different kitchen knives, with various success, but the cheese... That can do numbers on pretty much any edge. Well, we went through my knife collection and Shigefusa Kitaeji Miroshi Deba seemed to fit the bill, minus fancy kitaeji stuff and year+ waiting period for the Shigefusa knives. I suggested Watanabe, and since I've had about a dozen Watanabe Kitchen Knives in my collection, the decision came easy. Later on, I've checked with Shinichi, he said about 6 weeks or so for the knife, and by that time, the guy's birthday was coming up, so I figure that'd make a good present. The knife arrived in about 7 weeks, which was spot on, 6 weeks for making and week for delivery. Things were worked out pretty well, because Watanabe's backlog often is several months.
General- As all other knives from Watanabe, Miroshi deba came in packed tight in a box, which contained smaller box, with Watanabe logo on it, which in turn contained a knife :) Opening the box revealed a massive knife, and even though it was neither my first Watanabe knife, nor my first 240mm Miroshi Deba, I was still really impressed with it. Almost decided to order one for myself, but then I figured that already having similar miroshi deba from Shigefusa, plus another, Watanabe 210mm Miroshi Deba in my collection, my needs would be better served with another type of knife. Fit and finish of the knife were very high, as they always are from Watanabe. The blade has very nice, smooth satin finish, actually it's semi-mirror polish. The edge was mirror polished and extremely sharp. Burnt chestnut handle was fitted well, no gaps, no cracks. In short, very thorough inspection didn't reveal any defects in the knife. Even though, miroshi debas are thin debas by definition, still, they are not small knives, especially at that length, and its weight is also very considerable, this particular miroshi deba weighs almost a pound, 396.00g(13.39oz) to be precise. That definitely fulfilled the "hefty" part of the requirement. Despite its heavy weight the knife handling is quite easy. And combined with super sharp edge, its cutting ability is very high. I often repeat in various reviews that key to cutting performance is the sharp edge first, and that's what one should rely first and foremost for cutting performance, not just sheer weight, which will not make much of a difference with a dull edge, but for really sharp edges, heavy weight has its implications. All in all, it is a very good knife, but I don't think I'd use it as my primary gyuto knife, unless I had to for some reason. Considering that, I routinely do 1.5-2hour long cutting sessions with my gyutos and chukabochos, swinging this knife for that long could be an issue due to increased weight and thickness compared to gyutos. That assumption was tested the following weekend, during about 2 hour long vegetable cutting fest. Running ahead, I can say I was surprised how well things turned out, even though I still wouldn't choose it as my one and only gyuto, if I was forced to make such a choice ;)
Blade- Watanabe miroshi deba sports 250.00mm(9.84") long, 5.5mm thick(at the heel) blade. At its widest the blade is 54mm wide. That's as wide as many of my gyutos, and some of them are longer than this miroshi. Overall, except for the extra thickness the blade geometry is quite similar to that of the gyuto. However, unlike most of the gyutos I own or handled, the miroshi deba has single grind, chisel edge. That is also very typical for the debas, majority are single grind edges, and debas with double bevel edge has designated name ryodeba. Single edge grind Japanese knives as usual have urasuki, a concave back in other words. Makes both, cutting and sharpening easier. The blade construction is Ni-Mai awase, also typical for single grind blades. Cladding(jigane) is wrought iron and the core - hagane is Hitachi Aogami 2 steel. Unfortunately, stainless steel cladding is not available for single grind blades, and wrought iron is quite reactive, which means it forms patina easily. If you have problems with patina, then you should consider that aspect, but lots of knife aficionados love patina :) Personally, I don't mind it, and patina is a protective layer of oxidation anyway.
The out of the box edge was highly polished and very sharp. Bevel and shinogi line were perfectly uniform and even. Same applies to the backside. Here is the image of the urasuki, you can see sharpened line. As a person who routinely sharpens all sorts of knives by hand, to achieve highest sharpness levels, I can certainly appreciate the skill and level of finesse on the edges that come on Watanabe knives. The spine is nicely rounded and polished. Later on, when I was cutting the salad in that 2 hour session, I had to lean on it numerous times, and it was really helpful, especially for prolonged cutting. I've tried to measure the edge angle, but with convex edges it's never absolutely precise. Still, it came about 12°-15°, and that's quite thin, especially considering that this is a chisel edge knife, i.e. 15° is an inclusive angle. Miroshi debas are designed to be thinner than hon-debas, and as such, can and do have thinner edges too. Either way, having the 15° inclusive edge works just fine for gyuto as well. Considering that most of the western chef's knives have inclusive edge angles around 36° at best, and 40°-50° in most of the cases, you can see how this Miroshi would be really high performance cutter. Now, compared to some of the best gyutos I have, specifically Watanabe 270mm Honyaki gyuto, which has ~5° per side angle, miroshi has thicker edge, but that is rather an exception. Other gyutos are about 10°-12° per side, resulting in 20°-24° inclusive edge angles. Anyhow, one way or the other, Miroshi deba turned out to be a really versatile knife, and I'll discuss that in details later, in usage section.
Handle- The handle was the choice of the future owner, it was easy, given that Watanabe has rather limited options for the handles, specifically you can choose between the standard ho wood handle and burnt chestnut. The handle is standard D-type shape. Not exactly my favorite, but perfectly usable. As far as proportions go, to my taste, handle/blade ratio is very good, and handle diameter is also good, not too thin and not too thick either. The ferule is black horn, and being more water resistant than wood, it functions as a protector for the handle wood section. As far as burnt chestnut goes, I do like its texture and feel, and it is really durable, when minimal care is taken. That's based on my experience with Watanabe Sakekiri deba. Not sure if the handle has protective coating, or it's just burnt thingy, but it definitely absorbs less water than ho wood. Also, as usual I coat my wood handles with wax, which acts like a sealant, preventing water penetration. That procedure I think is a good idea for all wood handles, chestnut or ho or whatever else. Other than that, not much to say about the handle, if it was my knife, I'd probably have Stefan Keller to make another one for me from ebony or something like that, but the owner was happy with the original handle and that's what matters. As far as handle usability and comfort goes, it is quite high, it felt alright throughout the entire 2 hour long session, and for the knife that weighs 396.00g(13.39oz), I'd say that's a very good result.
Last updated - 02/23/12