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Watanabe Kintaro-Ame Sujihiki 300mm(12.5")
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Watanabe Kintaro-Ame Sujihiki 300mm(12.5")

My second Sujihiki, and one of the most visually attractive knives in my collection. Although, unlike many other good looking knives this one is 100% functional. So, whichever way you put it, it is the best of two worlds ;) Kintaro ame is what Shinichi Watanabe calls his damascus pattern. Never seen or heard any other maker using this term. Regardless of the naming, this is pattern welded damascus which is the cladding for this knife. After I got my first sujihiki, and I already mentioned in my Watanabe 300mm Aogami Sujihiki review, it was a real problem finding a sujihiki with Rockwell hardness above 60HRC, nothing has changed unfortunately. I've continued looking for hard steel sujihikis, but to no avail. Then, while exploring Watanabe website, I found out about his kintaro ame pattern knives and since at that time I didn't know anybody else making 63-65HRC sujihikis, and I really liked the pattern, I've placed an order for another sujihiki, also 300mm like the first one, because I was comfortable using it, and kintaro ame pattern. The only change was in blade geometry, I've asked Watanabe to make more conventional tip instead of the triangular one on the first suji. Few weeks later I have it in my possession, and what a knife it is...

General

- Watanabe Kintaro-ame sujihiki is a really big knife, 445.00mm(17.52") overall length makes it no toy. Weight of the knife is really light, considering its size, just 202.00g(6.83oz). Western kitchen knives almost half the length of it weight that much or more. The knife came in packed in traditional(by now) box with Watanabe logo on it and, also traditionally, initial inspection revealed absolutely no flaws or problems with knife. Fit and finish, craftsmanship, edge polish, all aspects were simply superb. Generally speaking, this knife is a typical sujihiki, or a slicer. To be honest, I have hard time classifying this knife as long or medium :) It is a long knife by itself, but slicers in general are long, or they better be long, since that's what is required to make them efficient slicers. So, given that, 300mm or 12" long slicer isn't that big, more like normal. Although, I've seen considerably shorter slicers, but they don't really slice all that well, because of the short blades. As this particular sujihiki is, it can work perfectly well as a long gyuto, there is enough width in it, although, I still prefer my other gyutos as gyutos.

Blade

- As you already know, Watanabe kintaro-ame sujihiki sports 300.00mm(11.81") blade, which is exactly 3mm thick at the heel, and 45mm wide at the same spot. That's not as wide as a lot of the gyutos, but I've seen quite a few with the gyutos and chef's knives 45mm wide or even less, both Japanese and western make. That is why I said, this sujihiki can be used as s gyuto too. The blade material of choice, Hitachi Aogami 1 steel. Same, as in the first knife. I've had quite a few knives made out of this steel and out of several alloys Watanabe has to choose from in his repertoire, Aogami 1 or Blue 1 is my favorite. Takes insanely sharp edge, holds it very well, not as difficult to sharpen as gokinko steel used in Aritsugu A-Type gyuto. Blade hardness, as mentioned above, within 63-65HRC. Although, given my experience using and sharpening it, I'd guesstimate, this sujihiki it is on the higher end of this range. The knife is made using traditional Japanese Warikomi Awase technique, which in plain English means, the softer, stainless steel Jigane is clad over the hard core - Hagane. Serves dual purpose, protecting the core from elements and impact damage. The initial edge on the knife was very nicely done, mirror polished convex edge, with less than 30° inclusive angle. Out of the box sharpness was extremely high, but I stil proceeded with stropping on the leather, and I felt it still improved the edge bite.

Handle

- Back in 2008, when I originally placed an order, I already liked WA type, octagonal handles, and that is why I ordered kintaro-ame sujihiki with octagonal handle made out of the ho wood, with horn ferrule or Kakumaki as Japanese would say. Being super busy with his schedule, and perhaps for other reasons unknown to me, Watanabe knife company doesn't offer great variety on handle options, D shape and octagonal handles, ho wood, or burnt chestnut, and that's pretty much it. Once in a while, you can get a keyaki wood handle, like I got on the Watanabe 330mm Kintaro Ame Kensaki Yanagiba. Later when I've discovered Stefan Keller and his handles, I've decided to upgrade the handle on the kintaro-ame sujihiki as well. And currently, the handle is in progress, hopefully Stefan will finish it this year along with 6 other handles :). As for the current handle, it works perfectly well, comfortable, nice feel, secure, no complaints, but this knife does deserve fancier handle and I like denser woods in knives anyway. As always, I'll update the handle section, specs and photos once the new handle arrives and gets installed.

Usage

- Compared to Watanabe Honyaki Gyuto, or other gyutos I use the sujihiki a lot less. However, for a slicer it gets a lot of use. As usual, that's because I try to experiment with it as a gyuto, practicing with long knives, etc. As it is for now, well, ok, for last year or so, its use is restricted to cleaning and slicing meat, and vegetables. Simply put, soft food. That's what it was designed after all. As a slicer, it works like charm. For slicing thin slices of protein, or simply cleaning it, 300.00mm(11.81") long, razor sharp blade is perfect, at least for me. As far as vegetables go, it's not as convenient as 270mm gyuto for me, but still, I'd gladly take kintaro-ame sujihiki over any typical western chef's knife, because of its cutting ability and weight. I know, very experienced chef's in Japan often pick one knife to do everything, and some of them use sujihiki for that role, and surprisingly it isn't even 300.00mm(11.81") long. Basically, your skill comes first, and then the knife. Although, still, I'd want to have a knife to struggle with, especially when practicing. Chopping various vegetables is really convenient, except for the thicker items. And as with the other sujihiki, this one works just about perfect as a cake knife. Panettone slicing with this knife is pure joy. Anyway, other than those use, I haven't done any other experimenting. Edge holding is very good, which is what I was expecting from Watanabe forged Aogami steel. I haven't had to sharpen it more than 3 times since I've had it and all the sharpenings were done either on Naniwa Chosera 10000x Super Finishing Synthetic Whetstone or finer, 0.50µm and 0.25µm diamond crystal loaded strops. So, in the end, I have nothing but positive comments about this knife and I've very happy I have it.

Image Gallery

Specifications:

  • Blade - 300.00mm(11.81")
  • Thickness - 3.00mm
  • OAL - 445.00mm(17.52")
  • Steel - Aogami 63-65HRC
  • Handle - Ho Wood
  • Weight - 202.00g(6.83oz)
  • Acquired - 11/2008 Price - 850.00$

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Last updated - 09/01/11