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Watanabe Sakekiri 150mm(6")
Japanese Kitchen Knife Review

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Watanabe Sakekiri 150mm(6")

Did I really need yet another deba knife? Sure I did. Well, to be honest I had a new knife bug eating me, sometime in June 2009. so, I reviewed my collection, and there were half a dozen Gyutos, few Yanagibas, few nakiris, few Debas too. But... The debas I have had didn't include thinner, lighter and shorter variation of Deba knife - Sakekiri, which literally translates into Salmon cutter. Despite having no deba word in its name, it is a deba knife. Since Salmon isn't that big, it's thin and shorter than other Debas. Although, that doesn't mean it won't cut other fish just as well. Basically, it is the fish size and anatomy to certain degree that defines the knife used, or which Deba knife used for its processing.

General

- Since it wasn't highly customized order, I just asked for Watanabe Pro like kuro-uchi sakekiri the delivery time was short. Knife was made in a few days and delivery form Shinichi's place to CA as usual takes 3 days via EMS. The knife arrived in the box with Watanabe logo on it, and was wrapped and packed as usual. I didn't order saya with it, thus all I got was the blade and the box :) Examining out of the box knife revealed medium size knife, with excellent workmanship and no defects. Sharpening job is very good, handle well fitted and sealed, grind lines and bevels on both, front and urasuki side are very even. Being a specialized deba, it isn't neither as thick nor as heavy as true, or Hon-Deba would be. Sakekiri weighs just 161.10g(5.45oz), compared to Kobayashi Deba's 384.00g(12.98oz), it's really light.

One thing that made this knife different is its kuro-uchi finish. In general the terms kuro-uchi refers to blackened, rustic finish on the knife, and so far no two makers I have knives from, made the same kuro-uchi finish. However, Watanabe made this one different from his other kuro-uchi knife I have, 150mm Pro Nakiri. The Sakekiri finish is more rougher and somewhat grayish color. Comparing the two, I prefer kuro-uchi finish on the Nakiri, it's a lot smoother, but this rougher finish does add character to much thicker and heftier Sakekiri(compared to nakri).

Blade

- The blade of the Sakekiri knife is 150mm long and because it is a deba, it's quite wide for its size, 48mm wide to be precise. It's not very thick for a deba, but then again, by design it is more delicate deba knife. The standard steel Watanabe uses in his pro lines and therefore in this sakekiri Hitachi Aogami 1 steel is used. Compared to Aogami 2 (ref - Aogami 1 vs. Aogami 2 steel comparison graph) Aogami 1, or Blue 1 contains more Carbon(C) and Tungsten(W). That makes is a litle more wear resistant and less tough. I point out this detail because, genetally one would use tougher steel in the deba type knife, and Watanabe does use Aogami 2 steel in his Miroshi Deba knives, although I asked him to make mine in Aogami 1. However, the more delicate sakekiri doesn't need that much toughness and hence the Aogami 1 steel. I like it that way. Very pure steel, with minimal alloying elements and with Watanabe heat treatment and forging it is a superb knife steel. As I mentioned above sharpening job is very good, as it always is on Watanabe knives. Besides, sharpened bevels are very even, and Urasuki side is especially worth noting, because I have seen quite a few knives from other makers when even slight unevenness on the urasuki side causes uneven spots or even completely unsharpened sections. Other than that there is not much else to say about the blade. Very sharp, mirror polished edge, and does work very well.

Handle

- The default option for the handles with Watanabe knives is the ho wood, which I don't really like. The other option is the burnt chestnut. That is what I chose, because I wasn't really planning on the replacement handle. Because, it's a kuro-uchi knife, a true workhorse, not a show piece. Well, that was the original plan, but then I changed my mind, because I did lake the knife a lot, so now as I write this review, which is 10/2009, Stefan Keller is working on the new handle, which will be desert ironwood most likely. As usual, I will update the review with the new photos and details about the new handle once it arrives and gets installed on the knife.

Usage

- Like any other deba, Sakekiri is a dedicated fish filleting/dissecting knife. Although, I can see some of the types of debas used as heavy gyutos or other utility works, that and of course heavy, thick debas work pretty well for working through bones, dressing poultry and other harsh works. Anyway, so far I have used this knife only once so far. And that one time wasn't really proper use. Admittedly, my fish filleting skills are lacking and I was learning how to do that properly. Using a few videos from the youtube and also excellent book by Nozaki. As usual, things seem much easier in videos and books, and to make matters worse I took Sakekiri to rather large sea bass if I am not mistaken. If I was any better with filleting or at least used the bigger deba the result would've been better :) Basically, I mistakenly pushed the knife though the spinal bone of the fish and the edge rolled in couple places. However, the only thing I needed to fix the problem was 5 minutes on the Naniwa Chosera 10000x Super Finishing Synthetic Whetstone.

So, for the next time I am better prepared now. I've had few other filleting practice sessions and I think I'm gonna do better next time. As far as the impressions about the knife go, even though I've had my troubles with the use I really liked how the knife felt in my hand and how it handles. it's a small or medium size, stout knife and seems to be pretty versatile at that. It's really easy to use, quite light and super sharp. Obviously, because it is the single ground edge knife that also has concave back, or urasuki in Japanese, it will tend to wedge, or rotate to the left, unless you use a proper technique, which in the end is pretty easy. On the other hand, it is very handy because of its single edge and concave back for skinning the fish. It is very simple with this type of knives, lay the fillet with the skin down, insert the knife at a low angle and then lay it flat on the board and using short back and forth motion go forward. Concave back ensures things don't stick to the knife and flat back side makes the skinning very simple process. I'm looking into using this knife for other works than filleting the fish too. updates as the usage commences ;)

Image Gallery

Specifications:

  • Blade - 150.00mm(5.91")
  • Thickness - 4.60mm
  • Width - 48.00mm
  • OAL - 288.00mm(11.34")
  • Steel - Aogami 63-65HRC
  • Handle - Burnt Chestnut
  • Weight - 161.10g(5.45oz)
  • Acquired - 06/2009 Price - 176.00$

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Last updated - 09/01/11