Aritsugu A Type Wa Gyuto 240mm (~$150, Aritsugu Tsukiji)

This is a review of what has been my main prep knife for a good year and a half now. I bought the knife from the Aritsugu store in the inner Tsukiji market in Tokyo, Japan. There’s also an Aritsugu store in the outer market that’s bigger and more well stocked. At the time, I decided I was just gonna go for it but if I’d gone to the outer store first, I’d have a white buffalo ferruled one instead that I saw and instantly regretted! At that point, I’d already got the shop guy to “open” the knife for me so no way they’d take a return.

The A Type series of knives is only available from Aritsugu Tsukiji and not the Kyoto Aritsugu. The knives are well known amongst Japanese kitchens for being inexpensive working knives and on knife forums, they used to be really popular. The 270mm version of this knife is significantly beefier than mine. At my current workplace, 4 other guys have had the same knife as me. One dude has a 300mm which is a beastslayer basically. The A Type gyuto is generally renown for being a workhorse that does everything you can throw at it and more. Made of a proprietary semi-stainless steel, it’s also famous for  being very difficult to start using because it’s not easy to sharpen and in order to really get it working well, you have to thin it significantly. Still, for the money, even if you didn’t bother thinning it, it’s still great bang for buck. You can get this knife online from aframestokyo but it will cost you a premium.

Specs

  • Width at spine: 2.5mm
  • Weight: 150g
  • Semi Stainless Alloy
  • Buffalo Ferrule
  • D Shaped Ho Wood Handle
  • HRC: 60 +/- 1

Steel: Semi Stainless proprietary steel. It takes a good edge, not as great as a pure carbon but good and generally quite toothy. Holds the edge pretty well, which is probably it’s best characteristic. However, getting to that edge in the first place is not the easiest task. I’ve had great days when I’ve gotten the edge to go for a few weeks and other times, it’s got this stubborn wire edge I can never get rid of and the blade blunts after an hour. The steel develops a dull gray patina over most of the blade minus the cutting edge that I keep sharpened and shiny. Once it has a patina, it doesn’t rust easily and isn’t reactive at all. If you do leave it damp, it will rust, just like any other knife.

Geometry/Profile: This knife is assymetrical. It is definitely a right sided knife, convexed on the outside/right for a right hander and flat on the inside. I got it opened for me at the Aritsugu store in Tsukiji at a 70/30 edge which was a bad job with an uneven bevel and scratches all over. I’ve since sharpened it to maybe 80/20 or 90/10 at the moment mostly because it’s simpler. Contrary to some reports, the 240mm version of this knife isn’t hefty at all. It’s relatively nimble and hits the slim but not skinny range for me, kinda just right really. I don’t feel awkward with tough/hard tasks like pumpkins or sweet potatoes and yet it’s agile enough to use with finer jobs too. There isn’t too much distal taper. The tip is tapered dramatically an inch from the end but it’s not what I’d call a thin tip. It definitely does have some wedging issues which is a minus. The profile is great though, good long flatspot and relatively gentle curve to the tip. The blade height isn’t that high but it does the job. The knife will definitely benefit greatly if you spend the time and effort to thin it down.

Aesthetics: The handle is a simple ho wood with black buffalo ferrule. I didn’t stain mine so it has a slight graycast from my sharpening sessions. I personally find the handle a little slim and slender but in my hand, it’s fine. I think this is definitely not a knife for people who like their shit shiny and spectacular, it’s clearly a working knife made to do a job well but not look amazing. That in itself though, is an aesthetic that is beautiful. Personally, I’d much rather have my occasionally grayed out (except when I polish) A Type as opposed to a fake damascus stainless piece of crap.

Overall Impression: I think this is a great bang for buck knife. As a workhorse, for around $150, it’s hard to beat. I know of an entire kitchen kitted out with these gyutos. It’s definitely a beater knife, something that you can whack around and not worry too much about. It does have a bit of power considering it’s weight. This was my second Japanese knife and whilst I had some experience sharpening on stones, it’s only until maybe 6 months ago that I feel like I’m not completely bollocks at sharpening. I went from a Wusthof LCB (easy) to a Konosuke HD (easy) to this and the leap was insane. This knife isn’t too hard to get an edge on. It’s getting rid of the burr sometimes and also the need to thin. Wedging on harder foods is a definite issue and thinning it helps but it’s so damn wear resistant. I’ve tried to thin it down 3 times now and it still feels a little thick behind the edge. I definitely jumped in the deep end with this one but came out alive thankfully. I could have been easily turned away by it’s “thickness” and gray patina or it’s wedgeability but I love it because it just has a certain rustic charm to it. Also, there’s not too many wa gyutos at this price range.

But at the end of the day, if someone asked me whether or not they ought to buy this knife, I’ll just tell them to look elsewhere. This isn’t one for the fainthearted. I’m also not in the opinion that a knife requires such effort before it’s considered good. If you basically need to regrind the knife, then you’re not far off from forging it yourself. At this pricepoint, unless you’re into wa-gyutos, there are other options. Unless of course, you’re masochistic like me and wanna learn how to sharpen the difficult way.

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