I’ve been hankering for one for the last 3 months and finally, as an early x’mas pressie to myself/celebration for getting a promotion, I kopped one. A yanagiba that is. Playing around with various Aritsugu, Masamoto, Sakai Takayuki and Sakai Ichimonji yanagis at work was enough to pull me over the single bevel edge.

I shopped extensively, online as well as looking at the knifemakers’ webstores. I had one colleague who went to Japan recently and could’ve maybe got him to buy me something but ultimately I decided that since he was most likely to buy things in Tokyo, my options were limited. I had this shortlist that was trimmed down from a much longer one. Basically I wanted a 300mm slicer but something that I would like the look and feel for as well, so I wasn’t too keen on something that would be very basic.

  • Mizuno Tanrenjo Akitada Shironiko Fugubiki – a tad pricey at about $352.
  • Mizuno Tanrenjo Akitada Shironiko Yanagi – would prefer the masamoto below I think.
  • Masamoto KK Shironiko Yanagi – was on sale at Korin for $300 shipped.
  • Suisin Saika Shironiko Yanagi – again, on sale at Korin but a 270mm would’ve been a little shy of $400.
  • Sakai Ichimonji Kichikuni White #2 Yanagi – just $180 shipped is amazing

In the end, when I saw that a local store (Iron Chef Knives) had a Suisin in stock and on sale, it was an easy decision to make. $289 for a 300mm hon kasumi white #2 yanagi isn’t that bad at all shipped to my door in under 2 days. It’s cheaper than the Masamoto/Mizuno which would be the more traditional choices and it’s hon kasumi so it’s finished better. Suisin has a really good online reputation for having excellent fit and finish and I must say when I got my knife, I was particularly pleased.

It comes in a nice box, probably the nicest box I have really. The handle is d shaped ho wood. The bolster is a blond buffalo horn. The saya is hidden below the knife, which came sheathed in cardboard with some rust paper covering it. Out of the box, the edge isn’t razor sharp but it feels brisk to the fingertips. It bites in if I slide my fingers across and it will cut if I apply pressure but it doesn’t go through paper too easily at the moment. However, this is white #2, so I’m expecting after I open it up on the stones that it’s gonna be insane. The weight of the knife is good, not too damn heavy and relatively nimble in feel but I expect it to provide good slicing power as I pull through.

The saya is unfinished ho wood and fits pretty well. I like the pin. It’s got little concentric circles that show how it was ground.

The finish is pretty damn excellent for me. I’m a relative noob but I’ve seen my colleagues knives at work at least so I can make some comparisons. First off, I think the polishing job is just brilliant. It’s got the same direction scratch pattern  running down the blade and the spine is not quite mirror finished but it is gleamy. It’s also slightly eased, not round but it’s not a hard edge for sure definitely nice to the touch. The surface feels wonderfully smooth and the bevel looks to be ground perfectly. Likewise with the ura on the back, which is great. Love the contrast between the shiny top and bottom versus the middle concave. I think there’s just a bit of a flat end to the heel and the only real gripe is that the handle isn’t perfectly flush with the bolster, which has been chamfered a little unevenly. I really hope I don’t mess this baby up on the stones.

In terms of usage, it’s going to be 100% protein slicing. No mincing/dicing or anything, just pure slicing ceviche, sashimi, sushi and tataki and I can’t wait to get some tuna paper.

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