My first Masamoto is a KK series 180mm Usuba I kopped during Korin‘s end of year sale at 15% off for about AUD190. It’s the square tipped profile shape, which is the Kanto style usuba, also known variously as an azumagata (East shape) or kakugata usuba (square shape). It’s actually the first knife I thought was distinctly cool. I mean, it’s square! I’ve wanted one a long while ago but back then I had no idea about knives at all. I had no clue an usuba was a single bevelled vegetable peeling machine with a near dead flat edge. It’s also not an easy knife to master or sharpen.

I don’t think I’m all that good yet but I wanted to have a crack at using an usuba at work. I don’t actually need to do katsuramuki by hand at work because my section doesn’t require it. I do have one job where I make daikon paper with the peeling machine and the volume of daikon tsuma we use means we use the machine to peel it. If we were to switch to hand cut tsuma for the restaurant alone, it’d take one person all day and that guy would have to have a killer usuba or 3. For that reason, we use the machine. But still, we do katsuramuki of cucumber, which gets shredded into julienne strips on the sushi section and that’s my probably destination in the future. That’s why I figure I oughtta brush up my skills first.

The KK series is the basic, entry level offering from Masamoto Sohonten, not Tsukiji Masamoto. It’s white #2 steel that’s finished with a kasumi polish such that the bevel has a misty haze. It’s a nice way of making something sound a lot cooler than it really is. I love white #2 as it’s so easy to sharpen and takes a crazy edge.

I like the knife I received. The first thing I noticed was the blond ferrule sitting at the top of a simple D handle. Korin doesn’t let you choose per se but I guess if you mention that you want something in particular, they might be able to sort you out. Japanesechefsknives also sells Masamoto knives and they let you choose between blond, marble and black. The next thing I noticed was the finish of the knife. It’s polished well and finished evenly. The bevel is set well and the knife is so damn square. The back uraoshi is well defined and the flatspots on the backside are even all the way. The edge itself is nearly dead flat, only barely curving at the tip. The front of the tip isn’t finished at all and feels a little bumpy but it’s not a functional edge, although I could easily make it one. The knife also came blunt, which is common because you’re expected to put your own edge on it. Korin does offer a free sharpening service and they do it well I’m told but I wanted to do it myself. I love the shape.

This usuba is my third kasumi finished knife in white #2 steel and incidentally completes my traditional Japanese trio of knives. All of them are basic finished, entry level knives. My Aritsugu deba has the poorest finish of the three knives but I think it’s sorta fitting because it’s a deba. It’s meant to be a bit of a beater anyway. My Suisin yanagi has easily the best finish. It’s a hon kasumi finish with a polished and rounded spine and easily fits in with how it’s the fancy schmancy slicer. My new Masamoto is like in between the two, well finished but nothing amazing. Certainly looks like a performer.

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