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Tojiro DP 240mm Gyuto

"Were you saying that horizontal cuts are usually useless for dicing onions or were you saying the horizontal cuts performed by that youtube person were useless because they were too shallow?"
______
Both, more or less. Horizontal cuts provide a little extra insurance against overly big chunks, especially from the sides of the onion (where the layers of onion run more vertical than horizontal). But generally speaking, the onion will separate into a small dice without horizontal cuts due to the direction of the onion's layers. And at any rate, the cuts in the video above were too shallow to make any significant difference.

Jun 15, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Tojiro DP 240mm Gyuto

Side note:

Seeing as those horizontal cuts were each only about a centimeter or two deep, did they make any significant difference to the end product?

The horizontal cuts are certainly fun, but you could make a pretty good case that they're unnecessary for dicing an onion in the first place.

Jun 15, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

Tojiro DP 240mm Gyuto

A few notes:

Taking down the shoulders of the edge bevels is the kind of job that you can accomplish relatively quickly with a reasonably coarse stone. Actually thinning the knife overall is a much longer job. If you didn't try taking down the shoulders of the edge bevels, I'd recommend still giving this a go.

What MK is talking about with thinning the knife a little every time you sharpen it isn't really meant to make the knife thinner than it already is. The idea is actually to prevent it from getting a tiny bit thicker each time you sharpen. This happens with *nearly* all knives - each time you sharpen you bring the edge higher up into a minutely thicker part of the blade, and even though your edge angles remain constant, the knife gets thicker above the edge and performs worse over time. Not everyone bothers thinning with every sharpening session of course, and many people are more concerned about the aesthetics of their knives than they are with optimizing performance (although this is one thing I like about carbon knives that form a patina - you can thin away knowing that in a few weeks any grind marks will be invisible). You have to decide based on what you value. It's not a very difficult or lengthy process to maintain a knife in this manner though.

The knives you are considering as alternatives are excellent choices. I've used both, and own the CCK 1103. They're both extremely thin blades, and you'll surely be able to perform the horizontal cuts you're attempting to the best of your ability with either of them. The 1303 is probably a safer bet for most people - the 1103 is a HUGE knife. Both are high quality blades though.

I'm still somewhat surprised that you've has such problems with the Tojiro DP though - I wouldn't have expected the DP to have major problems with this cut. If you get the CCK cleaver, I'd be curious to see your feelings on the DP several months down the line - practice this cut with the new cleaver until it feels like second nature to you and then give the DP another go. I'm wondering if the DP experiences just enough resistance to make learning this cut difficult, but works better once you're more familiar with the stroke. Of course, it's always possible that you got one that's thicker than most or even that I'm just remembering the grind of the knife too charitably in the time since I last used one.

Jun 15, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Do you use an American butcher knife in your kitchen?

I hadn't looked recently - you're right. Victorinox were selling at half that price just a few years ago. They're still decent knives, but it's certainly hard to pass up a Tojiro DP if it only costs an extra $7.

Also of note, Dexter-Russell Sani Safe knives, which are quite similar to Victorinox, are still selling for a fairly reasonable $25.

Jun 14, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Do you use an American butcher knife in your kitchen?

I like Victorinox knives as well - they're an excellent pick for the money. That said, every knife test Cook's Illustrated has ever performed has been pretty seriously flawed in one way or another, so I wouldn't put much stock in them, even though many of their recommendations are in fact decent knives.

Also, if you're still looking, the meat cleaver I use is a seriously big and heavy duty chunk of metal, and still is sold at a very good price.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004...
It's worth a look.

Jun 14, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

What cut should I use when a recipe just says "lean beef"?

"If the criteria was for tenderness, I could have easily recommended Flat Iron, Tenderloin or Hanger"
_______
Aside from the need to cut it correctly and avoid the middle layer of gristle, why not consider hanger? It certainly brings enough flavor to the table, and works fine for fast, hot cooking as long as you know what you're doing. Locally, I get it for much cheaper than flank (though I realize that's not the case everywhere).

Jun 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Home Cooking

What cut should I use when a recipe just says "lean beef"?

I'm a fan of flank, skirt, and hanger steak for these kinds of applications. The downside of all three is that you have to know how to cut them and you can't overcook them if you want ideal results. The upside of all three is they tend to have excellent flavor.

With that said, posting the entire recipe here would help. If the recipe would tend to produce over-cooked meat, you'd be better off either choosing another cut or taking some liberties with the directions.

Tojiro DP 240mm Gyuto

I've used the Tojiro DP 240 gyuto, and I'm familiar with the particular cut you're referring to, though I don't recall if I ever used the Tojiro for that particular cut.

Have you performed this cut with other knives successfully? If not, it's most likely that your technique is the problem. It's a quick, almost 'wristy' swipe through the onion with the heel of the blade starting a little out in front of the tip of it. Not a slow 'push' through the onion. Hold the onion in place with your off-hand (carefully) on top of it, but don't actually push downward on it while you're cutting.

The knife needs to be relatively sharp, but nothing special - I doubt sharpness is your problem.

You also need a relatively thin tip to perform that particular cut smoothly. If your problem isn't your technique, this is probably it. Most people think of wedging in terms of the thickness of their knives at the spine, but the thickness of the knife at the top of the edge bevels is usually far more important. I would start off by thinning down the shoulders of the edge bevels, especially on the front side of the knife - in other words, sharpen at an angle significantly lower than your edge angle but not with the knife lying flat on the stone. Fair warning - there is some potential to scratch the face of your blade doing this if you're not practiced at it. The point is to thin the knife where the edge bevels meets the faces of the knife.

Try the cut again. Still wedging? Thin the shoulders down a little more.

If that still doesn't work, you can thin the blade overall, by laying blade flat on a stone, applying downward pressure toward the edge, and removing more material. Fair warning - this will certainly leave grinding marks all over the blade (as that's literally what you're doing). This can be a long job depending on what stones you have, and fixing the knife aesthetically afterwards (if you want to) is another very long job. Would I recommend all this just for the sake of those cool horizontal swipes while dicing an onion? Of course not - those cuts aren't even strictly necessary. Try thinning down the shoulders of your blade, sure, but only bother thinning the sides of the knife if you're already interested in trying out that kind of reprofiling job.

Jun 12, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

'Rocking' Santoku - What's Your Opinion?

What I'm saying is if the OP were to look up kiritsuke reviews, he would find descriptions of a knife that is quite difficult to use and which specializes in various traditional Japanese cutting techniques that most Westerners have never tried - pretty much the polar opposite of the knife in question which is designed to be easy to use for Western cooks.

A kiritsuke gyuto is just a gyuto with a kiritsuke-looking tip for added style points. Certainly more analogous to the knife in question, but it's not so much a recognized Japanese knife archetype as it is a stylized gyuto. The tip doesn't function much differently than the tip on a gyuto or a santoku does - it just looks distinctive. And if the 'kiritsuke gyuto' in question has comparatively little curve (as many do), then it wouldn't really feel very similar in usage to the knife the OP is considering.

The curve of the blade and angle of the handle are the features of this particular knife that will make or break it for the OP in usage compared to other santokus or even gytuos. Neither of which have anything to do with kiritsukes or "kiritsukes."

Jun 11, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

'Rocking' Santoku - What's Your Opinion?

What I'm saying is if the OP were to look up reviews of bona fide kiritsukes, he would find descriptions of a knife that is quite difficult to use and which specializes in various traditional Japanese cutting techniques that most Westerners have never tried - pretty much the polar opposite of the knife in question which is designed to be easy to use for Western cooks.

A 'kiritsuke gyuto' is just a gyuto with a kiritsuke-looking tip for added style points. Certainly more analogous to the knife in question than an actual kiritsuke, but it's not so much a recognized Japanese knife archetype as it is a stylized gyuto. The tip doesn't function much differently than the tip on a gyuto or a santoku does - it just looks distinctive. And if the 'kiritsuke gyuto' in question has comparatively little curve (as many do), then it wouldn't really feel very similar in usage to the knife the OP is considering.

The curve of the blade and angle of the handle are the features of this particular knife that will make or break it for the OP in usage compared to other santokus or even gytuos. Neither of which have anything to do with either kiritsukes or "kiritsukes."

Jun 10, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

'Rocking' Santoku - What's Your Opinion?

Sorry to pile on, but your tenacity is running the risk of confusing people.

This knife isn't a kiritsuke. At all.

A kiritsuke is single beveled. Because kiritsukes are stylish-looking, you can find a few double beveled mockups that look like kiritsukes on the market. These are not kiritsukes. They are "kiritsukes." This is in very much the same way that my mother-in-law's old Chevy Cavalier had a rear spoiler and the word 'sport' pasted on it, but no one in their right mind would seriously consider it a sports car.

Jun 10, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

Very cool outdoor pizza oven. I.want.this.

In fairness, rotating the pie manually is a time honored necessity in most traditional big, hot, dedicated pizza ovens. In this case though, I'm wondering if the size of the oven would make that rotation a little harder to manage, and also whether there might be such big temperature differences within the oven that even rotating the pie yields inconsistent results. And also whether the floor of the oven reaches optimal temperature in the first place.

I don't own a Blackstone, but the trials and results I've seen on various sites (mostly pizzamaking.com ) from relatively unbiased consumers has convinced me that it's currently the best low cost option on the market for Neapolitan style pies at home (and I'd say many home ovens and even grills can manage decent NY style pies given a whole lot of tinkering, the right 'stone,' and the right dough recipe). The roccbox is interesting and worth following, but I'm not getting my hopes too high yet that it can do anything revolutionary for the price. I'm hoping they prove me wrong though.

Are you happy with the Blackstone?

Jun 08, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Very cool outdoor pizza oven. I.want.this.

Impressive specs, but no way to know if it delivers on them until the initial reviews by knowledgeable people/nerds are in. If it has problems with heat distribution, I'm not sure how you'd adjust for that as a home user given the simplicity of the design.

Price is higher than the Blackstone, but it is of course a newer product and that price may fall eventually if the product is successful.

Fewer moving parts than the Blackstone. Not sure what other advantages it has if any.

Worth keeping an eye on. Thanks for linking.

Jun 08, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Do you use an American butcher knife in your kitchen?

First off, I tend to like older American and French carbon steel knives. That includes butcher knives like the ones you're talking about. Basically, I think they're cool.

That said, I doubt most home cooks have a ton of uses for them that can't be accomplished by other blades. They're designed for breaking down relatively large cuts of meat, and not too many people do this at home. I personally use a honesuki for breaking down chicken, which I do regularly, and which has an advantage in terms of its agility over a butcher's knife, without giving up durability. If I did much work on big primal cuts of meat, I'd certainly be looking to get a longer dedicated butcher's knife, and I dig the older ones for their simplicity and reliability and style points. But I don't do this very often.

FWIW, on occasions when I have done larger cuts of meat, I have used a huge, thick 12 inch carbon steel vintage Dexter chef's knife, which has a different profile but retains a lot of the same advantages as those older butcher's knives - long, easily sharpened, indestructible, looks and feels badass, etc.

Jun 05, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware
1

Do you use an American butcher knife in your kitchen?

FWIW, I use a knife that is thinner and presumably more fragile than any knives the OP has listed when I'm cutting winter squash. A very thin knife cuts through winter squash with minimal resistance or wedging, and allows me to use less force and better controlled strokes while cutting.

On the other hand, a thick and sturdy knife can split winter squash kind of like how an ax splits wood. This also works.

Winter squash isn't hard enough to chip or fold an edge via simple downward pressure like bones might. If squash does damage a knife, it's typically because the user kind of torques the knife in trying to force the blade through squash, perhaps whacking against the board at an odd angle at the end of the cutting stroke. Lateral stresses on a knife's edge are a common cause of chipping.

Jun 05, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Whetstone advice for beginner

"Any specific technique for an asymmetrical knife I am unfamiliar with. If you have any tips or maybe a link to a good guide I would love that."
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As Chem has mentioned, we can't say the exact geometry of the knife you're getting, since asymmetrical knives can vary somewhat in their edge geometry, edge angles, degree of asymmetry, etc. Saying a knife has an asymmetrical edge most precisely means that the edge is closer to one side of the knife than the other. This tends to imply an edge with one side's bevel larger than another (usually the right side for a right handed knife), and often with slightly different edge angles (often the left side is at a slightly more acute angle than the right side). Usually but not always.

A few years ago, I made a few crude diagrams to illustrate this:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7603...

In effect, what does this mean for your sharpening? Basically that if you want to do an ideal job of sharpening asymmetrical edges, you should disregard the school of sharpening theory wherein you pick a roughly appropriate angle and then sharpen each side at the same angle for an equal number of strokes until the edge is sharp.

Instead, you want to be able to identify the existing edge geometry, roughly match that geometry, and sharpen each side only until the bevel is renewed and meets the bevel on the other side.

As someone new to sharpening, you'll want to be familiar with the magic marker trick, to help you find the existing edge angles. There are many videos demonstrating this. Here's one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kzGv...
You'll also want to develop some practice feeling a burr along the entire edge and using that as a way to tell you that your bevel is flat and a new edge has formed. You'll also need to understand that sharpening on one side only until a burr is formed will make it quick and easy to produce a burr on the other side but will slowly move your edge further towards that side if you do this over and over again starting always on the same side.

The key is to check your progress often, understand the existing geometry of the edge you're working with, and understand how to correct problems as they arise or develop over time.

Pizza Ovens: Compare and Contrast

I'd suggest you look over at pizzamaking.com.

I haven't tried any of the above and have more or less settled for 3-4 minute NY pies out of a rigged up home oven. But as far as I know, the Blackstone has gotten the best reviews from people who are trying their damnedest to make bona fide Neapolitan pies.

Jun 03, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Whetstone advice for beginner

Chem covered most of the bases. I agree that all of your choices are fundamentally decent and should be able to achieve fine results. I'll add a few observations. I've used both king stones and naniwa superstones.

- The king 800 grit is one of my favorite stones, especially when you consider its price. I use it often despite having some more expensive stones near the same grit. It doesn't take very long to soak either - 5 minutes is typically enough, and I've gotten it to perform reasonably well after merely holding it under a faucet for a minute or two in a pinch. Actually, none of the stones you are considering need particularly long soaks. I suspect the king 1000 grit is pretty similar to the 800, but I haven't used it.

- The king 4000 grit is one of my least favorite stones. It just doesn't seem to polish or sharpen very readily. I've heard that the king 6000 grit stone is not as problematic as the 4000 grit, but I haven't personally used the 6k.

- I'm not familiar with naniwa work stones, but I am familiar with naniwa superstones. The superstones are very nice, and work well with minimal prep. You should know that they are on the soft side and are a bit easier to gouge than kings typically are, though.

- You don't need a nagura. A nagura has some benefit in keeping your stones from loading up with metal sludge or 'glazing.' It helps some stones more than others, as some stones are more likely to load up than others, and some stones perform better than others with some build up 'mud' on their surface. But it's by no means a necessity. You will however eventually need a way to flatten your stones, as they will tend to dish with use. There are a variety of ways to do this. I personally use an XXC DMT plate, but that's a comparatively pricey option. For a much more affordable solution, you might consider using drywall screen on a flat surface. In function, this can also act similarly to a nagura stone while flattening your stones out, cleaning the stone and building up some mud.

"I have read that Misono Carbon does not tend to be well suited for a honing steel as the knife is asymmetrical?"
_____
You're right that the misono carbon doesn't really need a steel, and you're also correct that it's asymmetrical. But the reason it doesn't need a steel isn't particularly because it's asymmetrical - it's more because the hardness of the steel negates the advantages of steeling and makes chipping a potential problem instead. But that brings up another notable point - do you feel comfortable sharpening an asymmetrical edge? Some of the sharpening advice out there assumes a 50/50 edge design, and though sharpening in this manner isn't disastrous, it's not ideal either.

Jun 03, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

About to pull the trigger on a Shun Nakiri Premier. Why shouldn't I?

I'll pretty much just echo what Chem said. I'm not a huge fan of shun knives, but they're not bad products either. My main issues with them are pretty much exactly as Chem has said:
1) They tend to cost more than some other Japanese knives that I feel have similar or better performance.
2) Their chef knives specifically have too much curve or 'belly' in their profile for my tastes. Not an issue in the case of this nakiri.

$132 is a decent price for the knife you're considering. I would say you should pull the trigger on it if you especially like the damascus cladding and general aesthetics of the knife. In fact, I'd say that if you already know you want a damascus-clad blade, then the Shun isn't even particularly overpriced compared to its competitors - just as long as you understand that the damascus has no real functional benefit. You should also note that the Shun is a bit on the short side as nakiris go - most are about an inch longer.

If you don't care as much about the damascus and looks of the Shun, there are cheaper nakiris that will perform just as well, as well as a few nakiris with more interesting grinds in a similar price range.

Marinading steak

I love carne asada marinades. I love kalbi marinade. Hell, I even like a mixture of A1, worchestershire, salt, and garlic. Or any number of beef marinades that have that optimal mix of salt, sugar, acid, and aromatics. You can create your own easily.

The problem with marinating traditional steak cuts like rib eye or strip steak isn't their relative tenderness - most marinades have minimal effect on tenderness anyway. And it isn't their flavor either - if you think about it, the difference in flavor between a good ribeye and a cut of, say, skirt steak is relatively minimal, more similar than dissimilar (filet mignon on the other hand...) It's mainly that these cuts often don't have enough surface area for the marinade to have an ideal effect, especially if they're on the thick side. I find it strange that people claim a marinade keeps you from browning meat's surface as though they've never tried decent carne asada or kalbi or yakiniku, etc.

Shun Serrated 6 inch "Ultimate Utility" Knife: why not sold in Japan?

I think you're kinda misunderstanding what child safe knives are. They're not 'child-safe' because they're serrated. Rather they're serrated because they're 'child-safe.'

In other words, the point of a child safe knife is that it's (usually) made of plastic and (always) not sharp. They're safe not because they're serrated but because they're so dull that it's tough to cut yourself with one. The only way to make a knife that's not sharp but still cuts reasonably well is to make it serrated. They're dull plastic saws, which works a little bit better for cutting soft foodstuffs than dull straight-edge sheets of plastic.

May 20, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Santoku knife- What do you use for that you wouldn't use a chef knife?

No offense Caroline, but a santoku isn't really singled beveled either. Not even the Japanese-made ones.

Chinese cleavers are indeed pretty great though.

Shun Serrated 6 inch "Ultimate Utility" Knife: why not sold in Japan?

I guess it's hard to argue with your claim that a knife marketed as a tool for sandwiches is less popular where sandwiches aren't as popular for the obvious reasons.

I'm not clear on whether you think the relative scarcity of sandwiches in Japan accounts for the unpopularity of serrated knives in general there. In general, I tend to doubt that proposition.

Earlier, I left out one of the biggest reasons why serrated knives became more popular in the West vs the East - that is, the Western tradition of having sharp table knives at all. The Western steak (or some other large uncut lump of protein) is generally served with a sharp-ish knife to help the diner cut his or her own bite-sized pieces on the dinner plate. In the East, the knifework is generally done in the kitchen where said foods can be cut on a softer surface and the food is served bite-sized. Of course, it's not that serrated knives cut meat any better than straight edges do, but rather that serrated knives aren't rendered useless nearly so quickly by contact with ceramic dinner plates.

This, perhaps more than anything, has led to the profusion of serrated knives in the Western kitchen - when cooks found their straight edge knives in need of a serious sharpening, they could always more or less get the job done by grabbing a serrated steak knife instead. And I suspect that as more people did this more frequently, sharpening itself became a less common skill, reinforcing the sales of serrated knives on the market.

The advantages of a serrated edge for cutting, say, bread or tomatoes are fairly minimal when compared to genuinely sharp straight edge knives. The big advantage of serrations is in the durability of the edge. When the Western steak-on-a-plate becomes ubiquitous in Japan, that's when I suspect you'll see sales of serrated knives soar.

"All true, but is he willing to dip his treasured tool into creme cheese, mayo, peanut butter, or strawberry jam, and spread it on the bread? I doubt it."
______
Cream cheese, sure. You're right of course that I'm not going to scrape out a glass jar with a finely sharpened straight edge knife, especially when I always have a butter knife around. But it's not like I wouldn't deign to soil my blades with a little mayo or something.

Shun Serrated 6 inch "Ultimate Utility" Knife: why not sold in Japan?

You keep on alluding to somewhat nebulous 'cultural' reasons for the Japanese not using serrated knives. I'm wondering what those cultural factors might be more specifically.

I think the Japanese emphasis on presentation probably plays a part - many of the knife cuts you see for decorative flourishes in Japanese cooking don't work with serrated knives. Even if you watch something like Cookingwithdog on youtube (highly recommended btw) which is geared towards Japanese home cooking, you'll still see a surprising emphasis on garnish and knifework compared to American home cooking.

Likewise, it's possible that the Japanese are less apt to view their tools as disposable. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the Japanese hold skilled but humble craftsmen like knifemakers in higher regard than Americans do. And it might follow that the Japanese are similarly more likely to value the craftsmanship of their tools. Most Americans who use serrated knives tend to view them as maintenance-free tools that are essentially disposable once they no longer cut well.

That said, I still very much suspect that the different customs for sharpening knives plays a huge role.

Scientific Methods Misapplied to the Evaluation of Cuisine

I've very rarely seen the scientific method applied to study of food and taste. Though the few cases I have, such as some of Heston Blumenthal's writings, have been very interesting. I suspect the OP is not really referring to the scientific method in the first place, but merely to describing foods and eating via objective statements about how the food appears, tastes, or was prepared.

There are admittedly some issues with conflating objective statements about a food ('the french fries were crispy') with a judgement of its quality or value - in part because even those objective statements are somewhat hard to quantify (how crispy were they?), but more so because these statements often presuppose a correct or ideal way to prepare a food (e.g. crispy fries) that may either ignore the preferences of some people or even kind of color your perception of food via these expectations.

On the other hand, this is inevitable. Meanwhile, descriptions of food relying only on the subjective impressions would tend to be impoverished, uninformative, and uninteresting.

May 16, 2015
cowboyardee in General Topics

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

I think you're misunderstanding me more than I'm misunderstanding you. The first sentence above was (perhaps crudely) stating the realities of the options for the chronically impoverished. I did not intend to imply that you are heartless, but merely unrealistic and shortsighted (to put it bluntly). Apologies for the way it sounded.

My point was that improving your lot in life tends to be harder the less you have. The problem with impoverished adults is not only that they don't have money. Many have very little free time, as so much of their time is devoted to making ends meet in the most basic sense - whether that's holding two jobs, struggling through the bureaucracy of minimally helpful entitlement programs, clipping coupons and bargain hunting like a part time job in its own right, or wasting hours every day busing to whatever work is available for someone with their skill set. Many impoverished adults already have debts weighing them down, from healthcare bills to credit card debts to back rent to student loan debt for skills that turned out to be nearly worthless in today's job market. And kids to raise.

Just as importantly, one of the skills you might take for granted is the simple ability to search out helpful programs or better job opportunities. And to separate the good options from the bad. As you're a relatively bright individual with easy access to and familiarity with a computer, command of standard written English, and most likely plenty of people in your life who are not impoverished and can give you good financial advice, it is probably easy for you to imagine that others would simply stumble upon all of the programs designed to allow for upward mobility and sort out which of those programs make sense for them. But in many cases, that's incorrectly assuming others have the same advantages you do.

Finally, the simple fact of the matter is that our current economy NEEDS unskilled workers. If every single person in America somehow went and earned a doctorate... there would be a lot of PhD's working in fast food. Asking an individual to improve themselves and their circumstances is one thing; asking an entire underclass to do the same is IMPOSSIBLE. The only way an economy's entire underclass improves their circumstances is if they get compensated better for the same work.

FWIW, I never saw your original reply.

$15 hr min. wage x zero hours =?

By 'accept any responsibility,' I can only assume you mean quietly resign themselves to poverty and/or die?

One of the most basic problems with poverty is that it tends to leave you without the resources to improve your lot and build valuable skills in the first place.

Shopping for carbon steel chef's knife: Gyutos, bunkas, brands on a budget, and how to choose?

I bought mine from Keiichi/bluewayJapan on Ebay (baby was back-ordered at the time ;) Chefknivestogo.com now sells Yusukes as well, though they didn't at the time. Keiichi was able to offer me a number of customized options after I emailed him - I don't know whether Mark from CKTG would do the same or not.

The edge itself on the Yusuke is nearly 50/50. Maybe just a little asymmetrical (55/45?). And the handle is octagonal and does not favor either hand. But the face of the blade is slightly 'handed' or asymmetrical as well. The front (right side, for rightys) of the knife is very slightly convex, while the back of the blade is nearly straight or flat. The lefty version I bought was switched so the left side was convexed with the right flat. This has a subtle and minor advantage in terms of how food releases from the blade in usage.

With a knife as thin as the Yusuke, this makes very little difference. A thicker and highly asymmetrical blade might feel uncomfortable or inefficient for a lefty, but the Yusuke and various 'lasers' are all designed to minimize cutting resistance rather than for highly convex and asymmetrical blade geometry. You could use a righty version and be perfectly happy with the performance of the blade.

In my particular case, I was not only trying to buy a nice knife, but to scratch an itch, so to speak. I knew I didn't want to have any 'what ifs' after I bought my blade - I wanted something something as close to ideal as possible (at least for the type of knife I was buying). The lefty version only cost me an extra $30 or so, which was worth it to me - even though, again, the difference in performance is minimal in a knife so thin. It made the knife feel more 'special' and personalized, and was a little insurance against second thoughts and my own wandering eye for gyutos.

Here is a thread I posted at the time I bought the knife. It has a few pics, a more thorough review. At the very least, it'll explain the 'baby' joke early in this post.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/757992

May 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware

Shun Serrated 6 inch "Ultimate Utility" Knife: why not sold in Japan?

Possibly, but then a serrated knife isn't really necessary for cutting a sandwich, at least if your straight edge knives are sharp.

Of course, the Shun utility knife in question seems like it was specially designed for spreading mayo - kind of a combination of a spatula and a knife - so it makes sense that it would be marketed specifically in places where people eat a lot of sandwiches. But that doesn't explain the difference in popularity of serrated knives in general for the two countries.

May 13, 2015
cowboyardee in Cookware