The Tadafusa Hocho-Kobo - The Best Beginner Japanese Knife Set
April 26, 20223 min read
It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the knife I’m using in my kitchen is important to me. As a professional chef turned career knife nerd, reaching that ultimate kitchen-zen feeling is a driving force in my life, but always playfully out of reach, always challenging me to improve. I imagine a guy like Tadayuki Sone-san, the third-generation owner of Tadafusa Knives, has a similar attitude towards his craft, too.
While the blades at Tadafusa are forged by machine, much of the work is done by hand by expert craftspeople.
Sone-san has learned from the past—his grandfather, Torasaburo Sone-san, founded Tadafusa in Sanjo way back in 1948. Sanjo has been something of a blacksmithing epicentre for several hundred years. It’s also home to some of the most well respected Sake distilleries and winter sports resorts. Yes, Sanjo truly has it “going on” in all the conventional senses. Unsurprisingly, Sone-san has a very strong sense of civic pride. He’s dedicated to keep all of their production in Sanjo to help create employment opportunities locally. This extends not just to his generation, Sone-san wants Tadafusa to stay in Sanjo so the next generation can inherit this tradition and improve upon their craft.
When I’m looking for a knife, there are a lot of questions that run through my mind. How well will it hold an edge? How does it perform? Is it stainless, or will it rust? How does it feel? For me, the Tadafusa “Hocho Kobo” (which simply translates to “Kitchen Knife”) checks all of my most important boxes. The first time I held one in my hand, even before I felt the way it could effortlessly glide through a tomato, I already knew it was special. Its incredible thinness and chestnut handle make it light as a feather. It possesses a very simple beauty—brushed steel and wood give it a clean, elegant appearance. It is, in many ways, an understated knife.
The Hocho Kobo 210mm Gyuto is one of the most popular blades for home cooks.
Not only are they elegant, sharp, and nimble, but they’re also built to last. Sone-san has chosen to forge his knives out of a material called SLD, a steel originally developed to be used tocut other types of steel. Neat! Like many other types of Japanese steel, it holds it’s edge exceptionally well, but it’s also easily honed and sharpened. It’s more durable than most carbon steel knives, and has the added convenience of being relatively stainless. It will oxidize and darken very slowly, but if you take good care of it, you won't need to worry about rust. Furthermore, the chestnut handles have been worked using a charcoaling process - this means they’re water resistant and anti-bacterial!
An entire set of Tadafusa Hocho Kobo can be had for a very good price!
And then there’s the price. It’s easy to imagine the knife I’m talking about being placed out of reach—on a pedestal surrounded by velvet rope—but you’d be mistaken. In fact, none of the knives in the whole Hocho Kobo line are over $180 CAD. The 210mm Gyuto, most chef’s favourite tool, is only $169 and a whole set can be had for around $400-600. Simply put, Tadafusa makes some of the best knives in the world, but their production is dialed in to the point where you need not sacrifice your whole paycheck on a set of insane knives. Tadafusa? More like… RADafusa.
Owen is another ex-chef among our ranks. he has been Chef-ing in Edmonton for around 12 years but gave it up to be a human being again! An avid music lover, he plays guitar, loves Radiohead, and has probably been to about 500 concerts. Oh, and he can most definitely beat you in a game of Street Fighter. come chat with him about football, and steel!