March 04, 2021 3 min read
The mighty Gyuto! If Ice Cube were to retire from rapping and follow his lifelong passion of becoming a Chef, he’d scoop up a Gyuto and forever refer to it as the “Don Mega” of all cooking blades. It truly is the O.G. knife of the kitchen!
When you’re looking for your first knife, most people start with a Gyuto. Gyuto translates to “cow sword,” and though the name suggests a little more of a meat bias, it still finds harmony amongst fruits, veggies, and fancy garnishes. It’s what we often refer to as the “everything knife.” Don’t get it twisted though! Once you fall in love, you’ll likely want a gang more of knives, but this is a great place to begin your obsession.
Although each knife-maker has their own style, one commonality you’ll find amongst most gyutos is that they curve upwards from the knife's heel to the tip. This makes them ideal for most jobs. Beefy in the backend and nimble in the front, it’s forever holding on to the mullet of its glory days. If you’re a “rock-chopper” like the peeps of Food Network, you’ll find the curve perfectly suited to your style.
Gyutos can come as small as 150mm and as large as 300mm+, but generally, you’ll be looking for either a 210mm or 240mm knife; or 8-10 inches, respectively. When I worked in kitchens, I tended towards the larger of the two. Every day was a new challenge, and I never knew what would be tossed at me. Whether I had to clean and chop a box of squash or finely dice a bag of shallots, a 240mm gyuto could pretty much take care of it all without requiring me to reach for another knife. The only other tool needed for the latter task was some onion goggles. Google it; they’re a thing.
I often reach for my 210mm at home because of my smaller confines, but as always, this comes down to personal preference and what you’re most comfortable wielding.
Go ahead! Come visit one of our shops and get some in your clutches. If you can't make it into a Knifewear shop, here are a few that I’d lay out for you to swing (safely) around.
The Kokuto checks off almost every box when looking for a traditional Japanese knife. Its wa (Japanese) handle and rustic pattern are classic to the country’s knife culture, and because it’s made of Ginsan stainless steel, it won’t rust or chip easily. A super affordable knife that comes with all the bells and whistles.
This is a favourite amongst people who want to get into the world of carbon steel knives. It's made from high-carbon steel which stays sharp longer but can rust, so make sure you keep it clean and dry. It sharpens up super easily, and the Ishime finish gives it a real rustic look.
Are you used to the heft of a Western-style knife? Then a Sugimori is going to become the number one contender for you! It has a European knife's weight but cuts with Japanese precision because it's thinner and made of harder steel than its counterpart. It feels familiar in your hand while still leveling up your knife game. A beauty conceptualized by Tomo-San and his apprentice Sayaka-san, the only female blacksmiths that we’ve met in Japan!
This is a fresh collab between Knifewear and Oul Sakai, an old-school knife company that sources some of the best knives from the Sakai region's best blacksmiths. It’s full white carbon steel, laminated in a softer carbon, so you have to make sure you keep the whole blade clean and dry. The kurouchi finish is uncommon to the knives of Oul Sakai, but our request turned out rad! Add to that a super slick polished choil and spine, and it’s an absolute delight to hold.
Remember that Ice Cube knife? This is the one! When you get a Denka, you’ve entered the world of knife royalty. The core is made of Aogami Super, one the hardest carbon steels used in Japanese kitchen knives, forged by Fujiwara-san, a true Master. The 195 is a unique size, and the finger-notch makes it fit like a glove. I recently bought myself one of these, so yo Ice Cube! Get at me, and let’s have a Chopped battle.
So if you’re looking for your first Japanese kitchen knife, and you’re feeling a little intimated, don’t fret! Start with a gyuto! With so many variations to choose from, you’re bound to find something perfect for you and your recipe book.
Knifewear owner and president Kevin Kent’s fascination with handcrafted Japanese knives began while he was working as sous-chef for the legendary chef Fergus Henderson at St. John restaurant in London, England. Back in Canada in 2007 he began selling them out of a backpack from the back of his bicycle, while working as a chef in Calgary. He considers his chef years as the best education for being an entrepreneur. Being a chef takes long hours, involves hard work, both mentally and physically, and chefs must be able to put out fires, both literal and figurative, with extreme competence. Today, Kent is still just as obsessed with Japanese knives as the day he first held one. A couple times a year, he travels to Japan to meet with his blacksmith friends and drinks far too much sake. Each visit he learns more about the ancient art of knife-making. Through this obsession Knifewear has expanded to include five Knifewear stores in Calgary, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Edmonton. Plans are also underway to open a store in Kyoto, Japan. He refuses to confess how many Japanese knives he owns … but he admits the number is rather high
Back in the day Colin cooked at a couple restaurants in Edmonton, and he used to make knives too. He later moved to Toronto and was seduced by a career in music, though he continued sharpening knives for friends and family. By night, he DJ'd and produced beats as Ronin E-Ville, and by day he taught music at several universities, all while training to become a kung fu master. Colin eventually moved to Ireland, working as a music researcher for a couple years and learning to make shillelaghs. Since returning to Canada, Colin is stoked to be getting back to his roots with knives, happily nerding-out on steels, blacksmiths, and sharpening. If you want to know about Chinese-style cleavers (chuka bocho), Colin’s your guy! (Photo credit @davidmarionphotography)
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