Cookware 41

Knife Review: Kobayashi Dojo Nakiri

jkling17 | Feb 7, 201209:24 PM

As some of you know, this review has been a while in the making. But i wanted to really put this knife through it's paces and then some, before completing a full review.

We eat a lot of veggies, so the flat blade profile of a nakiri holds a lot of appeal. I have quite a lot of knives but my go to knife for quite a while has been an entry level carbon tosagata santoku. It takes a very sharp edge but ... doesn't hold it so well. So I really wanted some seriously good carbon steel that also would provide edge retention.

I had considered the Tojiro white carbon nakiri but had been concerned that it would be more of the same as my current santoko. I now believe that it is more likely that the steel (and/or) hardening process of my tosagata is probably not what it could be. I have no real evidence per se, but I suspect that a white steel Tojiro nakiri or santoku would hold it's edge quite a bit better than my tosagata.

I had emailed quite a bit with Mark at cktg and this was one that he recommended. One thing that really caught my eye was the "Aogami super steel core". As I understand it, blue steel is usually classified as blue #1, blue #2 or super blue (the latter is exclusively manufactured by Hitachi). The latter has small trace elements that help to make it a bit more resilient. Most knives with super blue steel cores are pretty expensive. So ... for $80 ... a super blue nakiri? Ok - sign me up - I'll try that!

It’s also pretty thin. The back is only 1/16" and tapers gently all the way to the very edge, where there is a very tiny micro-bevel. In this photo, micro-bevel just really isn't visible - but it is there, right at the very edge - and it's merely a fraction of 1 mm. So the blade itself is quite thin right behind that area. Think pretty thin - that’s this nakiri. I'll try to get around to posting another shot, where you'll be able to really see the micro-bevel. Full disclosure: the micro-bevel is likely a tiny bit larger than when I first received the knife, as a result of my sharpening.

Please see the attached photo. It really is one pretty attractive knife. I sent this over to Mark at chefknivestogo as the stock photo really doesn't do this knife justice and he agreed so it's now the one that they use as well.

It turns out that the core steel in this knife is probably NOT Aogami super blue. A few weeks ago, I decided to do some additional research on this knife. There isn't a lot out there. And I could not find any reference for "aogami super blue" connected with this particular nakiri - or the rest of the Dojo line - outside of cktg. I decided to email the folks at japanwoodworker.com, as they also carry it, to see what I might be able to find out. And, after a few back and forths, I managed to get this:

I can not tell you any more than what our rep in Japan said.
"Regarding the item 11.011.03 the knife is made of blue steel #1. We
have asked the maker for details about the blue steel. However, the
maker was saying the information is their business secret . The only
thing we are sure about the steel is that it is the super quality blue
steel." ... He has been making these same knives for over 15+
years, and the quality has been consistent.

So it would seem that the core is actually blue steel #1, rather than true aogami super blue (Hitachi). In any case, this is really good steel. Honestly, I am not bothered in the least and have been VERY pleased with the knife in nearly every respect. I have yet to share this info with Mark but will do so shortly.

I've been using this knife now pretty much daily for a few months. It came very sharp out of the box and it has held that edge quite well. Slicing and chopping ... I’m very pleased. Even hard winter squash like butternut is no problem at all, with little or no wedging resistance. Onions ... just no challenge at all. Brussels sprouts? Those wonderful little morsels with their complex internal structures offer some challenge for a knife. Part of them are a nice clean solid veggie core and the other part a more resilient "mini cabbage kevlar". They do try their best to resist a nice easy clean fast cut and have been known to ruthlessly employ combined techniques like wedging and "giving" instead of just getting chopped, cut and sliced like a well-behaved veggie should. The dojo nakiri makes prepping these a real pleasure. This is a darned good knife!

Retention and sharpening?
I really wanted a blade that would not only take a great edge but also hold it really well. And this knife delivers. I used it constantly for a week and it finally needed only a quick touch-up with my DMT 8000 (xx-fine) grit stone. Only a few few light swipes are needed to bring it back to being able to do pure "push cuts" through paper along the entire edge. If I use it a LOT, without honing, then I'll first do 3-5 light strokes with the DMT 1200 (x-fine), get my burr, reverse it then finish on the xx-fine. IMO, it is very easy to maintain the edge on this knife. Perhaps the flat profile helps?

Ok ok ... but what don't I like?
The negatives? Well this is a more subjective thing. The feel of the knife is really quite decent. I usually use a pinch grip or modified pinch grip. Bottom line - the handle is "fine" and is "reasonably comfortable" and suited to it's function. But, if I could have my true preference, it would be to match this blade with a traditional Japanese handle. My Tosagata has this knife beat in this one respect - the handle is awesome. Again, this is personal taste.

In summary - the Dojo nakiri is one great knife. I hope to someday be able to really compare it to another really good carbon steel offering but this has completely replaced my tosagata santoku as my "go to knife for everything that used to grow".

Jeff (email available on my profile)

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