Review – Tamahagane 6” Nakiri
Let me preface this review by saying that I am a home cook and this knife has only been used in my home kitchen – no professional use at all.
The quick and dirty conclusion is that this nakiri (Japanese vegetable knife) is highly recommended. For price, performance, comfort, and fit and finish, the Tamahagane 6” Nakiri earns an overall rating of 8/10!
The format of this review mirrors that of my prior review. This review is not technical, but simply documents my initial impressions and experiences with the knife, concluding with my recommendation.
Please note that I have not attempted to sharpen the knife. I have used it as it came, with the factory edge.
Another quick note – for those of you who are unfamiliar with a nakiri, it is basically a rectangular shaped Japanese vegetable knife.
Initial Impressions – The knife itself
As with all other items I have ordered from Mark, this knife was quick to arrive and very well packed. The knife came with a basic, but attractive box, and a protective plastic sheath around the blade.
The sheath is clear on one side and opaque white on the other. It is essentially, so far as I can tell, identical to the one that came with my Tojiro DP Gyuto. As such, it will work well for protecting both the knife and the user from damage – to a certain extent anyway. The sheath is not going to protect the knife from hard knocks, nor will it protect the user from gross carelessness. That said, the sheath will protect the edge somewhat from bumps in a drawer for example, and it will protect the user’s fingers if he reaches into a drawer.
Before we go further, a note about the brand name. In my research I discovered that the knife, while branded Tamahagane is not actually made from ‘tamahagane steel,’ which is only found in very limited quantities and is very, very expensive. So, just be aware of that distinction. Here, Tamahagane relates only to the brand name of the knife and not the steel used.
Per the description found at Chefknivestogo the nakiri has a core of VG5 steel and two outer layers of SUS410 steel. The VG5 core has a Rockwell hardness of 58-59, and the outer layers have a hardness of 28-32. The knife is therefore made of 3-ply stainless steel. This configuration should make the knife very easy to sharpen and give it an incredibly sharp edge. I have not yet sharpened the knife (I am still using the factory edge), but I will be taking it to Dave’s (from japaneseknifesharpening) upcoming knife sharpening class. I will report back regarding the results after a good sharpening. Results using the factory edge are below.
The steel does seem a bit prone to fingerprints, not that it really matters at all, but I thought I should point it out. Also, the blade itself has some simple markings on one side (not etched) that read “Tamahagane 3-ply stainless steel by Kataoka Japan” and has some Japanese lettering too. The markings will like wear off if the blade is refinished, but barring that, I wouldn’t be concerned about wear from normal use.
I can detect no abnormalities in the blade geometry. Everything looks as it should and is without a single defect.
Likewise, the same applies to the handle. The handle is wooden and is very comfortable. It is contoured with a small flat area on each side. It feels absolutely wonderful in my hand and is a joy to use.
The knife is full tang, which can be seen by looking at the end of the handle where the metal shows through. The end of the handle is absolutely flush where the metal is revealed. Where the handle meets the blade is not quite flush, but it certainly isn’t rough. In order to notice that this area is not flush, I have to deliberately stroke my finger against the handle toward the blade – and this minor cosmetic issue has never been a problem in practice and it has no impact upon the knife’s performance.
The blade is nicely balanced. It is lightweight and is very easy to use, especially with the supremely comfortable handle. I cannot stress enough that this handle really makes the knife feel great, and seamless, in my hand.
The proof is in the vegetables!
In the past few weeks, I have used this knife extensively. I have made quite a lot of vegetable soup, in addition to preparing my daily dose of veggies. This knife has risen to the occasion each and every time.
A note about my use of the nakiri… For the harder, and larger vegetables I have found that I default to my Tojiro DP gyuto. The nakiri is not suited for cutting through, for example, large butternut squash. But for potatoes, parsnips, peppers, and even the smaller vegetables like shallots, this knife works great. Naturally, it can chop up fruit too so don’t be afraid to use it on tomatoes and the like.
The nakiri could probably be used for peeling tasks, but my Kyocera ceramic paring knife is easier for me to use when it comes to peeling fruits and vegetables.
The factory edge is definitely sharp. Right out of the box, it is about as sharp as my Tojiro. The knife’s sharpness has declined nominally, but it is hardly noticeable and I am more or less nitpicking here. Given the amount of vegetables I have cut lately, the knife has performed admirably and really held its factory edge very well.
Don’t forget about how comfortable the handle is! It makes going through all the vegetable prep work seem like a vacation and a joy.
Whether I am mincing up shallots, chopping celery and carrots, or quartering potatoes, the Tamahagane Nakiri can do it all – and it can do it all very well.
To sum up, this knife is highly recommended! If you do a lot of work with vegetables, need a sharp knife, and don’t exclusively work with huge butternut squash, then I promise you that the Tamahagane Nakiri will serve you well.
Written by David Elliott