If you, like me, can live with minor fit and finish quibbles, then I feel very confident in recommending this knife to you. A truly wonderful, no-nonsense performer. 8.5/10.
I purchased this knife as my entry into the world of carbon steel knives. I was looking for a carbon steel knife that was a bit longer than my 210mm Tojiro DP Gyuto. Upon Mark’s recommendation, I purchased a 240mm Kikuichi Elite Carbon Gyuto.
Compared to the Tojiro DP, the Kikuichi cuts nicer, seems to have longer edge retention, and is significantly easier to sharpen.
Performance - Out of the Box
First, let’s talk a bit about the knife’s performance fresh out of the box.
As with other Japanese knives, this knife is much sharper out of the box than anything a first time purchaser is used to. If you have only used European knives in the past, this knife will blow those out of the water.
Out of the box performance was comparable to that of my Tojiro DP gyuto. I used this knife to prepare one to two meals a day for almost a month before the edge got to the point where I felt it really should be sharpened. That should give you an idea of the edge retention. Note that I did not strop prior to each use (mainly because I wanted to see how long it would take the knife to get “dull”). Even when it reached the point of what I considered to be “dull,” the knife was still sharper than my aunt’s brand new Henckel.
It is probably important to note that I am quite new to sharpening. So for any of you out there who are not experienced sharpeners, don’t worry too much – this knife was very easy to sharpen.
The Kikuichi was much easier to sharpen than my Tojiro DP. It just felt better on the stones. It gripped better and there was more tactile feedback.
Performance – After Sharpening
My sharpening skills, since I am a beginner, are not great. That said, I do have the fundamentals down.
Having used the knife for a bit post-sharpening, the edge I put on it is definitely an improvement over the factory edge. There is a significant boost in performance compared to what it was out of the box – and it was no slouch then either. In the hands of a more experienced sharpener, I believe that this knife would truly sing.
Let’s take, for example, dicing an onion. I halve it, make my horizontal slices, vertical slices, and then chop so that there are delicious little diced onion cubes. Out of the box, making my horizontal slices generally required one push forward and one pull backward. After a month of use, prior to sharpening the knife, I would need a couple more each way – maybe four to six movements total. Having sharpened the knife, if I am not careful, I will go right through the onion and into my hand in just one push forward!
Fit and Finish
On the whole, the fit and finish is solid. I do have a few minor issues with it, but let’s start with the positives.
Blade geometry looks great. No bends. The knife is blade-heavy, which is fine with me. I have had no issues with its balance. The factory edge was seamless and smooth. Everything looks and feels as it should. The blade has some nice etched kanji on the right hand side of the blade as well. The choil was a bit sharp, but some sandpaper fixed that right up.
The handle is very comfortable. It is black, shows the tang of the knife and has three visible rivets which are flush with the rest of the handle material. There are zero gaps in the handle. The only defect, which is very minor, is about ½ mm of roughness that I found on the top part of the handle. A bit of sandpaper and in under a minute, the issue had been corrected.
Care of the knife has been very easy. I was initially a bit apprehensive since this is my first carbon knife, but really that was all unwarranted. When I am using the knife, I just keep a clean dishcloth handy. Whenever I need to put the knife down, I just wipe each side on the cloth first. No problems at all and it takes mere seconds. I have had zero issues with rust. A nice patina has started to form. While I don’t have any other carbon knives for a comparison, the Kikuichi is not nearly as reactive as ‘general internet wisdom’ had led me to believe. You can certainly cut and onion or tomato and the knife will –not– rust before your eyes. A nice patina has started to form naturally.
As with every purchase I have made from chefknivestogo.com, the Kikuichi arrived quickly and was very well packed.
The knife came in a standard knife box – nothing flashy.
Inside of the box, along with the knife, were a little plastic tip protector and some documentation. The tip protector was probably helpful for protecting the tip during packaging, but has little to no practical use once the knife is in your hands. The knife, unlike the Tojiro DP, does not come with a plastic knife sheath but instead comes wrapped in some parchment paper (which I discarded).
The documentation included a nice little sharpening pamphlet with clear, well-written instructions on how to sharpen both double beveled and single bevel knives. This might be useful to beginning sharpeners, but probably will not be of interest to experienced sharpeners.
In addition to the sharpening pamphlet, there was a piece of paper with a brief history of the Kikuichi company. It made for an interesting read and was a nice touch. The documentation included one other piece of paper. Unfortunately, I have no idea what it says as it is written entirely in Japanese.
As stated at the outset, I really like this knife and recommend it. Minor (and I really do mean minor) fit and finish issues aside, this is a wonderful performer. It performs more than decently out of the box, performs wonderfully in the hands of this beginning sharpener, and should be amazing in the hands of one with more skill than I.