Two weeks ago I went into this Japanese store that’s near where I have my Korean class. I went there to see if they had any Korean groceries (the Korean food store is on the other side of town). They did. They also had a display case with some kitchen knives. I recognized them, since I’ve seen the brand (Tojiro/Fujitora) online. The price was really good too. I didn’t buy one since I already had a similar knife at home.
A while back I bought a couple of budget friendly kitchen knives with a bit harder steel for my sharpening hobby. One was a shirogami#2 Japanese carbon steel knife. I was considering a Tojiro, which is a budget brand, but the online shop where I was looking had similar knives at a lower price. I figured they were just OEM:ed knives from the same manufacturer and went for that one instead.
I really liked that knife. You have to be careful about it rusting, but it’s really easy to sharpen and takes a wicked edge. I bought it as an experiment, but it quickly became my favourite kitchen knife. It did have some problems, though. The blade was ground very unevenly (the uneven line to the kuroichi finish was like that from the beginning, it’s not from my flattening) and the surface is kind of dented in places. I’ve thinned it a lot, but it’s still not flat. The handle seems to have a tendency to dry out, so the bolster comes loose. I’ve tried soaking and oiling it, but it just dries up again.
Last week I went back to the Japanese store and bought a Nakiri knife. It’s a different style of blade than the one I had and it was so cheap, so I had to get it. Comparing the blades side by side, it’s like night and day. Ignore the milky finish on the old chefs knife in the pictures, that’s from some experiments on thinning (last time it had a mirror polish), but the fit and finish on the Tojiro blade is miles ahead. The handle is much nicer (D-shaped) and the blade is nice and even. The blade on the Tojiro is much thicker at the handle and thinner at the front (excluding the tip, of course). Both knives are shirogami#2 steel.
I paid 390 SEK for it at the grocery store. The same knife costs nearly 600 in online stores here. I got it even cheaper than my old knife, which is of lower quality.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that if you’re in the market for a shirogami knife, take a look at Tojiro (by Fujitora) and shop around for a good price. Check your local Japanese grocery/import stores if you have any. Then you can inspect the knife before buying it as well. Avoid the knife store’s own (OEM) brands.
Sorry for the out-of-focus-y photos. The battery was running out, so I had to snap them quickly.