Once again, me and few of my friends were picking a present for our friend. And without my insisting on doing so, the present was picked to be a kitchen knife. And since I was the one person collecting/testing the knives I was tasked to choose the specific knife. I've poked around and after some deliberations decided that instead of decent western knife it'd be better to go with the Japanese knife. Since the recipient of the present was new to Japanese kitchen knives I had to choose something that was a good middle ground between the super hard, but delicate knives and mainstream western knives which are way too soft to be considered good kitchen knives anyway, at least form my point of view.
There are quite a few knives that are pretty good choice for an introduction to Japanese Knives, I've covered some of those in the article How To Choose Kitchen Knives - What Brands section. So, I could choose from quite a few brands, and since I have heard enough positive opinions about Tojiro DP line, and I've received quite a few inquiries about DP line before, so I've picked it as a present. Most of the inquiries were also asking about the steel used in the knife, because for a while Tojiro decided not to release the actual name of the steel used in the DP line, and all there was bunch of speculations, but I'll talk about that in the steel section. In short, I've ordered the basic trio for the jubilar - Tojiro DP 240mm gyuto being reviewed here, Mac Superior Bread Knife, and Messermeister Paring Knife. That does cover most of the home cook's cutting needs. Ok, now about the knife.
General- Tojiro DP gyuto arrived in a decent box, safely packaged. Obviously, first thing I did was to open the box and inspect it. Being more or less a budget knife, I wasn't expecting something superb, and chances of having a defect are a bit higher on the budget knives, so the inspection was thorough, although I do the same for high end knives, just to be thorough. Anyway, there were no visible defects on the knife, grind lines were even and smooth, satin finish was well done, no scratches or swirlmarks. The bolster was well fitted to the handle, no gaps, finish on the bolster was pretty good, no sharp edges to be bothered with. All of the rivets are flush with the handle and there are no gaps around them. All in all, quite well made knife, no complaints about general quality, no defects either. For its price it's a very good buy. At 240mm length it's not a small knife, but being a gyuto it is a relatively lightweight knife, at lest compared to the identical sized western chef's knives. Other than that there is not much that stands out, typical Japanese gyuto.
Blade- As I mentioned above, the blade on the Tojiro DP Gyuto is 240.00mm(9.45") long, which I'd consider medium length for a gyuto, although others might disagree. At the heel, the blade is 1.88mm thick, which is fairly thin, even for a Japanese knife. At its widest point, which would be at the heel as well the blade measured almost 49mm, 48.95mm to be very precise. Also quite typical for gyutos of this size. Overall, the blade is sufficiently wide to accommodate comfortable and safe support for the claw hand during cutting. Out of the box sharpness was very high. Something I expected from a Japanese kitchen knife, made by Tojiro. Budget knife or not, edge needs to be sharp and the steel used in the knife is quite good, rough edge would be a waste and I'd consider that a problem actually. In short, out of the box was sharp, mirror polished, evenly ground, no complaints here.
DP Gyuto has a very thin blade, so overall cutting ability is very high. As for the edge angle, my guesstimate, based on several measurement average was about 15° per side, making about 30° inclusive, standard V grind. Nothing surprising there either, that type of edge is also common for factory made Japanese knives. Some sources do state that the edge is 9°-12° per side, but I really doubt that. 9° is a really thin edge and at 60HRC it's not gonna be easy to keep it intact, on the other hand, my measurements might've not been accurate enough, 12° vs. 15° is quite hard to measure using methods available at home.
As for the rest, on the left side of the blade, we have Tojiro logo and brand markings in English, and on the right side there is DP marking, and some Kanji, I suppose Tojiro logo. Blade to bolster transition is quite smooth and doesn't get in the way during various types of cutting. As for the blade construction, it is standard warikomi awase type. In other words, we have VG-10 steel hard core - hagane, at about 60-61HRC, clad in stainless steel jacket - Jigane, I suppose SUS 410 steel or something like that. Outer cladding is more stain resistant than the hagane, so the cladding acts as a protective layer from elements. It also protects the blade from breaking, although I wouldn't count on that, normally you shouldn't get to the point when breaking it is a possibility. After all, lots of people use honyaki knives, which are much harder and often longer than 240mm.
Steel- Like I said above, initially Tojiro decided not to release actual steel name used in DP series, they just said it was DP. Eventually, it was revealed that DP was the good, old Takefu VG-10 steel. To be honest, I was rather puzzled why conceal the use of a perfectly good alloy and muddy the waters. I suppose the fact that other VG-10 steel knives are sold at much higher price might've had something to do with it.
Anyway, as it is, VG-10 is a very good steel, in the kitchen knives and in variety of other knives as well. Quite stain resistant, with good edge holding ability, it is used in all sorts of knives, from small to fairly large such as Fallkniven A1 survival knife. Given the price of the knife, it is quite a bargain. Considering that Shun Chef's knife of the similar size costs about 160$ and Tojiro Senoku series 9¼" gyuto costs 200$, you can see why this knife is a bargain. Same steel, same size, same heat treatment. Yes, it is less fancy than its counterparts, but the performance is the same. Far be it from me to say the looks on the knife don't matter, not after spending considerable amounts of money on custom handles, but still I am not opposed to budget knives at all, the key is the performance and this knife performs on par with any other VG-10 knives I have handled before.
Handle- The handle on the Tojiro DP gyuto is made of Micarta, popular, widely used, durable and dependable handle material. Resists well to elements and food acids. Handle finish is quite smooth, and feels nice in hand. Obviously that is less secure compared to rough finish, however excessively rough grips are also very rough on hands, especially for prolonged use. As it is the handle is secure just fine. I didn't have any problems with the grip security during all the cutting I've done with the knife, even when I was messing with avocados. The handle is flattened on the sides, which also helps with positive grip, unlike D type handles which are more prone to rolling in hand.
Overall, it is much more of a western type handle than Japanese, but western handles are quite common in Japanese kitchen knives, in fact many makers offer the same blade design in both, traditional Japanese and western handle variations. My Sanetsu ZDP-189 steel Gyuto also features similarly styled handle. The handle butt isn't all that flat, so it can't really be used for crushing stuff, but I suppose that's hardly a major drawback for anyone. I said in general section there are no gaps between any parts of the knife, and in regards to the handle, there are no gaps between the bolster and the handle, which is important, since food particles can easily get in the gap if it exists and become breeding ground for the bacteria, requiring more attention when washing. Other than that, there are no specific handle features worth discussing here. Solid, well made handle, reasonably secure and comfortable, that about sums it up.
Usage- Because the knife is made using VG-10 steel, which is hardened to quite common 60-61HRC range, I didn't really have to test steel performance. I've tested numerous VG-10 steel kitchen knives from various makers. If you are interested, click on the link, there's plenty of the reviews to read through. Still, I did do a full session of the mega salad cutting, involving the usual 18lbs of 20 different vegetables in the mix. As far as the steel performance goes, it was just what I have expected. In other words, the knife is on par with other knives from the same steel, such as Shun, Tojiro, Miyabi etc. Considering the price of the knife, I'd say that's pretty good, not surprising, but if you are on the market for high performance(at least compared to standard western and even entry level Japanese knives) then this one is definitely worth a look. Main goal of all the cutting was to evaluate the knife itself, in terms of cutting performance and usability. VG-10 steel is a good one, but one can always screw up in various ways and make a crappy knife out of it. Testing never hurts ;) Happy to report, Tojiro didn't screw up anything in DP series gyuto knife. Overall, I was cutting about 2 hours non stop, plus about an hour of prep work in the morning. That's 3 hours of continuous cutting. Most of the people don't cut that much in weeks. Next day, I was cooking beef stew, so I had a chance to test the knife on a large slice of a beef, and some more veggies, including garlic, onions, etc.
Main test obviously was 18 lbs veggie test, which was done in the same order as the earlier test was done on Henckels 34313-270 Miyabi 600D Fusion Gyuto Knife, and the control was the cherry tomato cutting test, when I'd cut the tomato on the board using just the weight of the knife. The difference would be that since then I have changed my cutting technique a bit, and I don't use the belly on the board for rocking motion that much, it's more of a combination of push and slice motion, which I find to be more edge friendly, granted you are careful enough to stop the blade once it touches the board, otherwise you'll do more damage. And the amount of veggies increased a bit. Still, the blade went through all the ingredients and was reasonably sharp at the end.
Gyutos in general are designed to handle rather large variety of the food cutting, and I wasn't really expecting any problems with veggies, except for the unexpected :) Although, that never happened. Mincing soft leaves including Italian parsley, baby spinach, spring mix, collard greens, etc was a breeze. The edge was very sharp, leaves offer little to no resistance. Chiffonade from Basil was easy to do, and the cuts were very smooth and clean. Carrots, broccoli and the dreaded raw Brussels sprouts pose more challenge to any kitchen knife. That trio as usual kills the high polish razor sharp edge I put on western kitchen knives sometimes in the midway, and for better specimens around ¾ of the test. Good knives survive it without any problems and proceed with the rest of the veggies unhindered. So was the Tojiro DP. It minced broccoli and Brussels sprouts without breaking a sweat and then batonnet from the carrots was quick and clean job. Celery and Asparagus aren't too gentle on the edge either, at least compared to baby spinach they are not, but not as bad as Brussels sprouts. No considerable edge degradation afterwards.
The rest in the mix was bellpeppers, eggplants, red radish, green onions, artichoke hearts, and finally leftover cherry tomatoes. At the end, I could tell the edge degraded to some degree, I needed about 3" long slice to cut through the cherry tomato using knife's own weight vs. ~1" in the beginning. However, about 10 strokes per side on the borosilicate rod pretty much restored the original sharpness. Even without restoration, that edge was still plenty sharper than any of the edges found on mainstream western kitchen knives, at least compared to the few dozen of those I've handled in my tests. Still, as I keep repeating in the reviews and few articles including Maintaining Your Kitchen Knives, steeling before using your kitchen(and other knives too) will extend useful edge lifespan very considerably. So, keep steeling :)
Overall, the knife left very positive impressions. It is quite user friendly knife, no awkward feelings during all the cutting. Thin blade with sharp edge ensures very high cutting performance. Of course, everything is relative, and no, there are no miracles, Tojiro DP can not outlast or outperform Watanabe Honyaki Gyuto, or Shigefusa Kitaeji Gyuto, because those knives are much harder and better steels, with the edges ground to ~5° per side. There is no way around physics, but on the other hand, comparing 80$ knife with 700$-800$ knives isn't reasonable either.
However, for what it is, Tojiro DP does perform on par with the best VG-10 kitchen knives, even if it doesn't look as fancy as some of those. On its own, it is a very good cutter, no comparison with mainstream western kitchen knives, it easily outperforms them in both, cutting ability and edge longevity. Well, if you plan on opening tin cans and chopping chicken bones with your chef's knife, then don't bother with Tojiro DP, or any other Japanese kitchen knife for that matter, you'll be better of with good old, heavy and thick German steel, or an axe. However, if you are looking for a knife, which is supposed to cut and keep cutting, you should consider it.
Conclusions- Well made knife, at a very affordable price. At least, as far as quality Japanese knives go, Tojiro DP is a real bargain. There are plenty of VG-10 knives out there which perform just the same, but cost more. If you want different design, more aesthetically pleasing cladding, high end handle materials, etc, all that is available, from Shun, from Miyabi, from the same Tojiro and a lot of custom makers as well. If the simple design and solid materials work for you, then Tojiro DP is very budget friendly, solid performer.
- Blade - 240.00mm(9.45")
- Thickness - 1.88mm
- Width - 48.85mm
- OAL - 367.00mm(14.45")
- Steel - VG-10 steel at 60-61HRC
- Handle - Micarta
- Weight - 248.00g(8.39oz)
- Acquired - 04/2010 Price - 100.00$
- Akifusa(Ikeda) 240mm Gyuto Knife Review
- Kumagoro 240mm Hammer Finish Gyuto Knife Review
- Shigefusa 270mm Kitaeji Gyuto Knife Review
- Watanabe 270mm Honyaki Gyuto Knife Review
- Sanetsu 270mm ZDP-189 Gyuto Knife Review
- Aritsugu 270mm A-Type Gyuto Knife Review
- Tadatsuna 270mm White Steel Gyuto Knife Review
Last updated - 06/18/14