I’m bringing this topic back to life because I just bought and returned a Moritaka Gyuto and wanted to share my experience. I definitely don’t want to breed controversy, nor do I want to stimulate Moritaka-bashing (or any bashing for that matter h ). I’ve taken so much from this forum. This is just an attempt to give something back. And don’t worry, there’s a happy ending (for me at least
So, after weeks of reading around here I sprang for my first j-knife, the usual introductory 240mm gyuto, and Moritaka’s cost-benefit seem hard to beat.
As many have said, Akiko Moritaka was wonderful through the ordering process. I would have got it from Mark at CKTG, but he didn’t have the octagonal handle in stock (I went to Korin to try different things and just really fell for the octagonal wa). Moritaka didn’t have it in stock originally, and it was going to take about 1 month to get it, but after a couple days Akiko wrote and said he had just finished one. It shipped super fast, under 1 week.
I inspected it as carefully as my lack of experience with knives allowed me to. Laying the edge perpendicular to the board I noticed a gap in the very back, but so far behind that I didn't bother emailing Moritaka about. It was basically the actual heel sitting a bit lower than the remainder of the back part of edge so I imagined it would go away with regular sharpening and left it at that.
After a few days of using it, especially since I was still practicing the stones on some old SS knives, I decided to send it to Dave in order to, like many have said here, understand what sharp really means. Only hours after putting it in the mail, I get home anxious to play around KF and find this very topic.
I immediately PT'd Dave telling him about the heel issue. Once he got it, he confirmed that my knife suffered from the same problems that he described in his first post here: bird’s beak tip, low sitting heel, and wavy overground edge
. Dave, the professional that he is, walked me through each of the problems, how he would try to fix them, but also how they may not go away because of the grinding problems.
Understanding the implications, I told Dave to hold up on the job and wrote Akiko, ready to engage in battle
. Silly me. Akiko apologized profusely and agreed to a refund even before I could reply (this was back in December). The day I shipped the knife she issued the paypal refund (including shipping costs). The knife got stuck in customs in Japan and didn’t actually reach them until yesterday. Anyways, I told her I was curious as to what Moritaka would have to say about the issues.
This is what she replied. Note she refers to bird’s beak tip at “1”, low sitting heel as “2” and wavy edge as “3”. Also note that I’m leaving out the apologies parts, so it may sound like a harsh reply when it was actually a very nice one.
As to 1) and 2), our gyuto has a belly the best suited for drawing and cutting. Therefore there're some gap on the tip and heel originally. Japanese get used to do drawing and cutting. But, Soba-kiri (knife) has a dead flat edge because it's used while pressing and cutting. If a customer ask us to make a straight edged knife, we'll make it as a customer wants. Excluding it, we make our original shaped knives.
As to 3), after it's hardened (quenched), it turns somewhat wavy. Therefore we remove distortions with a special hammer after ''Tempering'' process. We make it flat (level off) as far as there is no problem within the practical use. If we make a sword, we must make it dead flat while we put the edge on the glass board and check it. In your knife case, we don't consider it a defect.
We admit it has wavy part. But it is leveled off enough for the practical use. Of course, it can be fixed by hand. It isn't special that hand-made (forged) kitchen knives have somewhat wavy parts because it's hand-made, not machine-made. We've experienced to sharpen other maker's knives have similar conditions.
Even if it has much wavier blade, we sharpen and straighten it with a whetstone while checking and adjusting the conditions of the blade. You may well say ''I fear that once the knife is sharpened, this "wavy" may cause some areas to wear differently than others, creating gaps between the edge and the board when cutting''.
But we're sorry but we have to hand-made our knives considering necessity of work. If we pursue to make perfect knives, we have to spend much more time to check blades. But, as a result, we can't sell our knives at the present prices.
Our goal is, our knives are used by as many customers as possible. We'd like to sell our knives with reasonable price compared with other makers.
So this is my story. I am by no means an experience sharpener, which is why I chose the less risky path of returning the knife. I definitely have no hard feelings. This was hard-to-beat customer service, language barriers and all. Moving forward, I would perhaps order from them again, but only (probably more expensive) customs, so that I could be sure that the knives were thoroughly inspected.
Did I mention that Dave, aside from walking me through this, also didn’t charge me for shipping the knife back?