Tsubaya Tanaka Blue #1
Tsubaya was a normal cutlery store when they began in 1952 until 1981 when the first owner returned from traveling the world. During his travels, he recognized how great the Japanese knife is, so he built Tsubaya as a specialized Japanese kitchen knife shop in Kappabashi. In recent years, Kappabashi street has become famous for Japanese knife shops, but at the time, Tsubaya was the only one of it's kind. Their partner master craftspeople represent specialty areas of Japan such as Sakai, Sanjo, Seki, Tanegashima, and Tosa. They create for Tsubaya the best quality knives for people who seek them. read more
Description from a User
I have been working in the food industry for 28 years now, and have been using Japanese knives professionally as well as home use for the majority of that time. I’ve tried many different knives from different makers, in various shapes and different steels. This opinion is based on my culminated experience thus far.
Out of the Box
At first glance this knife reads something very special. The matte Kurochi finish contrasted with the well-polished wide bevel is a sight to see. The Kanji is stamped deep, but with little negative texture. It looks impressive, with loads of old school character.
Immediately in hand you will notice this gyuto is slightly blade forward heavy, with the balance point about 45mm from where the handle meets (or 30mm from the choil). The satine handle feels comfortable in hand, with the sides of the octagonal handle ever so slightly rounded. The handle is smooth, with no noticeable texture where the ferrule meets the handle wood. Very well executed.
The spine and choil are nicely polished and comfortable to hold in various style grips. The choil sports a signature polish on both sides which meets to an apex. I find this both visually appealing and very comfortable.
The edge out of the box is well sharpened/polished with a bit of bite. I prefer a little more “toothyness” to my edge, but more on that later.
The overall profile of this blade is one that means business. A decent flat spot along the first 55mm of the edge from the choil slowly starts to curve upward towards a more pointed style of tip. This helps make it more functional in daily use, allowing for subtle rock chopping when needed. The heel height of 51mm is perfect for enough board-to-knuckle clearance, and is more than suitable for everyday use.
Overall weight of the knife comes in around 213g, giving it some heft, but nothing that becomes fatiguing after a long day of use. This extra little bit of muscle also helps in the ease of cutting, creating more of that “falls through foods” effect.
This knife is very thin behind the edge, but still very stable on the board. It is wide bevel on both sides with a true shinogi line, making it easier to re-sharpen and for future thinning maintenance. The wide bevel has a slight hollow grind to it, which lends itself to fantastic ease of cutting through dense product.
There isn’t too much of a distal taper, but what is there is noticeable visually. The spine where it meets the handle is about 3.8mm, and it steadily narrows to where the shinogi line meets toward the tip. From there it takes a drastic taper to an almost paper-thin tip, making it easy for detail oriented tip work.
Tanaka’s forging and heat treatment with Blue #1, in my opinion, is second to none. As mentioned, the blade is wicked thin behind the edge, but feels perfectly stable on the board. The steel holds an edge through quite a lot of heavy use, making touch up maintenance minimal.
When sharpening, the steel quickly takes a razor sharp edge. It feels smooth on the stones, and is able to take/hold a nice toothy edge with some polish.
This knife is perfect for professionals who are looking for a blade that can take on heavy work loads as well as finesse finer more detailed cuts. The steel holds a fantastic edge for long periods of time. Coupled with an amazing grind and thin edge, more time is spent on the cutting board and less time on the sharpening stones.
This is a carbon knife with iron cladding, so it will be reactive. Care needs to be taken when using. I wipe the blade constantly when in use, and wash it often. Through good use it will develop a beautiful patina that will help assist in protecting it from corrosion. When I leave the blade in storage I rub on a thin coat of mineral oil to help protect from moisture in the air.With proper care, this knife can last you for many years, even becoming a family heirloom you can pass down to your children. I highly recommend this knife, as well as others from Tanaka’s line. I believe over time these knives will be highly sought after. They sell out quick for a reason!
*This description was written for Tsubaya Tanaka Blue #1 Gyuto 240mm Satine Handle by user M - Executive Chef overseeing two restaurants in Baltimore, MD. Please understand that weight point and measurements are slightly different for each one.
Message from Craftsman
Tanaka uses charcoal to quench when treating the knife, which does not produce a Kurouchi dark finish. So in order to produce the finish, which is both aesthetically pleasing and useful in protecting against rust, sharpener use a special and secret technique that has been used in Sakai for a long time and etches the surface of the knife.
This way of finishing creates the dark and beautiful Kurouchi finish found on this special line. While both types of Kurouchi finishes can fade over time, the etching technique used by sharpener may fade faster.
This is not sign that anything is wrong with the blade. so please do not worry if this happens, as it is natural.