Fallkniven Hattori Japanese Chef's Knife
Jim Mattis sent me one of these and asked me for my opinion. Jim
doesn't have a price yet on these.
Check it out at: http://www.fallkniven.com/shop/hattori-produc/sk170.htm
Overall: This knife is very well done, fit and finish wise. The
general shape is a Japanese chef's knife (Santoku). As far as Jim and
I can tell, the blade steel is a san-mai type stainless, damascus on
the outside sandwiching a VG-10 inner layer that forms the cutting
edge. The damascus is beautiful (though I think it looks like a
strict etch), and the Japanese letters carved into the blade make it
really striking. The handles are a dark wood with metal rivets.
The Handle: The handle is smooth with rounded corners, plus a little
bird's beak in the back. It is very comfortable and ergonomic. The
corners and the handle in general are better-finished and more-rounded
than, say, the Henckel's Professional S series. This isn't always a
plus -- sometimes sharper corners give you better grip. But rounder
corners are more comfortable longer. By and large, the handle worked
excellently for me.
The Blade: The blade has no integral bolster, in contrast to many
high-quality kitchen knives such as Henckels, Wusthoff-Trident, etc.
I view this as a plus, not a minus. Most bolstered kitchen knives
have thick edges, especially close to the bolster, which is where you
do the most cutting. A knife with no bolster is usually thinner at
the edge, especially the most critical part of the edge back where you
do most chopping. The Hattori knife has a very thin edge, even
slightly thinner than my non-bolstered Burgvogel Santoku. It is very
much thinner at the edge than my bolstered Henckel's kitchen knives.
The Edge: The edge on this knife is the sharpest I've felt out of the
box for a kitchen knife, due to both thinness and a very good
sharpening job. Edge holding was superb, it lasted through both my
week of standard testing, plus week-and-a-half of extra-hard testing
(detailed below), and was still razor sharp. It was significantly
better edge holding that I've seen on usually-soft steels used by
Henckels, W-T, etc. I did steel occasionally and the edge responded
nicely. Just to see how difficult it was to sharpen, I resharpened at
the end of this period on the Spyderco Sharpmaker using the 15-degree
angles, and it sharpened up quickly and easily due to the thinness at
Performance: The thin edge performs superbly in the kitchen at
everything I used it for. It outperformed my Burgvogels and Henckels
knives no problem. The blade has enough curve at the tip that doing a
rolling chop on veggies is easy. After a week of keeping the knife to
myself, I asked for and received permission from Jim Mattis to give it
the worst type of test imagineable: I put the knife in my main
kitchen block for my mother-in-law to use (she's staying with us
during the week to watch my baby, so she got to use^H^H^Habuse the
knife a lot). That's right, the dreaded Mother-In-Law (MIL) test!
Cliff Stamp is probably shaking in his boots right now
At the end of this entire period, as I had stated earlier, the edge
was still razor sharp after a quick steeling. Usually by this time on
my Henckel's knives, my mother-in-law has introduced a number of
indents and visibly flattened/rolled parts of the edge, due to
chopping and cutting on ceramic plates instead of using a cutting
board, and other such abuses. This knife had no indents, rolls, or
flats. However, it did have 4 very small chips that I could feel
rather than see. The edge on these knives is definitely thinner, and
probably a good deal harder, than the edge on the Henckel's and other
mass-produced knives, so I guess this was to be expected. The quick
sharpening I did sharpened away a couple of the chips but others are
just big enough to remain. If Jim lets me keep the knife longer, I
will keep an eye on the knife and sharpen slightly thicker if it
Rust resistance: I performed a simple test that I think represents
about the worst rust resistance test in my kitchen for my best knives.
Most of my kitchen knives can sometimes end up wet and in the sink for
a while, but my best knives are cleaned every night. So I cut a lemon
in the morning, then laid the knife on the counter. That evening I
checked it out, no sign of rusting, even in the engraved Japanese
characters. Let me know if you'd like a more rigorous test, I figured
this was representative for most people's best cutlery.
This knife will likely be the most beautiful production kitchen knife
you own, and the most expensive (I'm guessing at the price). It will
probably be the best-cutting as well, and hold an edge much better
than you thought a kitchen knife could. It is a joy to use. Balanced
against this is the fact that the edge may be more vulnerable to
chipping if you abuse the knife at all, something I'll monitor more
closely in coming weeks, and see if I can correct with a slightly
thicker edge grind if it happens again.
As a result, right now I definitely recommend the knife provided you
know everyone who is using it knows how to handle quality cutlery.
Otherwise, buy one for yourself and hide it, and leave your softer
knives out for the hoi polloi. That's what I plan to do
chipping is under control, this would easily be my best-performing
kitchen knife by far.
Postscript: I hid the Hattori Santoku, since I plan to finish testing
it by myself. My mother-in-law noticed immediately and demanded to
know where it was -- she's uninterested in going back to Henckel's and
Burgvogel! Keep in mind she's a non-knife person who puts little
critical thought into knife use, for years she has just used whatever
knives I put in the block, and never made a comment. But the
performance difference was enough that it actually penetrated that
this was a better knife! Pretty tough stuff, passing the MIL test