I’ve been in the market for new knife ever since I started dealing with more raw fish and meat.
It was pretty straight forward what I wanted and given the rest of my knife collection, I wanted something professional.
One thing I learnt pretty early on with kitchen knives is that you get what you pay for and buying cheap or non-brand knives from supermarkets or “homeware stores” is a big mistake. They fail, they go blunt easily, they break or they just don’t last.
My favourite brands include Richardson Sheffield, Global, F. Dick and most recently Yaxell.
I’d not been able to decide on a good Japanese knife. I cut raw fish frequently and wanted something that would remain sharp and do the premium cuts of salmon, tuna an trout justice.
The thing with Yaxell is that they are really hard to get hold of the UK so I had given up buying them and stuck to my normal brands. That was until a company called Steamer Trading Cookshop got in touch with me out of sheer luck and explained that they stock Yaxell exclusively in the UK and that the full range was now available.
I was pretty stoked about this and asked for the knife I’d wanted to buy, to review. Unsurprisingly the 161 Damascus steel top of the line knife I wanted was a bit much to ask for but the team kindly sent over a 25.5cm Ran for me to test the water. The Ran is the 3rd degree range, below the Super Gou and the Gou. The Super Gou is a breathtaking 161 knife but I was happy to work with them for a chance to use these knives.
Having not been able to actually handle one of their knives before meant that this was a good chance to actually get hands on with the knife and see if they met the hype.
The Ran came was delivered quickly and though not a 161 fold, the 69 folds in the steel were still beautiful to unsheathe. The weight is much lighter than I expected and am used to but I don’t intend to use it as a n everyday knife, this was fine. Given also I wanted to use it with fish, the light weight is uses full to not crush the fish as I cut when working more delicate cuts.
The knife is well balanced doesn’t feel too big. I’m used to 20cm cook’s knives and this was a 25.5cm. I do find the extra 5.5cm forces me to think differently when cutting but given the type of chopping/cutting it will be doing, this is ok.
It comes already sharpened to a very high level and will work with most whetstone or sharpeners. They do sell a specific sharpener made by Yaxell but I like to use a steel.
There are a couple of options I would consider adding to your knife collection. If you wanted a longer knife then the 25.5cm Ran is good, I might recommend going for the Super Gou if your budget can extend than far or if you wanted an everyday knife, the Ran 20cm chefs knife. I may well add one of the smaller chefs knives to the collection in the near future.
To see the range, exclusively stocked by Steamer Trading, visit the Yaxell pages of their site here -> https://www.steamer.co.uk/brands/brand_yaxell
They stock a range of other kitchen stuff and a useful bookmark in a web browser if you intent on going a little more “pro” in the kitchen.
WHAT IS 161 “DAMASCUS” STEEL
161 refers to the number of folds in the knife blade. When making a knife, some manufacturers use ancient methods, for Japanese knives many, including Yaxell use methods from the Samurai age and the folds are additional layers of strength and integrity in the steel. One side effect of the practice is the beautiful pattern the layering creates when cascaded along the blade and is referred to as Damascus steel.