A Serious Cook's Dream: Fine Cuts With the Classic Gokujo Shun Fillet Knife

December 10, 2021

Separating meat from the bones is not an easy task. As a serious home or professional cook, you know how challenging it can be, but you also learned how to combat the difficulties— by using a well-performing fillet knife. 

Filleting fish or other meat is especially hard if you're using poor-quality cutlery. As a result, pro and home cooks alike dream of having a razor-sharp knife that can hold an edge for long, and you can often spot these qualities from Japanese kitchen knives.

If you're looking for a good Japanese fillet knife, we want to introduce you to the Classic Gokujo Shun fillet knife. But before we get to that part, here's a rundown of filleting basics and how to find a good knife. 

Basic Filleting Tips 

Filleting is either easy and fast or tricky and slow. If you're not yet used to it, hasty working is not ideal. It can cause you to lose up to 25 percent of the meat, so don't put your hard-earned catch at risk. We've enumerated things to note when filleting fish or meat to help you save that 25 percent for your meal instead.

Take Your Knife Choice Seriously

Before you worry about your filleting skills, start thinking about the equipment you're using. The knife is a core part of this job, so you must use a good one. What are the basic characteristics of a fillet knife? It's all about sharpness. The blade should be razor-sharp to cut precisely into the meat and keep you safe throughout the process.

Keep Your Catch Cool

The fish might trash around once you catch it, which gives you a hard time filleting. Therefore, you should either finish it off quickly or place it on a cooler to become inactive. That way, it will be easier for you to dissect, debone, trim, or slice it as desired. 

Use Bones as Cutting Allies

You separate the flesh from the bones, but that doesn't mean you have to cut against them. Bones can serve as a guide in making precise cuts. Make smooth gliding movements along the backbone or spine and ensure that you won't destroy the delicate parts of the meat. Instead of fighting the bone structure, follow the direction to make filleting more precise.

Pay Attention to Recovery Rates

What defines the recovery rate in terms of filleting? It means the percentage of fillets taken off from the entire weight of the meat. The higher the recovery rate, the better. It also varies on the type and condition of the meat, the knife's sharpness, and your filleting skills. 

To get a good recovery rate, ensure that you don't leave an awful waste of good meat on the bones and leave it completely clean. 

fillet knife on white background image

Qualities of a Good Filleting Knife

When selecting a fillet knife, you need to focus on the blade and handle the most. Here are important qualities to look for.

Must be razor-sharp for best quality filletsMust have a solid grip for excellent control and precise cutting
Must have the correct length for the size of your meatMust be comfortable enough to hold to prevent injuries and poor cut quality
Must be thin and flexible to cut precisely through meats and bonesMust be low maintenance so you can focus on filleting than upkeeping
Must be durable and rust- and corrosion-resistant  to withstand tough conditionsMust have a bright, visible color so as not to lose it in tough locations

Shun Knives: The Serious Cook's Dream

Japan holds a long-standing reputation for its exceptional cutlery production. The Kai Corporation has been working in the industry since the 13th century. Their Shun knives are crafted by highly skilled Shun artisans committed to continuing the tradition of handcrafted knives. Moreover, they work right at the heart of Japanese cutlery, the city of Seki.

From these details alone, you can already set Shun knives apart from its competitors. Shun combines modern, premium materials with handcrafting to produce the best knife quality for home and pro cooks. Lastly, the brand name "shun" means that fruits, meat, or vegetables are in their best/most ripe forms. With this concept in mind, Shun aims to create knives at the peak of perfection. 

Because of their golden reputation, most pro and home chefs, butchers, and cooks dream of having at least one or more Japanese cutlery in their collection. They know exactly just how exceptionally durable, ultra-sharp, and elegant-looking these knives are. 

The Classic Gokujo Shun Fish Knife

In this review, we will introduce to you one of Shun's most versatile kitchen knives: the Shun DM0743 Classic Gokujo fillet knife. Here are some specifications to begin with.

Knife Length11 inches
Knife Weight0.45 pounds
Blade Length6 inches
Blade Material68-Layered VG–MAX Damascus Stainless Steel
Blade Edge TypeNon-serrated
Handle MaterialPakkaWood (Ebony)
WarrantyLimited Lifetime Warranty
Application(s)Boning and Fillet 

Here are the features of the Shun classic fillet knife that gain a competitive advantage over its Western counterparts.

A 6-inch Blade That Gets the Job Done Perfectly

Traditional samurai swords inspire the narrow and curved blade style of the Shun boning knife. In just one cut, it effortlessly sets the meat and bones apart. Furthermore, it is crafted with VG-MAX, a more optimized version of the VG-10 steel. VG-MAX has higher edge retention and corrosion resistance. 

The benefits don't stop there! The blade is constructed with multi-layered (68) Damascus stainless steel, which enhances strength and durability. With this handcrafted blade, you can avoid fatigue and get better at boning and filleting. 

A Versatility That Lasts

One of this knife's unique qualities is its exceptional flexibility. Thanks to its edge retention capabilities, you can cut on meat with a maximum flex of approximately 16 degrees. Plus, it's durable, so you don't have to worry about dull edges for a decent year count. Note that it may also depend on your knife maintenance.

Elegant with a Purpose

Japanese knives are popular for their elegant knife designs, and this Shun knife is a good example. The Damascus layers give a flowing pattern to the blade partnered with the knife's slender shape. It's a beautiful knife to hold, but there's more to it than just pretty visuals.

The Damascus layers add strength and durability to the blade. Meanwhile, the slender, elegant shape is a good structure for boning and filleting. You will have a secure and productive time using this gorgeous Shun knife.

D for a Dependable Handle

The knife handle is an ebony-colored D-shaped Pakkawood, which offers a comfortable grip and excellent cutting control. D-shape handles can be better than octagonal ones, depending on your preference. More importantly, they incorporate a stainless steel end to secure the construction.

The handle of the Classic Gokujo knife suits right-handed users well. However, if you are left-handed, there's still no need to worry. You may find it just as comfortable as righties do, or you may order a reverse D-shape handle from the manufacturer. For maintenance, hand wash it and dry it using a soft cloth. 

What Are The Disadvantages?

You're almost done with the evaluation of the Shun Classic Gokujo fillet knife. You'll need to be aware of the disadvantages as well to make a final buying decision. Here are points to consider:

  • Some knife users find that it doesn't stay sharp for long (only a few months). However, this may still depend on usage and maintenance. 
  • Some find that it's not very reliable for more intense cutting.
  • You might not feel comfortable enough with the thin structure of this knife.
  • While it gets the job done, it might take some time for you to get used to it. Filleting delicate meat or working on hard bones can be challenging. If you're not careful enough, the edge could get damaged. 


If you're a serious cook looking for a decent to excellent Japanese fillet knife, the Classic Gokujo is a good choice. It's not perfect, but all knives have their limitations. You just have to use them for a kitchen task that matches their quality. 

We hope this review has helped you understand the Shun Classic Gokujo fillet knife and learn how to fillet meat with ease. 

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