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Tue May 06, 2014 3:43 pm
I would also suggest the Kohetsu Santoku.It's a high end steel at an attractive price and will certainly be better performing than Shun,Global,Wustoff or any other mainstream knife for about the same price.
Tue May 06, 2014 4:08 pm
Finding Japanese knives in Japan that fit a Western kitchen is a hard task. While it has gotten easier with time, a lot of it is people like CKTG that can work with the semi-custom houses and get a run better tuned to the way we tend to use our knives.
I find that Japanese "speciality" knives are absolutely fantastic at the one thing that they were designed for. You can't beat a deba for breaking down fish. Then again, you can't do much else with it. Some would even argue you need two or three of them to handle the fish that you have, from small to large.
As much as I love traditional Japanese knives, I'd rather have my Konosuke gyuto alone over a collection of three or four task-specific knives (that would total up to more than three as much). It is a lot more versatile, and, in my opinion, a lot easier to learn good technique with than trying to master a nakiri or a Japanese slicer. "So, I've got this killer knife for slicing cucumbers. I'm making fish. Now what?"
A 240 mm gyuto can get me through a meal, pretty much no matter what it on the menu. In a pinch, it is long enough to use as a slicer. If I'm too lazy to get out the sub-$10 Forshner paring knife, I can do tip work with a 240, even down to coring a tomato. Don't get me wrong though, a gyuto is a professional's knife profile.
A santoku is a knife that was intended to be able to cut all three things that a Japanese home cook needed to attack. They do a decent job of most things, but both my wife and I typically will go for either a gyuto or a paring knife if it is more than a quick cut or two. She used to think that a 210 mm knife (~8") was just huge and that there was nothing wrong with her Chefmate serrated "chef's knife." Now I find her with the 270 mm (~12") gyuto out!
In my opinion, I'd go with a good 240 mm gyuto and the little 4" Forshner paring knife. You might want to consider getting her a starter sharpening set -- razor-sharp knives are not only more fun to work with, but a lot safer too.