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 Post subject: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 2:55 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:18 pm
Posts: 11
hi all! i am totally new to the knife world and would like to know what your recommendations are for someone who is buying their first japanese knives. i am a home cook who have only used ja henkels, victornia knox, and cutco knives!

thanks in advance!


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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 3:39 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:57 pm
Posts: 600
Hi vchin, and welcome!

Before I start throwing out recommendations, I'd be interested to know a couple of things. What Henckels, Victorinox and Cutco do you currently have? and which of them do you use regularly? That could help us get a sense for what you need.

Mostly, traditional knife sets aren't terribly useful, so people here tend to piece together knives from different makers for different tasks. If you are open to that, you will have plenty of options.

-Erik


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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 4:34 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 2109
What estayton said.

Maybe a moderator can move this to the knife recommendation section. Here is the generic questionnaire regarding knife recs:

1. Are you right handed?
2. What type of knife are you interested in (gyuto, nakiri etc..)
3. What size knife are you looking for?
4. Do you prefer carbon or stainless steel?
5. Do you prefer a western handle or a Japanese handle?
6. How much did you want to spend?
7. Do you know how to sharpen?


One of the nice things about these details is they will likely generate some questions on your part about how these choices differ from one another.

A few pointers:

*Most people get their feet wet with a gyuto (the equivalent of a chef's knife) in the 210mm to 240mm range. These will compare with an 8" to 9" knife

*Generally stainless is preferred for newbies but carbon steel is not too difficult to care for and can open up a lot of interesting options.

*Wa handles (Japanese styled) are generally easy to adapt to from western handles, but they are particularly easy for someone using a pinch grip. If you grip the handle with all five fingers wrapped around the handle, the wa may be a bit more alien in feel.

*To really enjoy quality cutlery you will want to consider sharpening options. Don't believe the informercial BS, no knife will be sharp forever. Better knives will get sharper and stay sharper, longer, but they will still need to be refreshed periodically. Consider leaving some time in this learning curve and some room in the budget for an inexpensive, but quality, stone or two.

*Good luck and have fun...lots of great toys here :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:48 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:18 pm
Posts: 11
ok so here is what i am able to answer (i hope this sort of helps!)

my current brands of knives are just chef knife types

1. Are you right handed? yes
2. What type of knife are you interested in (gyuto, nakiri etc..) I don't actually know which is which and what is best
3. What size knife are you looking for? Still not sure about this, I only know what I've used which are chef knife sized.
4. Do you prefer carbon or stainless steel? Also not sure about this!
5. Do you prefer a western handle or a Japanese handle? Don't know the difference but I do have a pinch grip where my index and thumb grip the base and the rest of the fingers grip the handle
6. How much did you want to spend? $150 or less
7. Do you know how to sharpen? currently, no but i am willing to learn and plan to buy sharpening stones!


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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 10:49 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2012 4:17 am
Posts: 4612
Tanaka Ginsan 210mm Gyuto, stainless, one of the best knives you'll find at this price. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tagi21gy. ... 63zcrGmVfA

I you prefer a western handle and want to try carbon, this knife is clad in stainless for easier care, is easy to sharpen and will hold it's edge well. Kohetsu Blue #2 Gyuto 210mm. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohetsubl ... 630IbGmVfA

Both are excellent knives to start your journey into the world of J-knives.



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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:03 pm 

Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:57 pm
Posts: 600
Given the information you provided, my suggestion would be to get one good gyuto (Japanese name for the chef's knife) and one sharpening stone to keep it maintained. If you are used to 8-inch chef's knives I would go for a 240mm gyuto, as they will generally be lighter and thinner than what you are used to and feel a bit smaller than their size, in my experience. If you are used to using 6-inch chef's knives then I would say a 210mm.

The handle choice is really up to you. I like wa-handled knives and use a pinch grip: you should find it an easy switch to make. If it concerns you, there are good western-handled choices too. I have come to like the lightness of the wa handle and the way it moves the balance point forward.

I would suggest starting with stainless, or stainless-clad carbon, just for ease of care. It isn't a big deal, once you get used to it, to wipe your knife off after cuts to keep carbon steel from reacting, but it may or may not be something you care to get into (especially if other people might pick up your knife to use it, not knowing about carbon steel). A clad knife will only have exposed carbon at the edge (and in the center along the spine) so it is somewhat easier to care for, but the need to wipe it off whenever you set it down remains.

Here are some options in your price range, leaving some room for a stone:

240mm stainless, wa-handled:
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fufkm24wa.html
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kast24wa.html

240mm stainless, western:
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/todpchkn24.html

Many of these are also available in 210mm lengths. A real killer option if you like the aesthetics, and want to try stainless-clad carbon steel, would be:
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohetsublue1.html
which you could get in 240mm if you stretched to $170 or so for knife+stone.

However, any of the knives listed should be a step above what you have currently. There are also other options I know I have forgotten. (Edit: such as the Tanaka, above.)


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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 11:33 pm 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 6:20 am
Posts: 2109
I have not handled this one, it just came in recently, but it is carbon core stainless clad: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kobl2nagy21.html.

This is one of the classic entry level Japanese knives, there are better knives in your budget, but this is hard to beat dollar for dollar: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tojiro-dp-f-8081.html


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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 5:29 am 
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Joined: Mon May 19, 2014 1:52 am
Posts: 355
Location: Philly
I would also go with the 240mm gyuto as a first knife.
If you aren't afraid of carbon then the Kohetsu Blue #2 Gyuto 240mm
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kobl2gy24.html

I have it in the 210mm and use it when space is an issue and I can't take out the 240mm. Coming from the knives you are using this will feel like cutting with a lightsaber. Only thing with carbon is it has to be wiped periodically and properly cleaned and dried. But I don't find it to be very reactive at all since it is stainless clad. And you can force a patina pretty quick with hot apple cider vinegar. The 240mm can also sub as a meat slicer.


If you wanted all stainless the the Tanaka Ginsan Gyuto 240mm
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tagigy24.html
but it is out of stock currently.

If you 100% want stainless and if you were able to go over budget then the Kohetsu HAP40 Gyuto 240mm at $215 would be my choice
http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohagy24.html
Ok its semi stainless but close enough we are talking .xx% points away from full stainless

For a stone if you don't have any at all I would say Shapton Pro 1.5K stone. That will put an edge on your new knifes and you can use it on your older knives as long as there aren't huge chips or it will take longer since it is low grit. Then the next purchase can be a finishing stone like the 5K Shapton Pro followed by your low grit stone 220/320 grit Shapton Pro.

I would probably consider a strop or at least a DIY homemade one on the cheap until you can afford it.



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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 6:41 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:04 pm
Posts: 48
I would say skip 210mm and go straight to 240mm. The German blades have heft which makes 9 inches seem not very practical, but the gyutos are generally lighter, well-balanced, and nimble. You can do almost anything with the 240 size and IMO if you do not want a 210 and a 270mm (like myself) then 240 is the nice size to have.

I do almost all my work with a paring knife and a 240mm gyuto. So my opinion is that going with two nice knives in those classes is the best way to go.

One brand I did not see mentioned which I like a lot for the money is Tojiro

These are GREAT and leave room for a really nice stone. They use VG-10 steel, which has good rust resistance, good toughness, and is a very good steel for a first purchase. If down the road you move to higher-end knives, these will still have value in the kitchen as they are plenty capable and not overly expensive.
240 gyuto http://www.chefknivestogo.com/todpchkn2 ... 65i6pQs2os
paring knife http://www.chefknivestogo.com/todppakn9 ... 65jOZQs2os
(they have sets of these in which you can save more money)


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 Post subject: Re: knife set for newbie?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2014 10:35 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 26, 2014 5:18 pm
Posts: 11
Thanks for all the recommendation! Sort of info overload!

It sounds like carbon steel is high maintenance and you have to wipe it after each use? I'm not sure I would like to do that and for it to become a habit. If this is the case, I might want to get a stainless steel, right?

Also, could I ask why the recommendation are gyuto vs a Santoku? I thought maybe I might like the latter because I like a taller blade. Do you all have any recommendations for a Santoku, also?


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