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Looking for top quality set of knives

Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:17 am


I hope I've reached the right place, I've heard your site is a good place to start.

I'm looking for some good recommendations for kitchen knives. I will be purchasing them and shipping them to my home in Washington, D.C. I currently am using a Shun edo set, which has been alright, but I believe there are superior quality knives out there for a similar price. I've set my budget around 1200-1500 for a set of knives. I would prefer a higher quality set of knives to more knives, so if it's 3-4 knives that can accomplish all the tasks of an average home cook I would be fine.

I would say I cook 4-5 times a week at home, I use a wood block for most of my chopping but am open to change that. I currently hand wash my knives and hone them, but I do not sharpen them yet. I would be open to learning. I am left handed, so a neutral handle would likely be best I'd imagine. I was wondering what knives you would recommend for someone in my position. I look forward to hearing from you.


Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:30 am

Hi Sam,

I'm going to give you a few strong suggestions before I get into what specific knives I would recommend.

1. Learn to sharpen. It's more important than the knives you buy. Sharpening is fun and easy and you'll never want for a sharp knife in your house again. There are a bunch of videos on our site in various places that can help you get the hang of sharpening. Great knives that are dull still won't cut.

2. Remove the word "Set" from your mind and think about collecting some great knives that fit your needs. Set is synonymous with block sets which is another term for waste of money. This is especially true on the high end where makers throw in a bunch of weird knives that nobody wants or needs.

3. I encourage you to cherry pick some great knives from our selection and get several gyutos that are the same size so you can use them interchangeably. I have too many knives and most of them are 240mm gyutos. I only have 1 bread knife and a couple pettys and the rest are all gyutos. Why? Because I use this style knife for almost everything. If you have particular interests like fishing of course you might want to get a specialty knife like a fillet knife but stick with gyutos for the most part and collect some good ones that you can grab when the others are being used or are dirty.

Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:35 am

Now, I need a couple questions answered and then I'll give you some specific knives to get.

Are you interested in trying carbon steel knives or do you want to stick with stainless?

Would you prefer western handled or wa handled knives?

Our selection is really deep in carbon steels with wa handles. We have plenty western stainless ones too but I need to narrow things down so just tell me your preference.

Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sun Jul 28, 2013 11:55 am

Hey Mark,

I'm pretty open on the handles. I just want something that would be good for a left hander, though it does not need to be left hand specific.

As far as stainless or carbon, I'm also open here. I take pretty good care of my knives, so both would be good options. \



Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sun Jul 28, 2013 12:54 pm

With that kind of budget, you can get a really great collection of knives. You should probably use part of your budget for sharpening. If you're investing that much in knives, it's good to have the equipment and know-how to keep them sharp and performing at their best.
You can get some great performance out of carbon, if you're willing to put the care into wiping them after use (which isn't all that hard). There's also some high-performing stainless that's available.
What foods do you cut the most?
Which knives do you use most in your current set?
A gyuto should get a lot of use, so that should be the star of your lineup.
Are you looking for a slicer as well?
You may want to buy these one at a time, so you can get a better idea of what you like and want.
You're gonna have some fun picking these out, and using them!

Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sun Jul 28, 2013 1:29 pm

Hey Todd,

Thanks for the input. I'm extremely open to carbon. I regularly hand wash and dry my knives now. I'd say the knife that I use the most tends to be the 10" chefs, though I will occasionally use a pairing. I find my 8" does not get a lot of use though.

As far as foods that I make the most, I'd say I do a lot of chicken, some steak, and find myself frequently cutting vegetables, onions and peppers in particular. I also should be incorporating some more fish. I also tend to end up cutting a lot of herbs.

I will be moving to D.C. in a week or so here, so it's providing me with a great opportunity to order a knife or two in, as my current set won't be there for ten days or so after the move and I'd like to be cooking in the meantime.

Any other input would be greatly appreciated.


Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:39 pm


Speaking as a home cook rather than a professional chef, if I had that kind of money to spend on knives and related equipment in one shot, given what I know now, I'd probably go with something like:

  • 240 mm gyuto -- Konosuke HD "funayuki" gyuto -- top-end piece with a profile I prefer. Several others in the same class; Masamoto, Takeda, Masakage, Kanehiro,... (I've used a Masamoto, the rest are from discussion here or with cooks I know and know value the similar things in knives to what I do)
  • Really good stone set; I like:
    • Nubatama 150 Bamboo
    • Nubatama 1000 Ume
    • Meara natural or something synthetic in the 5k range
    • Atoma 140 flattening plate
    • Suehiro stone holder
    • A hunk of 2x4 and some handiwork, or a Naniwa sink bridge
  • 150 mm petty -- Not sure on this one, probably something mono-steel and not super skinny, perhaps something like a Masakage Shimo?
  • Beater knife -- Victorinox 10" chef's knife -- for the few the things you don't want to risk ruining your good gyuto on!
  • 270-300 mm slicer, some sujihiki -- I'm still deciding on this one; Konosuke 300 mm in White #2?
  • 240-270 mm Bread knife, Victorinox 10" or Tojiro (I don't cut much crusty bread, or this would be up higher on the list)
  • Paring knife -- I use them less and less so 3-1/4" Victorinox is enough for me

Still have budget left? I'm pretty sure you do. Either use your first set of purchases for a while and figure out what is working for you and what you'd like to change up, or...

I like my 210 mm Konosuke petty in White #2 for that "too big for a 150 mm petty, gyuto feels a little big" kind of thing, though it is more of a slicer profile than an on-the-board knife. Another option I've been looking at for a "tweener" knife is something like the Yamashin "funayuki" or, with significantly better fit and finish and a price tag to match, one of the Takeda knives.

Another place you might want to go is with a deba -- a single-bevel, Japanese knife for breaking down whole fish. I'm happy with the 180 mm Kanishige, but it is a specialized knife that doesn't get as much use as my 210 mm petty or my 165 mm bunka.

i'd also read high-dollar-knife-what-would-you-get-t3230.html

Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sun Jul 28, 2013 5:14 pm

SGRANT <> There are very few tasks you will not be able to complete in your described kitchen with a small paring knife, a medium petty, and a medium Gyuto. Honestly, there are few tasks you will not be able to complete in your described kitchen with just a gyuto, but you clearly want to make life easier.

A bread knife is a typical addition for the Standard American Diet (SAD), but optional depending on your kitchen. If you go there & you want the premium crème de la crème, http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toitkbrkn.html $105 w/saya. The Victorinox http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fowabrkn10.html is half the cost, and is a wonderful performer, as well.

A "slicer" for roasts or Thanksgiving dinner is likely something you should have on board, as well. A stainless-clad white carbon steel like this is a beautiful & competent option: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/mayusu27.html $270.

You say, "...should be incorporating more fish." From that, I deduce you are not butchering fish, and therefore, a filet knife is moot.

Mark's suggesting numerous gyutos of the same size is not just to sell knives... it has merit. I am going to recommend some laser thin knives that are absolutely joyous to use, but not appropriate for all tasks. I am going to recommend some stainless-clad carbon blades to give you the benefits of carbon, the ease of stainless, and a stiffer heftier feel. I am going to recommend a semi-stainless steel because it's simply awesome. Etc., etc., etc...

First, learn how to sharpen. It's just too easy to not know how for someone who cooks 5 day a week... especially with Japanese Knives. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/knshcoset.html $190 <> http://www.chefknivestogo.com/vitu.html

9.5" Laser Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohdwa24.html $300 w/saya. If there was only one knife I'd suggest, it would likely be this - except the fact it is a laser & therefore has limitations... not many though. The HD is a semi-stainless steel which, for all practical purposes, gets as sharp as carbon as easily as carbon, but is not fully reactive like carbon. HD steel will slowly develop the dullest of patinas. If you want full on carbon, the White#2 http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kowh2wa24.html ($260 w/saya) is the same knife with carbon steel. Another full carbon that is a bit thicker than these two lasers, but hand hammered & the at the upper echelon of japanese knives is the Fujiyama: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kofubl2gy24.html $435 w/saya. In whichever of these knives you choose, I would suggest the 240 Gyuto profile... not kiritsuke or funayuki.

Get the HD. ;)

9.5" Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riulst25gy.html $200. Another semi-stainless, but not really... as close to stainless w/o the categorization as you will ever get. This knife is a clone of an iconic French profile that has some heft to handle your beefier chores.

9.5" Stainless-clad Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/rilaaonoha.html $230 w/saya. These knives will be available in a week or two, and will offer a carbon edge that still requires carbon care, but it is sandwiched between stainless steel allowing easier maintenance. This design will make the blade less flexible & a bit heavier, as well which can be advantageous to people in some applications.

6" Petty: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kagipe15.html (stainless-clad) $175. This size knife is a really versatile tool in my kitchen. It works really well processing a plethora of fruits. It works aptly when cooking smaller volume meals (e.g., meals for 1 -2); things like dicing/slicing small vegetables or for chiffonade/mincing herbs. It's awesome at portioning meats/poultry/fish. For your application where a boning knife seems unnecessary, this knife will be extremely capable of breaking down chickens assuming you buy whole birds. A full carbon blade, in this size, like the Tanaka http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tadape15.html ($120) will offer you more feedback, and can very easily be used to filet smaller fish like yellowtail snapper, red grouper, walleye, trout, smaller salmon, etc.

A small paring knife is so preferential. I think its the most difficult knife to find in which fits well. You probably have plenty, but if you want one... I really like the profile on this little knife http://www.chefknivestogo.com/dopakn80.html $60. It has a stainless-clad Blue Super Steel & can be a bit brittle unless you sharpen obtusely, but it will get stupid sharp. The Richmond has a nice profile http://www.chefknivestogo.com/riar80pa12.html $40. One of my personal favorites is the simple Shun classic, but its a $100. I also really like the durable VG-5 Tamahaganes http://www.chefknivestogo.com/ta3paknsn.html for a paring application, and it is what I use daily because it has a bit of heel of which I find offers me more versatility; it's not just the heel, it's the way the heel protrudes away from the bolster... just my preference.

I don't know where this ends up, but I know its in budget. I also know its a home set from the g-ds. ;)

Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:16 pm

Jeff and Melampus,

This is a fantastic list. I'm starting to look and price out which to buy now. So far, I'm definitely thinking of doing the tojiro bread knife, the konnosuke HD, the 9.5" stainless clad, and the 6" kanehiro petty. I'm considering the slicer and which petty.

I will also need to find the best way to store these knives, do you have any recommendations? I should mention I have two cats, so I have some concern about putting them on a magnetic strip, but I'm open to recommendations.

Also, I am currently using a wood boos board, do you guys like these or recommend a different board? A friend of mine who used to be a sou chef recommended it.

Thank you so much for your help!


Re: Looking for top quality set of knives

Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:17 pm

Melampus wrote:SGRANT <> There are very few tasks you will not be able to complete in your described kitchen with a small paring knife, a medium petty, and a medium Gyuto. Honestly, there are few tasks you will not be able to complete in your described kitchen with just a gyuto, but you clearly want to make life easier.

I'd suggest focusing on these three first, with the gyuto as your number one priority.

A lot of folks like Melampus and others on here have more firsthand (and likely secondhand as well) experience with a far wider range of knives than I have.

I have a Kono HD (funayuki style) 240 and love it. I do think the Fujiyama series looks pretty damn sexy. I think only the white #1 is in stock right now, but that would be tempting me if I were in your position. And the use you would get out of a good gyuto would justify spending that much on it. Just my thoughts.

I don't see you indicating the need for a slicer, or perhaps not the need to spend that much money on one, but it is part of a standard kit.. Maybe that one could wait, or maybe you'd want to spend less if you don't need to spend as much. If you're inclined to spend that much, the Masakage is probably a good choice.

A bread knife is also part of a standard kit. Forschner/Victorinox also makes a rosewood handled version that will work if you want something that looks better than the fibrox handle, but doesn't eat up too much of your budget. The Tojiro and Mac bread knives also get consistent recommendations, and they're still probably reasonable compared to some of your other knives.

Here is another recent thread which might give you some ideas:

Sam, what are your thoughts on a petty and parer? What lengths do you see using, and how frequently? What's your budget on them? It might make sense to get at least one of those in stainless for ease of care and being more resistant to acidic foods like citrus.

If your Boos board is in good shape, it's probably fine. Is it edge grain or end grain?

(BTW, I live in the DC area as well.)
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