Hello Mark and Susan! My name is Nick and a few weeks back someone got into my car (while parked in my driveway) and stole my chef knife roll. The worst part of it being the fact that my Culinary School knives were in that roll in which I've maintained for the past 16 years. With all that being said, a friend of mine introduced me to Aaron Gibson who was kind enough to give me a full demonstration as well as help me pick out a selection of knives from your site. With all of Aaron's knowledge, he helped me narrow down my selection but I was hoping that you'd be willing to take 15 minutes of your time and call me to discuss a couple of options and perhaps help me hone and finalize my selections. Thank you very much for you time. Take care and have a great day!
Sorry about your knives. It's seems like a common occurrence judging from how many customers write us and tell us this. It's way better to tell us what you want on our forum since you will get not only my recommendations but other pro cooks like Aaron will give you some advice as well. Also, calling me tends to be hard since I'm juggling 50 things at a time while at work. I have more time to think if you ask here. So, tell me what you want by answering these questions and we'll give you some good knives to choose from based on your use habits and needs.
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?
Careful listening to Aaron or you will end up with 3 lefty Yanagibas and a ton of Konosukes!! Not that those are a bad thing, but it can get pricey quick!
Kono HD and Kikuichi TKC seem to be go to choices for a wa handle or western handle, respectively, but there are a ton of other choices out there and Mark keeps getting more stuff in! Kohetsu, Anryu, Murata, Masakage, etc are also very nice.
Hi Mark, Thanks for the quick response as well as opening up a forum. Please find my answers below as well as some additional details:
1. Are you right handed? Yes. 2. What type of knife are you interested in (gyuto, nakiri etc..) A couple Gyutos, a suji, blue, basically enough to replace the set that was stolen which had a couple of chef knives, bread, carving, boning, pairing, knife bag, etc. 3. What size knife are you looking for? 240mm 4. Do you prefer carbon or stainless steel? Never worked with carbon until I met Aaron. Now I'm looking at carbon. 5. Do you prefer a western handle or a Japanese handle? No preference at this point. 6. How much did you want to spend? No more than $1200. 7. Do you know how to sharpen? Not very well. I know that I'd need to invest in a sharpening set with the new knives.
I'm currently looking at the following: Konosuke White #2 Wa-Guyto 240mm Artfex Suji Tojiro ITK Serrated Bread 270mm Moritaka Honesuki 150mm AS Takeda Classic Gyuto 240mm Hone Base Bovine Mag Pad Deluxe 2001 EVO
A couple of other knives that I was looking at were the Tanaka Damascus 240mm, Koneosuke Extra Tall HD2 Gyuto 240mm. All of these knives seem to have a great reviews, I'm just having a hard time narrowing down to the final choices. So at this point on a forum such as this I should ask people to shout out their favorites. I look forward to the responses. Have a great day!
PS Thanks taz575 for your input! Much appreciated!
Tanaka Damascus Sekiso 240mm is one of my favorites!! Aaron has one, too. The Kono White #2 is nice, but the HD version will probably hold it's edge longer and be a bit less maintenance. The Richmond Laser AS is an awesome blade, heavier weightwise than other lasers, but crazy thin behind the edge and a good convex grind to it. Kohetsu is a very thin laser like blade, with AS steel in the core and stainless clad, so you will get a nice contrast with the patina.
I would go with a Kohetsu 240mm instead of the Kono (less expensive, steel will hold an edge, awesome cutter), Tanaka Sekiso 240mm (little thicker/heavier, very thin behind the edge, love it for sweet potatoes and stuff), Tojiro Bread Knife. Suji, the Artifex really shines when converted to a Wa (handle is a little short for some), or get a longer suji. I have a Kono White #2 300mm and even though Kono's run short, I am still looking for a longer one like a 330 or more. May try to have Tanaka make one in the Sekiso series
Takeda's, people either love them or hate them. I had a few here for saya's and they are OK, but I didn't really care for them. Very thin blades, but they had some flex to them. Many like the very flat profile though, I just don't care for the taller blades like that. I have an Addict 2 in 52100 that I don't use all that much because for most things, it is a bit too tall for my tastes. I use it for slicing taller foods, like thin slicing cabbage and stuff like that. Takeda's are constructed well, very good HT and steel, but it is a personal preference.
Honesuki, I rarely use mine; I don't break down chickens all that often. I am going to thin out and convert my Artifex to a Wa handle like I did on one of the knives I did for one of Aarons friends, it makes an AWESOME trimming knife that way! The honesuki isn't really designed to bone out meats in the european manner, so you may want to look at a more normal shaped boning knife?
If you want a thicker workhorse knife, Goko, Anryu and Kanehiro come to mind with having a slightly more robust blade construction compared to the Kohetsu and Tanaka. The Goko has a nice flat profile in 240mm as well!
Stones, Bester 500 or Latte 400, Bester 1200 or Nubatama Ume Medium speckled 1K, and Rika 5K will serve very well for these knives. I will often end at the Rika 5K and strop on bare leather to make sure the burr is totally gone. This gives a very sharp edge, sticky sharp with some good bite to it, great all around edge! If I want it more refined, I break out the J Nat stones. Shobu, Takashima or Yaginoshima Asagi are two good finishers that will still leave some tooth and are great as touch up stones, too. For convenience sakes, I leave the Bester's, Latte and Rika in the water bucket; the Ume 1K is the only stone in that group that doesn't permasoak, but it takes a few minutes in the bucket to saturate fully. The J Nats are pretty much spray and go, so don't soak those!
NICK <> The Konosuke W#2 gyuto is the quintessential laser... a must have as far as carbon lasers go. If you don't want to deal with the carbon factor, the HD <link> is the exact same knife in a semi-stainless steel which gives you the best of both worlds; ease of stainless & near the edge potential & feel of carbon for a slight premium. It is a steel from the g-ds.
They are both lasers, and as such, a heavier duty knife is appropriate to have as your second gyuto. I love the Kanehiro AS <link> in this capacity. It is about 54mm tall which is pretty close to the 56mm x-tall Kono you reference. I'm not at all a fan of knives with x-tall height, and the Kanehiro is right at my cap. It is a stellar example of AS, and with a little smoothing of choil & spine it's an amazing overall package. In that vein, The Takeda Gyuto you have listed is over 60mm tall... you'd have to pay me to use that profile.
I have recently spent some time with a Katsushige Anryu <link> that I nearly favor over the Kanehiro as it is an exceptional Gyuto,
...but it is a bit lighter duty as an overall & in this capacity I still recommend the Kanehiro. It's really close though...
A Sujihiki is an interesting part of the kit, to me, because when you use it - you want a nice one, but how much you actually use it I feel dictates how much you spend on it. Another pertinent factor is weight as some really prefer some weight in a slicer as it helps falling through foods - others it matters not. When I'm cutting maki, I like a light suji; when I'm slicing roasts, I prefer some weight. The Artifex you have on your list is not a knife I've personally used so I generally refrain from comment in those situations, but as an uber high quality AEB-L steel slicer at a competitive price point... it's hard to ignore. Some higher price point knives like the Takeda Suji & Konosuke HD/W#2 are exceptional knives, but they are very light, as well... referring back to my earlier point. The Masamoto VG series <link> typically has some weight behind it, and the reliable Tojiro DP <link> is no lightweight. I have recently spent some time with a new series on the menu here that might be of particular interest... the single bevel Yoshihiro Yauji <link>
His 270mm Sujihiki is actually a Yanagi (single-bevel) which has some interesting traits associated with it, but if you wanted something unique, this might be nice. A fellow Mod & CKTG's resident video review guy, KnifeFanatic, really seemed to like the knife... here's his video.
...I did find Yauji's W#2 to have some really strange traits as it was ridiculously reactive with foods while the steel itself was painfully slow to develop any patina. Thing is though, I was using the pictured Gyuto so I was encountering a different subset of foods you would as a slicer.
Bread knife: Your listed Tojiro is the resident badass due to its serration design, and on-sale @$60 it really has no competition as, to my shock & dismay, the 10" Forschner has jumped dramatically in price.
Paring knives: Paring knives I think are the hardest style knife to fit. Hand size really matters. Plus, I use a paring knife hard. I like a softer steel that has no issues scraping connective tissue off bone or getting into scenarios that are just plain dangerous for a high Hrc steel at any respectable edge angle. If I have to back off my edge to say 20-25 degrees a side to create the durability I need, XY's steel's benefit is moot. I use and love a Tamahagane San Tsubame which is basically the Tamahagane <link> on CKTG w/just a hammered finish that is a bit thicker, as well. It is a frigin workhorse that takes a silly edge w/a very well suited VG5 core. I have XL hands, and I like how the handle on the Tamahagane fits my hand. I also like the projection of the heel off tang centerline. I have used the Shun Classic <link> extensively & absolutely love its ergonomics. Yes, Shun VG-10 is inherently chippy, but on a parer you raise the angle & it's all good... for me. Ergonomics matter most... to me. I can produce higher quantities of more accurate product with a comfortable knife than I can w/an uncomfortable knife in exotic steel. Beware the arm chair quarterback brand name steel snob recommendations... they're around every corner.
Boning knives: I see you listing a Honesuki. The Honesuki, like many JKs, is silly task specific. I agree there is no better design to break down a bird than the Honesuki. I actually instinctively reprofiled one of my 6" chefs into a honesuki back in 1999 just to break down birds before I ever heard of the Honesuki... the profile just works. Thing is though, sir... a boning knife bones birds nearly as well, but is much more efficient w/larger animals. If you want one knife to bone birds you get a Honesuki; if you want one knife to bone all proteins, you do not. IMO. I have spent over two decades boning fish, birds, mammals, etc. with a cheap ass Forschner curved boning knife that I still prefer over every knife in existence... except for the steel. I currently use Debas for fish & birds & a Gokuju for fish... beacuse it's the only way to get good steel in a similar profile.
Flash back to my earlier reference noting my aversion to commenting on knives I have no hands-on experience with. Let me say this; I'm crazy thorough in my analysis of knives. I've never bought a knife through the mail that was not exactly what I anticipated, and I have loved everyone. The Hankotsu IS the answer to my boning knife dilemma; even though I have never used one. The profile is most familiar to the curved boning knife that has proved itself to me carcass after carcass. The Shun Gokujo is a home run profile, but I have plenty of experience with Shun VG-10 of which I lay caution to; it is better than a lot of steel, but sub-par to many, as well. I suggest, for what it's worth, strongly considering the Takayuki AEB-L <link> in place of a Honesuki.
Sharpening set up: You can go the quick route & get one combo stone to sharpen... and sharpen well, but you're a career Cook/Chef so buy once. This set <link> has every stone you need & can grow into. You will benefit from flattening (lapping) your stones, and that tool is included in another paramount set of equipment... a strop set. You are by no doubt familiar with steels. I have come to recognize after implementing their usage for decades... they are not the most effective way to skin a cat; I find strops are much more efficient. Since they are dry, they are easy & quick to use at work or after. <link> This strop set w/this abrasive <link> is double duty. They allow refinement beyond your stones, in less expensive options if you choose, and they work to true your blade as a steel would but w/o degrading your high grit finishes.
I like the ones you're looking at. We're out of my suji currently and we won't have it for a few weeks. You might want to substitute the Tojiro DP or the Suisin Inox Suji. Both are good and lower priced. Better to save your money for the gyutos. Also take a look at the Masakage Yuki honesuki. I love this line and white #2 is a nicely matched to boning work. Here's my modified selections based on what you were looking at:
Konosuke White #2 Wa-Guyto 240mm Tojiro DP 270 Suji Tojiro ITK Serrated Bread 270mm Masakage Yuki Honesuki Takeda Classic Gyuto 240mm Hone Base Bovine Mag Pad Deluxe 2001 EVO
WOW!!!! Thanks so much to everyone for the DETAILED responses!!! You guys are awesome!!!! It looks like I have some more research to do but now I know I have a great place to gain knowledge as well get any questions answered. I'll be placing my order this week and will post a list of my final purchases here. Once they arrive, I'll be posting LOTS of pics. I can honestly say that I don't know a lot about knives and am excited to get my "learn-on" in the years to come. (I think I found the right forum!!) I am truly thankful by the detail that each of you provided to a complete stranger as myself. Each of your passions for knives is unparalleled. So again, THANK YOU!!!! -Nick Keck