Awhile back I bought my wife a Global chef's knife and have been waiting to get myself a quality knife as well.
In the meantime I got a Kiwi 8" chef's knife (pictured below) for $5 at a local Asian market. I've loved the shape of this knife. It has a bit of a rocker and I find myself rocking to cut much more often than chopping. I use it to scoop up food either by using the sharp side to slide under or by using the somewhat flat front of the knife to scoop. I use it to mash things (either with the flat or the back of the knife). I use it to cut pizza. The thing I use it the most for though is making Thai dishes. It is great for cutting the vegetables and then scooping them up into bowls and I love the way the wide blade touches against my knuckle, I feel somewhat less secure when using a narrower knife.
There are 3 things I don't like about the knife.
1. The cheapness of the metal. It doesn't hold an edge great, and it just feels somewhat chintzy.
2. The wood handle. I cut lots of raw chicken and I always feel like the porous wood isn't the most sanitary.
3. Cutting raw potatoes stick to the surface of the knife with a suction that is almost unbelievably strong.
Every time I go to a kitchen store to try out knives I find myself wishing I could just get this exact knife with a better quality blade. Does anyone know of a knife with the same general shape as this one? Also, with how I use a knife, is it a bad idea to get a knife like a Shun or Global? Some have mentioned that I would find these knives too brittle. I can be careful with a knife if I have to be, I don't cut bones and such, but I do like using the knife as a bit of a work-horse.