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Seeking recommendations

Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:59 pm


I have been lurking and reading and watching as many of everyone's videos as possible but I still cannot make a clear decision....please help.

I am looking for a few knives, I'll provide as many details I can think of but feel free to ask questions.

1. I am left handed, wife is right handed. I have used right handed tools and weapons my entire life so I am pretty sure I can cope.

2. I am fairly competent at sharpening, currently using a 3 stone set, 500, 1200, 5000.

3. Looking for several knives, a petty/paring prefer the smaller ones 3.5". A gyuto/chefs 9-10". A cleaver prefer the smaller ones. And a slicer for large roasts and briskets. The cleaver would be used the least and would mostly be to round out the "set".

4. Price range- I would like to stay under $400 per knife if possible, but at the same time I would like these knives to be the last that I would ever "need" to buy. I would like to pass them to my son when the time comes. I know in a few years I'll want something even more special but this is where I'd like to start.

5. Steel and handle- prefer Japanese handle. Steel preference is not a huge concern, I just want a great performer.....scary sharp and holds an edge. As far as thick or thin, I think I prefer thin but am open to recommendations as I have only used western style cutlery before.

I considered starting with the Macs like I read so much but I'd rather just get the right stuff for my desires the first go round. I do like the traditional look of the Japanese knives, especially the koriuchi finish. Performance is very important, but looks are a big part also.

Thank you for any help offered, this is a great place!

Re: Seeking recommendations

Mon Nov 18, 2013 11:31 pm

Ill add that I did not list any brands I have been considering in an effort to keep from steering the conversation in case there is something awesome out there I have not discovered. Thanks again!

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:52 am

Well two of the current Cadillac of knives are the Kono Fujiyama line http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kowhst.html and the Sakai Takayuki http://www.chefknivestogo.com/satajadawa.html. The Kono will require more care due to the reactive nature of the cladding. I've owned this knife in the 240 blue version for a few months now and can't say enough good things about it. No experience with the Sakai but if I was looking for a less reactive knife that one would be towards the top of my list. Both have a 50/50 grind so your lefty'ness shouldn't be an issue. I went back up to re-read your post because I thought I saw where this knife might be used by your significant other, and saw your comment about the kurouchi finish preference. Neither of the knives I mentioned fall into that category. Takeda would be the default knife to lust over in that category. http://www.chefknivestogo.com/taascl.html. It's also ground 50/50. It would be hard to go wrong with any of the three knives listed.
I also prefer the short paring knife. There is a limited selection on the site in this size from artisan producers. Takeda has one that might fit your bill exactly. Personally I prefer a stainless in this size and something not overly brittle. For me something in an AEB-L steel and a nice pointy tip would be my preference. Consider looking at some of the larger producers here like the Macs or Shun you mentioned above.

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:38 am

I think the Kono Fujis (in their various flavors of steel) are on a much higher level than Sakai Takayukis. The STs are nice knives, certainly, but not nearly as nice, in terms of grind, handle, fit and finish, etc. I've also owned the Kono Fuji gyuto in Blue #2, and I absolutely love it--I'm happy every time I pick it up, look at it, or use it to cut something. It's awesome. Yes, the cladding is somewhat reactive, so it's probably best to force a patina, or carefully let one develop naturally. The reactivity will settle down.
Takedas are nice knives, and have a loyal following, so it would be hard to go wrong there. I’ve enjoyed some I’ve seen more than others.
Like Snipes, I prefer stainless paring knives. If you like 3.5”, that’s definitely a paring knife.
You might want to rethink your budget in terms of frequency of use. For most people, that would mean you get a kick ass gyuto (probably a 240) that you’ll use on an almost daily basis, and then figure out how much you have left for the others. You can certainly spend less, even a lot less, on a parer if you want. I have a good (but not great slicer), but don’t feel like I use it enough to go all out. The CCK “small cleaver” is actually a pretty decent size, and is a relative bargain at $45. It’s not a very hard steel, but it will get very sharp. Good cleavers can cost quite a bit of money, so I’d be sure I like cleavers before spending too much money.
I realize I’m projecting my personal preferences here (and trying to be clear about them), which may or may not be the same as yours—you may have totally different priorities.
At least you already have stones, and can sharpen, so will be able to get the most out of whatever you choose. Some kind of strop set up might also help you to maintain those sharp edges, and extend the time between sharpenings.

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:03 am

I am VERY new to Japanese knives so I can't give actual recommendations as to which brands to get that satisfy your criteria. However, I will second what Todd said. Think of which one you will be using the most and spend your money there, then work with what is left for the rest. It would be pretty easy to prioritize those as well depending on how you use your knives. It is sound advice that is true with just about anything.

As for the knives themselves, from my own recent research, it seems like a 50/50 grind and an oval or octagonal handle would be the best bet for ambidexterity. I just don't know enough about the knives to tell you which ones meet both of those criteria. lol Personally, I use a pinch grip with everything so I tend to not care too much about handle shape as it pretty much just acts as stabilization at that point.

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 12:20 pm

Although in general I agree with buying quality up front rather than buying twice. That can be detrimental with knives unless you really know exactly what you are looking for.

As others have mentioned your largest chunk of $ is usually best spent on your go to knife.

Please give us some more info so we can hone in on the right fit for you.
What cutting motion do you use? Rock, push, etc?
How tall at the heel?
Is sharp out of box important?
Do you like some flex or a stiff blade?
What do you usually cut? Which knife?
Which style knife do you use most often?

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 1:37 pm

Thanks for the input. I may have started this incorrectly with the budget numbers...that is not the issue. I have. I have no desire to buy one knife that is amazing and then the rest of my kit goes downhill from there. I am also not implying that I am only interested in blowing money to have cool looking knives. If there is a blade out there for five bucks that is laser sharp and holds an edge I'm all for that. The way I came up with that number was the fact I had personally narrowed my search down and one of my picks was the Takedas....and the 240 Gyuto goes for less than the 400 mark...and so does eh rest of the blades I am looking for.

As far as more info, reactivity might be an issue as the wife is not as meticulous as I am and that could cause some unwanted accidental forced patina.
I prefer a stiff blade and I am probably most accurately described as a pusher. My go to knives are currently my chefs knife, paring knife, and santoku. My santoku is my beater and gets used for the ugly stuff.

Sharp out of the box is somewhat important because I feel it shows that the creator took the time to finish his product and put his best piece on the table. Not a deal breaker personally however.

Hope this provides some more insight. Thanks again for the help!

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:00 pm

Many Japanese knives (especially true single bevel knives like yanagi and usuba) are not finish sharpened. That is left to the purchaser as they often want to put their edge on it and not some one else's. Why put an edge on that you have to fix to your preferences, so to say?!?!

As a knife maker, I've had people request I not sharpen their new knife for this very reason.

So, don't necessarily judge sharpness OOTB as a quality aspect. :)

Now, I have some blasphemy to lay out. With a budget like you have, might I suggest you buy this:


And in a couple of weeks, report back what you like/dislike about it. Your budget is rather high, to be honest. A couple of weeks playing with a carbon knife like this will tell us loads about what you should end up with. Does your wife let it rust, is it too thin/thick, does it sharpen well for you, do you like the handle, do you like the profile, length, etc., etc. I know it's western handled and you wanted wa....but it might be a great investment.

When you're done, keep it and enjoy it or sell it for $60 here. $23 investment in making sure you get the perfect knife.

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:42 pm


Takeda: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tagyas24.html
Konosuke HD: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kohdwa24.html


Yuki: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/mayupe12.html
Anryu: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kaanaspe13.html


Richmond Damascus: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/rida270su.html

Re: Seeking recommendations

Tue Nov 19, 2013 2:46 pm

Adam - I really like your logic here. That just makes a ton of sense.

I'm going to suggest a different knife, however :-). It's not carbon, but the Kaneshige Stainless 240 Wa-Gyuto is a helluva knife for the price http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kast24wa.html. I've been using one and tinkering with the edge bevel and some mild edge thinning. This thing is a true workhorse that will give you a sense for Wa handled weight forward balance and handling. I'm going to write a more comprehensive review on that forum, but for now:

It's not super-duper thin behind the edge or at the tip, but it'll tackle almost any normal kitchen task with ease. I cubed up a BIG 6 lb. butternut squash last week and it went through it like a champ. It's not going to go through dicing an onion like a ghost, like some of the knives here, but it's a great all rounder that could end up being your heavy duty gyuto for tasks that you don't want to put your really nice knives through. We're not talking bones or frozen food and such, but heavier tasks like the squash and such.

It has a really nice, middle of the road Gyuto edge profile that would be a good comparator to other profiles. It's also got decent geometry and some heft to the blade. It's not a lightweight, but I also feel like I just can't hurt the thing (using proper technique) :-).

Just my .02

------------ After seeing Mark's post, the Richmond Damascus 240 Gyuto is a beautiful, stainless, highly functional, great performer for it's price - and it's stinkin' sharp OOTB.
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