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 Post subject: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:42 pm
Posts: 25
I never thought it would be so hard to make up my mind on a knife purchase.

Little bit about me. I'm not a pro nor a chef, but I love cooking to feed my family and friends. I don't mind spending money on quality items, but I don't have a never ending budget. I'm right handed, have ok knife skills, and sharpen all my own knives (own a wicked edge).

I was with my wife in a local store getting items for our new house when I spotted some Shun knives in the classic series. I had not thought about Japanese style knives until I saw them. The more I read and the more I researched I came to a couple conclusions; I despise my current set of cutlery, I don't like bolsters, shun didn't get a lot of good reviews in the lower end selections, and finally I am in over load in the research dept.


What would be a good choice to buy for a first J style knife? Petty, Santoku, Gyuto, Nakiri?
I'm not scared to take care of my selection, but don't know if carbon is a good choice at first.
Once I figure out the first style to get my feet wet then I can start narrowing down budget. Let's start with $100-$200 for budget.

Thanks in advance for any help. I know it can get old answering some of the same stuff over and over again. I did use the search function too. It just led to more questions and maybe someone can ask some questions particular to me that I don't know yet.


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:36 pm
Posts: 280
Location: NY, NY; New Haven, CT
There's a template of questions in the "knife recommendations" section that people use for this—you should check it our and post your responses to those questions for others.

In the meantime, I'll say a few things. In regards to type and size, you'll have to provide a bit more about your cooking habits and the size/space you have to work with. Most people promote the gyuto has the first and most necessary all-arounder, but the fact is, for some people, they end up using something like a Nakiri or a Santoku more, especially if they like a particular type of cuisine or lack board space (and therefore prefer shorter blades that still have enough height for knuckle clearance). I'm a big gyuto guy, but I can see how, if I had to use a much smaller board in a cramped space, I'd much prefer a good nakiri or gyuto-like santoku.

It would help to know what knives you already have. Since you sharpen and know how to keep things sharp, it would help to know what you dislike about your current knives, as well as what you like about them. This is particular important since, if you have one you really like and its a petty or gyuto, that might affect what type of new knife we suggest as a first buy.

I mention these things because, as you first post indicates, your answers to the knife template questions will still have a lot of unknowns. So, providing a bit more in relation to what I suggest above will give us all a little more focus to give you better recommendations from the start.



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~Joe
Ownership experience: Konosuke, Masamoto, Tojiro, Wusthof, Henckels, etc.
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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:22 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:00 pm
Posts: 2391
Joe's provided some great food for thought. I'll add a few additional questions for you to his - the more we know the better :-).

What knife do you currently use the most and why?

Do you have large, medium, small hands?

Will anyone be using the knife besides you? If so, tell us a little about them - what knife do they grab first ITK?

Are you attracted to any particular knife "look" ? By that I mean:

Plain, no nonsense
Bling, like Damascus or fancier handles
Refined, machined look
Rustic, hand made look
Western (Yo) handles
Japanese (Wa) handles


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:56 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:42 pm
Posts: 25
1. Are you right handed? Yes, right handed.

2. What type of knife are you interested in (gyuto, nakiri etc..). Not yet sure.

3. What size knife are you looking for?

4. Do you prefer carbon or stainless steel? Stainless, at least a SS clad.

5. Do you prefer a western handle or a Japanese handle? Japanese style

6. How much did you want to spend? $100-$200 to start

7. Do you know how to sharpen? Yes.


I didn't use this template at first because I wasn't sure where to start the search or what I was even looking for.

To answer some of the other questions.
The chosen knife will be used mainly by myself. I do the majority of cooking in the household especially since I no longer work shift work at the FD. My hands are fairly average in size and I do prefer some knuckle clearance. I mainly use a pinch grip unless the cut requires something else. I can always get a smaller knife or another type for my wife to help with, she is tiny by comparison to me so I don't feel that a 270mm Gyuto would be her 1st choice.

My current set is Wusthof and it feels as if I cannot get them to keep an edge. I'm sure that the set is a lower end one as it was given as a gift several years ago. Out of that set I usually grab the 10" chef while the wife uses the utility most. I do not like the bolster, the softness of the metal, the feel of the handle nor the weight of the chef knife.

In my new house I have a wide open kitchen with a huge island so room isn't a problem. I also own a couple of good Maple end grain cutting boards. My cooking style varies widely to include smoking large meat, grilling anything that walked or grew at one time, lots of Asian and southern/coastal style Mexican. We eat several salads a week which require prep as well.

Answering my own questions and doing more research since my initial post I think I'm leaning towards a medium sized Gyuto or Nakiri as a starting point. Which one of those would be the best starting point to learn?



Thanks again for the replies. Sorry I didn't fully explain the first go around.


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:00 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:42 pm
Posts: 25
I'm more of a utilitarian kind of person. I don't mind spending money for quality, you should check out my home theater or fishing gear. Lol

The knife doesn't have to double as jewelry for the kitchen.


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:05 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:15 am
Posts: 1183
Location: Raleigh, NC
Note: I edited this twice in response to the evolving topic. It was comedic.

I feel you on the search function. It's valuable, but if you don't even know the question you're trying to ask, it makes things tough. So, in no particular order...

First. That you managed not to buy the shiny Shuns is a good sign. They're decent to good knives, but they're overpriced. I personally also think they're obscenely over-commercialized.

A carbon knife is nothing to be afraid of, as it were. It will require timely care, but no more or less care than a stainless knife. Most of the people I know with a preference for stainless knives work in food and want a knife they can leave unattended without rusting. In a home kitchen, that's less of a problem. The real risk is forgetfulness or carelessness, which is usually not terribly difficult to fix unless you're *really* forgetful or careless.

What stones are you using on your Wicked Edge? I sharpen freehand, so I'm only passingly familiar with some jig systems. Most of them give a serviceable or even great edge, but you may need to expand your stone selection. A Japanese knife really necessitates higher grit stones than a Western knife to stand out properly, around 4k+ by the JIS scale. I'm glad you don't need to be told about the importance of a sharpening system.

My own version of the questions asked above: In picking your knife you'll need to make some decisions in terms of weight, handle style, grind, steel, etc. You answered a lot of these, even if it's with "I dunno", *and even more when you beat me to the punch,* but as Steve said, the more we know, the better. Would you prefer a knife that's very dextrous or has some weight behind it to help you finish cuts? Do you tend to rock chop, or use other techniques? How would you feel about a Japanese handle, knowing they promote a modified or different grip and are light but not as damage resistant? These don't all have to be answered and some may be more important to you.

If your Wusthof has black wooden scales with three pins, it's the Classic model. If you have molded plastic and it looks like a well manufactured product, it's the Grand Prix line. If it's vaguey Asian, it's an Ikon line. If it's not one of the above, you're going to have trouble getting it sharp because it's pretty much junk, though I don't remember if those feature a bolster. This is vaguely pertinent because the nice ones take as good an edge as a Western knife can, so you may need to look into your stones or refine your technique.

As for which knife variety, it comes back to the above. A gyuto or santoku is going to be what most people reach for 90%+ of the time and I think most of us own three or (way, way, way) more. If you are going to drop $200 on a knife, you probably want one of those. But if you're testing the waters, it can really be anything. I think nakiri in particular are great knives to test out new knife elements because they're a little less costly and very easy to sharpen. Nakiri are very limited in what they can do, however, and the lack of a tip really does hinder them on some tasks.

And finally, we won't suggest a knife with a traditional European bolster. The damn things are worthless.


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:37 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:42 pm
Posts: 25
I held the shun while at the store and the first thing that struck me was the handle. The wa handle felt natural and more comfortable than a western handle. That being said, I'm only used to western handles.

I tend to use a rocking motion when cutting smaller items or need more precision. I've never been trained on proper techniques. I despise the weight of the current set. I would prefer light weight and nimble even if it means a new learning curve and some band aids.

As for the stones. I have up to 1200-1600 and then finish with what they call microfine. I'll start researching what else I can grab. I've never been able to freehand sharpen. I've tried and tried.

I also apologize. I was mistaken on the chef knife being Wusthof. The set is Wusthof gourmet line, but the largest knife is Chicago. Like I said, they were a gift and I'm not sure of quality.


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:39 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:42 pm
Posts: 25
I just hope that I'm narrowing this down a little bit for y'all to be able to help. I also know that a lot of "the best" knife will be a personal choice. I'm just open to trying something new.


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:05 pm 

Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:22 am
Posts: 733
This was my first J knife. Never outgrew it. Even though I have since bought super steels and ultra lasers I still reach for it first most of the time. It's that good and a relative bargain. I think a new batch just arrived.

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/rilaaosu24gy.html

Cheers,

Rick


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 Post subject: Re: No clue on 1st knife
PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 8:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 6:00 pm
Posts: 2391
Fire - given you reach for the 10" Chef, I'd say a medium, to medium-light 240 Gyuto might be a solid choice for you. This will be a much more versatile tool overall than say a Nakiri or Santoku. Not that those don't have their place, but few things trump a good Gyuto for versatility ITK.

Even a medium weight 240 Gyuto will be pretty light and nimble in comparison what you you're using now. One big difference might be the more weight forward balance point of many Wa handled Gyutos versus their Western (Yo) handled counterparts.

I'm going to deviate from your Wa requirement for my first recommendation. The Kohetsu Blue #2 240 Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kobl2gy24.html. See the 210 version for a video. This one is light, nimble, and a great performer with really nice, easy to sharpen carbon steel at the core & edge. The handle is pretty basic, but the blade is super nice. The price is very reasonable for all this performance as well.

I'm sure you'll get recommendations for the Kaneshige SS Wa 240 as well: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kast24wa.html. It's a decent knife, but I'd take the Kohetsu B#2 over it any day because of the better blade performance and the easier to sharpen Blue #2 steel. I've found the Kaneshige steel to be pretty wear resistant and a bit of a pain to sharpen.

A couple of Wa handled options in your price range are:

Kohetsu AS 240 Wa Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/kobl2gy24.html

and

Takayuki AEB-L Damascus 240 Wa Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/satadagy240.html

You might also possibly consider the Itto-Ryu Hammered 240 Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/ithagy240.html. The latest batch is said to have a more polished finish, and very good performance. The cladding is reactive iron over the core carbon steel, but one recent owner of a 210 version has stated that the cladding has been very reactive thus far, in his experience: post64085.html#p64085 and post62486.html#p62486

Another possible option might be the Sukenari Ginsan 240 Gyuto: http://www.chefknivestogo.com/sugi240gy.html.

See this review: sukenari-ginsan-240mm-t6206.html and this topic: sukenari-ginsan-pass-around-t5255.html for lots of feedback on this knife.

Beyond those, you have some really nice choices, but they're over $200, if that's an option.

This should get you started on more research :-).


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