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Looking for input on putting my own knife set together

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

So I'm looking to put together my first set of knives, and I've decided to just skip buying crappy knives as a learning process and go straight to getting myself a decent set. I currently use a set of Zwilling Five Stars from Henkels. They were great knives to learn on, moreso since they were a gift, but I'm ready to start building my own set.

I'm not too concerned about steel, so long as it sharpens well and holds an edge well. I tend to be pretty good about washing and wiping my knives immediately, so stainless is not neccessary (semi or carbon are fine). I've been lurking for awhile now, and picking up on a few of the knives that seem to be well regarded, as well as doing my own research. I've settled on a few finalists and was hoping for some input on my choices.

 

Bread knife:

MAC Superior Series 10 1/2"

(is it just me, or do the Japanese tend not to do bread knives?)

 

Chef's knife and Utility knife

For the Chef's knife, I'm quite familiar with a 10" blade and a 8" blade, so I'll probably keep more to the 8" or 9" side of things. The brands I'm taking a long, hard look at are:

 

Masamoto HC (probably a 150mm petty and 240mm gyuto)

Hiromoto Aogami SS (again, probably a 150mm petty and 240mm gyuto- any reason to go the thicker version of the 240mm?)

Hattori HD (same dimensions again-- though not as keen on the damascus thing)

 

I also took a look at the Hattori JCK Original, but that's starting to migrate out of my price range. That said, if the extra money is worth it, I'll consider it.

 

 

So, any input? Any other companies I should take a look at? Any other knife roles I need to fill? I figure I can hold off on a slicer and fill that role with the chef knife.

post #2 of 8

If you don't adore damascus, don't buy it, because it'll only end in tears.

 

Personally, I'd look at the set you've got and see if you can't keep the utility or paring knife. Those things just aren't all that exciting, really, by which I mean that the difference between a great one and a mediocre one isn't all that large.

 

That saves you some money... and you can buy a slicer. You think it's optional, and I see why. But the thing is, as BDL has been known to say, once you have a good slicer you will find yourself thinking of possible uses for it. They're fun.

post #3 of 8

You may be familiar with a 10" German knife but that is not even remotely similar to the experience of using a 270 mm wa-gyuto. The latter will be far lighter and more dexterous than even your current 8" blade, not to mention sharper. 

 

When I started upgrading from my Germans, I first went with a 240mm Kikuichi TKC. The blade is great but the handle could be nicer. Since then, I added a 270mm Sakai Yusuke (see bluewayjapan on ebay) that is remarkable. This is now my go-to gyuto. I'm still deciding on a slicer since this is a tough act to follow.

 

I doubt there's such a thing as a bad bread knife but I do like the offset handle design of my Henckels.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Yes, I was looking at some of the gyutos as a step up over my 10" German, given that though I can use it fine, I think it would be interesting and fun to pick up something a little more light and nimble. One of the reasons I'm looking to drop down to 9" and why I'm looking at some of the Japanese knives.

 

Chris, you bring up a good point about the damascus, which has been backed up by some of my research. While pretty, and while I enjoy keeping and caring for my knives, it's yet another step of upkeep for no real payoff. Moreso with the Hattori which seems to merely be a damascus cladding that can lose some of its... damascus-iness. I think I'm taking it off the table.

 

As for the slicer, I mis-spoke. I didn't mean that I don't want one. I just don't think I need one just yet. It's not that I doubt their utility, it's more that I don't cook enough meats that would require one. That said, I do want to pick one up at some point, but can't justify purchasing one that, I'm forced to admit, will see infrequent use for the time being due to the amount of meats I actually prepare. What I do prepare, can be done so with other knives until I spring for a slicer.

 

After some more research, the MAC bread knife seems the way to go, but I can put it off for the time being, since what bread cutting I do perform, can be filled by my cheapo knife for the time being.

 

With regard to a primary and a petty, I think I'm going to take the Hattori off my list. I also have some concern with some of the Masamoto lines I've been looking at, as I've heard mixed things about fit and finish and that you're paying for the name to a certain extent.

 

On that note, I have heard some good things about Konosuke. So right now the research is focusing on Konosuke and Hiromoto.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by GenericLogin View Post


Bread knife:

MAC Superior Series 10 1/2"

(is it just me, or do the Japanese tend not to do bread knives?)


Culturally, bread isn't a staple of the Japanese diet like it is in the West.  AFAIK there is no such thing as a traditional Japanese bread knife- the few on the market are strictly for Western customers.  There is a type of cake knife you'll see from Japan but generally they're not serrated.

 

BTW, I recommend this one over the MAC:  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/toitkbrkn.html  It's a bit longer, made of better steel and is about $20 cheaper if you get it within the next month or two.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by GenericLogin View Post

 

On that note, I have heard some good things about Konosuke. So right now the research is focusing on Konosuke and Hiromoto.


The Konosukes are "lasers"- very, very thin.  The Hiromotos border on "mighty", meaning a bit towards the beefy side.  The Hiro (if you mean the AS) has a hagane of Aogami and will take a very, very good edge but won't necessarily hold it that well for some applications.  BDL will probably chime in on the Konosuke.  My impression is that it may be a bit more delicate than the Hiro but perhaps a better cutter if you need a "razor".  It comes with a price, though- the Konosuke is about 50% more expensive (if you're looking at the HD).

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #7 of 8

The Konosuke and Hiromoto are very different knives.  Where Hiromotos are beefy, Konosukes are anorexic.  Hiromotos are high value, with a lot of features for the money.  While Konosukes -- at least the HDs -- are just plain expensive.  Their claim to fame is quality, not bang for the buck.  My suggestion is to narrow your choice down by type before choosing a brand.

 

I have a Konosuke HD, am very impressed with it, and will likely buy at least one more -- maybe two.  My opinion (published here, at Fred's Cutlery Forum and on my blog) is very much aligned with everyone else's.  They're fan-frikkin-tastic!

 

The consensus opinion on Hiromoto AS is also very good -- indeed, there are many rabid fans -- but my personal opinion, based on having owned four of them, is not as high.  I.e., they're nothing special.  Comparing them to some stainless and semi-stainless:  The Hattori FH, Kikuichi TKC, MAC Pro and Masamoto VG are all quite a bit better.  If bang for the buck is an issue, you should be looking at the JCK CarboNext.  The Hiromoto G3 is, for all practical purposes, just as good as the AS and significantly less expensive. 

 

If you're thinking of a wa-laser, there are only a limited number of good choices.  Relatively few of the good ones are stainless or semi-stainless (like three) and they're all very expensive.  Something to think about, neh?  On the other hand, there are some very attractively priced, laser, wa-gyuto in White #2 (an excellent carbon steel) -- specifically Konosuke and Sakai Yusuke.  Even though White #2 is not particularly attractive, you'll still have to figure out your tolerance for carbon's PITA quotient before jumping into that particular lake.

 

There's also the Masamoto KS, which is a fantastic knife.  A few months ago I'd have put it in a class by itself, but now believe it's no better or worse overall than the Konosuke HD.  The KS is a little more robust with a slightly wider handle; the HD "acts" a little sharper and is easier to maintain.  You pickum. 

 

The Masamoto HC (and VG) F&F "problem" is pretty easy to solve -- you just have to tell your retailer that you want handle scales which fit and no obvious machine marks around the bolster.  They usually have a few knives in stock and will choose a good one for you.  Furthermore, Masamoto has changed the handles on their HC and VG series -- whether this means a different OEM is doing the work, that Masamoto itself is taking notice of the fact that there were problems, or...  I won't even hazard a guess.  However, the knives are improving and with your retailer giving you a hand, this shouldn't be an issue for you one way or the other.  If you eliminate the HC from your consideration, especially in favor of the Hiromoto AS -- which is no great shakes for F&F either -- you're making a mistake.  For a western-handled, carbon go-to, the HC is as good as it gets.  There are several knives just a half step below, but they are that half step below.

 

As Japanese made, mass-produced, carbon-steel, western-handled gyutos go, the Masamoto HC is the best of the best.  The only other which bears comparison is the Ikkanshi Tadatsuna.  A Hiromoto AS is simply in another, and lower class.  The Kikuichi (carbon) Elite, Misono Sweden, Masamoto CT are all better than the AS in my opinion, if not as good as the HC or Tad Shiro #2.  If you can live with a full finger guard, you could also throw in several of the Sabatier carbons (which are quite a bit less expensive than any of the Japanese knives). 

 

At the risk of sounding like a nag, sharpening comes first.  Know how you're going to handle that before spending hundreds on a knife.

 

Hope this helps,

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 2/26/11 at 4:00pm
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What were we talking about?
 
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post #8 of 8

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that a clad AS blade like the Hiro will be less work to deal with than an unclad "mono-steel" carbon knife.  And agree that the CarboNext and Ichimonji TKC are better knives than the Hiromoto.  But I have a soft spot for it because it just looks really frickin' cool the way the patina contrasts with the cladding.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
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