MAC Professional 240mm Chefs $170
(2.5mm, 221g, ~125 handle, ??? HRC, VG1)
Pros: Thicker @ 2.5mm while still light, profile, warranty
Cons: potentially short handle
Potentially short handle? Where did you hear that? Oh... from the 21cm knife. Don't worry, the 24's is bigger, and in fact MAC handles are on the roomy side for Japanese made chefs knives. They are also really fantastic as those things go. The Japanese manufacturer who comes closest in terms of handles is Misono. Thickness is not really a pro, except that you're looking for stiffness and it's definitely a contributor. Also, take thickness dimensions with a grain of salt, just like Rockwell C numbers.
While on the subject of MAC, my SB105 (bread) is considerably stiffer than my 8" Henckels. Bread knives should be flexible -- nature of the beast.
Hattori FH 240mm Gyuto w/ Cocobolo Handle $255
(2mm, 210g, ~140mm handle, 60-61 HRC, VG10)
P: rave reviews, killer handle, hard, lightweight
C: potentially whippy
Ahh, the "Forum Knife." I'm not a huge fan of VG-10, at least as its usually executed, but the FH is an exception. It's as good as VG-10 gets. If you find the Masamoto whippy, so you'll find the FH. Beautiful though.
Masamoto ST 240mm Gyuto $225
(???mm, ???g, ???mm handle, 58 HRC, High Carbon Chrom-Molybdenum/ Vanadium Stainless Steel)
C: potentially soft and whippy (would love to know thickness and weight if anyone has access to those figures. I am calling JCK tomorrow so he may be able to help me there)
Masamotos tend to be very similar in terms of feel. I'm not super familiar with the ST, but as I recall the only real distinction between it and the VG is price. My impression was that the different alloys didn't make much practical difference. Most high end steels are Chrome-Moly-Vanadium to one extent or another, so that's not really information so much as it is marketing. Masamoto can be kind of cagey about alloy identities, but at a (good) guess, the ST is one of the high quality "Swedish" steels... maybe.
Misono Molybdenum Series 240mm $161
(2mm, 230g, ~135mm handle, 58 HRC, High Carbon 13 Chrome Stainless Molybdenum Steel)
P: handle, seemingly good profile
C: potentially whippy and soft
Good handle, good profile. Moly used to be Misono's entry level, quality knife. Well, it still is but they raised prices and it's not priced "entry" anymore. "13 Chrome" means there's 13% chromium (by weight) in the alloy, which means that it's technically "stainless." Reciprocally "stainless" is a technical term, and doesn't mean that it will never, ever stain no matter what, only that the alloy is contains 13% chromium, at minimum. Again, the way they identify the alloy doesn't really tell you much you didn't already know going in. The 58 Rockwell score might be a bit optimistic, but manufacturer's hardness numbers often are. Overall a good enough knife but not the bargain it once was.
Misono UX10 240mm Gyuto $330 ($280 w/ Korin discount)
P: have handled UX10 parers and liked them, pretty hard, one of the meatiest at 250g
C: potentially whippy, handle may be too long
At one time UX10s were considered the creme de la creme, but no longer. They're not meaty, they're very streamlined which makes them something of a bear to handle if your grip isn't perfectly suited to such a low knife. Very, very comfortable handles. Perhaps Misono's best -- and all Misonos are very good. The styling was once universally revered, but now seems controversial. In my opinion, people make too big a deal out a ferrule. I don't particularly mind that the damn thing is nearly as low as a slicer, but don't particularly like the way the profile feels on the board either. It's no Sabatier.
UX10s are (presumably) 19C27 taken to a fairly high hardness. It's a very hard AND very tough steel, and the knives have developed a reputation of being difficult to sharpen. In my opinion and limited experience they're not that bad, but people I really respect tell me I'm wrong. You're probably better going with the weight of opinion, rather than trusting mine on this. Certainly people who aren't already very good sharpeners have lots of trouble -- especially profiling.
An idea who time has passed. Overhyped, overpriced and can't recommend it.
Misono 440 Series 240mm Gyuto $225
(???mm, ???g, ???mm handle, ??? HRC, High 16 Chromium and Molybdenum Stainless Steel)
C: potentially whippy (we have one at work so I just need to play with it more)
Yet another Misono. Better F&F than the Moly, but otherwise quite similar.
Do you like 440? I don't particularly. 440C is actually a whole family of alloys. the 440 uses one of them. 440C was a landmark improvement in stainless a few (quite a few) years ago, but has been superceded by newer, sexier metals -- many of which are better alloys. All in all a nice knife -- Misonos usually are -- but not enough better than the Moly to justify the extra $60.
RyuSen Blazen Series 240mm Gyuto $232
(2.5mm, 231g, ~130mm handle, ??? HRC,
P: hard, as thick as the MAC and just 10g heavier, profile
(2.79mm, 235g, ~127mm handle, 61-63 HRC, SG2 PM Stainless Steel)
P: Dead Sexy, thickest and hardest of the lot without outrageous weight, seemingly nice profile
Decent but unexciting profile. Nowhere close to a Masamoto, and not as good as MAC or Misono, either. Nice enough knife if you can live with san-mai. The laminated construction makes the knives fairly stiff. The core for either is a metallurgical powder, with hardness pushed way up the C scale. Taken as numbers, that seems impressive, but you really don't get that much benefit. However often you currently sharpen, will very likely be how often you continue to sharpen; and a Blazen won't end up much if any sharper at the end of the shift. The san-mai construction does make the knife stiffer. There were a lot of issues with the originals, including chipping and badly fitting sayas. If you're going with one of these, you want the Bu Ry Zen from Epicurean Edge. A more expensive knife, but the problems were addressed and solved. Worth the extra money.
Hiromoto Gingami No. 3 240mm Gyuto $131
(2mm, 213g, ~130mm handle, 59-60 HRC, G3 Stainless Steel)
P: relatively hard, seemingly nice profile
C: potentially whippy, very light
Whippy? Yes, a bit. G3 steel can be very good, but more often is adequate. In the case of this knife it's adequate. The handles are narrow and on the short side. The profile is (surprise) adequate, but nothing to write home about. 58 is probably a fairer Rockwell number than 59 or 60. While it has quite decent edge properties, edge holding is nothing like what you'd expect from G3 at 60. Typical of Hiromoto, F&F ranges from good to indifferent depending on the knife. Same for the quality of the factory edge. Far more bang for the buck than the AS (owned four of those) as far as I'm concerned, but it's the AS which generates all the enthusiasm and loyalty. The G3 is a good, first, high-quality knife at an attractive price -- if you can live with the smallish handles.
The MAC Pro is a much better choice for you.
Masahiro Honyaki MV Series 240mm Gyuto $152
(???mm, ???g, ???mm handle, ??? HRC, ??? metal)
Don't know either Masahiro well enough to venture an opinion. They have a rep for value. They're most often compared to Shuns, which doesn't impress -- but so what?
Masahiro MV-H 10" Gyuto/Chefs $190
(???mm, ???g, ???mm handle, ??? HRC, MBS-26 High Carbon Stainless Steel)
Nenox Nenohi 240mm Gyuto $267
(???mm, ???g, ???mm handle, ??? HRC, ??? metal)
P: ergonomic handle design, I imagine this is a pretty stiff knife?
Nenox is Nenohi's name for their western style, stainless knives. They have two lines. Judging by the price, I'd say you're referring to the G series and shopping at the Knife Merchant.
The handles are beautiful, but some people find the style very uncomfortable. Stiffness is average for a Japanese knife, about the same as the Masamoto -- maybe a touch stiffer. Nenohi is another outfit which won't say what type of alloy they're using, but (supposedly) the G series used to be VG-1 and are now VG-10. Hardness is around 59. Excellent profile.
Sugimoto CM Western-Style 240mm Gyuto $184
(???m, ???g, ???mm handle, 58-63 HRC, ??? metal)
Kikuicki Gold Gyuto 240mm Gyuto $306
(???m, ???g, ???mm handle, ??? HRC, VG10)
Way over priced.
If there is a knife I have missed that anyone would recommend I am always open to suggestions.
I can actually think of several. but... Since you've self-evidently spent a lot of time on the Chef Knives to Go website already, why not give Mark a call? He's very good at matching knives to customers.
I still recommend the MAC Pro MBK-95 as your first choice, and wouldn't be surprised if Mark doesn't suggest the Kikuichi ITK. Those would be my top two for you, considering what I know about your 'druthers.
Edited by boar_d_laze - 7/25/11 at 3:34pm