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Looking to drop dough.

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 

After three years of working in fast-food joints but more often sitting on my butt, I just talked (and cooked) my way into a position at a beautiful, young, energetic set of kitchens.  Probationary training period for two weeks, paid, then who knows.  I've virtually no practical experience at a place like this (never been on the line except during slow lunches when line-cooks would take half-hour smoke breaks and let me drop/finish pasta for them), no formal culinary education, just a dream and ambition.  I'm way in over my head, but looking forward to the baptism under fire.  Looking to drop some dough on some knives.  My 8 inch global chef's knife is looking pretty tired after three years of lazy home use, so I'm going to leave that at home.  For my kit, I'm thinking something like this: Chinese-style chef's knife, 4inch paring knife, 7inch filleting knife, scissors, honing steel.


I really want to go nuts with it, just destroy those credit cards.  On the one hand, there are some cons.  It'll make me look like a spoiled brat if I walk in with half a grand worth of steel.  On the other hand, I mean life is short, why not get shuns?


I was also looking at some fancy japanese waterstones on ebay, but that seems like a enormous investment into something that would take me enormous amounts of time and money to do right.



Edited by tabla kid - 9/10/11 at 8:26pm
post #2 of 45
Thread Starter 





Thoughts?  Anyone tried either.

post #3 of 45
Thread Starter 





When I start out the job, I'll be working 20 hours a week.  Plenty of time to teach myself the noble art of sharpening.

post #4 of 45
Thread Starter 
post #5 of 45

I think you're starting to make sense with the last couple, maybe.  If I were you, I'd call Jon at Japanese Knife Imports.  He's not a real cleaver guy for his own use (he's a gyuto guy), but he knows which cleavers are good bang for the buck, and he knows which have good design and which have good steel and which have both....


Or you can wait for someone who has used a bunch of cleavers to tell you something more direct.


Sorry not more from me.  I have a cheap CCK cleaver that I like to play with on occasion, but I'm much more comfortable with a gyuto, too.  I like the IDEA of cleavers because I see what someone like Martin Yan can do with just the one tool.... it's astounding.

Edited by Wagstaff - 9/11/11 at 3:58am
post #6 of 45
What seems to interest you are Japanese perfected Chinese cleavers. They're called chuka bocho. Now you know.

Not a cleaver user, me -- so only a couple of warnings, no knife recommendations and no knife comparisons. I will say though that of the knives you're looking at, only the Sugimoto #6 is anywhere near what a high end chuka bocho costs..

Stay away from Gude. I don't know the cleaver, but do know most of their other knives; they are designed to be back heavy, and the blade alloy is less than great. Shun has a sub-mediocre reputation.

As I understand it, the mid $200s Suien is considered the bargain basement, entry-level of the high-end. But I could have that wrong.

JCK has a better high-zoot selection than CKTG, and much better than JKI (who only has two, both out of stock). I don't know what, if anything, Jon knows about chuka bocho, and don't believe he's a user. But it never hurts to ask. FWIW, he may be out of the country for the next week or so.

Do yourself a favor, sign up on Fred's Cutlery Forum at the Foodie Forums and on the Knife Forum too. There are plenty of users on both boards, one or two of them articulate.

Just curious, and not trying to talk you into or out of anything... Why a cleaver? Why not a good gyuto? You can get more knife for a lot less money. If you're basing your decision on your previous chef's, Global is not a high-end knife. There are much, much better; and 8" is not a pro length.

Do you know that these type of cleavers are not strong enough for heavy duty work? What are you going to bring for breaking chickens, and cutting gourds and fruit with thick rinds? What are you going to bring for fish? Is the "fillet" for both fish and red meat? What kind of fillet did you have in mind?

You do realize that a cleaver is NOT the same as a Gyuto? You really want to master an entirely different skill set while starting a new job? You also realize that by being different and unskilled, you're asking for bad attention.

How good are your regular knife skills? Pinch and claw? Speed chop? Know and do the "basic" cuts?

What's are the states of your sharpening kit and sharpening skills? Don't dump a lot of money into edges unless and until you have a plan to maintain them.

What do you want a 4" parer for? Why not a 5 - 7" petty?

What does "big bucks mean?" What's your total, real budget?

Let's get this show on the road, while there's still time.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/11/11 at 7:25am
post #7 of 45
Thread Starter 

I saw a guy in Tokyo who worked at a traditional cantonese place, I think he's the one who made me think about the power of a well used chuka bochos originally, though I'm pretty sure he had formal Chinese culinary training.  I think for me the appeal is the ability of a chinese veg cleaver is using the wide blade to transfer food to the pan/wok, although the wa gyuto is looking pretty slick.  Does it hurt that they are unusual and look cool?  Of course not.  The fillet knife would be mostly for fish, I don't see myself breaking down red meat anytime soon, though I should always be prepared.  The global is a PoS indeed, though I've seen them in numerous professional kitchens.  As for my knife-work, I can hold a knife properly, cut properly, but the global never felt right in my hands.  And I have tiny hands, and the usual complaint is that the global handles are too small.




Something more this speed wet your whistle?


I'd say, 300 is the most I'd spend on a single knife atm.  

post #8 of 45
Thread Starter 

Got a solid nights sleep (first since job offer) and did some research on knives/styles/steel and so on.  I think a gyuto is perfect for me, given the kitchens I'll be working at in the immediate future and my familiarity with the western chef's knife in terms of profile.  With shun I'd be paying Aogami prices for inferior steel as far as I can tell.



How do the KAS-5, KAS-6 look?


In terms of rest of kit- a fillet knife for boning and a fillet knife for doing fish, a 6" utility knife, scissors, nice peeler, honing steel.


Seem reasonable?

post #9 of 45
Thread Starter 

You know what, ignore me.  I'm going to lurk on some gyuto forums, work with in-house stuff at least for the first few weeks.

post #10 of 45
Originally Posted by tabla kid View Post

You know what, ignore me.  I'm going to lurk on some gyuto forums, work with in-house stuff at least for the first few weeks.

Probably a very smart move!


Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #11 of 45
Thread Starter 

Does anyone here have experience with hiromoto knives?  Specifically, the tenmi jyuraku with the aogami core and the stainless steel exterior.  Can you really have the best of both worlds?  It seems like something has to be lost...

post #12 of 45
Don't get too starry eyed over exotic alloys like Aogami Super. Until you learn to sharpen, there is absolutely no advantage. I don't care what it's made from, any dull knife is a dull knife. And even if and when you do learn to sharpen really well, you'll find that the distinctions between the high priced exotics and good but more mundane alloys are still pretty subtle. They make more of a difference in how a blade feels on the stones than how it cuts onions or even how often you have sharpen -- if you care about sharpness.

As it happens, I bought four Hiromoto AS a few years ago: two gyutos, a suji and a petty. We purchased to replace our core group of working knives, a motley group of carbon Sabatiers, with something more modern and easier to maintain. Few knife purchases have been more disappointing. Neither my wife nor I liked the Hiromotos nearly as much as the Sabs, and we ended up passing them on.

Part of my dislike stems from their laminated, san-mai construction which makes them feel damped and numb to me. Most people either don't feel it or don't care, though. Call it 2:1. Edge taking was average; both in terms of absolute sharpness and ease of sharpening (take it for what it's worth, but I'm a very good sharpener). Their edge holding -- which supposedly what AS is all about -- was slightly better than average; but since they didn't steel nearly as well as the Sabs, the Hiromotos still required more maintenance.

The handles were thin, short and not nearly as good as any of the Sabs -- they're marginally better than Global, but my guess is that you'd end up finding them uncomfortable for the same reasons.

The Sabatier chef's knife's profile is ridiculously better than the Hiromoto gyuto's. So is Masamoto's, MAC Pro's, and a bunch of others.

A lot of people swear by them, though, and I'm sure they have good reasons. In my opinion though, if you're going to buy a san-mai blade, the Tojiro DP is every bit as good as the Hiromoto AS, and is considerably less money.

If you're dead set on dropping big money before starting work, we should talk about the MAC Pro and Masamoto VG gyutos, maybe a very few others, the MAC Superior bread knife, filling in the rest of the kit with a few R.H. Forschners, and work out a plan and budget for sharpening.

I can't overemphasize how important sharpening is. It's not particularly hard to do, and makes everything soooooooooooooo much more efficient, easier, and fun.

post #13 of 45
Thread Starter 

I've already started, and let me tell you I'd rather use my dull chipped global than the in-house santoku I was prepping with last night.  The only plus side is that I have a head-start on my cook's callous.  I'm probably going to bring my global in today.  I have a great collection of old stainless steel knives for learning the noble art of sharpening.


Does anyone have experience with a solid aogami knife?  I'm leaning towards carbon atm.




I guess with this I'm paying for the nice sandalwood wa grip, but The Gunslinger uses sandalwood grips, and he's more man than I'll ever be.  And, compared to a carbon masamoto these are pretty reasonable.


Service at 5, lets pretend I'm actually a line-cook, or that I actually can memorize the 41 item menu in a couple hours.


post #14 of 45
I have lots of experience with "solid" shirogami knives; and just a little with aogami. What do you want to know?

FWIW, the knives to which you linked aren't "solid," they're "san-mai" with a "damascus" look pattern jigane. The pattern's actually called suminagashi.

post #15 of 45
Thread Starter 

San-mai makes no sense to me.  San means three, shouldn't it be ni-mai?  Either way, lets take san-mai off the table.


Is there such a thing as a budget or entry high-carbon Japanese gyuto?  Something I can cut my teeth into in terms of sharpening where I won't feel guilty for my trespasses.    

post #16 of 45

San-mai because three layers.  Two steels, perhaps, but a middle layer "sandwiched". 


When you say "high carbon" are you talking about carbon-steel? The phrase is imprecise and usually applied to stainless (itself a misnomer).  The answer is yes, whatever you mean, but I'll let BDL talk you through the options, him having direct and indirect experience of far more knives than I.

post #17 of 45
San-mai is a three layer laminate sandwich with soft jigane on the outside, and a hard hagane on the inside. The jigane are very thin, and the cutting edge is entirely formed on the hagane. Pattern welded jiganes are made separately from the hagane, and applied as a single layer. So, even though the jigane on one side may itself be 31 layers, 2 layers on both sides, and the whole knife 63 layers in one sense; from a construction standpoint it's still san-mai. And indeed, the knife will act like a san-mai in every meaningful respect and not like "wootz" or some other "true" Damascus.

What you want to call ni-mai is actually called kasumi. Few, if any, western-style knives are made kasumi.

But enough with that. Let's get down to figuring out your next knife.

By "high carbon" do you mean a steel alloy (including non-stainless, semi-stainless and stainless) with a carbon content greater than 0.50%? Or, do you mean a high-end, big-name non-stainless alloy like Aogami Super? Or, something else?

Yo (western style handle and tang), wa (Japanese style handle, machi and tang), or either?

Anything special we should know in terms of wants, cant's, dislikes, or must haves?

What's your price range just for the knife?

How do you sharpen now? If you need to improve your sharpening kit, how much are you willing to spend on that?

Lecture warning: Buying knives is fun and sexy. Buying sharpening gear you will learn to use and actually use as frequently as you ought is significantly less fun. But sharpening is everything. If you can't sharpen a knife to somewhere near its potential (usually much sharper than it came from the factory), and keep it very sharp, expensive knives are a waste of money. It doesn't matter how good, how perfect, how high-quality, how beautiful, how expensive, how comfortable, how anything. All knives dull eventually, any dull knife is a dull knife, and all dull knives are equally crap.

post #18 of 45
Thread Starter 

I'm in wrapping up my first week at the restaurant.  Chef A is a guy who is running things, and has taken note of my urgent, fretful work and assured me of job security, my trainability, and so on.  I started out using a dull, heavy stainless steel santoku used by Chef A, which tore up that joint on my index finger royally.  Yesterday I brought in a global I had gotten as a gift, because you-know-who recommended it in that book he wrote.  I think that, in addition to the fact that as a trainee I cost time rather than free it on in some aspects, brought the ire of Chef B, but I got through my prep-work with less resistance.  I need to get the global sharpened, order a some waterstones and get practicing.  The other piece of kit I actually need is a super-nice peeler.  The in house one is a plastic POS.  I'm also interested in leaning how to do decorative veg cuttings and presentations, cause there tends to be downtime I put into bull cleaning the lazy waitstaff should be doing.  So like a Japanese style paring knife, I dunno.


I'm not willing to bring anything to work that costs more than 200-250 dollars at the end of the day.  I still don't really know what I want, I mean but if anyone has a gyuto they can recommend in that range, be is ni-mai, san-mai, san-hyaku-san-mai or futa-kushi, something they've used in a less than perfect conditions that is still going strong.  I the few wa style knives I've held seem to feel pretty comfortable.

post #19 of 45
You don't need to spend anywhere near that much. The knife I most often recommend as the first, really good, stainless, Japanese chef's knife is the MAC Pro. It's a little bit less than what you said you were prepared to spend, and in your case, it's probably the best all around choice in its price range. In the same range, but a little more expensive, is the Masamoto VG. We can talk about these if you're willing to spend $150ish for a single knife.

But before you say, "OK Boar, let's talk," you'd probably be better with a Fujiwara FKM or Tojiro DP as a first, good, stainless gyuto. They're both excellent entry-level Japanese knives, will get significantly sharper than the Global (once you learn to sharpen), and are much easier to keep sharp too. They're not in the same league as the MAC or Masamoto, but more than good enough for you to learn on. The Fujiwara is about $80, the Tojiro around $100.

FWIW, your Global isn't a bad knife by any means. They're extremely agile, for one thing. They have some issues though which happen to play to your weaknesses. That is, they take a fair amount of work to get and keep sharp; won't work their best without a little "profiling" in the form of thinning -- especially around the heel; and the handle is not friendly to most people's grip styles -- and twice as hostile when the knife is dull. Whether it's a good idea to get a better entry level knife or learn to maintain and use the Global is not an easy question to answer. Because the Global is so short, so perversely wrong for you (at least for the next couple of months), and you're already strongly leaning that way, my guess is that a new knife is probably best -- but if money's tight you may want to concentrate on learning to sharpen.

Until you buy and receive your new knife, you need to find some way to get your Global sharp and keep it sharp NOW, so you have something to work with. If you can find someone to sharpen it for you -- someone who actually knows how to sharpen and will sharpen it at the appropriate 15* bevel -- you're good to go. If you can't, and can afford $80, get a Chef's Choice 316, use it for now, and keep it for a backup sharpener when you move on to freehanding or an EP. If you can't afford the $80, get a Fiskars Roll Sharp. You want something you can continue to use until you develop some expertise with your permanent choice, and (as I said about the CC) as a back up.

You're also going to want a decent rod hone (aka steel) -- around $30.

Is your $200ish budget for knife, sharpening, everything? Or just the knife?

Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/16/11 at 12:14pm
post #20 of 45
Thread Starter 

Chopping up a giant pile of flat parsley made it clear an 8" chef's won't be enough for me.  I'm not much one for the twist-and-chop technique, which they say is a problem with NIHONJIN STEEL.  My callous is coming in exactly where it should.  Given the work pace, my global fell twice without major damage, I need to consider my realistic options.  http://japanesechefsknife.com/KAGAYAKI.html 240mm.  I'd have to learn how to put a nice proper bevel on it, but it looks sturdy enough for real kitchen use.



post #21 of 45
The Kagayaki Basic ES is an okay blade, but it has a short, narrow handle and indiferent F&F. OOTB edge quality is variable. Don't buy the extra cost sharpening as pretty much everyone who's bought it has been quite unhappy. Kagayakis were flavor of the month when they came out and got a lot of recommendations then, but you hardly hear anything about them anymore. They've lost their groove for good reasons.

The Fujiwara FKM is both better all 'round, cheaper, and usually comes sharper out of the box than the Basic ES. The Fujiwara has been one of the most popular entry-level pro knives for awhile and will likely remain that way for quite awhile longer. Same or similar AUS 8/440C as the Basic ES, I believe.

In and around the price range you'd probably like the Tojiro DP best, as it's the sturdiest feeling, has the biggest handle, and consistently comes sharper OOTB. FWIW, the DP is san-mai (three layer laminate) and used to have a Swedish alloy as its core steel, but now uses VG-10. Gets sharp, stays sharp, big bargain. Tojiro DPs have been one of the most popular and most recommended entry-level pros for a great deal longer than the Fujiwara, and just as deservedly. I don't like san-mai knives for my own use, but my reasons almost certainly don't apply to you.

Nothing means much unless and until you make a commitment to sharpening. Just sayin'.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/17/11 at 10:34pm
post #22 of 45
Thread Starter 




my hands are small, I think I'm going to go with the wa.  Cheaper anywho.  Need my sleep opening tomorrow with the boss.


post #23 of 45
Thread Starter 

Need some gear to keep it nice and sharp.

post #24 of 45
my hands are small, I think I'm going to go with the wa.  Cheaper anywho.  Need some gear to keep it nice and sharp.

Yo is fine. FYI, yo or wa, hand size doesn't matter. Where did you get the idea it might?

Along the lines of a similar misconception -- hand size should seldom determine handle size (or style). Unless you have extremely small or extremely large hands, your grip style and mechanics make more difference. One reason I directed you towards the Tojiro, which has a large handle -- at least by Japanese standards -- is because you death grip your Global. Read Getting a Grip on a Good Pinch and Guillotine and Glide. They'll help you a lot.

Nothing's going to help that much as long as you're using dull knives. The best sharpening choices for you are functions of how much time you're willing to spend learning how to sharpen, and how much money you're willing to put into equipment. In the meantime, get your Global sharpened ASAP.

Edited by boar_d_laze - 9/18/11 at 8:57am
post #25 of 45
Thread Starter 

I'm dedicated enough to learn freehand sharpening.  I don't mind using my global as a whipping boy for my early failures.  A 1000/6000 combo stone, and one of those waterstone leveler stones, should that be enough to get started?

post #26 of 45
Thread Starter 

My all around budget is about 300 dollars, including sharpening equipment.

post #27 of 45
Thread Starter 

fujiwara FKM vs FKH?

post #28 of 45

stainless vs carbon steel...


The idea in general is that the carbon is easier to sharpen and may have better edge retention; it also requires more care and feeding, and doesn't stay super shiny.


A patina is protective against rust, so good. But not shiny.  The blade does it does stain quickly with acidic foods.  If you're ok with the look, the "care and feeding" really means it has to be wiped, it has to be rinsed and wiped immediately when you're done.  Don't leave it wet on the board, or worse live with people who will leave it wet in the sink.  If you can put the immediate care into it, it's not really different or more care.  It's just more immediate. Also, before a decent patina, it might impart a less than great flavor to food, and color, too.  (I'm not sure, but if memory serves me well, this is a bigger problem with the Fuji FKH than some other carbon steel knives, too -- I believe people complain about the smell until it settles down.  So consider). 


Stainless is less demanding in those regards.


By the way... do you play tablas when you're not cooking?

post #29 of 45
Fujiwara FKH ONLY if you really WANT a Japanese carbon and really trying to keep costs down.

Whatever alloy Fujiwara uses for the FKH, it's extremely reactive and takes forever to settle down -- even with daily baking soda treatments. It will impart an odor and an off color to just abMout everything for months; not to mention broadcasting its own unpleasant aroma through your kitchen while you use it. Once it settles down, it's okay but nothing to write home about.

Sabatier carbons are much better knives and don't cost much -- if any -- more. Of course the Sabs are softer, need more frequent steeling, have full-finger bolsters, and aren't Japanese.

Masamoto CT, Misono Sweden, Kikuichi (carbon) Elite: All much better as well. They have a different set of strengths and weaknesses but average out to about the same performance levels as a Sab; without, of course, the Sabatier caveats.

Masamoto HC, Tadatsuna White #2 yo-gyuto: Very, very expensive, but as good as mass produced yo-gyutos get.

Do you really want a non-stainless knife? The steels used in good Japanese knives don't give up much to good carbons in terms of edge qualities; and aren't nearly as needy in terms of maintenance. Personally, I LOVE carbon, "High maintenance, but worth it." But it's most definitely not the right choice for everyone.

Think twice, then twice again.

post #30 of 45
Thread Starter 

I'm realistically looking to drop 150-225 US on a 240mm chef's knife and a petty, and whatever investment is needed to keep my knives sharp.  I think the reason I' m going towards Japanese is one, of course, the whole cool samurai thing.  But also is the memory of my dad's wusthof, which he got in the 70s. It's still going strong like a tank, but I don't think he's ever had it ground, just the occasional honing from the equally ancient steel.  It also felt like a badly tuned instrument in my hand, which I suppose it because of neglect more than failure of design.  


In terms of my knife-skills and style, I'm amateur at best.  I'm getting by with the quality of my prep b/c the restaurant has such slack standards with most things.  I tend to use a sort of rocking motion, with the tip on the cutting board and the heel of the blade coming down in what I feel is a nice, natural bouncy motion.  My off-hand I would like to think is always in a nice, protected claw, but I'm green and I know I'm taking shortcuts when I'm frazzled or in a hurry.


I don't trust any of the sharpening places around where I live to put a proper bevel on the global, so for now I'm using it rather than use the beat up dexter in house.

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