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UGH. So frustrated with knife shopping, I am ready to just get a Victorinox Fibrox and be done with this!

post #1 of 117
Thread Starter 

*sighs and rubs temples* First post off to a rough start when my browser ate the last hour's worth of composition and work. :/ So, here is the condensed version.


Started my first professional cooking gig as a pantry and prep cook. I am working at a resort where I am expecting to move around throughout the other restaurants through the advancement of this career. So, I would like to start with some solid knives that will grow with me for a while instead of getting something that will be tossed into my kitchen at home as soon as I move out of prep.


My budget has a small amount of wiggle room, but I REALLY don't want to spend more than $200. I would be thrilled to get these for $150 or less. What I need, for sure, is a chef/ french, santuku everyday knife and a very solid bread knife. I already have some little utility knives. We do a TON of club sandwiches (over a dozen on a slow shift) and lots of fresh veggies, lettuce, and fruit that needs to be prepped quickly. I am not sure what kind of prep I will be getting into, as I just started, but I am expecting quite the load.


I have been researching knives for WEEKS and just cannot some to a decision. Whenever I ask Mr. Google a question, I always end up back on this forum, so I finally broke down and signed up to open a discussion about it instead of running around in circles :) This forum seems to not only be the most active, it is also seems to have the most unbiased and informed advice!


I grew up with my dad's Wustof Classics, which he swears by. He has had them close to 30 years now. I don't remember being particularly impressed with them growing up, but then again, I also knew very little about cooking and prep, let alone the proper care and respect of good tools. I remember those things were tough and solid, and went through some serious abuse. All of his knives, even the small ones, have a few scars but are still intact and very usable. I don't remember them being particularly sharp, despite the fact I know he used the steel often. He may not have made a very sharp edge because there were kids in the house, I really don't know. I don't remember them feeling particularly fantastic in my hand, nor particularly bad either. They felt like they were solid. But, once again, I was young and stupid, I didn't know what I was doing with them.


When I went knife shopping, I originally was sold a couple Messermeister Park Places. While they felt very good in my hand, the stamped metal would not do. I could save myself a lot of grief with a little extra money. And, I paid too much for them. I tried out the 7" Santuku, which felt like exactly the right size for me, and felt pretty good in my hand. It was light, and I grew up with heavy knives, so my instinct told me I would need a bigger, heavier knife in addition to a Santuku if I chose one. I returned them, and the owner assured me the Messermeisters forged 'Meridian Elite' were the ones I really wanted. She said that she was a lifelong Wustof fan as well, and only sold Wustof in her store, until another lifelong Wustof fan turned her onto Messermeister. She swore up and down about them, and said that Wustofs are great knives, and lifelong fans will never know better until they try a Messermeister too. I returned the stamped knives and thanked her, telling her I would think about it.


So, through all my research, here is where I am. I was almost settled on a great deal on a Messermeister Meridian Elite 7" Santuku ($80), a Wustof Classic 9" Bread Knife ($50), and possibly one of the awesome leftover Cyber Monday deals on a Wustof 8" Grand Prix (knife, hand sharpener, and shears for $80) or a Wustof 8" Classic (also with the knife, hand sharpener, and shears, for $100). However, I started to question whether the Santuku from Messermeister was, in fact, the best choice, and if the other less expensive offerings from Wustof, Victorinox, or even a cheap ass Henckels were really that much different. I also questioned the Chef knife choice as well, since Victorinox and Henckles both have some much less expensive forged options.


Of course, then I stumbled onto you lot, and my well-known name brand world of knives was turned upside-down as I began to see some Fujiwara (a little more than 7" that I felt was the perfect length), Kobayashi and Tojiro, as well as Sabatier and Mac. I am not even sure which bread knife to look at any more!




So, plain and simple, I need help deciphering my options into pieces that fit my needs (and am open to suggestions of other knives too). Price range is as close to $200 as possible. Need, at least, a bread knife and a chef's knife (santuku or classic style), and would like to have enough left over to have both a 7" Santuku AND an 8" chef, but I don't need both as much as I need one solid one. If I go with a Santuku, I want to keep it fairly light, but with a bit of weight to it. It needs to have enough heft and weight to be durable and not ding up easily. If I go with a classic chef, I want it to be a heavier knife, but nothing obscene. I obviously still need to be able to work with it all day, but I want some heft to it compared to a lighter Japanese Santuku. All need to be stainless steel, or, if I am missing some other alloy, just something that won't turn into a giant ball of orange warts if water sits on it for an hour or if it doesn't get washed immediately after touching something corrosive. None of these will go in a dishwasher, I will love them kindly and hand wash them as often as I can with mild soap and a cloth. I will steel them daily or as needed, HOWEVER, I won't have the time to steel a soft blade while in the middle of slicing 20 lbs of onions. It needs to be able to hold an edge pretty well through a large task and throughout the day in general. I would prefer NOT to have to steel the bread knife, above all others, obviously. That is just a lot more maintenance. It needs to hold it's edge very well, weight doesn't matter.


Thanks for reading! :)

post #2 of 117

Let's start by slaying a preconception and making one recommendation:  Some stamped knives are very near the pinnacle of performance quality.  The Forschner Fibrox/Rosewood series perform as well as just about any German made knife available.  I highly recommend their butcher knives, and just about everything but their chef's knives.


The Forschner 10-1/2" bread knife is exceptionally good and an exceptional value.


For someone with good knife skills, I don't really get the purpose of a santoku for general prep.  That doesn't mean it doesn't have one, or that all sorts of people with great skills don't love theirs... it means I don't get it.  Sell me -- and maybe I'll have a better idea of what you want and can address your desire cogently. 


I strongly recommend a 10" (about chef's) with the proviso that if you're more comfortable with an 8", that 8" is an option (of course) but improving your skills to the point where a 10" knife handles better and more intuitively than your 8" or santoku currently does is a matter of about ten minutes reading and a few hours of practice.  It's 95% grip, the rest is a slight turn of your body.


Compared to quality German knives, quality Japanese knives get sharper, stay sharper, are lighter, and handle better (for most skilled users).   Sabatier carbons are a lot like Japanese knives in those ways, sharpen even more easily,, but in other ways they're not like anything else in the world.  They're not a good generic recommendation because they need someone who's willing to rinse, dry and steel several times during prep; and not everyone's willing to put up with their neediness. 


French stainless knives have the ergonomics but don't have very good edge qualities.  Everything considered, you're probably better off with a German or Lamson.


That said, knives are all about sharpening and I don't want to delve too deeply into which and how much without finding out how you plan to sharpen.  If you're not willing to spend the time and/or money to do a really good job of it, you might as well save a lot of money and get a Forschner Rosewood or Fibrox.   


So tell me about your sharpening.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 12/6/11 at 8:12am
post #3 of 117
Thread Starter 

So far, just picked up a ceramic honing steel I use at the end of the day. I haven't done too much prep yet, so a few minutes at the end of the day has been all I need. It is 1k grit, if you needed to know that. When I order real knives beyond the utility ones I threw in the bag to get started, I am going to pick up a rougher grit steel, http://www.chefcentral.com/product/cutlery/532737-8721/wusthof-trident-3-piece-create-a-set.html . Once again, just chose that one because of the price. I need a new knife block at home too, so two birds with one stone and all that.


In a few months I was planning on looking into some whetstones. I read that Japanese waterstones are the best. Just not enough money right now to invest in an advanced sharpening system and knives, I thought it may be best to get the knives now and order the stone in a few months when I have more money and I have worn out the factory edge and need it.


The alternative was a sharpening service offered down here. Reasonably priced, I need to go see what kind of work they do. I was told they come to the shop twice a month, so I could go down every couple months and get it done on my way home from work. Considering that I have a full time job, part time work that comes and goes, as well as a season volunteer job, this seems like the better option to ensure I make the time to get the knives taken care of.

post #4 of 117

There's nothing wrong with getting a Forschner while you develop your knife skills and sharpening skills. Then you'll have more idea what you'd prefer in the future.

The skills will transfer to the new knife and so will the sharpening gear.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #5 of 117

Your current ideas about sharpening are more consistent with Forschner than "better." 


Very few sharpening services can or will do an adequate job with Japanese knives.  You can do a decent job with good oil stones on many Japanese knives, including the Fujiwara FKM or a Tojiro DP, but oil stones are slower (need more strokes) than water stones, and slower stones means you need better skills.  


You definitely do NOT want a coarse steel.  In fact, you want to limit your use of a steel to "truing," and avoid sharpening with a rod altogether.  This is because the contact patch is so small and applies so much force that inevitable errors are magnified.  Furthermore, if you're using a knife made from an alloy which will take a fairly fine edge, a coarse, toothy edge is counter-productive.


The logic behind not purchasing a good knife for a coarse edge is intuitively clear, I think; but we can delve more deeply if you're interested. 


In my opinion (and it's only one man's opinion), it's worth going to the expense and trouble to buy, own and maintain a very good chef's knife because it takes so much of the onus out of prep. 


I'm still curious as to why you like a santoku.  Don't worry, there's no implied judgment.  I only want to know more about how you think about knives so as to help find the right fit for you, your skills and your budget. 


Speaking of skills... you can't begin to develop some of the more important knife skills without very sharp knives.  Duller knives require more power, sharper knives reward precision...  In the case of knife work, power and precision are pretty much antithetical.  Sharpness is key.



post #6 of 117
Thread Starter 

I wish I could say I was diligent enough with my sharpening that I could keep a stamped blade where it needs to be throughout the day, but I am not. Season is about to begin, and we will be SLAMMED. I am sure there will be plenty of days I will have to hone on my lunch break and after work, because I just don't have time to stop and do it. I also am just plain a bit scatter-brained, and honing would be on my list of things to do, constantly getting pushed back as more important things come up. Also, if my blade gets chipped because I accidentally cut something hard or hit a pit or something, I don't have the skills to get the ding out. I would also be pretty pissed :p These are the reasons why a soft blade just doesn't seem like it would be a good fit and I feel I need something that will hold an edge better. Besides, I have more time to work on an edge at home than at work, so the less fussing at work the better.


I have talked to multiple female cooks and chefs, and all of them swear by their Santuku. As a female, I was recommended one by all female cooks I talked to, they say it is their go-to knife for most tasks. I also was told that a huge part of finding the right knife is simply what 'feels right'. A santuku 'felt right' in my hand. I use a small one at home, and my biggest gripe about it is that it is too small for most everything I use it on (5"). The weight of the stamped one I tried felt a bit too light for me, but I imagine the forged one will have the extra weight I was looking for. If there is a similar style and weight I should be looking at as an alternative, please let me know! While the santuku felt pretty good, it still wasn't *perfect*. Once I really start working with one for long periods, I can probably narrow down what about it is wrong. I think it may just be a conflict of technique. I began with my dad's classic Wusthofs, he showed me how to use those with a rocking motion, but at some point early when I began to develop knife skills on my own, I began to prefer more of a slicing motion for most tasks. I suspect this is in large part because I have been using utility knives that are too small for quite a while now, so that is just the only way to cut with a small knife! I am more consistent with my slicing motions than rocking, and because I am working at a resort, many of the garnishes NEED to be consistent, so I have been slicing them. When in a hurry or cutting something that doesn't need to be perfect, I prefer the rocking motion (and would be the point I would want a classic french style chef knife). As you can tell, I wasn't 'trained' professionally. I just watched others to learn by example how to cook and prep. Ultimately, that is how school teaches you... I just didn't have someone to slap my hand when I did it wrong :p

post #7 of 117

Imaya, my suggestion is to use the house knives for a while. After working on the job for a while you will get a much better idea of what tools are best to use for what you need to do.

The other reason is knife maintenance. I do my own (reprofiling, thinning as needed) but if you don't at least the house knives are usually sharpened every so often.

As a relief/temp cook, often times I do more prep work than cooking and there are certainly situations when anything less than 10 inches would not work for me.


For example yesterday I was cubing/dicing chedder cheese for salads in 1/4 inch cubes. The cheese block was maybe 6 inches wide. With a 10 inch Chef's knife, that gave me a couple of inches on each side of the cheese block to put push pressure on the blade with one hand on the pointy end and the other on the handle end like a cheese knife. Also cutting Romaine heads I use just about all of the 10 inch blade.

My main tools in order of use are as follows:

1. 10 inch Chef's-Forcshner (Rosewood handle)-about 90% to 95% useage
2. Kuhn Y peeler
3. Pocket (locking) folding knife (boxes and packages but if sanitized can be used as a Paring)
4. 10 in Serrated bread knife-Update International


I have 6 other knifes in my roll that are rarely used but are as follows:

3.5 inch Paring- Update International
6 inch Petty-Japanese steel but custom made by a friend
8 inch Forcshner Breaking knife
8 inch Victorinox Filet knife
12 inch slicer- Update International
6 inch Chinese Cleaver


As far as Santokus; they don't work for me (although I have one at home) compared to a Chef's knife. It might be a personal choice but I feel I get more functionality out of a Chef's knife. I use the pointy end a fair amount of time, the size (10 inches) is more useful for me and the ability to do "rocking motion" cuts is more suitable to a longer Chef's knife.. At home and I just need to prep a couple of items it doesn't matter what I use and will grap whatever is clean be it a Santoku or anything else.

Edited by JohnR - 12/6/11 at 6:26pm
post #8 of 117

OK. Just for the "conversational value" it may bring, I'll tell you why I like a good santoku knife. I have two(2) of them; one(1) cheap, the other inexpensive. With either one, the balance is very nice; it's overall size/shape/weight all go well with the size/shape of the blade. Both of mine have flatter blades with less belly than their corresponding chef's knives (same brands). That, for me, makes working with them very nice. Both are lighter and thinner than the chef's knives too. I also like the fact that they are both hollow edged, I find that very helpful when it comes in play. 


I absolutely agree with the idea of Victorinox Forschner being a good brand. Half of my knives are VF. Just recently I saw this clearance page on the site of a very nice retailer, Cutlery and More. It's for the LamsonSharp Walnut line. If it's me, and I needed a new set, I could drop +/- $100 and get everything I needed, outside of a "steel", and in that case I'd get a Idahone Ceramic for < $30, and call it a happy day. I'm not saying that the Lamson's are all that wonderful, but I think they don't suck and the price is nice. 






LamsonSharp Walnut 1837 Hollow Edge Santoku 

Edited by IceMan - 12/6/11 at 8:29pm

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.


"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

post #9 of 117

I'm glad you like it, IceMan. I like my knives as well.

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #10 of 117

My Lamson cleaver is my favorite non-meat cleaver. Great as an Asian style.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #11 of 117
Thread Starter 

I am quite firmly of the belief that my knives at home are 100% unacceptable for professional kitchens. The only thing I dared to take with me was my serrated as a backup, but I know it will rip up sandwiches. I use a steak knife at home for that. As I said earlier, my best knife at home is a 5" santuku, and I already have a plain 5" utility in my work roll. The rest of my knives at home are such trash, they only say 'made in china' on them... I have no idea where they are from. Oh, I also have an 8" chicago cutlery stamped chef's with a broken tip :p I hate every single knife we have at home, so I know that all those styles and brand are bad fits :p If I got new knives for home, I wouldn't even donate any of them, I would trash every single one except the 5" santuku.


That clearance section has some interesting things... http://www.cutleryandmore.com/miu-france/forged-knife-block-set-p111229# have everything I would need, plus a lot of filler that would collect dust. The manufacturer's  website says it is 440 stainless steel, so they seem to be quality made. They also have a small collection of Miyabi 5000s. Google tells me these are Henckels' Japanese line. Both of these companies I am clueless about, so if anyone has any insight, please share!

post #12 of 117

FWIW, by "house" knives, I believe that JohnR meant the knives provided by the restaurant, rather than your own knives from home - unless of course your restaurant does not provide "house" knives.  I believe the Miyabi 5000s is a cheaper line of Henckels Japanese knives (as opposed to the 7000 line, for example) and the steel is not the same (softer) than their more expensive line.  IMHO.while having a knife with a substantial feel is nice when you first pick it up, weight is not an asset if you are doing lots of prep (unless it is cracking lobsters or splitting chickens).  A lighter, sharp knife is much preferable.  That's why just briefly handling knives in a store can be misleading.  They may initially feel good in the hand and have a reassuring weight to them, but it won't be the same after you have actively used them for several hours.


Oh, while a chef's knife is a much more personal choice, don't spend a lot of money on a bread knife.  In my experience, the expensive ones don't cut much better than the inexpensive ones and you can spend the money where it will do more good..  A Forschner should be just fine. - you want at least a 10" knife.  Less than that (lots of 8" knives out there) is really too short for a bread knife.

post #13 of 117
Thread Starter 

Ah! No, there are no knives in the kitchen I work in. Everyone brings their own knives... and tongs and whisks too, oddly enough. The only things the scullery has are ladles, scoops, and large spoons. There may be some other odds and ends I have not discovered again, but everyone brings their own... everything in terms of tools with them. People also seem to be pretty lax about others picking up their tools to use at the same station, and people who are friends will share tools. I have an engraver, however, so everything will get marked just to be safe :)


I looked up those 'Miyabi' knives and had a lot of trouble finding solid info on them. The manufacturer's site simply said the knives were made out of Henkels proprietary metal, 'friodur', but I could not find ANY info as to what the 'friodur' actually is. I found one single discussion where most people agreed it is likely standard 440 stainless, just with the final ice bath. The debate was whether they used the high carbon 440c, like Henckels used in vintage knives, or the more common and softer 440a or 440b. If this is the case, I am not sure if the final ice bath makes those knives worth quite a bit more than the french MIU I linked, which also are supposedly made of the 440 stainless according to the manufacturer.

post #14 of 117

Hi Imaya,


I scarcely know where to start.


There's no intrinsic advantage to forged knives over stamped.  There are really bad and really good knives made either way.  We want to set you up with good knives which suit your skills and budget, but considering how little you want to spend, you're probably going to end up with at least a couple of stamped knives. 


Softness/hardness are important up to a point; but they're also terms of art, so I want to be careful how I use them so as not to confuse you.  If it's any comfort, you've got me confused.


I was afraid of just the answer you gave regarding santokus.  It's uncomfortable for me, as a man, to say your women-chef friends are wrong.   Throwing gender into an already complicated stew doesn't make things easier.  However, stature or hand size has very little to do with what size knife will be most comfortable for every day prep.  Grip and sharpness, are the whole story pretty much.  Similarly, a small knife isn't more suitable for a "little bit" of prep than a regular chefs.  There are a few tasks which are done better with something shorter than your "go to gyuto," like peeling, tourne, and boning... but not many. 


MiU knives aren't exactly horrible, but they're not very good either.  The set itself is wholly inappropriate for a working pro.


Your idea of putting sharpening off until your knives dull is self-defeating.  Most good knife skills are based around a soft grip, and you can't develop the grip or the skills without knives which are consistently kept very sharp.  Commitment to sharpness and sharpening is critical.     


I know I'm saying a lot of stuff which you don't want to hear and challenges your preconceptions.  Your ideas, the questions you're starting to ask, and the advice you've already received will probably invite a lot more participation in your thread here at Chef Talk from people with a lot of different ideas and perspectives.  Before going further, it's a good idea to figure out if you want to work with me on this or with someone else.  The last thing I want to do is make you unhappy or unsure.





post #15 of 117

I'd suggest reading Chad Ward's "An Edge in the Kitchen" for more on stamped/machined vs. forged, and for hard vs. soft -- or the *very* basics of that.  You can at least read for free, in relevant part, here:  http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?/topic/117052-an-edge-in-the-kitchen/

post #16 of 117
Thread Starter 

Well, ok, maybe a good place to start is to know if I am at all on the right track with the knives I was looking at in my original post? Even if a Santuku, for example, isn't the right style, am I still on the right track in terms of models/ series and manufacturers? Should I be looking at Gyuto instead of Santuku, for example? Or should I stick to just a french chef for now? Are any of the manufacturers better for my needs and price range than others, and are there some I should just forget about?


Thanks for that link, Wagstaff. The information was quite enlightening :) I am not one to stick to old fuddy-duddy ways 'just because', there has to be a good reason for it! Obviously, there isn't a lot of reason to be a stickler about forged knives and bolsters any more.

post #17 of 117
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post


Your idea of putting sharpening off until your knives dull is self-defeating.  Most good knife skills are based around a soft grip, and you can't develop the grip or the skills without knives which are consistently kept very sharp.  Commitment to sharpness and sharpening is critical.     




Amen brother.


Imaya, take this to heart it's important and very true.


A cheap knife that's kept sharp is better performance wise than an expensive high end knife that is dull.  Sharpening is one of the basic skills that you should learn if this is to be your craft. 


You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning


You can't lay on the beach and drink rum all day unless you start in the morning

post #18 of 117

I think you should plan on investing a significant part of your budget on your primary knife; get R. H. Forschner for whichever other knives you absolutely NEED; and plan on replacing one or two of your basics, and adding whatever specialty knives you need as you need and can better afford them; and invest whatever's necessary in some sort of sharpening kit. 


My idea of "good enough" for a pro's go-to includes something which will take and hold a sharp enough edge for it to "fall-through" nearly all prep instead of requiring a lot of effort to chop, push, pull, slice or rock through.  Until you've used something that sharp, you don't know much of a difference it makes.  For most people, "out of the box" sharpness is something of a miracle, but believe me you can do as well with all sorts of easy sharpening kits; and better if you have the desire to build the skills.  


My generic recommendations for "bottom of the high end," entry level, good knives are Tojiro DP ($100ish) and Fujiwara FKM ($80ish).  That doesn't make them best for you, it just means they're decent entry-level values.  I'd like to see you with something a little better, but the next step up is expensive.


I also think a 10" chef's knife is the generic, right choice.  Chef's/santoku is a matter of taste, yes.  But a chef's tends to be more productive, versatile and stay sharper longer.  A 10" chef's is just as agile as a 7" santoku, as long as the knife is light enough and the skills are there.  Sadly, they usually aren't.    


The skill you build the other skills around is the softness of your grip, that requires sharp edges, and you can see that the whole thing is something of a circle. 


As your basic knife kit, I suggest:

  1. 10", good quality chef's knife, such as a Tojiro DP (for instance).
  2. 10.5" Bread (RH Forschner, Fibrox or Rosewood)
  3. 5" or 6" "Petty" (Forschner)
  4. 3" Paring (Forschner)
  5. Something large and heavy duty for doing big, rough jobs your chef's shouldn't, like splitting chickens.  It could be an old used German chef's, a Forschner Cimeter, a machete, or any one of a number of choices. 
  6. Knife roll.


There are two basic directions to take for sharpening.  The first is to use some sort of gag which doesn't require a lot of skill to produce a decent edge.  You could go with a 15* Chef's Choice Machine or the three stage Mino Sharp for instance.  If you did, you'd end up reprofiling your Forschners to 15* -- there are some trade-offs but they can handle it; in my opinion a net benefit; all of my Forschners are sharpened to 15*.  Another type of pre-set will create a very coarse edge which is adequately sharp, but (and?) very toothy.  The Fiskars "Rollsharp" is the best of that bunch. 


The second way is to get a couple of bargain, but good quality water-stones and learn to sharpen.  There's a learning curve, it will take you a while and some frustration to get good at it, but it's probably the best choice for a pro who can't afford an Edge Pro ($200ish). 


Additionally, you'll need a good "steel."  Fortunately they aren't very expensive.  I usually recommend the Idahone 12" fine ceramic, but let's see what the rest of your sundae looks like before worrying about the cherry and sprinkles.



post #19 of 117
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions :)


Let me also be clear that I already spent about $75 on a chef roll, all my tools, a ceramic steel, a cheap 5" utility/ petty, and a couple quality paring. So the budget I came here with, $150-200, is for a chef knife and a bread knife alone, with the possibility of adding any other type of knife (such as a Santuku or whatever) to compliment this set if I can get the chef and bread at a good price.


I was certainly planning on waiting to get boning knives, etc. since the vast majority of my prep work is related to my station, and none of it requires more than a chef, bread, and paring. Once I am in a place where I need more than that, I will get them. I was told what kind of knives to bring for this position, and the list was Chef, serrated, and paring. I don't expect to need any of the other knives for at least a year. I was brought in this season for a specific station, and I won't be moving until at least next year :) Though adding an inexpensive knife for the dirty stuff isn't a bad idea. I might just find something at a really good price to throw in the kit.


I have been practicing my steeling at home on the shitty knives here, and have given all of them quite a lift. I know they are far from perfect, but they also are FAR better than they were. :)

post #20 of 117
Thread Starter 

Now, BDL, for discussion sake, why do you recommend Tojiro DP? I understand price is one reason, but I would also like to compare it's merits and shortcomings with similarly priced knives. I don't doubt your choice at all, I just like to bargain shop. If I can find a similar knife cheaper, or slightly better knife for the same price, I feel all warm and special about about my purchase! :p


Poking around, I am wanting to discuss some other very nice sounding Japanese knives I found. I obviously don't have experience with any of these, so if anyone, not just BDL, has experience or knowledge on these, please chime in!


JCK has a bunch of their own lines of knives, are they good? A few in my price range:


The Gekko and Inazuma series (about halfway down the page)


CarboNext (ES)


Kagayaki Original Basic


Kagayaki VG-10




Moly VG Series




Moly Series




Tenmi-Jyuraku (Aogami Super)


Tenmi-Jyuraku (Gingami No. 3)




Moly Pro-M








Aogami #2




Moly Series



post #21 of 117

BDL's list of knives is spot on and pretty much what I use. I add a folding, locking pocket knife to open stuff up when I don't want to contaminate my food knives and a good peeler.


The Molybdenum/Vanadium steel seems to be one consistent characteristic among your links. Another option is as follows:



I have't seen a Kai Seki MagoRoku in person but I am considering ordering one. The price is hard to beat.

post #22 of 117

If you spring for a Forschner bread knife and a Mino Sharp 3 (probably the best of the hand held sharpeners other than an Edge Pro ), that will eat up @ $100 of your budget.  So that leaves you @$100 for a chef's knife.  That in and of itself will limit your choices.  For J knives, I have both the Tojiro and the Mac.  The Mac, while very nice, is over budget.  I think the Tojiro works just fine.  The Tojiro would certainly work for you, as would the Fujiwara FKM.  There may be others at that price point, but I'm not familiar with them.  Hopefully others can chime in.

Edited by pohaku - 12/8/11 at 10:19pm
post #23 of 117
Originally Posted by JohnR View Post



The Molybdenum/Vanadium steel seems to be one consistent characteristic among your links. [snip] [/snip]

Some things get way out of price point, I think -- but I'll point out that a couple of knives are in those links are Aogami (translation" "blue paper"] -- which is carbon steel.  Those are not stainless, and I think, judging from all that has preceded on this thread, you don't want carbon steel.  The CarboNext is semi-stainless, and probably close enough to stainless for your purposes.  And maybe, if you're open to it, a very good option indeed.  BUT (and it's a big BUT).... those will need to be sharpened, and maybe (?) re-profiled, even, immediately.  They're not SUPER thin, but they are thin and somewhat whippy (like -- I'm told -- the Masamoto VG is).  I don't know if it's enough to be an issue, too.  But I do know that the edge won't be very good out of the box, and it will take someone to sharpen for you, at first, if you're not intent on getting your own sharpening skills together nigh-immediately. 


That's almost all I can add regarding the list above.  Some issues with Kikuichi came up just today on another board -- but that was about the Kikuichi TKC, which has a pinned bolster that gets rust underneath.  No idea if that's also true of the "Moly Series" or not.

post #24 of 117
Thread Starter 

I think I weeded out all the ones that were pure carbon steel. The ones I went for had the carbon steel core, but stainless outside, so they had rust resistance but carbon edge. I will double check anything before I order it, however.

post #25 of 117

I just saw "Aogami" -- which is a carbon steel. They may be clad knives -- I'm not familiar with those particular knives; yes, you may want to make sure. I admit I haven't researched them since your post.  I know that word does refer to a particular carbon steel, though.


The CarboNext is a "semi-stainless" carbon, as well.  Like I said, it's probably close enough to stainless for your purposes; there are other concerns, as mentioned.  And I just noticed your "ES" suffix -- that is, I think, the "extra sharp" option? That doesn't really solve the issue, just know.  At least all the forum posts, and my own "ES" CN purchase, indicate disappointment with the sharpening job.


It's an easy steel to sharpen, as things go, so there's that advantage.  But it won't come with a good edge out of the box, in all likelihood, with or without the ES option.


Some of the others have been discussed (with recommendations or dis-recommendations) on this forum in the past, but I don't want to get too far from what few of them I know something about more directly.


More background: you would do well to read this article from BDL's blog: http://www.cookfoodgood.com/?p=399


That won't directly point you to a particular knife, maybe.  But you'll understand some more of the things that go into recommendations.  I'm not sure when you reference a "French knife" if you really mean a French profile or not.  The Wusthofs are a German profile knife.  Most Japanese gyutos are based on a French profile.  Your preference may not match BDL's, or may not be decided upon yet, but it's another piece of info to understand in all of these considerations.


I'm not in the least sure you wouldn't really prefer a Messermeister 9" Meridian Elite.  This in spite of it being a) forged, b)with partial bolster, c) German, d) heavier and e) shorter than 10". 


Or precisely because of those reasons.  We've tried to talk you out of those things as being advantageous.  And they're NOT, intrinsically, advantageous.  But taste is taste. (I gave one to my dad, who loves it).  So *that's* a bit of confusion I'm throwing into the mix, perhaps, because with a clean slate it's not the direction I'd push you.  But with your preconceptions and maybe-already-preferences, I'm not sure if it's not what you want.  (Btw, they have 10" version that costs about $140, too, as opposed to the 9" version which you can get for $90). 


All that said, I think the Fujiwara or the Tojiro are probably better choices.  Lighter, sharper, more "French" profile.  Lighter will allow more agility and softer pinch grip with a longer knife, too.  (Note: the 240mm is shorter than 10", 270mm is a smidge longer.  Some of the knives you're looking at might get slightly over your price range in the 270mm size, too, which is otherwise recommended.  And is one reason to prefer a lighter knife than the Messermeister I just nonchalantly -- or overly-chalantly -- threw into the mix).



post #26 of 117


Now, BDL, for discussion sake, why do you recommend Tojiro DP? I understand price is one reason, but I would also like to compare it's merits and shortcomings with similarly priced knives. I don't doubt your choice at all, I just like to bargain shop. If I can find a similar knife cheaper, or slightly better knife for the same price, I feel all warm and special about about my purchase! :p

It's a decent knife for the price.  Rugged, easy to sharpen, better F&F than you'd expect, sharp out of the box.  It's made with a type of laminated construction where the cutting steel is laminated between thin sheets of softer steel which allows the manufacturer to use fairly expensive cutting steel without worrying too much about failure -- called "san mai."  Personally, I don't like san mai knives; they feel damped and dead on the board and in the cut to me; but that's unlikely to be a problem for you.  The DP handle is a little boxy, but they're wood and can easily be sanded down. 


They're also san-mai.  Quite pretty but have the reputation of being fragile in the sense they chip easily.  Small handles, which can be a problem if you don't have a good grip.  I don't have any experience with them really, but haven't heard anything good about them from people who work with knives for money. 


Excellent knife for the price.  The handle is a little narrow, otherwise everything but ootb (out of the box) sharpness is very good or better.  OOTB sharpness is horrible.  As used to be very common with Japanese knives, the knife needs to be profiled and sharpened before using.  JCK provides a sharpening service which is HORRIBLE; don't buy it.  As already said, don't buy it unless you can find someone competent to sharpen it for you.  That almost certainly doesn't include a sharpening service.  You could, I suppose, do an adequate job with a lot of time on a MinoSharp or one of the "asian angle" Chef's Choice machines.


Okay for the price.  Indifferent everything, but cheap.  The obvious competitor is the Fujiwara FKM


Good deal, if you like VG-10.  Like the other Kagayakis, it has a small handle.  F&F can be a little variable, but supposedly is usually good.  All it all, it depends on how you feel about VG-10.  As stainless steels go it gets darn sharp, and doesn't feel too bad on the stones, but tends to be very chippy unless the manufacturer's handled it extremely well, and the Kagayaki people (Kagayaki is actually JCK's house brand, the knives are maded by independent OEM shops) are kind of borderline.  The knife will probably chip a lot until it's sharpened a few times, then settle down to "prone to chip if you're not careful."  It's a good knife, better still for the price, but I question whether it's rugged enough for you.


Masamoto Moly VG Series

Highest recommendation. 


Excellent knife.  The "VG" DOES NOT stand for VG-10, but (probably) for VG-1, a much ruggeder steel.  Japanese chef's knives are thinner than just about all western made chef's knives and consequently more flexible.  The Masamoto is on the flexible side of the Japanese line and some westerners experience it as "whippy."  It's not a problem for me, but might be for you unless you can keep the knife straight in the cut and square to the board.  There have been some F&F issues in the past, especially around the handle, but if you ask the retailer to pick out a good knife for you he will and... problem solved.  The MAC Pro is the Masa's real competition for overall quality, performance and price.  I steer most newbies toward the MAC, but if I were buying a knife of the type for myself it would be the Masamoto VG.


Minsono Moly Series

Excellent knife.  It used to be cream of the crop as a student or line cook's knife, but recent price increases have pushed it into competition with the next level up.  Better than the bottom of the line Kagayaki Basic and Togahru by far. I like everything about it except the price.  For very close to the same money you can get a Masamoto VG or MAC Pro, both of which are better.  Otherwise, I have no real criticism and price included, it's a valid choice.


I bought four Hiromoto AS including two gyutos for myself in order to replace some of my old Sabatiers with something more modern and "better."  I didn't like the Hiros nearly as much as the Sabs.  San-mai, which is one of the things I liked least.  Nicely made, very narrow handles.  Hiromoto sort of specializes in giving you a lot of blade for the money; and in this case the "lot of" is more the identity of the core steel (Aogami Super is a big deal "exotic), than any actual performance increases.  The AS takes a very good edge, and holds it well, but the edge taking properties aren't enough to justify the price or the knife's other issues.


The Hiro G3 is a good knife if you can live with a Hiro handle.  Maybe I should have said it earlier, but narrow handles aren't better for small hands.  If you use a baseball grip instead of a pinch, or if you have a tendency to hold on tight, narrow handles are particularly bad -- no matter what your hand size.  If you have a reasonable grip, it becomes a matter of taste.  I have large hands and don't mind fairly narrow handles at all. 


Again with the handles:  The "best" handles in the sense of being more or less universally handles are MAC, Masamoto and Misono. 


Kanetsugu  Moly Pro-M

Pretty good knife.  Decent value.  Extremely sharp out of the box, but you'll neve be able to duplicate their beveled factory edge.  Fujiwara FKM is their natural competition, and a lot cheaper.



Considering how much I've been talking it up, you'd think it was the world's greatest knife.  Nope.  It's mediocre through and through, with F&F that's very hit or miss (again, ask the retailer to open the boxes and choose the best he has for you), but it's a great value.  Excellent for the student or line cook on a budget.  Not as stiff or sturdy as the Tojiro DP, no more agile either, but "single steel" and without the damped feeling of san-mai.  If you can afford the 2X price jump without feeling it too badly, get a MAC Pro, Masamoto VG or even the Misono Moly.


Moritaka Aogami #2

Sort of the poor man's Takeda.  Too thin.  Extremely light.  Good knife, better still for the price, but an exotic with a lot of idiosyncracies.  It's probably a pretty lousy choice for you.


Kikiuichi Moly Series

Kikuichi makes a lot of good knives.  I've never used one of the Molys, but they're supposedly pretty bad. 



Highest recommendation.

The only real competiton is the Masamoto VG.  I like the VG's profile a great deal because, like all Masamotos, it particularly suits my action.  I also like the VG because, like all Masamotos, it's a Masamoto (which means a great deal if you know Japanese knives).  For other people, I prefer the MAC.  I've bought at least a half-dozen as gifts (including one for my daughter), and my recommendation has meant scores of other purchases.  To my mind it's nearly perfect as "the first, good Japanese gyuto," because of its great handle, very good edge properties (same alloy as the Masa VG, probably), very good profile, excellent warranty (unusual in Japanese knives) and excellent US support by the manufacturer (also extremely unusual in Japanese knives).



I know knives are much sexier, but this is something you should address before firing up your credit card.  Don't buy a MAC, Masa, Misono, or anything else expensive without making a serious commitment to sharpening, or you'll be wasting your money on the knife.  All knives get dull, and all pro's knives get dull quickly.  It doesn't matter how good, how pretty, how expensive, how ergonomic, how sharp out of the box, how hard, how good the edge holding, any dull knife is a dull knife, and all dull knives are equal. 


Hope this helps,


post #27 of 117
Thread Starter 

Do I seriously need to get a sharpening kit now, or will a commitment to honing now and a kit down the line when I have more money keep my knife and I happy for a few months? I guess this is where I am caught up and a bit confused right now. With a quality knife, I can hone knives to where I want them for months before I should need to use stones, right? Or are the factory edges by and large really that unacceptable?


And, while we on are on, what kind of sharpening stones should I be looking at? I looked at Spyderco's little system, and the reviews are mixed bag. Pohaku recommended Minosharp 3, but I am wary of handheld sharpeners. As a newbie to sharpening, would a nice handheld be better for me, and my blade, than just whetstones and a couple of quarters? And what grade of whetstones are really essential to a kit? I imagine that, like sandpaper, it really depends on the material you are working on to know what grit of paper you need.


Thank you everyone for your time and patience :) The advice I got from the kitchen today was the same stuff I have already heard; the person who is training me said it doesn't matter what you get as long as you keep it sharp (her knife has a fairly dull edge on it too...), and the kitchen manager told me to get a Wustof, because the German knives can withstand the abuse of professional kitchens far better than a Japanese one. He said he has happily used his for many years, and it holds an edge VERY well, to where he only needs to take it to the stone every 6 months or so. He sounded just like my dad! >.<

post #28 of 117

Some knives have more workable factory edges than others.  I imagine the Tojiro will come with a workable edge OOTB.  (Just from reading, though, so double-check what others have to say).


But I don't know about edge-symmetry.  You want something with a 50-50 "v" edge or close to it if you're relying on a rod hone.  And you want to use something *not* aggressive, don't treat it as a "sharpener".


BDL terminology -- you've read him about using a honing rod to "true" the edge.  If you don't know what that means, in contra-distinction from sharpening, I think this very short video lets you know:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRUYAgrsoLw


Caveat -- there's a guy who says "hone your knife, leave the sharpening to professionals".  Wrong.  And going a year between sharpenings? Wrong (I think).  I say this with all kinds of uber-respect for Alton Brown in general, btw.  The big foam-knife demo of what an edge out-of-true looks like, and what you're doing with a honing rod, ideally, makes sense.  (This video also does not show you how to use a honing rod properly -- there are plenty of others for that).


The point of that is ... you don't really get to think of a rod as a sharpening solution. Or even a sharpening stop-gap.  If you use a diamond rod (for example), that's a "sharpener", but it's WAY easier to screw up a knife royally on one of those than it is on bench stones.  And you can't get as good an edge in the first place.  To be avoided.  Any aggressively grooved steel is a bad idea.


The whole thing about getting sharpening together early (if not "now") is just... well, I think it's been said... a very cheap dull knife is as good as a very expensive dull knife.


A Wusthof will withstand lots of abuse, in a cdrtain sense.  So the advice you got from the kitchen isn't meaningless.  They'll not chip easily, they'll net bend too easily, they won't have tips broken off super easily. (ALL tips are fragile, but relative to other knives, Wusthof/Henckels/Messermeister forged will be a bit more robust).  They WON'T keep an edge particularly long, though, so I don't know where the "holds an edge VERY well" comes from.  The more obtuse the edge angle, the longer it'll last.  Or it will last "forever" if you don't want it sharp!


One of my favorite gems of BDL's writing... which I found on post that pre-dates me posting on this board, so maybe BDL remembers or not: "A knife is just a handle and a sharpening problem".

post #29 of 117

I recommended the Minosharp because I had the impression, perhaps mistaken, that you were not inclined to take the time to sharpen with stones.  Would you get a better edge with water stones IF you spent the time to learn and to use them?  Yup.  That's a big IF however.  If you are not going to commit to sharpening with stones, then you either need to find a good third party sharpener or use a hand held or electronic device.  Based on your budget, the Minosharp 3 seemed appropriate - less $$ than a Chef's Choice and an Edge Pro -- allegedly the best of the handheld sharpeners and no real learning curve (unlike Spyderco).  I use stones myself, so perhaps someone who has used the range of available handhelds can better opine on relative merits.  I was suggesting what I perceive to be the best of the (relatively) "inexpensive" and "simple to use" options.


Based on what you say you do in your job, I don't see a problem with J knives.  You apparently aren't splitting chickens or cracking hard squashes.  I'll let the pros on the board comment, but clearly lots of them use J knives for work.  My daughter uses one for prep work as well.  The house knives where she works are Forschner and the owner does keep them sharp.


If you really want to go with a forged German knife, the Messermeister Meridian would be my choice, if for no other reason than its lack of a finger guard bolster which interferes with sharpening.  I own a large variety of Wusthofs (wedding gifts and long ago purchases) and the full finger guard bolster is a problem for sharpening down the road (although I'll admit to buying a Wusthof chef's knife for my daughter as her bashing around knife because I got it stupid cheap and because she has J knives and won't use it as her main knife).

post #30 of 117
Thread Starter 

Spent the afternoon reading through some more threads on this forum, and found some more helpful info. ( Also, I found a thread a few days ago with advice for cleaning my coat, worked like a charm! Sparkling white! A soak in a bucket of oxyclean for 24 hours, then laundered with the rest of my whites with regular detergent and bleach. Didn't need to spot treat or anything! Though ironing was a bitch, so I may take another piece of advice and send the coats to the dry cleaner from now on :p)


Anyways, this thread is helping me quite a bit. I will settle on a chef knife today. Well, I kind of have to, I already told the kitchen manager last night that I was having trouble deciding, and he pretty much let me know I need to make up my mind and get a real knife. So, ya, today :p I will try to settle on a smaller chopping knife as well if I still have money left. Later, when the knife bug comes back or I finally am ready to throw my utility in the trash (already ready to toss that POS, I regret listening to the salesperson on it. I am reassuring myself by telling myself it will be my practice knife for sharpening, so I don't fuck up my nice ones :p) I will try a different brand, and use my experiences with smaller knives to decide on a knife upgrade much further down the road. I have been worried that I would be buying new chef knives every couple of years because I can't find one I like. Or, even worse, my first choice would be one that I regret and would be stuck with for years! But I feel reassured that I can find something I like with a smaller investment in a small knife. If I don't like a small knife, I can find someone to regift it to or something :p What I really got out of it was the knowledge and experience with the knife brand, which I am ok with if I didn't spend over 100 dollars on it! Might as well take a class at that point :p


One quick question, however. MAC professional are much more expensive than their 'Chef' line. What are the differences, and are the Chef line knives acceptable in light of their price and what they COULD be at twice the price for the professional line?

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