I can haz my own thread?
Greetings from a long-time lurker. I can't even begin to guess how long I've been reading this site (and others) as I research this topic. But I finally made myself an account.
I've read until my brain hurts and read more. I figured maybe it was time to actually have a discussion thread custom to me, instead of sorting through all the ones that don't apply for various reasons. So let me tell you about me:
Home cook, although all my friends thing I'm a "pro chef" from how I approach things and the final product. Stocked kitchen, albeit small (live alone by myself). Always had a passion for food and cooking. A bit geeky (computers) and OCD by nature... perhaps to my detriment here. I have better knife skills than all my friends, who are "wowed" by stuff I think nothing of, and I naturally picked up a pinch-grip on my own, but in my opinion I suck compared to all of you. :P Certainly to what I see on Food Network.
I used to think I wanted Wustof or Henkels. Then I thought I wanted Shun. My research eventually lead me to enlightenment, and sites like here.
What I want: A good, all-around replacement for my "chef knife" which is my go-to knife out of habit. At least for starters. I have a block set, it sucks. It was a gift... (no hate). I'll use it to practice my sharpening skills on, along with a random assortment of high-carbon knives. I'm used to a 210mm and have a small workspace. I'm comfortable and agile with that so preferably I'd like to stick with that. I suppose I'd be willing to move up to 240mm if there was a knife that was so "OMFG" better that it was worth it but otherwise let's focus on 210mm. I'm used to western "yo" handles so that'd be my first choice but I don't want that to be a limiting factor. I'm pretty sure I could learn a "wa" handle if it was a deciding factor or could save me a considerable amount of money for the same blade. So I'm open to it. All things being equal, I'd probably prefer "yo" but I'll learn "wa" if the perfect blade only comes in it or is a lot cheaper. I'm not a "death grip" guy.
Carbon vs. stainless? I still can't decide. I'm sure I can handle the maintenance of carbon, but the ease factor of "not having to worry about it" of stainless is appealing too. Despite the countless hundreds of posts I've read from experts giving advice to others, I still can't decide where I stand, because I can't even figure out where the experts stand. Don't rule out either I guess. If carbon has enough advantages, let's go carbon and I'll deal with it. If there's a stainless or semi-stainless that is "close enough", then that's on the table too. Fair enough? I'm not a pro chef... I cook for myself, occasionally a second... once in a blue moon for many people. Keeping my knife clean is not a problem. I tend to prep ahead of time (my friends are always fascinated by my extensive use of prep bowls) and take my time. I don't own a dishwasher and would never let my knives touch it even if I did.
I'm more utilitarian than looks and flash. While I can appreciate the looks of some Japanese writing on the blade, it's not a deal-breaker. I am pretty sure I do not want "damascus" steel. That seems all about looks and nothing else, to the point where I think I'd be embarrassed to have it just like some obnoxious over-sized useless spoiler on my car. I'm still trying to get beyond my old thinking of "3-rivets = good".
Sharpening: I recognize it's all about sharpening. While I imagine I'll be good at sharpening just from intuition and my attention to detail, I don't have a "proper" stone set yet or practice on one. I'm anxious/eager to learn. Let's work on the assumption that I'll already have a Shapton Glass set (2 stones, probably 3) and will have cut my teeth on it using my existing crap knives for practice by the time I actually buy my big-boy knife discussed here, but I won't be "expert". I'm OK with the cost and it seems a good brand/stone.
Budget: I don't want to spend less than $100 I don't think. Under or around $200 would be ideal, but that's not "hard". Consider $300 to be the "hard" limit unless you are really good at convincing me why the $320 knife is better than the $250 one. Sound fair? I want this to be a sensible long-term investment, not a tentative playful test of the knife-waters.
It's be cool if it was good and sharp OOB as who knows how my sharpening skills will be and how soon. However, if "the perfect knife" is not sharp OOB and there's someone I can mail it to who will put an amazing edge on it for me and ship it back, I'm down with that but let's factor that into the price when comparing with other knives which may not require such post-purchase detailing. Assume there's nobody nearby I can take it to.
I've been familiar with CKtG and JCK for some time, although I've never ordered from either. I know both come highly recommended. I've not spoken with either of them yet. I'm comfortable ordering from either... but honestly there'd be something cool about ordering from some Japanese guy direct using PayPal and waiting a month for it to show up via slow boat international mail. So if there's a little "hassle" in the ordering process in order to get a good knife, I'm not shy about it (Aritsugo?). I do not speak Japanese, however. So CKtG, JCK, otherwise... it's all good, as long as English can get the job done and someone here can vouch for the company. Hell, if you're well-known here and live in Japan I'd be down with sending you money for you to pick up some cool knife and mail it to me.
My "list": I don't have a "list", so you can relax. :) What I do have are some knives that sort of caught my eye that seemed like they might fit my tastes. You might tell me some/all are junk. You might tell me my perfect knife is not on the "list". That's cool... please please please don't limit your suggestions to this list. My only attempt here is to try and communicate better where my mind is and what I've seen so far. That said...
Fujiwara Kanefusa FKM No. 9 210mm Gyuto (disturbingly inexpensive?)
JCK Original KAGAYAKI CarboNext (ES) Series KC-5 210mm Gyuto
Tenmi-Jyuraku Series (Aogami Super) TJ-25AS 210mm Gyuto
Misono Professional Sweden Steel Series No. 112 210mm Gyuto
JCK CT Series CT5021 210mm chef
JCK HC Series HC-5021 210mm Gyuto
MAC Professional Mighty Chef's Knife 8.5"
Konosuke HD 210mm Gyuto
Ryusen Blazen Series BL-7 210mm Gyuto
Aritsugo (Tokyo) A-Series
Richmond Addict 2 (not available in 210mm?)
Tojiro DP (disturbingly inexpensive but nice looking, highly recommended here but it's VG10 which I thought fell out of favor)
I see Masamoto KK recommended a lot but see no Gyuto available...?
What I think I "know": Damascus is for vain looks only. VG10 has had its day and VG2 (and others) is better. AEB-L is really good and "where it's at" with stainless. The "CarbonNext" knives are also really good (and not really "carbon") but tend to come virtually unsharpened. "Lasers" can be too "thin" and buckle/lock if you're not anal about holding them straight. Carbon reacts with onions and tomatoes but if you keep it clean then the patina is just about looks and not functionality.
Bonus points if a knife has a story about the maker or what I had to do to get it. :) (again...Aristugo?) I love stories, and a lot of things I own and use have interesting stories. :)
Anyhow... does that give you anything to go on? Am I too vague? Am I too picky? Am I impossible? Am I flamebait? If nothing else... first post! Greetings to all on the forum. :)