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Needing A New Knife, Can You Help?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I’m want a new knife.  I’ve never bought a really nice one, so it’s high time I got with the program.  I do have one that I like pretty well for the feel, but I want a better quality one (or two).  I use this one for everything from splitting and cutting up chickens to chopping, dicing and slicing.  The one I have is a Sabatier, Chef de Cuisine.  I can’t find it on the internet, and I’ve really searched hard  I have found other “Sabatier’s” but none just like this.  All I know about it is that I bought it a long time ago, probably from a restaurant supply house.  Had it for many years.  Probably was not too expensive, don’t remember.  Please let me describe it for you:

 

The blade is 8 inches in length, and it has a full bolster which is made as part of the blade.  I am assuming it is forged, but maybe you can make an integral bolster from stamped..dunno.  Handle is black, probably Micarta or something similar.  Don’t think it’s wood.  Fit and finish is very good.  It’s held up well, considering I’m not a sharpening expert.  It seems to be fairly heavy, but I kinda like the heft, and the handle feels good, it’s just gotten kinda slick using it at the restaurant and at home

Can anyone identify this knife?

 

The markings are as follows, holding the knife in the right hand, tip pointing left, cutting edge down.  Wonder if any of you can identify it.

 

COMMERCIAL SABATIER

HIGH CARBON STAINLESS STEEL

MADE IN FRANCE               8”CHEF

 

To the right of this is:

 

________

CUISINE

__DE___

FRANCE

 

The blade is .132” (3.35mm) at its thickest before the bolster.

It is .100” (2.54mm) thick halfway up the blade toward the tip.

It is .040” (1.02mm) thick at the tip.

Edge is .030” (.76mm) approximately.

It is 1.61” (40.9mm) just before the bolster.

 

I think I want a 240mm western-style Japanese chef’s knife.  Style Gyuto?  French influence?

I want a Western handle, knife not thin/whippy,and slightly thinner than mine.  Fairly tough knife, but not to be abused at all and able to be sharpened really well.

 

I will also later be buying a slicer like a sujihiki (if I spelled that right).  Maybe a 10”?

 

Budget is around $300 or less.

 

I started out looking at a Misono UX10, eight-inch, a MAC Ultimate nine-inch, Moritake KS, Masamoto KS, and a Richmond Remedy.  Also a Dave Martell 240mm Gyuto (pricier!).

 

I’m totally open about which knife to get, not locked in to any of the above.

 

Sorry this is so long, just wanted to help with any answers I may get.

 

Thanks if you can help.

Ray


Edited by Raibeaux - 12/30/12 at 7:47am
post #2 of 9

The Remedy is a very nice knife, but of the ones you listed I'd probably go with the Moritaka KS.  It's one of my favorite knives.  It's a clone of the Masamoto KS, so they're very similar in shape.  It depends on the steel you want.  The Moritaka is Aogami with a very good HT.  It takes a screaming edge.  I can't comment on the Masamoto but I'd love to try one!  Nothing wrong with that Sab, either.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #3 of 9
I would stay away from the Moritakas as long as the overgrind issue hasn't been addressed properly. Don't take the risk.
Any other Japanese gyuto has the French profile as well. Considered the Misono Swedish Carbon?
post #4 of 9

I've owned several Moritakas and sharpened many, many more and the overgrind "issue" is largely a non-issue.  A few guys bitch about it but most of them are just parrotting something they read online.  All handmade knives you'll run across exhibit some issues if you get your hands on a large sampling of them.  I haven't found the Moritaka to be any worse than the average.  My KS did have a bit of undergrind at the heel.  This is probably a little more serious but anyone that knows how to sharpen pretty well will also know how to fix this problem.  If you don't know how to sharpen and fix minor issues with geometry, though, a handmade knife is probably not for you.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for helping, folks.

I guess I really should have titled this "Need new knives".    One of my problems is that I have this thing in my head that the Japanese knives shouldn't be used for things like splitting/cutting up chickens, etc.

 

Here are the things I want to be able to use my knives for, would you have suggestions for the best style for each use?

 

Cutting up chickens, fish, etc.

Slicing whole onions, tomatoes, etc

Slicing/dicing peppers, etc.

Dicing, slicing, chopping, julienning vegetables, etc.

Slicing meats, both raw and cooked.  Such as trimming whole sirloins or slicing a cooked inside round,  whole ham, etc

Slicing small items such as green onions.

 

I'd like to go with a really good Japanese if I can, or need to, and I have no problem with buying multiple knives.  Can't do it all at once, but I would definitely do it, although probably a couple of months apart.

 

As I mentioned, $300 is tops for any knife, $200 even better.  I definitly don't want to skimp to save 50 or 100 bucks, though.  I don't have physical access to view many knives (no Japanese that I know of). 

 

I'm in SE Arkansas, and haven't so far found much in the way of a good selection anywhere.

 

Thanks if you can help.

post #6 of 9

Typically you don't want to abuse a Japanese knife but some are made to be pretty sturdy.  A Western Deba, honesuke or garutsuke will be made to sake some heavy contact with bone.

 

A few superb vendors, and good places to browse and get up to speed:

 

http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/products.html

 

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/  (Disclosure- I have in the past done some sharpening for this vendor but I'm not employed there).

 

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/  (The owner of this one is a member here, in fact).

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #7 of 9

Cuisine de France is an importer -- mostly based in Connecticut.  They don't make knives.  Rather they buy knives OEM and have them rebranded.  Some Cuisine de France Sabatiers are good, some aren't.  All of those (that I know of) made in France are made by one of several of the better makers.  The last time I did the resarch -- about ten years ago -- most French Cuisine de France Sabatiers were made by K-Sabatier.  

 

Most French stainless Sabatiers are made with X50CrMoV15 and hardened to around 56-57 RCH.  The chef's knives have a lot going for them, but when push comes to shove, they're only decent.  There are better choices for around the same money.  Good carbon Sabatiers -- K-Sab; Mexeur et Cie; "Nogent" (by T-I) and T-I -- gets significantly sharper, get sharper more easily, and handle abuse better.  If you want to talk more about carbon Sabs, we can. 

 

If you want a knife robust enough to hack up fish and chicken and agile enough for the usual chopping duties, I think the Moritaka KS might be a little too light.  The MAC Ultmate is made for the "one knife to rule them all" niche, but is way overpriced.  The Misono UX10 is also too light; and too streamlined as well.  The Masamoto KS is a fantastic knife, but also on the light side. 

 

I just bought a Richmond Carbon Ultimatum with the proviso that I could return the knife and apply the purchase price to a Masamoto KS if I didn't like it.  I haven't used the Ultimate long enough to have explored all the nuances, but it's most definitely a very practical one knife solution.  Because it's new, I'm using it for just about everything -- but at the end of the day I think it's going to be the knife I pull out when I've got a mix of general and heavy duty cooking, rather than using one of my light duty Konosukes plus something more robust for the heavy stuff. 

 

Most of the Ultimatum has excellent fit and finish, with one category of exceptions.  The blade has a fairly complicated geometry with a lot of convexing on its right face, the shape is layed in by hand (using a grinder), and there are a lot of tool marks especially near the tip -- which is very complex indeed.  One of the marks is cloudy and could, I suppose, be misinterpreted as an "overgrind."  But it isn't.  So, while the blade works very well it isn't cosmetic heaven.  FWIW, there's a good possibility that the next run of Ultimatums will have the grind marks polished out.  

 

Getting back to the Masamoto KS, it's the cream of the crop of the knives you listed; but it's also very expensive -- more than $300. 

 

I've been doing a fair bit of research on the Moritaka KS, talked to six users and all of them had the same take on them as Phaedrus.  While I don't have any personal experience, I suspect that the "overgrind" issue is overstated. 

 

Personally, I favor "lasers" like the Gesshin Gingas and Konosukes; and would recommend one as your go-to gyuto if you're going to back it up with something else for heavy duty work (the Forschner 10" Cimiter is a likely candidate).  

 

My own laser gyuto is a 270mm Konosuke HD, I've been using it for more than a year, and I like it every bit as much as the Masamoto KS a friend loaned me for a couple of months.  I also use and love a 300mm Konosuke HD suji. 

 

Considering the range of prep you do, you might want to think about eventually adding a good suji, a good 6" petty, and a 7" Forschner breaker to your kit. 

 

BDL

post #8 of 9

The Moritaka KS is perhaps not a "laser" but it's pretty light.  It's fantastic for prep, cutting meat, slicing cooked proteins etc. but I wouldn't let it contact bone.  It's too delicate for that.  My experience with the Ultimatum mirrors that of BDL.  It's a "mighty", which is to say on the thick side.  Mine is M390, and yeah, there are grind & tool marks o' plenty.  Not a super refined knife but an amazing workhorse for pro use.  And the M390 steel is like something out of a sci-fi novel or comic book.  I $hit you not, after three weeks of daily use in a pro kitchen it would still shave arm hair.  I've never seen anything like that.  It was sharp enough that I didn't hone it for the first time for three months.  Unreal.

 

I wish I'd have picked up a Konosuke before the price jump.  Now there's 40% more expensive than they were a few months ago.  A classic case of "you snooze you lose."  I'm not sure if I'll ever get one now.  They're undoubtedly worth the current price but I don't usually spend more than $300 per knife.  I do have one Nubatama that cost $600 but that's the exception.

 

Before I get into knives any further, I should ask you the question that BDL usually asks:  How will you be keeping your knives sharp?  By the tone of your post I take it you're fairly comfortable with sharpening?  If you are I have a few knife suggestions that might work really well for you.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #9 of 9

The rational way to choose a knife is to start by figuring out your priorities in very general terms.  Look for those knives which have the characteristics that work best for you, fit within your budget, and suit your sharpening and maintenance routine.  Then on those bases choose a few knives which fit your criteria.  And finally, to make the choice from that select on whatever irrational criteria remain.   Yes. Looks count.

 

So far, your sort of all over the map on your most basic criteria.  So let's narrow those down. 

  • Stainless, Semi-Stainless or Carbon?
  • Yo or Wa?
  • Robust, light or laser?
  • Budget, budget, budget?
  • How much time, expense and effort are you willing to expend for sharpening and maintenance?

 

Carbon doesn't require much more care than stainless as long as you take care of it right away.  If you're the sort of person who leaves knives out overnight, or leaves them in the sink to "soak" for awhile, a carbon knife will need a lot more work.  On the upside, carbon knives tend to give more bang for the buck in terms of edge properties -- although maybe I should have said "tended" because a few of the modern stainless alloys are just as good; and carbon alloys tend to be more pleasant on the stones. 

 

There are a few semi-stainless knives which combine nearly all of the stain resistance of stainless steel with most of carbon's plusses; but you pay for the privilege. 

 

If you've got a good grip, or are willing to learn one, there really isn't much difference between yo and wa -- except that wa knives are lighter overall and balance more blade forward.  If balance is a big issue with you, you want a yo handled knife.  If balance is a big issue with you, you probably aren't a very good cutter.  As a rule, the higher your skills the less you care about it. 

 

For a long time the trend with skilled cutters is towards something fairly light, with a heavy duty knife reserved for back up.  Generally, a lighter knife makes prep more fun and rewarding for the home cook, and less of a burden for the pro.  Ultra-light lasers push the issue as far as technology will allow.  Everything else being equal you pay for the grams you don't get, but, contrary to the opinion of some, as a rule lasers don't require much more in the way of knife skills or babying. 

 

My guess is that at this stage of the game you'll be happiest with something in the light or laser category. 

 

So... what about sharpening?  Where are you now with equipment and skills? 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/7/13 at 8:20am
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