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Looking for Knife Recommendations

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I know this is the same old question that gets asked all the time around here, so I kind of hate to ask it.... but after combing through thread after thread and taking in SO much information, I'm still a little mixed up and unsure exactly what to do! So, if you don't mind humoring me with a few more recommendations and pointers, I would really, really appreciate some personalized advice :) thank you SO much in advance!!!!!

 

I recently graduated from culinary school and am now enjoying my first job. I  would like to keep it under or around the $125 range if I can. I currently have most of the basic knives i need, but my two principal knives are a 6" Zwilling Pro (which i dislike due to its length and shape of the blade, but it was a gift and i use it primarily because it stays sharper than the other), and a cheap 8" victorinox that came in my school kit and which I really struggle with. my coworkers are wiling to let me sharpen it with their stones, and i use my steel regularly, but even so it usually loses its edge by day two, and i'm sick of putting up with it, it makes work miserable. so, bring on the search for something new!

 

I have very basic sharpening experience (its quite possible I'm doing something wrong, but my knife still seems dull even when my coworkers help!). right now i've only got one of those ugly handheld sharpeners of my own that i use when i'm at my wits-end, but i am definitely looking to buy some good, basic stones to accompany my new knife so i can take care of it properly myself. and on that note, i don't mind taking the time to sharpen regularly, and i will and do use my steel, but to say i'm going to use a stone every day like i've heard japanese chefs do is not being honest with myself! i would like to aim for once a week with frequent steeling every day, but to be honest i'm still new to the pro kitchen environment and workload and really not sure what to expect when it comes to frequency of sharpening for these kinds of knives.

 

So, anyway, here's where i'm at::

 

I somehow stumbled upon the Sabatier TI nogents a while ago, and got my heart set on having one, but i eventually talked myself out of it because the only ones left are 10", and i'm not quite ready to make that leap yet. I'm still heavily considering a carbon TI, but most of the reviews i've read also seem to come from people who have vintage sabs. how do the new ones honestly compare??  Most importantly, considering this is going to be a workhorse knife that i use every day, at home and at my job, and which i really need to be as sharp as i can manage and not too fussy, is this really the best knife to pick for the sort of environment i'm in??? i've done my homework on how to care for a carbon knife, so that part doesn't worry me. it's mostly about how they're going to perform in a professional kitchen. But i still like them because i think they're beautiful, and i've read a lot of good things about carbon knives and sabatier knives in general. They seem to have a personality to them that a lot of the more popular knives just seem to have lost---is that a valid reason to choose a knife??

 

This leaves the Japanese knives. I've prettymuch crossed global and shuns off the list after trying them out at Williams Sonoma. I thought about a FujiwaraFKM but everyone i work with seems to have one of those, and i'm vain and like to be different so i've been unreasonably (and maybe foolishly?) leaning away from them. i dunno, they're good knives and i'd probably be happy with their performance, but for some reason i'm not totally enthusiastic about them, and i kinda feel like even if i do get one, i'll still wish i had something else, even with no real explicable reason for feeling that way. but it'd be a good knife to get me started until the day comes when i can afford something better. I've also had the opportunity to try a mac, which i preferred over everything else, but the one i tried was $230 so unless they have a cheaper model that's any good, that's out...although I do get a 30% discount through my job which puts it a bit closer to my price range and i am willing to consider the splurge if that's the most recommended plan of action.

 

are there any other good manufacturers out there that i don't know about but might fit in my price range and offer something that i should consider?? as it stands, my top choice is still a sab out of love, followed by the fujiwara out of practicality. and then the mac if i can get over the price tag.

 

 

I know i've said a lot and i know this is a repetitive question, and you're probably all sick of newbies like me clogging your forum up with the same thing over and over, but i really value all your advice and imput and really look forward to hearing what you have to say and learning from your experiences :) thanks so much!!!

post #2 of 16

The Best Things sells a 7" Nogent chef's knife.  I have one, and it's a great knife for certain purposes, but in my opinion it's really too short as a go-to for line work.  I've also got to ask if you really want a "carbon" (as opposed to stainless) knife. 

 

In your price range there are four really good western-handle gyutos:  Fujiwara FKM, Kagayaki CarboNext, Richmond Artifex, Suisuin (western) Inox, and Tojiro DP. 

 

You know enough about the FKM to be aware of those things it does well -- at least compared to what you're using now.  Compared to the other knives in its price range its weak points are functions of its AUS-8 alloy which doesn't sharpen or hold an edge terribly well. 

 

The Kagayaki is a semi-stainless chef's knife with excellent edge taking and edge holding properties -- best of the class, for sure.  F&F isn't wonderful, but good for the knife's price, better than the Artifex or DP.  

 

The problem with the CarboNext is that they often ship with really bad edges, and you have to be prepared to either create your own or have someone else do it for you before using the knife.  Unfortunately, you can't rely on JCK's extra cost sharpening, it's a notorious waste of money.  On the other hand, just running it through one of the "Asian angle" Chef's Choice electric sharpeners is good enough to get you started. 

 

The Richmond Artifex is something of a plain Jane, but is an outstanding performer and value.  CKtG offers the Artifex in several different alloys.  They're all good.  The basic stainless AEB-L is as good as the CarboNext's semi-stainless.

 

The Suisun Inox has outstanding F&F, but OOTB (out of the box) edge quality can be lacking.  Decent blade geometry.  The same, unexciting but serviceable alloy as the FKM. 

 

The DP is the stiffest knife of the bunch, but it has a somewhat wide and boxy handle.  If you like wide handles, OK.  Otherwise, no.  

 

Fujiwara makes an $80 wa-gyuto for Richmond which is brand new on the market.  From my understanding it's pretty much the same as an FKM, but lighter and with a decent Japanese handle.  It's only available as a 240mm (9-1/2")   

 

The Gesshin Uraku is an excellent performing wa-gyuto -- and just a little above your stated price range.  The same is true of the Sakai Takayuki Wa-Gyuto.   

 

I'm not going to preach at you, because it won't do any good -- but you can do so much more and more easily with a 10" than an 8" knife.  It just takes a little grip adjustment and a little practice. 

 

Anyway... there's a few.

 

Yes you really are going to have to learn to sharpen, and the sooner the better.

 

BDL

post #3 of 16

the above post really explains most of what you need to know.

 

If i were you i would buy from Jon at Japanese Knife Imports he is a great guy and will help you select whats right for you not the most expensive option.

 

But you do NEED to learn to sharpen if you plan on buying a decent knife you cannot use an electric or pull through sharpener. At Very least buy a strop and diamond compound to maintain it for the first few months. 

 

I would recommend the Gesshin Kagero or Gesshin Uraku for a first knife depending on what your looking for both at your price point. 

 

And you should be looking at at least a 240mm gyuto (chefs knife) for basic, a 180-210mm is good for the line but major prep you want a 240-270mm. 

 

For sharpening help check out Jons videos on youtube as well. 

 

Send him an email he can help point you in the right direction. 

 

Also check out Kitchen knife forums to read up on knives look through the threads before posting though tons of info over there. 

post #4 of 16

Here ... this is on sale.   It's freakin' beautiful.

 

Richmond Aritfex Wa-Gyuto 240mm  $80

post #5 of 16

The Richmond Artifex wa-gyuto that Iceman linked to is the knife I talked about made by Fujiwara for CKtG.  It's brand new on the market, there are no reviews yet, yadda yadda, but if you're looking for an iconoclastic FKM and can get yourself to commit to 240mm, it would be an outstanding choice.

 

FWIW, a 210mm Gesshin Kagero -- a western-handled yo-gyuto -- goes for $215; the 210 Gesshin Uraku for $135; and the Sakai Takayuki is currently priced at $190 (I thought it was less expensive when I listed it).

 

BDL

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

hmm, i'm glad to hear y'all are in support of 10" knives.My station partner looked at me like i was crazy when i asked his advice, and told me that 10" was "way too big" for me, and when I went to WS the lady told me they don't even sell them because no one needs a 10" knife. lol. i'll give it another thought.

 

There's a lot of things that really attract me to carbon knives, but i think what is most important to me right now is that i get a knife that is well-rounded and going to last. I can't afford to spend that money and hate it, or be tempted to buy another knife very soon! It wouldn't bother me if the blade turned blue. but edge retention is important to me, and thats one of the areas where i'm not sure how carbon measures up. No one i know has a carbon knife (or if they do, they don't bring it to work), so I'm not entirely sure how carbon knives will put up with this environment, and what i should expect. Granted, I know everyone used to have carbon knives in kitchens and I'm sure they were fine, but with all the options i have today.....is convenience the only benefit to stainless? i feel like if that's all there was, i would still see more carbon knives.

 

also, i'm not sure how much it matters that i'm lefthanded, but i keep seeing "left-handed gyutos" popping up here and there. Sometimes twice the cost of a right-handed knife too, blatant discrimination! I imagine i could--if my sharpening skills were any good---flip it around, but for all practical purposes, how much does it actually impact my cutting?

 

 

I investigated the knives you mentioned, and from what i've read so far, I'm starting to lean strongly toward a carbonext.

post #7 of 16

Some gyuto come from the factory with asymmetric edges.  That is, they're sharpened "more" on one side than the other.  It's a way of keeping the edge thinner, preventing some wedging, and increasing what I call "perceived sharpness."  That is, a knife with an asymmetric edge will feel and act sharper than a knife with a symmetric edge but which is otherwise sharpened just as well. 

 

The downside of asymmetry is that it tends to "steer," which is to say that it tends to guide the knife.  Wrong-handed asymmetry is especially pernicious.  However, the sharper the knife, the better the user's grip, and the squarer the knife is kept in the cut, the less the knife will tend to steer.  For example, my wife is right handed, and I'm a lefty.  I sharpen the knives we use in common with the same moderate right-handed asymmetry you often get in Japanese chef's knives.  It's not a problem for me, because of my knife technique.

 

In your case, since you're not sharing your knives, you either want 50/50 symmetry or some degree of left handed asymmetry.  Good knife sellers will alter asymmetry from left to right on V edged knives for a reasonable cost.  I think CKtG will do it for $15, JKI the same, JCK and Korin do it for $20.  The big money comes with chisel edged knives (you're not looking at any) which must be specially forged. 

 

Moving asymmetry from one side to the other -- or stopping in the middle, for that matter -- is extremely easy to do if you know the basics of sharpening well enough to consistently produce sharp edges.   

 

The stainless/carbon thing is a bit complicated.  Without getting too deeply into specific alloys, I think that in your case carbon's advantages are outweighed by the extra maintenance. 

 

BDL

post #8 of 16

actually, i dont charge for that normally

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by JBroida View Post

actually, i dont charge for that normally

 

But you'll make an exception for us? lol.gif

 

FWIW I noticed today that Korin now charges $25 for this. eek.gif

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the clarification :) I figured the left-handed thing had something to do with the knife angles, i just wasn't sure how it would impact my work, or if it was just a ploy to get me to spend more money. I'm glad to know it's a problem easily and cheaply solved :) is it easier to maintain 50-50 symmetry for a newbie sharpener?

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

The stainless/carbon thing is a bit complicated.  Without getting too deeply into specific alloys, I think that in your case carbon's advantages are outweighed by the extra maintenance. 

 

Ok, I think you're probably right, even though i desperately wish someone would tell me that an olive-wood handled sabatier was the best choice i could make :( I guess y'all agree that I would be better off with an Artifex than a Carbonext? From what i can tell the main advantage to the Artifex (besides being stainless) is the hope it will come with a better edge on it (and as someone who doesn't really sharpen well, to have a good edge that i can follow easily is important). And it's a bit cheaper. I wish i knew more about it, but I've read good things around the internet. it's definitely got some fantastic sounding reviews if you can hunt them out.

 

Seems like every day i come to a different conclusion about which knife is best. think its time for me to just buckle down and make a decision and move on with my life! After weighing all his information as carefully as I can, I think im going to settle for the artifex. at the very least, its an amount of money i feel happy to spend on a knife right now, and gives me a little left over i can put toward quality stones, which frankly are probably as important as the knife.

 

if I only pick two right now to start with, are a 1200x and a 5000 sufficient? i saw them as part of a kit, and figured i can probably do away with the more coarse stone in the meantime.

 

I can't thank you guys enough for all your help!

post #11 of 16

Easier to maintain symmetry than asymmetry? 

Not really.  It's not that easy (or that hard, either) to learn to sharpen.  But once you've got the basics of creating a burr, detecting it, chasing it, and deburring... asymmetry is entirely about seeing what you're doing.  Teaching yourself to see is one step in the learning process. 

 

Count on learning to sharpen to take awhile.  Once you learn how to do it though, it will make your life in the kitchen a LOT more pleasant. 

 

1200 and 5000 Stones:

If you're asking whether the Bester 1.2K and Suehiro Rika (5K) are good stones, then "Yes."  They're extremely good stones.  You don't NEED a coarse stone to start out with, but you will need a flattener.  CKtG's inexpensive diamond plate ($25ish) makes more sense than just about anything else.

 

Carbon vs Stainless:

If you're the kind of person who religiously takes care of her station without fail or delay -- maintaining a carbon knife in a commercial environment is no big deal.  You just keeping doing what you already do. 

 

CarboNext vs Artifex:

Tough call.  They're both good knives.  The CarboNext is a little more refined, which is something that may or may not matter to you.  As a semi-stainless, it's sufficiently corrosion resistant for that not to be much of an issue.  Furthermore, if you were to buy a CarboNext and it came with a lousy edge, it would be enough to get and you started to have it sharpened on a 15* Chef's Choice electric -- which shouldn't be an insurmountable obstacle. 

 

If you do buy an Artifex, spend the extra few bucks to have it sharpened by one of CKtG's "in house" sharpeners. 

 

BDL

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenniflop View Post

 I guess y'all agree that I would be better off with an Artifex than a Carbonext?

 

 

I'd say that's fairly subjective. A factory edge is not a solid reason to pick one over the other. Before you jump too quick you might want to spend some time on KKF watching the classified section and reading about both of these knives. The Carbonext has a loyal following but if you pick up a used knife over there it will probably be in much better shape considering the amount of work either of these may need. You might also score a much better knife for your price point. I've seen some very nice blades get sold for a song there.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

I agree that a factory edge is not a solid reason, but as someone who has very little real sharpening experience, it would be a lot easier to start with a knife that has a decent edge i can follow, rather than one that needs more complicated work to make it serviceable. All that talk about re-profiling and thinning and whatever else is just beyond me right now. I found out you can get your knife sharpened free the first time at WS, and when I asked about it the sales lady said it was always done on stones and only in-store by the chef...no mailing it out or anything like that. Now, whether or that means it will come out any good really depends on the chef, but i assume she is trustworthy and has had experience handling a lot of knives, so maybe it's worth taking a chance. Anyway, it's an idea i'm keeping in mind in case which ever knife i decide on needs a little love to get started. All that said, I'm glad to hear that the edge on a carbonext isn't an insurmountable issue though, perhaps I'll put it back in the running.

 

Super good tip on the KKF classifieds. I will check it out right now!

 

Otherwise, what i've got in my shopping cart is:

 

-the bester 1200x

-Idahone 12"  rod

-Suehiro Rika 5K

-flattener recommended by BDL

 

The other option woudl be the Naniwa Superstones in the same grit, which would save me a few bucks, as they're a bit cheaper and they come with their own holders. Havent come across many reviews for them, though, and everyone seems to speak highly of the bester and the suehiro rika, so  it seems like the safe choice.

post #14 of 16

The Richmond knives need a lot of thinning behind the edge which is one of the reasons I suggest looking for a used one. That takes a fair amount of work that's beyond resetting the asymmetry of an edge. Either of these knives are going to require some work, as will most knives in this price range. That issue is compounded further to some degree with you being a lefty. Remember you are shopping a price point that's lower than a Mac pro and prices on many knives have gone up in the last several months.

If you truly want to skip through all of that buy a knife from Jon. He's already offered to do some of the work for free.

No matter what you buy there's not a chance I'd let WS touch my knives. However if that's the route you are taking then you don't need to spend any time worrying about factory edges.

Your stone choice is fine and the Rika is less $$$ than the 5k SS. Naniwa SS's are very popular and I'd be surprised if just about every one here doesn't have at least one. I've used the 5k for several years. Search that and the carbonext on KKF and you should find plenty of information.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #15 of 16

One of JKI's great strength is that Jon's product range is selective and well chosen.  You cannot buy a bunk knife; because if he sells it, it's good.  On the other hand, the range of choices is not vast.   In this case, other than the Suisun Western, JKI doesn't have much if anything in the OP's price range.  The Suisun is exceptionally well finished, but at the end of the day it's still AUS-8.  You have to question whether the Suisun's superior F&F is enough of a reason for Jenniflop to spend $128, which is almost fifty bucks more on it than the otherwise very similar Fujiwara FKM.   

 

The cost of having an Artifex thinned and sharpened by one of CKtG's "in house" sharpeners is $17.  That puts the out the door price of a 240mm AEB-L Artifex at $107.   

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 6/7/13 at 11:46am
post #16 of 16

Mark is charging $20 just for finish sharpening. That is not thinning behind the edge and those knives need a fair amount of work. $20 is not even going to get you close. Far better off IMO just spending the $170 from Jon on a WA Gesshin Uraku and having Jon set the edge for a Lefty. That's a very good price from JKI considering Koki is now charging $170 for a VG-10 Kagayaki.

@ Jenniflop, I haven't seen one of these but since you started with Carbon you may also want to talk to Jon about this one. It's a little over your budget, but not by much.

 

Dave

 

http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/suien/suien-vc-270mm-gyuto.html


Edited by DuckFat - 6/7/13 at 2:30pm
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
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