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Need new knives...Japanese for chicken?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Dear people who know more about Japanese knives than me…I need some help.

I need to make a few knife purchases and hope you can steer me in the right direction.  Because of my location all of these knives need to be bought sight unseen.

I’m an avid home cook, making about 5-6 meals a week, plus the occasional party at the house, as well as owning a small café that cuts a lot of tomatoes and onions.  My wife (from Colombia) and I are getting close to retirement, and we bought a house near her family in Colombia.  So to that end I need to equip another kitchen.  I’m new to the Japanese knife thing, and a fan.  I’m thinking of moving my mostly German knife collection down to Colombia and ordering some good Japanese cutlery to the other (main) house which is in Curacao. 

To my detriment I fell prey to the Shun marketing techniques (say what you will about them, but at least they introduced me to Japanese knives)!  I’ve read here that they are a bit overpriced for what you get, which may be true, all I know is I got a 3 pieced set (

), for what I think is a very fair price for some knives that blew my mind away after using German knives for the better part of 30 years.  I think that set cost me less than my ancient Wusthof 12” chef’s knife cost me fresh out of college without adjusting for inflation. 

I need to get another three, maybe 4 or 5 knives before I can move the rest down here to Colombia. 

The first, and most problematic is a replacement for my chef’s knives.  As previously mentioned I have a gigantic old German, as well as a newer 8” Calphalon – whatever their high end piece is.  These are my go to knives.  I use them to break down chickens, other poultry, fish, pineapples, hard squash and pumpkins of the Caribbean variety, and am comfortable using them to peel an apple as well.  I think a Gyuto is not the best bet for breaking down a chicken, and a symmetrical deba may be the answer, but could use some advice on that.  I really appreciate a thick spine when breaking down poultry and hard fruits and veggies, so that is also a factor.  Sharpening is not an issue, I own a woodshop and have lots of goodies ranging from Sharptons and Arkansaw stones to a Tormek and everything between for sharpening.  That being said, I’m not particularly in the mood for learning to sharpen things that aren’t symmetrical (traditional Deba), or for dealing with chips because the knife edge is too acute for breaking down poultry bones.  So any Japanese ideas, or should I just go back to a classic Dexter and a cheap machine sharpener every other chicken?


My next requirement is a simple straight paring knife, maybe 2, a 3.5” and a 4.5” or there abouts.  Nothing spectacular, we’re talking about the occasional hard cheese and crackers while I sit in front of the TV type knife, maybe a tomato rose or two.

Next a bread knife.  Must cut bread.  Enough said.

Lastly I do tend to filet a lot of fish.  For that I currently have a long piece of crap Kershaw I bought at a sporting goods store a million years ago.  It’s nice and flexible like a wet noodle, and holds and edge long enough to get me through half a filet.  However on the good side, it’s long, flexible, cheap, and if I run it through an electric sharpener for 30 seconds before hand it will filet the kay- rap out of anything I throw at it.  However, I’m certainly willing to have a nice upgrade from something I bought on a fishing trip at the age of 14 with my allowance money!

Now, knowing the “knives are personal,” and “can you please explain,” questions are coming let me see what I can do to head them off at the pass:

·         I’m right handed, I like big handles (the D handles on the Shun’s fit me perfectly, while say a Global handle sucks for me). 

·         I’m a big guy with big hands and like tip heavy for balance. 

·         Stainless or mostly care free is a must.  I have swords,  I love them.  I care for them, Japanese chisels also.  I have zero interest in putting that effort into my kitchen knives that other people will use when I am not looking.  Wash, dry, magnet bar is the care they will get.  Unlike my chisels and Katanas I can’t lock up my knives.

·         Sharpening is not an issue, I’m not a pro, but I can do it, however I don’t want to spend tons of time doing it, nor do I care to learn new skills like A-symmetrical work or giant micro bevels.

·         I like a more integral bolster.  Many of the Japanese knives I look at it looks like the tang just goes right into a mortise.  Aesthetically that just doesn’t do it for me.  I like the Shun’s for this reason, as well as say Korin and German knives.

·         My budget is less than $300 on the bigger knives and less than $200 on the smaller.  Flexible, but that’s a ballpark.


I think that’s it.  Since I am forced to buy sight unseen I really appreciate any advice I can get!  I’ve been trolling here for about a month and it certainly seems like the people here are nice, friendly, and most importantly smarter than me!










Edited by CuracaoJ - 4/14/14 at 4:35pm
post #2 of 9
Ever considered a traditional French carbon steel? Much lighter and thinner than your Wüsthof without being fragile, symmetric edge, easy maintenance, not very reactive.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 



Nothing against the French except (*insert French joke here...*).


For a replacement for my Chef's Knives my concerns would be "lighter" and thinner."  When I get tired of probing for the joint of a leg bone (which happens after 2.39 seconds) the nice thing about the Calphalon or the Wusthof is that they are basically hatchets with finer edges, I just whack the dang thing.  Often I miss by about 2mm, but in any event pressure on the thick spine goes right through the bone without hurting my hand and gets the job done.  For the other knives, I'm certainly liking the looks of the link you added.


Thanks for the advice, I hadn't considered French.




PS on another note, perhaps I don't have to buy these knives sight unseen.  I will be heading to Amsterdam and Rotterdam in August, do you happen to know of any really good cutlery shops in either location?

post #4 of 9


  • for the paring, if you don't care much on high end knife, victorinox forschner.
  • for the double bevel deba go for the tojiro DP. This kind of knife is sore of a short havy gyuto though, it is much different from real Debas.
  • for the gyuto, you have some good options, excluding carbon as you mentioned:
    • kikuichi performance tck
    • misono 440
    • masamoto VG
    • kohetsu hap40

check those. And check also the K Sabs @Benuser told you to. they are fine cutlery.

post #5 of 9
If you have a Wüsthof you hardly need a Western deba for rough tasks.
PM sent about knife shops in Holland.
post #6 of 9
Jed, sounds like you have put a lot of thought into this. Out of the knives mentioned so far I would definitely second the kikuichi tkc from chef knives to go. It's semi stainless but from everything I've read it behaves primarily like a stainless knife. It sounds like you are competent with sharpening and if you are comfortable setting an edge you could consider the carbonext from japanese chef knives.
The reason I say you should be comfortable with sharpening isminhave read they come with inconsistent edges oob. I won't throw any recommendations out for a deba or honesuki as I don't use these types of knives.
For a paring knife I'm not sure what you want to spend but the shun 3.5 mm paring is by far my favorite, the ergonomics are just so comfortable to me. For cheaper option you could consider something like the Richmond artifex line from cktg or the victorinox that have already been mentioned. Happy hunting
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for the advice so far!


I watched some sheer destruction videos yesterday of a guy with the Tojiro DP 240 Deba.  That definatly looks like the knife that will allow me to retire my Wusthof out to pasture in Colombia.  It was beating the @#$% out of chicken, garlic, squash and lobster....amazing.  Looks like the same for the bread knife, lots of people weighing in on the Tojiro.


That leaves me only something to filet fish with, a little flexible as I know I suck at using a chef's knife for it.  A long skinny slicer with a touch of flex maybe.  Any suggestions?  Also with the savings in the budget I think I'll upgrade the paring knives to Shun unless anyone else has some ideas.  My only concern would be hard cheese with an acute angle and more brittle steel.  Maybe go with the K sabs that were suggested for that instead of Japanese?


Thanks for the help.



post #8 of 9
Jeff can't answer the question about the hard cheese and the shun, I use my old wusthof paring for cheese and my shun for everything else. Not sure about you but I use my paring knife and often let it sit on the board, I personally wouldn't want the additional care of carbon with it. If you don't use the paring for any in hand work ex peeling apples, mushroom etc the shun ergonomics may be lost on you. I will say, I went through a lot of paring knives before the shun and none were nearly as comfortable in hand
post #9 of 9
For hard cheese, unless you're dealing with a whole one, all you need is a very narrow blade to avoid dragging. I often use a worn non-serrated steak knife, or the front section of a sujihiki. If you take care because of its flex, a filet knife would be great as well. Or a straight peeler. Never seen any damage on the edge with hard cheese, even with very old stuff full of salt crystals.
With a whole old cheese, people here use a wire.
Edited by Benuser - 4/16/14 at 1:38pm
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