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 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A6YE1L4/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
), 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