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Need some advice . . .

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

 

I have been lurking for a while and finally decided to reach out and ask for some advice.

 

I have seen a bunch of "recommend me a Japanese knife" threads but none that really touched on my exact needs so here it goes.

 

I am a home kitchen Samurai (in my own mind). . . No professional experience but living in such a foodie paradise (New Orleans) I have lofty ambitions for my own amateur home eatery (which has just myself and a guest here and there as patrons). =P

 

As such I am finding my off the shelf henckels knives thoroughly lacking as of late and am wanting to start investing in some more ambitious hardware. Like many a novice culinary nerd before me, I am trying not to be seduced by the William-Sonoma Shun regime. Thus, I am here to pick the brains of you all.

 

 

 

What I am looking for first is a workhorse. I do a lot of chopping / dicing / slicing of veggies. As well as slicing off thin cuts of meat. When chopping / dicing I tend to rock chop. I have a nice end grain hardwood board to use. I use a wall mounted magnetic rack (as I have read about the perils of long term block use). I also tend to clean my knives shortly, if not immediately after use. I don't mind using a honing rod before uses but prefer to leave full on sharpening sessions to the pros at lengthy intervals (once per year hopefully?) As for aesthetics I do love the look of the damascus blades. I also prefer understated handles (wood, etc).

 

As for budget, I don't mind paying for quality. I would say for my main workhorse (Santoku or whatever type of knife is most recommended) I would prefer to keep it ~300ish.

 

 

 

At any rate, looking forward to some good discussion.

 

Thanks for any and all help!

 

-c

post #2 of 12
Talk to jon broida at japaneseknifeimports.com incredibly knowledagble guy
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbushido View Post

Talk to jon broida at japaneseknifeimports.com incredibly knowledagble guy

 

Thank you very much for pointing me to that site. I spent quite a while reading a plethora of articles / forums posts today from around the web and watching video reviews / digging through JKI and CKTG.

 

From what I have read, Carbon steel is best left for someone with more knife care experience so unless I am mistaken I am focusing on Stainless knives. So many to choose from! 

post #4 of 12

Some video reviews on the internet are quite suspect.  Like the ones from CKTG affiliates who have their own knives on the site and are given free knives to review.  They like everything, I've never seen a bad review from those guys.

 

About carbon:  I don't think it's that much more work.  Work clean, which you should anyway, and wipe down your knife.  I guarantee you that your grandmother's generation used carbon steel and they managed just fine.  Carbon is easier to sharpen than stainless for the most part, so there are trade offs.

 

Watch through this video about maintenance before you decide at least

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tza5pymb5yg

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for posting that video. I've gone through and watched the rest of the ones on sharpening etc and I think I have actually decided that I have decent enough habits to go the carbon route.

 

That said, now I have some decisions to make. Yikes.

post #6 of 12

I loved NO, you couldn't walk into a corner grocer and not find something great to eat.  I was all upset we didn't have time to both make the War Museum and go to a particular restaurant for lunch.  But in the museum caf we had a couple sandwiches that knocked us over!

 

Just curious if you are thinking 270 more so than 240?

 

 

Rick

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Alan View Post
 

I loved NO, you couldn't walk into a corner grocer and not find something great to eat.  I was all upset we didn't have time to both make the War Museum and go to a particular restaurant for lunch.  But in the museum caf we had a couple sandwiches that knocked us over!

 

Just curious if you are thinking 270 more so than 240?

 

 

Rick

 

I've lived here for nearly 10 years now and I can honestly say I can count the number of bad meals I have had on a single hand. The food culture here is incredible and I've always been blown away by how many people that either grew up here or have lived here for a significant amount of time can cook, and I mean REALLY cook.

 

I was actually leaning towards a 240mm. I feel like a 270mm would just been somewhat unwieldy for me. I have a suspicion this will become another addiction for me. I already collect cookware. So I will likely end up with several Gyutos (and other Japanese blades) over time. But I will most likely get started with a 240.

post #8 of 12

Personally, I think your priority should be in sharpening your knives rather than choosing a new one.

 

You speak of not minding using a honing rod before using your knife.  That's a good start, but then you say that you would rather leave sharpening to the pros at lengthy intervals (one per year is mentioned).

 

Frankly, using honing rod is good, but as others on this site will tell you, once per year for sharpening is just way too little sharpening.  Once per month or even more frequently, especially if you intend to go commercial, is more like it.

 

And I would not necessarily leave it to a "professional".  I've seen botched-up jobs by so-called "professionals", so my recommendation to you is that you first consider how you arer going to learn to sharpen your own knives yourself, then consider what knife or knives you want.

 

One former contributor, "Boar de Laze" (aka "BDL") summed it up on his web site, cookfoodgood.com, as follows: 

 

"If you don’t know how to sharpen,  don’t want to learn, and won’t or can’t invest in one of the choices which don’t require much learning – my suggestion is to stick with very cheap knives.  Anything expensive is just a waste of money."

 

So, about sharpening...

 

First, read this sharpening tutorial by Chad Ward at eGullet:    http://forums.egullet.org/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/

 

It's a condensed version of his book, An Edge In The Kitchen, published in 2006.  The book's mostly out of print, but can often be found at libraries or through a library interloan system. By itself, the book is a good read (do keep in mind that his published knife prices are hopelessly out of date, but his advice is good).

 

If you want to watch videos, you might want to view Jon Broida's videos on knife sharpening.

 

Now, about Damascus.  My short recommendation is NO!  It may be just esthetics, but the bottom line is that a knife should be a tool.  Damascus is something that will only end up scratched up and looking awful.  Why bother?  There's no performance difference between Damascus and San Mai (three layer).  Save your money and your efforts.  A Damascus blade is definitely not for use as a workhorse knife.  Instead, any Damascus blade will become the "Queen of the Drawer" - always left in the drawer, so that it will never get scratched.

 

Hope that helps

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley Swiller View Post
 

Personally, I think your priority should be in sharpening your knives rather than choosing a new one.

 

You speak of not minding using a honing rod before using your knife.  That's a good start, but then you say that you would rather leave sharpening to the pros at lengthy intervals (one per year is mentioned).

 

Frankly, using honing rod is good, but as others on this site will tell you, once per year for sharpening is just way too little sharpening.  Once per month or even more frequently, especially if you intend to go commercial, is more like it.

 

And I would not necessarily leave it to a "professional".  I've seen botched-up jobs by so-called "professionals", so my recommendation to you is that you first consider how you arer going to learn to sharpen your own knives yourself, then consider what knife or knives you want.

 

One former contributor, "Boar de Laze" (aka "BDL") summed it up on his web site, cookfoodgood.com, as follows: 

 

"If you don’t know how to sharpen,  don’t want to learn, and won’t or can’t invest in one of the choices which don’t require much learning – my suggestion is to stick with very cheap knives.  Anything expensive is just a waste of money."

 

So, about sharpening...

 

First, read this sharpening tutorial by Chad Ward at eGullet:    http://forums.egullet.org/topic/26036-knife-maintenance-and-sharpening/

 

It's a condensed version of his book, An Edge In The Kitchen, published in 2006.  The book's mostly out of print, but can often be found at libraries or through a library interloan system. By itself, the book is a good read (do keep in mind that his published knife prices are hopelessly out of date, but his advice is good).

 

If you want to watch videos, you might want to view Jon Broida's videos on knife sharpening.

 

Now, about Damascus.  My short recommendation is NO!  It may be just esthetics, but the bottom line is that a knife should be a tool.  Damascus is something that will only end up scratched up and looking awful.  Why bother?  There's no performance difference between Damascus and San Mai (three layer).  Save your money and your efforts.  A Damascus blade is definitely not for use as a workhorse knife.  Instead, any Damascus blade will become the "Queen of the Drawer" - always left in the drawer, so that it will never get scratched.

 

Hope that helps

 

 

Galley Swiller

 

 

Thanks for your input. I tend to be an avid researcher when it comes to topics that really interest me (such as this one). As such I spent the better part of yesterday and last night as well as quite a bit of time today reading / watching videos, etc. After watching all of the videos from Jon Broida about sharpening I believe I could get the basics down and perhaps even become good at it eventually. As such I'm not nearly as concerned about the ritual that is sharpening. So, when I buy whichever knife I decide on I will be buying the two medium stones that Jon recommends starting out with.

 

As for my original post, in just the past couple of days worth of research my desires have evolved as I have come to understand some of the nuances of culinary knives a bit better.

 

For instance, I agree with you on the Damascus issue. I'll be avoiding those (for now at least). I am also not really set on stainless anymore as I believe I would be able to (and desire to) take the proper care of a nicer knife.

 

So here is where I am at:

 

Gyuto (240mm most likely). Undecided on material as yet. To be used for vegetables (dicing / chopping / slicing), meat ( trimming / slicing), a general kitchen workhorse. With a budget somewhere in the ~300 range. 

 

Thanks again for your help.

post #10 of 12

If you are looking for a 240 mm not-quite-stainless knife, I would suggest you look at the Hiromoto "Tenmi Jyuraku" AS 240 mm gyuto:  http://japanesechefsknife.com/TenmiJyurakuSeries.html#AogamiSuper

 

The price for the 240 mm is $161 from Japanese Chefs Knife, which is well under your $300ish range, and would leave you more money for other things (such as some sharpening stones).  The core cutting steel type is Aogami Super Steel, and the Hiromoto AS is hardened to "only" about hRc 62, which is still a decent hardness, but is lower than the potential maximum, which implies that the edge will be less brittle than other Aogami Super Steel knives with higher hRc levels.  

 

One potential issue is timing.  Hiromoto Knives are no longer being made (the knives were made in a "one-man-shop" and the 78-year-old owner has now retired, with neither sons nor apprentices to take over the business) and after the existing stock is sold out, no more will be available.

 

Do take a look at putting a patina on the exposed Aogami Super Steel as soon as possible.  That will protect the exposed AS big time.

 

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #11 of 12
Couldn't agree more. Just about the patina: leave the uncladded part dirty, excepted for the very edge. Cut slightly thru a piece of cork to have the very edge cleaned, and wait a bit before you rinse with really hot water. The patina forms instantly.
post #12 of 12
Here a 270mm after one day of home use. Patina has installed, nothing to worry about anymore.

Hiro270.jpg
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