Hi, I'm just a simple at-home cook who's always putting on dinners and entertaining whether it's a big family get together or a small poker night with the guys. I cook every day and enjoy cooking, and I'd love a set of knives to cherish for many years to come.
I'm looking for a small set of the basics (santoku, gyuoto, nakiri/usuba, other?). I believe in investing in quality to avoid costs later on down the road so I'm not looking for an intro or beginner set, I'd prefer a semi-professional set or at least a high quality intro set. That said, I'm also a bargain hunter and I never want to pay retail - so any tips on annual online sales are appreciated (I am patient). I also don't mind buying used if they are in good condition, if there is a reliable resource for such a thing.
-the highest quality steel I can get away with the least worry/maintenance (I care for my knives and am willing to learn how to occasionally sharpen the way these knives need to be sharpened, but I don't want to worry about cutting acidic food or leaving a water drop on the blade).
-something with a wow factor, I really like the hammered and/or Damascus look. I want to enjoy my cooking experience visually as I prepare food. I'm sure this is mostly psychological, but I appreciate the beauty of the blade.
-value retention. If I don't like them or get tired of them, I want to be able to sell them for a good price to re-invest into something new/better.
Visually, I like the hammered Miyabi Artisan Sur La Table set: http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-1039239/Miyabi+Artisan+SG2+Collection+Seven-Piece+Knife+Block+Set
I also love the classy look of the Miyabi Birchwood set: http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-1256247/Miyabi+Birchwood+7+Piece+Block+Set++
We're also planning on going to Japan within the next year, so any advice on some exclusive masters or dealers I could purchase from directly over there would be great. Brand names like Shun and Miyabi are so easy to find, but I am open to some lesser known makers.
Also: I recently spent some time in Vietnam and stayed with a family who I really appreciated their hospitality and amazing FOOD! The man had a poor set of knives which could barely cut into a mango, yet he spent the better portion of his day preparing meals for many people. I would love to find an affordable set + sharpener to send to them for use in their guesthouse. He is not into knives and gadgets, but I'm sure he would appreciate something better (low maintenance, reliable, long edge retention).. Okami seems to have decent reviews, thoughts? http://www.amazon.com/Chef-Knife-Inch-Okami-Professional/dp/B00QIEDC52