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Need some knife advice please

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone!

 

I have started a new position after being out of a kitchen for a few years. With my job, I am required to have a set of my own knives. I am doing kitchen hand and prep work, but will be training up over time, so I need to get a comprehensive set.

 

Most of my work for the time being is lightweight/delicate stuff. I am not preparing heavy slabs of meat (yet), so I don't need to worry about getting a heavy knife right away.

 

Here's a rough list of what my needs/wants are:

 

*I prefer Japanese blades over European, it's what I am most comfortable with

*I am left handed

*I have decently large hands (I'm 6ft tall), so I prefer knives with a more robust grip to them

*I prefer to buy good quality equipment that will serve me properly, rather than something to 'get by'

*The kitchen I work in only uses nylon/plastic cutting boards (I know that many knives out there don't respond well to them)

*I used a set of Global knives the other day, and the grips felt too...delicate..in my hand. Lovely knives, but they feel like they were made for someone with smaller hands than myself.

*I would like to keep the budget at roughly $200 per knife, but am willing to spend more if a compelling argument can be made. (I am in Australia as well, for price consideration)

*My knife work leans more towards the front of the blade, using the fore end for the majority of my cutting work, and only slipping to the back end for heavier/denser materials.

*I tend to also use a rocking forward/back cutting method, instead of a vertical chop.

*The restaurant I work at serves Australian and European food, so I don't need any particularly esoteric blades designed for individual tasks.

 

Here's what I was looking at to get me started. I like this set because it has a good array to it. I was thinking of getting this set, and then adding in some heavier German blades for when I start working with the pork ribs and lamb.

 

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tamahagane-san-tsubame-micarta/hammered-knife-block-set-p122856

 

I will admit to being at least partially influenced by the hammered design. As much as they need to be functional, I would like my knives to have some sort of style or personality to them. I've been looking around, and so many of the knives out there seem to be 'lifeless'. Just there to do a job and go home (Like my Mercer set I've fobbed off on my fiance).

 

Another set that I have been looking at as a start to building my kit, has been this set from Shun.

 

http://www.kitchenwaredirect.com.au/Shun-Premier-6pc-Knife-Block-Set?sc=14&category=110866

 

I know that there seems to be a wide dichotomy in the opinions of these particular knives. Either people seem to love them, or they don't. However, the higher tip on them would work rather well with my cutting methods, and since they won't be used for anything that really demands a more robust knife, I could see myself using them with good results until I need to expand my collection.

 

With all honesty though, the Tamahagane kit is the one I am leaning to far over the Shun, even though the Shun would be a much faster purchase for me. I'd rather wait if I have to and save up to buy what's going to work best.

 

Thanks everyone!

post #2 of 12

Is there any reason you need a set?  Those sets include such knives as a santoku, a nakiri, a utility, etc., along with a 20 cm chef;s knife.  If you are going to get a chef's knife anyway, then why not just get a chef's knife alone, since it can do the same job each of the other knives. For that matter, why wouldn't it be better to buy each knife as you need it, such as a chef's knife, a paring knife and a serrated edge bread knife.

 

Also, if this is to be for professional work, wouldn't it be more common to have the knives in a roll, rather than take up work space with a block?

 

What type of sharpening process are you intending to use to  maintain your edges?

 

As for the Tamahagane set, my reaction is that you are looking at an American retailer (Cutlery & More is in the Chicago area).  You would have to factor in the exchange rate, international shipping costs and Australian duty.

 

As for Shuns, my feeling is decidedly not favorable.  Kai knives (the owner of the Shun brand) has had a number of users complain about excessive chipping of Shun knife edges - which strongly suggests that there might be problems in control of the heat treatment process in hardening the steel.

 

Personally, I also have problems with the relatively high tip on Shuns - almost more "German" in profile than such german knives as Wusthofs. I have found that, as long as there is some slight curvature of the edge in the blade profile, then you can still rock chop.  But then, I tend to do most of that towards the heel, rather than further forward.

 

While they are not the hardest metal around, you might look into MAC knives.  I'm currently playing with a MAC Chef's series BK-100, which is a line cook's version of the more expensive Professional series chef's knives.  The steel used is the same (MAC's "Original Steel"), the blade thickness is the same as the Professional series knives (2.5 mm) and the length is appropriate for production cutting and chopping (255 mm).  There's no bolster, so it's a relatively simple matter to modify or replace the handle scales, by removing the rivets (simply drilling off the joint between head and shaft will do that, if you can locate the center of the rivet, then pushing the remainder of the rivet out through the opposite side of the handle).  A shorter version at 20 cm is the MAC BK-80.  Each of those two is significantly less than $200.

 

MAC has sales of its knives done only by authorized national distributorships.  On-line sales are done in Australia by Everten.  Unfortunately, macknife-australia.com mis-spelled the Everten name in its list of authorized Australian sellers and the link is to Everton - which is some sort of swimming pool builder and supplier.  The proper link is http://www.everten.com.au/mac-knives.html

 

For the pork ribs and lamb, I would probably look at a western deba.  But that would be further down the road for you and can right now be held off.

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #3 of 12
If you want a set of Shun Premeir knives, those in that set are among the most useful. Only knife missing IMO is a serrated bread knife.

While Galleys comment on some Shun complaints are true, it is not clear that such complaints constitutes a majority opinion or a significant proportion of Shun users. Some were clearly abused. One such complainer bases speculation of poor heat treatment on a single knife. If that is what you desire and they meet your needs then have few fears.
Edited by BrianShaw - 8/16/15 at 4:12pm
post #4 of 12
As you are left-handed, best have a gyuto with an adapted geometry: edge off-centered to the right, left face convexed and right one flatter. Masahiro and Misono make them.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post

If you want a set of Shun Premeir knives, those in that set are among the most useful. Only knife missing IMO is a serrated bread knife.

While Galleys comment on some Shun complaints are true, it is not clear that such complaints constitutes a majority opinion or a significant proportion of Shun users. Some were clearly abused. One such complainer bases speculation of poor heat treatment on a single knife. If that is what you desire and they meet your needs then have few fears.

 

Actually Brian, very many have complained about Shun's HT, one in particular talking about many shun knives he has personally known, a post of which you are well aware.  You ought to be careful there Brian, folks might say your words smacked of beaucoup disingenuousness (fancy word for lies of omission).

 

Hard fact is that majority opinion on any knife forum is in agreement with what GS has stated.  But it being a free world Brian, you can ignore that all you like, and all that might come along with it. 

 

Fact is also that quite a number of folk have been perfectly happy with their Shuns, and then there are those who say they'd sooner use an old well-used Forgecraft.  Isn't that right Brian?

 

Oh darn sorry, I meant to contribute something of practical value for the OP but I see it's getting late.

 

 

 

Rick

post #6 of 12
Rick. Do you have a crush on me? You are creepy in how you keep stalking my posts and trying to negate my opinions. Creepy. Troll-like, in fact.

Statistically speaking there isn't much out there save the same few folks. I respect their opinion - you too - but if it was all true I'd expect Shun to be out of business. They aren't and don't seem to be headed that way.
post #7 of 12
God love you Brian but you are a trip.


Rick
post #8 of 12
You too Rick.
post #9 of 12

I'm not going to get into the past few posts, except as to why Shun (Kai) and Global are still in business in the US.

 

The simple explanation is that both Shun and Global have distribution networks in the United States and most other Japanese cutlery makers don't, or have small distribution systems.

 

Kai bought up Kershaw Knives, which gave them the nucleus of a commercial network in the USA.  Globals are distributed through Scanpan USA.

 

For the most part, the market for Japanese quality knives is dominated by 3 upscale market Brick and Mortar chains - Crate & Barrel, Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma.  Yes, there are others.  But only those 3 can deliver huge market volume returns.

 

And those Big 3 are like most big retailers - they need suppliers who are consistent and reliable, with stock that can be consistently delivered to the distribution networks of the chain, or directly to the individual stores.  Unless you've got stock in the United States (and are also set up to bring new stock into the US for post-import sales to the Big 3), and unless you have a Sales Rep (or 2 or 12) with US offices, then it's going to be difficult to get in to see the buyers for the Big 3.  And I have to re-emphasize, it is post-import distribution that counts for the Big 3.

 

Now this is not to knock such people as Harold at MAC Knives USA.  But Kai and Scanpan have got a lot of the cutlery display space at the Big 3 already locked up.

 

It's also to not knock such retailers as Jon Broida (Japanese Knife Imports) or Mark Richmond (ChefKnivesToGo) or any of the other single-store retailers.  But sales volume-wise for any one of them is just nowhere in the same league as for any one of the Big 3.

 

Shuns and Globals get plenty of verbal whacks from forums like this.  But they are what the Big 3 can consistently have enough of to show their retail customers.  And they are what the ordinary consumers will first look at and handle.

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #10 of 12

Why even bother talking serious GS?  Incurable footinmouth disease.

 

 

Rick

post #11 of 12

Sorry for the derailment Anhevius.  Gallie's recommendation of Mac knives is a good one, they have been a long-term standby.  Most everyone loves the handles of the pro series.  They make every sort of knife you would want.

 

If you want a Shun knife my suggestion is to try their 9" Chefs rather than get a whole set of knives non of which are really what you need, Shuns are rather thick behind the edge.  VG10 is not really great steel to begin with, and Shun's in particular are a crap-shoot, but if you chip a blade their replacement policy is fairly good, but a pain if don't buy from a brick and mortar.

 

There are a good number of knives you could consider, particularly those from japanesechefsknife.com as their shipping is a flat $7 and they manage to avoid taxes fairly well.  The Hiromoto AUS10 chefs knives have gotten particularly high praise for their value.

 

 

 

Rick

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input everyone!

As for needing a 'set', my head chef wants me to get the following:

Chef's knife
Bread knife
Vegetable
Paring

Those are the minimum needed, since I am going to end up doing a lot of the 'fancier' prep work.

I know the two sets I linked were block sets; but I haven't had much luck with finding a decent kit without one, oddly.

I do know the Tama set I linked is from the US, but I gave used knives from them before, and the grip was fabulous.

I will go to a brick and mortar store to check out the Mac brand though, since they seem to be quite popular here.
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