Hello all wise knife enthusiast,
I have decided to take a shot at J knives and discover this new realm, and I am looking for a couple answers that I can't quite find on this forum. A word on me: I cook at home every day, (say, 1h average) with increasing pleasure in using good tools to do so. Even though I cook only for 2 to 6 people, I using food that is as least processed as possible, so on winter week-ends I can easily spend 3-5 hours cooking per day. I like also to take on larger cooking challenges when I can : big parties, company annual meals, weddings and such events. I live in south-western France, and in winter I like to make conserves using fat duck or a full pig. In these cases, I can spend several hours in a row using a knife, and performance becomes critical.
I have Arcos knives in the kitchen and sanisafe Fischer-Bargoin knives for the more heavy-duty stuff. I talked about the latter in another post, which comforted me in the idea that cheap, resistant knives like the FB were my best bet for my "heavy duty" tasks like deboning a dozen ducks in a row... In the kitchen however, I have come to dislike my Arcos knives (Saeta) quite strongly. The handle is very thin, the blade isn't wide enough (my knuckles hit the board all the time), the edges are too sharp (granted, maybe I should wok on that one by myself) and I get blisters after an hour of work with them.
Regarding sharpening, I use a steel and a whetstone (probably a 220/800, I think...). I'm not very good at it, but I would love to improve and I'm definitely ready to give it the time and patience. I also bought a Lansky Turnbox that I use for EDC knives, and it get's them razor sharp, but it really doesn't do me much good in the kitchen for some reason. Sizewise, I have decided to give the 24cm / 9" a shot. My 3 previous chef knives were all 20 cm, and it is often enough, but I do sometimes feel slightly limited. As for caring, I think I would be ready to take good care of my knife on a day-to-day basis (I wipe my stainless Arcos clean after just-about-every use). If I did go with a carbon steel though, since I am no professional I am not very well organized, and I might be scared to take this knife to one of my "cooking challenges". Finally, I would like to keep the price down to around €100 for this first buy, yet I sense stuff might happen by adding 20-30% to that...
tl;dr I'm looking for a 24cm / 9" gyuto in the €100 area, but I could be convinced to stretch that. I want it to: 1) have enough potential to show me that the world can be a better place once I get rid of my Arcos knives for home cooking, and 2) be my guinea pig to continue to improve my freehand sharpening skills. This point means that I have to choose the steel smartly too, but then I am really ready to improve my freehand sharpening techniques, so anything with a not-too-discouraging learning curve would probably do. I guess a carbon would make my life easier in the short run than a VG10 blade, but since my budget is very limited finding a knife that fits approximately my criteria might be hard enough to forget the steel argument. Being abuse-resistant enough to also be used in a slightly harsher environment once in a while would be a plus.
One of the issues I have with choosing a good contender for my needs is that the info on this forum is often given from a US perspective, and does not always match the prices I find in Europe. For I guess many reasons (e.g. the dollar - euro trade rate changing by a lot in the past year), the prices that I find to get a knife at my doorstep doesn't consistently match the recommendations I see here. Here is a short list of knives that either might fit my price range, or that don't but are sometimes suggested along side the others. The prices I give include shipping: for a cheap knife, it counts!
Mac Pro : best price is €210 on japansemessen.nl. That's waaay out of my league for now
Fujiwara FKM : 80€ on JCK
Misono Moly : 126€ on JCK
Kagayaki Basic : 109€ on JCK
Kagayaki CarboNext : 120€ on JCK
Kagayaki Aogami : 130€ on JCK
Tojiro DP : 126€ on knivesandtools.fr
Eden Kanso Aogami nb 2 : 109€ on knivesandtools.fr
Some of these knives are cited in many posts here as being from totally different worlds, yet to me they appear to be in the same price range. Hence my confusion. I'm sorry if this selection is a bit eclectic, it is the result of my confusion on prices and qualities.
Finally, I add that I plan to increase my sharpening set by at least one stone. I know that the Naniwa stones aren't cheap generally, but the "work" 1000/3000 is available for a very low price here (approx 20€) so as a first stone to really abuse and learn on I'm considering it. If advised against it, posts here showed me the fine-tools.com site which sells King stones and delivers in France. I might go with the King 1000/6000 combo, again to keep prices low during learning (43€), or with two seperate 1200 and 6000 King stones (57€).
Sorry for being the millionth guy to ask these questions, and a great thanks in advance to you people who never get tired of answering!