or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Food & Equipment Reviews › Cooking Knife Reviews › Home Cook - Love to Dabble (Need A Knife Recommendation <$100)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Home Cook - Love to Dabble (Need A Knife Recommendation <$100)

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,

    Thanks for creating this wonderful forum. I just have a quick question and I hope it is not a complicated one. I have been on this forum and saw other posts. Basically I am looking to buy a new knife. There is a lot of hype around Wusthoff and Shun knives. After reading on these forums the consensus I got is that for the price of buying a Shun I could be buying say a better Tojiro chef's knife for the same price.

 

I am looking for a good quality knife around at most $100 or less preferably less. I appreciate any recommendation and please keep your recommendations simple.  

 

What I am looking for:

 

1. Under $100

2. Very sharp

3. Low Maintenance, or I can learn how to maintain

    the knife myself

4. I prefer a Japanese Chef's knife *optional

5. I cook a lot of Chinese food

6. I would like cut meat and vegetables with my new knife. 

 

I narrowed down my search to these 3:

 

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro-flash/chefs-knife-p113665

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro-dp-damascus/chefs-knife-p115456

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro-flash/santoku-knife-p113936

 

I am a poor grad student so maybe I get a job later,

I can consider Alton Brown's recommendation for Cut Brooklyn or simply Cut Co?

 

Thanks for reading!

post #2 of 23

Are you in the US?  Tojiro DP is $50 on amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/Tojiro-DP-Gyutou-8-2-21cm/dp/B000UAPQGS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446664220&sr=8-1&keywords=tojiro+dp

 

Spend the savings on sharpening stones

 

IMO cut brooklyn is overpriced.  For what they're charging I can get a custom by someone who actually forges their knives or a very high end japanese maker's stock offerings.  I don't see the price for a stock removal ground knife that they don't even heat treat themselves.

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 

I do live in the US, are there other knives you guys would recommend? I would really appreciate the help. Nothing fancy, something below $100, good quality and very sharp. I dont want to have to sharpen the knife every week or once a month. Maybe once every 2-3 months? 

 

And how about a MAC Knife? Is it made in Japan? So it should be a decent chef knife? 

http://www.amazon.com/Mac-Knife-Hollow-Chefs-8-Inch/dp/B000LY29NQ/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1445591447&sr=8-5&keywords=mac+knives

 

And does Tojiro DP Gyutou - 8.2" (21cm) Knife Rust? And is it easy to handle? Thanks again for your help!!

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
post #5 of 23

Hmmmmm.....

 

For a "poor grad student" who wants a knife priced under $100, I'm sort of wondering why you listed 3 knives which cost more than $100 for a practical size (210 mm or 240 mm).

 

All that fancy Damascus cladding does zilch in terms of cutting performance.  But it does make the knife much more expensive.

 

As for Alton Brown, can't say I'm all that impressed by any celebrity endorsement.  Also, from my quick perusal of "Cut Brooklyn", $100 probably would not buy you anything there.

 

As for "Cut Co" - Yeeech!  That's a brand (Cutco) which gets more rotten tomatoes figuratively thrown at its products than any other knife brand I have otherwise seen.

 

For $100, don't expect much.  For a workaday real world situation, to have a good cutting system, you will need more than just a decent knife, you will need a way to minimize wear on the edge (meaning a decent cutting surface) and a way to sharpen the edge as it invariably gets dull in use.  The last two are facts of life.

 

A plain 3-layer 210 mm Tojiro DP gyuto offered through the store you listed (Cutlery and More) is running $69.95 on sale.  Amazon.com is offering the same knife at $50.10 today.  Do the math, and see why shopping around pays off.

 

Look to see if you can find a decent end grain cutting board that won't damage your knife's edge.  The cheapest I have found recently was through Ross ("Dress for Less"), which has been offering at various stores a "Catskill Craftsmen" 14 inch square by 1-1/2 inch thick with feet mystery wood end grain board for $17.99 (Model No. 91316).  My guess is that the wood is Acacia and that the boards being offered are discontinues from Catskill Craftsmen.  Before the bricks are thrown in my direction by the purists, I will acknowledge that the board is too, TOO small.  But for just $17.99, it's hard to be too picky about size at that price range.  To avoid having the board split apart (cheap boards can do that), don't pull the plastic off until you have bought some food-grade mineral oil and have it at hand.  Safeway Grocery stores (at least around where I live) sell one pint for $3.49 in their drug and cosmetics area.  Then, IMMEDIATELY after taking the plastic wrap off the board, start pouring oil onto the board, and keep putting oil on until the board stops sucking the oil up.  Then turn the board over and do the bottom side as well.  Do that twice the first day, once the second day, once the third day, once the fifth day and once the seventh day (and that's coating both sides each time until oil just won't go in).  Now you're ready to start using the board.

 

Mind you, the boards were not being offered on-line.  They were only physically found at the Ross stores.  You have to make the effort to find the board, and not all Ross stores carried it.  In fact, I was only finding one board at each store that did have one.

 

You still have about $28.42 left of that $100 budget (assuming you luck out on finding that board).  For a system with absolutely awful stones (but better than nothing), look on eBay for a "fixed angle sharpening system" where the horizontal rod does not slide up and down a post.  Take it from me, you don't want that "slide up and down" style.  They have a fatal flaw.  The horizontal rod cannot swing from side-to-side.  Instead, look for a system where the horizontal rod perches on top of the vertical pole.  And, as I also said, the stones are awful.  Don't be surprised if yoiu need to replace the stones quickly.  

 

These systems are a blatant Chinese take-off of an extremely good American-made sharpening system known as the "Edge Pro".  But everything is relative and you will not be able to buy the Edge Pro for even your meager $100 (let alone a knife or a cutting board), so put up with the "Edge Faux" and watch Ben Dale's videos at Edge Pro's web site to see how the real thing works.

 

That's the best I can suggest for $100.  It also doesn't take into account sales tax and it depends on luck on your part (to find the board) and the purchase and use of a rip-off of an excellent American product.  But what else can be said?

 

GS

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley Swiller View Post
 

Hmmmmm.....

 

For a "poor grad student" who wants a knife priced under $100, I'm sort of wondering why you listed 3 knives which cost more than $100 for a practical size (210 mm or 240 mm).

 

All that fancy Damascus cladding does zilch in terms of cutting performance.  But it does make the knife much more expensive.

 

As for Alton Brown, can't say I'm all that impressed by any celebrity endorsement.  Also, from my quick perusal of "Cut Brooklyn", $100 probably would not buy you anything there.

 

As for "Cut Co" - Yeeech!  That's a brand (Cutco) which gets more rotten tomatoes figuratively thrown at its products than any other knife brand I have otherwise seen.

 

For $100, don't expect much.  For a workaday real world situation, to have a good cutting system, you will need more than just a decent knife, you will need a way to minimize wear on the edge (meaning a decent cutting surface) and a way to sharpen the edge as it invariably gets dull in use.  The last two are facts of life.

 

A plain 3-layer 210 mm Tojiro DP gyuto offered through the store you listed (Cutlery and More) is running $69.95 on sale.  Amazon.com is offering the same knife at $50.10 today.  Do the math, and see why shopping around pays off.

 

Look to see if you can find a decent end grain cutting board that won't damage your knife's edge.  The cheapest I have found recently was through Ross ("Dress for Less"), which has been offering at various stores a "Catskill Craftsmen" 14 inch square by 1-1/2 inch thick with feet mystery wood end grain board for $17.99 (Model No. 91316).  My guess is that the wood is Acacia and that the boards being offered are discontinues from Catskill Craftsmen.  Before the bricks are thrown in my direction by the purists, I will acknowledge that the board is too, TOO small.  But for just $17.99, it's hard to be too picky about size at that price range.  To avoid having the board split apart (cheap boards can do that), don't pull the plastic off until you have bought some food-grade mineral oil and have it at hand.  Safeway Grocery stores (at least around where I live) sell one pint for $3.49 in their drug and cosmetics area.  Then, IMMEDIATELY after taking the plastic wrap off the board, start pouring oil onto the board, and keep putting oil on until the board stops sucking the oil up.  Then turn the board over and do the bottom side as well.  Do that twice the first day, once the second day, once the third day, once the fifth day and once the seventh day (and that's coating both sides each time until oil just won't go in).  Now you're ready to start using the board.

 

Mind you, the boards were not being offered on-line.  They were only physically found at the Ross stores.  You have to make the effort to find the board, and not all Ross stores carried it.  In fact, I was only finding one board at each store that did have one.

 

You still have about $28.42 left of that $100 budget (assuming you luck out on finding that board).  For a system with absolutely awful stones (but better than nothing), look on eBay for a "fixed angle sharpening system" where the horizontal rod does not slide up and down a post.  Take it from me, you don't want that "slide up and down" style.  They have a fatal flaw.  The horizontal rod cannot swing from side-to-side.  Instead, look for a system where the horizontal rod perches on top of the vertical pole.  And, as I also said, the stones are awful.  Don't be surprised if yoiu need to replace the stones quickly.  

 

These systems are a blatant Chinese take-off of an extremely good American-made sharpening system known as the "Edge Pro".  But everything is relative and you will not be able to buy the Edge Pro for even your meager $100 (let alone a knife or a cutting board), so put up with the "Edge Faux" and watch Ben Dale's videos at Edge Pro's web site to see how the real thing works.

 

That's the best I can suggest for $100.  It also doesn't take into account sales tax and it depends on luck on your part (to find the board) and the purchase and use of a rip-off of an excellent American product.  But what else can be said?

 

GS

Thank you all for your replies. I asked for something under $100 because I am in fact poor and cheap and dont want to spend too much. I would like to continue cooking and learn how to cook better. I cook mostly Chinese food and chinese dishes.

 

Okay so Gallery Sweller? What if I were to say I am willing to pay for a Chef's knife up to $150~200? Can you recommend to a home cook and just wants to get his feet wet for cooking more at home? Thanks again! Haha, I like your sarcasm and humor!

post #7 of 23

Why aren't you using a cleaver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCookingDPT View Post
 

I cook mostly Chinese food and chinese dishes.

 

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckcleaver1.html

post #8 of 23
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Well I also cook other things as well to impress friends haha, I am looking for a knife for all situations.

post #10 of 23

I use a cleaver for everything except real butchery (popping out joints, getting around bones etc) and fish.

post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCookingDPT View Post
 

Thank you all for your replies. I asked for something under $100 because I am in fact poor and cheap and dont want to spend too much. I would like to continue cooking and learn how to cook better. I cook mostly Chinese food and chinese dishes.

 

Okay so Gallery Sweller? What if I were to say I am willing to pay for a Chef's knife up to $150~200? Can you recommend to a home cook and just wants to get his feet wet for cooking more at home? Thanks again! Haha, I like your sarcasm and humor!

 

I think you missed GS's main points.  The fact is, regardless of their cost, all dull knives are equal.

 

Cutting surface - for the home cook on a budget I feel the less expensive and sturdier edge-grain wooden board is a better option.  The cheaper offerings for end-grain boards tend to form splits rather early on.  And these should not only be wood construction (no bamboo), but also the approved woods, being mainly maple, cherry, walnut, oak and mahogany.  No teak or acasia wood.

 

Then you need to be able to sharpen your knife, do you think you can learn hand sharpening?  If not the only affordable "reasonable" solution would be something like a mino-sharp.  Of course if you had a local sharpener who is conscientious enough to be trusted with a decent knife, most aren't, and would only charge you around $5, they exist but good luck finding one.  You will still need to learn how to use a ceramic hone for touch ups, better still a fine waterstone.

 

Then for $165 you could consider a Tojiro F-521. It's PM steel would go considerably longer between sharpenings than more conventional steels, I won't say a whole year, but that might be possible depending on how you use it and how conservative an edge you put on it.

 

Welcome to the world of sharp knives, I hope this just gets you thinking and not discouraged.

 

 

Rick

post #12 of 23

The key here is that an honest budget is not just about the knife - it's about everything else as well that helps minimize dulling and keeps the edge sharp.  In fact, effective spending should be to try to balance your spending on all three areas (knife, board, sharpening) so as to get decent quality in each area.  You will not get the top of the line, but everything together will give you the best bang for the buck.

 

If your budget was more than just $100, but went all the way up to $200, then your choices suddenly get a lot better.  

 

For an extra $100 (meaning a total budget for everything of $200), I would go up in grade to a MAC HB-85.  It's not as thick as the BK models in the Chef series, but almost all of the cutting quality of more expensive MAC's will be there.  The price is $69.95 through Chefknivestogo.com.  It's a good, honest commercially-oriented knife with quality steel and heat treatment hardening, and like all MAC knives, will take and hold a good edge.  It won't be a powdered metalurgy high speed steel cutting edge (like a Tojiro F-521), but you will still have $130.05 for a good cutting board and sharpening gear.

 

And speaking of a cutting board - the next big difference will be to go for a Michigan Maple Block end grain 15 inch square by 2 inch thick piece of quality.  This offer through eBay, to be precise:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/MICHIGAN-MAPLE-BLOCK-CUTTING-BOARD-BUTCHER-BLOCK-ASEG1515SQ-/111799013676?hash=item1a07bd912c:g:4VIAAOSwAYtWIPNL  The price is$57.75 and is a real bargain.  Yes, I know it's not the idealized size of 12 inches by 18 inches, but it's end grain hard maple, and for the price, getting quality end grain is a lot more important than shape.  And, you don't have to run around to myriad Ross stores.  Dawn's Depot is an authorized seller of Michigan Maple Block boards.  The board will be shipped to you directly from the Michigan Maple Block plant.  And, don't forget to go to Safeway and spend $3.49 for one pint of food grade mineral oil.

 

That means you will have spent $131.20.  That still leaves $68.80 for sharpening gear.  As Rick said in the last post above, get a ceramic hone for touch-ups (I would say honing) helps stretch out the periods between sharpening sessions.  The best (and the best value) I recommend would be a 12-inch fine Idahone, about $32, available from Chefknivestogo.com.  

 

That still leaves you with $36.80.  It's just a little bit more than my first post above.  But you can find some "Edge Faux" system within that budget.

 

Extras?  Idahone rods are ceramic - and if you drop it, it will shatter.  To minimize that risk, I have a dedicated hook for my Idahone.  I use a 3M "Command" Hook and Adhesive system.  About $5 in many stores.  The adhesive strips will go almost anywhere, will hold up to several pounds, will stay in place for years without losing strength and can be removed without damaging such delicate surfaces as plaster.

 

If I were buying on an installment basis, I would buy the MAC HB-85 and the Idahone first - and together (to save on shipping costs).  Then, as quickly as possible, a 3M Command hook and adhesive.  Then, the cutting board and mineral oil.  Then, an Edge Faux. And finally, better Genuine Edge Pro mounted stones.

 

And then, your culinary cutting adventures will be off and running.

 

 

Galley Swiller

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

Quick question guys why cant I run my MAC knife on a polycarbonate board? or a non wooden board? Thanks again for you guys' help

post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote  It won't be a powdered metalurgy high speed steel cutting edge (like a Tojiro F-521),
 
Why do I need a High speed steel cutting edge?
post #15 of 23

You can use a polyboard, it's not like you are going to be hacking away like crazy in a busy pro kitchen, where they often use polies also.  It's just that you will be sharpening more often, and with the harder more brittle knives, like the Tojiro F-521,  you will need a thicker and more conservative edge, or just go very gingerly in your use.

 

Have you thought about sharpening yet?

 

 

 

Rick

post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi Millions, I went through the thread but there seems to be a debate between Suien and CCK. Just wondering for my price range, if I can score a good cleaver. I am not a small guy, I am 5'9 so I have decent size hands so we dont have to worry about size of the handle being small, I prefer again something doesnt rust easily, sharp and from time to time maintenance (cf Rick Alan's post)

 

Rick, I have not bought the sharpening tools yet, dude cooking is an investment huh?

post #17 of 23

Your board choices are (in terms of worst to best):

 

Glass

Metal

Bamboo

Plastic

soft wood edge grain

hardwood edge grain

hardwood end grain

 

Glass and metal are totally unyielding and will very, VERY quickly blunt your edge.  Bamboo is the next worse, since any board will need to be glued up from many small pieces, and the glue joints will be very hard on the knife edge.  Also, bamboo has an affinity to absorb and retain silica, which makes bamboo by and of itself very hard on edges.

 

There are two different types of plastic: polycarbonate and polypropylene.  The problem with polycarbonate is that it's too hard.  The problem with polypropylene is that it's too soft.  The knife edge will very easily score the surface, and the edge of the knife will end up within the groove, with plastic on each side of the edge.  ANY twist on the knife can end up creating sufficient torque that can cause part to have momentary forces sufficient to break off part of that edge (remember, we are talking about a very thin cross-section of brittle metal here).  Alsdo, such grooving can be a trap for greases and food particles to get trapped and to serve to allow growth of undesirable pathogens.

 

Soft wood edge grain tends to get scratched up almost immediately to the point of being almost as bad as plastic.

 

Hardwood edge grain (when properly oiled) is acceptable, but hardwood end grain is the "Gold" standard for protection of your knife's edge.

 

Galley Swiller

post #18 of 23

As to why you "need" a powdered metalurgy high speed steel cutting edge - remember that it will add a lot of cost at this point of time.  And you need a good cutting board and sharpening gear much more than a "cutting edge" technology knife.  Keep in mind your budget and get the best value for what you (as a poor grad student) can afford.

 

GS

post #19 of 23
Within your limited budget, get a basic carbon steel chef's knife. Add a good 1k-ish stone and a piece of split leather and you're almost done.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCookingDPT View Post
 

I went through the thread but there seems to be a debate between Suien and CCK. Just wondering for my price range, if I can score a good cleaver.

 

CCK has a better (flatter) profile, and is thinner overall.  Suien has a nicer handle (although i like barrel handles too), much better steel, is thicker, and has too much curve.  If you're willing to do a bit of thinning, less than 30 min it took me, Suien is a very nice knife.  Out of the box CCK 1103 is a better cutter.

 

Suien is also very reactive out of the box; until you put on a patina, it will discolor onions.  CCK had a coating, by the time that wears off you'll have a patina anyway.

 

Can you get a good slicing cleaver in your price range?  Yes.  Much cheaper even.  Those two are mid range, heading into top range. On the cheaper side are many carbon steel options.  Check out http://www.wokshop.com/ and  http://www.chefsmall.net/    Chinatown in major cities will probably have a chinese restaurant supply or two that will have cleavers on the cheap.  I try to stay away from Chinese stainless steel though, carbon or nothing on these.

post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galley Swiller View Post
 

 

 

Look to see if you can find a decent end grain cutting board that won't damage your knife's edge.  The cheapest I have found recently was through Ross ("Dress for Less"), which has been offering at various stores a "Catskill Craftsmen" 14 inch square by 1-1/2 inch thick with feet mystery wood end grain board for $17.99 (Model No. 91316).  My guess is that the wood is Acacia and that the boards being offered are discontinues from Catskill Craftsmen.  Before the bricks are thrown in my direction by the purists, I will acknowledge that the board is too, TOO small.  But for just $17.99, it's hard to be too picky about size at that price range.  To avoid having the board split apart (cheap boards can do that), don't pull the plastic off until you have bought some food-grade mineral oil and have it at hand.  Safeway Grocery stores (at least around where I live) sell one pint for $3.49 in their drug and cosmetics area.  Then, IMMEDIATELY after taking the plastic wrap off the board, start pouring oil onto the board, and keep putting oil on until the board stops sucking the oil up.  Then turn the board over and do the bottom side as well.  Do that twice the first day, once the second day, once the third day, once the fifth day and once the seventh day (and that's coating both sides each time until oil just won't go in).  Now you're ready to start using the board.

 

Mind you, the boards were not being offered on-line.  They were only physically found at the Ross stores.  You have to make the effort to find the board, and not all Ross stores carried it.  In fact, I was only finding one board at each store that did have one.

 

 

GS

Sweller? I made the mistake taking the plastic wrap off, may I still soak the board in oil (I also washed the board as well, is it too late to lather the board with oil?)

post #22 of 23
It's never too late, unless you procrastinate for an eternity
post #23 of 23

The instruction of oiling the board first was intended to exclude water from the wood grain capillaries.  Wood in the grain has a tendency to expand.  When wood grain in a glued-together board expands, then the board splits.  At that point the board becomes worthless and is a lost cause.  That's why I said oil IMMEDIATELY after removing the plastic.

 

On one cheap end grain board, I removed the plastic and waited a few days, thinking I had some time.  Summertime & hot weather.  Did not wash or use the board.  The board started to split.  It went into the burn pile of a relative's house.

 

Pray that your board grain won't expand.  Make sure you have towelled off all water from the surface of the board, then let the board air dry upright, with both sides exposed, in the driest location you have available (wherever there is as little water vapor in the air as possible - not in the kitchen, bath or sauna).  

 

Once you have given the board a day or two to let water vapor evaporate from the grain, then start slathering on the oil.  Keep adding oil until there's a sheen on the entire surface of the board, then as soon as that oil is absorbed, turn the board over and do the same on the other side.  And then continue by following the regimen in Post #5 above (2 full oilings the first day, 1 full oiling Day 2, 1 full oiling Day 3, 1 full oiling Day 5, 1 full oiling Day 7).  Oiling a board isn't a one-session job - the wood grain needs time to allow the oil to properly get absorbed.  It's a lot of work, but worth it in the long run.

 

Good luck.

 

 

Galley Swiller

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cooking Knife Reviews
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Food & Equipment Reviews › Cooking Knife Reviews › Home Cook - Love to Dabble (Need A Knife Recommendation <$100)