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Can someone help me get a good set of Japanese knives

5421 Views 24 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  ordo
My current set is walmart cheap special, so everything is a definite upgrade. My husband is a really good cook. I like making bento boxes and I have done quite well despite my knife set. However it is starting to bug me. The uses I use them for is sushi, apple swans and other similar 3d food art, and i bake bread daily. He uses the basic traditional chop and slice and parring activities. My biggest problem is I'm semi left handed in certain knife activities. My husband likes Japanese knives and I think they will suit my cooking style very well compared to the german.
  • My budget is about 600-800 (for all 4)
  • My husband prefers the hammered finish (tsuchime) bc he thinks it's pretty (this is flexible if i can convince him the knife is very good and pretty)
  • I really just want a bread, chef, parring, and utility. Extras would be boning knife and slicing knife but trying to stretch the budget. Also need a honing steel.
  • Ambidextrous (husband is right handed and i go back and forth)
  • VG 10 (very important to me)
  • Husband has nickel allergy
  • We don't care about brand, I care about function, will it work for me, and is it comfortable
  • Looking for mid-high end knives that will last a lifetime
My husband and I keep getting stuck on a fracking shun premier set but i have to compromise on the ambidextrous that I want and the knife set that fixes that is something he doesn't like the look of therefore He'll be more reluctant to take care of.

I know shun aren't the cream of the crop or any blade dream but is there any other knifes someone can recommend. The others i'm finding don't feel right. The shun feel good but then i'm stuck not using my better hand on some things (I'm ambidextrous but left hand dominant)

What is a good solution? get a right handed set now to please him and then get a left handed set for me? Is there an ambidextrous set similar to the shun premier in price and blade finish? I'm just feel cornered without options on knives

I get 10% off shun knives too so that helps the cost but I'm still not sold and I think there may be better for the money. Thank you in advance for your help
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You want a knife that gets real sharp and stays sharp, preferably for a year of home use, is fully stainless and has no nickel (or cobalt). There are a few knives that can do that fairly well, but you should understand that most good knives take a few sharpenings for the edge to break in and really show it's potential.

I'm partial to the Geshin Kagero (SRS-15 super-steel) because I have one and am perfectly tickled with it. And that you'll be buying the knife from Jon is a big plus because you know the grind will be perfect and out of the box (or padded carrying bag actually) it will be sharper than anything you every handled, except maybe a straight razor. And the price is very reasonable. Not a lot of bling but nicely finished and the heavily stamped kanji is a lot classier and enduring compared to Shun's decals.

These will cover your chefs, utility and parer, though you don't really need to spend that kind of money on a parer, but it is nice. If you do go this way just ask Jon to put a more obtuse than usual angle on the edge.

You'll still have plenty left over for a top-notch bread knife like the Mac, and the 12" fine Idahone which I also think will serve you well here.

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OK so I've given considerable consideration these six days now concerning a choice between the Masakage and Kagero.  Well actually I've been watching a lot of public television this past week.

But never the less I have a reasoned conclusion to the present conundrum and here it is:

The Masakage while a great value has some serious drawbacks for you, as you have described your situation and needs.  Firstly the only knives in there line you should be considering are the Mizu, Shimo and Yuki.  The Mizu and Shimo are carbon clad carbon.  They won't provoke your husbands allergies, but they will rust if not immediately cared for after each use.  The Yuki is stainless clad carbon, a little better on maintanence, but we don't Know its stainless's composition. 

These knives will get a little sharper than the Kagero, but their edge retention is no where near as good.  Also, they have very thin edges, and this is a concern for someone who does not have very good knife skills nor any experience with thin edges such as these.

The Kagero is thin behind the edge also, but less so than the Masakage,  It's SRS-15 steel not only takes a great edge, it holds that edge amazingly well.  You could very conceivably go a whole year without sharpening given ordinary home use.  The only question is what the stainless cladding composition is, Jon Broida will probably know this.

All of these knives are symmetrically beveled, and so ambidextrous.

Given a nickel content in the Kagero's cladding, there are mono-steel knives in Swedish stainless (19c27 in particular for it's edge holding) and Japanese Ginsanko.  These will have no nickel.

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Yes but where are the bear skins they go with?

Goldilocks, faux Damascus =very bad here, as was mentioned, lots of nickel.

BF, here are links for you to check out both makers I mentioned:

I am guessing that the Kagero and masakage both use JIS G4403/SUS410 stainless cladding, which has can vary in nickel content from trace amounts to about 0.5%. I don't believe it will affect your husband at those levels. Again Jon probably knows what the Kagero has for cladding, and likely also the Masakage and other knives as well. Know that I think of it I've never heard any other stainless mentioned for simple non-Damascus cladding.

There are potentially lot's more knives to choose from, but let's work at getting your acceptable materials and general construction options narrowed down first.

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Yes, faux Damascus is just a cladding that goes over a core [mono] steel. Also non-coredl Damascus has never been shown to be better or even equal to monosteel in edge properties. What is referred to today as Damascus steel was never actually used in the production of real military swords, from Damascus or Japan or anywhere else.

It does look nice and that is primarily why knife makers use it, whether non-cored or faux. The only big Japanese brand that offers non-cored Damascus, so far as I know, is Shun.

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