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Looking for advice/recommendations ... I won't put the S word in the title but it's a knife question

1261 Views 13 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  rick alan
Hello everyone! First I would like to say I only decided to post after 30 minutes of going through the search list for Shun.

I was in Williams Sonoma today for some other things and tried some knives while I was there. I really like fruit and veggies and that is most of what I do, and I just eat out for sushi. Anyway the lady handed me a Shun Santoku 6" around $255, and it felt incredible. I really just dug it and tried it out. The western chef one seemed like it had too much rock to it if that's the right word and felt less balanced. Tried some Wusthof and another one along with some lower Shun but that first Santoku was great. I had never heard of Shun before, but I've had a Wusthoff 5" for a long time that I never liked

Now I see they are not the best choice, but I was just curious who has objectively better product for same price - seems like Shun is all right but everyone says buy elsewhere. I didn't see too much continued discussion in the posts to that end.

I'm a musician and have worked in service industry. Been cooking for 12 years at home but am unstudied. Especially ignorant to knives, I like to sharpen. I've been using a large knife that was probably 60 dollars for a long time and I've wanted something better and with more inspiring design and wood handle. I love well crafted tools.

I'd prefer to only have one knife as I usually am only using one and enjoy the simplicity or peace of mind. The lady told me not to cut meat though with Santoku and I thought well I wouldn't want two so I'd get a paring knife to make it 3.

I'd rather just buy one knife for 200-350 though. Seems like more than that and I might not be able to take advantage of it

I tried to preemptively provide the background info that I saw in other posts, saw you guys say send me a message for more info. Are recommendations for hand crafted makers not allowed on the post?

I have two friends that are chefs and one said theyre all right and would be ok for me, the other said no look at chefsknivestogo.

Edit: Updates below but just wanted to add sharpening preference - I would like to work at that and sharpen with every or every other use at home and not take it in often. Unsure about carbon/regular preference. Like the japanese thing from what I've been able to hold
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"seems like Shun is all right but everyone says buy elsewhere."

No, everyone doesn't say that.  I don't, and never have, and never will.  Which would you rather have: a knife you tried and know you like or a mail order knife you only think you'll like?  I'm a big proponent of try before you buy.

I don't understand the "don't cut meat" comment.  But I don't understand Santoku knives either so maybe there is something I'm missing.  If she said, "Don't cut meat with bones with a Shun" I'd say that maybe she has a good point.

I have too many knives but use two chef knives a lot - Shun chef knife for veg and meat, and Henkel four star for bony meat.  Trying to have 1 knife for all is too hard so your 3-knife option makes a lot of sense to me.
... A bit too thick behind the edge, ...
What exactly does this mean? This is repeatedly stated by a couple of folks on this forum. Compared to what.. or what are the "ideal" measurements for thickness... and who's ideal is it?
Thanks Rick.  That really helps me understand your repeated comments.  For a straight razor that I put to my face for shaving whiskers I understand your concern.  For a cooking knife, I guess we don't share similar experience.  That just isn't necessary for cooking.  Very cool to a knife geek (intended to be a positive nomenclature) but not for a chef/cook, especially a home cook.  But great conversation; I enjoyed it.

p.s.  None of my Shun Classic or Premiers have a "severe convex", even considering the factory edge.  I've seen that on German knives as delivered but never on a Shun.  I never put a micrometer on my knife so I can't comment on the measurements.
I don't even own calipers. For me, "too thick" is when it wedges your vegetables. If it cracks carrots, or pushes onions apart when you are trying to get a good dice, then it is actually a problem. It slows down speed, effeciency, and cleanness of your prep work regardless of professional status.
I own both calipers and micrometers... in both inches and mm. And a few dial indicators that could be used too. But never put them on a knife because we share the same criteria. :)

I also teach cooking to kids occasionally and focus on knife skills. One point I make (and re-make) is that often the cracking can be avoided by remembering that a knife cuts best when it is moving in both directions at the same time.

This notion that someone needs a razor thin knife to cut veg without "cracking" is fairly extreme. Perhaps when making a thin and continuous sheet of daikon, but that is a rather specialized application.
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The fact is many professional cooks are singing the praises of lasers and other knives of more refined (read "thin") geometry. They are actually a large part of the market for these knives I think. And of course no sushi/sashimi chef is going to be seen without a proper chisel-grind edge. They insist a very fine cut is part of what makes the product.

Rick, I am blessed to see a lot of professional chefs in action... frequently. I haven't been keeping count but I would not characterize the market quite the same as you do. Certainly there are pro chefs who are "Japanese Knife" enthusiast and who sing the praises of lasers, but just as many who are using Shun... and even some old dogs using German knives. If I were to put numbers on it I would guess more Western Chefs using non-laser Japanese knives, and many of them are very notable chefs. It is an inconvenient truth that some forum members just don't want to acknowledge.

Professional chefs in the day of yore (or even today) have not been "breaking carrots" or "shredding onions" instead of cutting them using properly sharpened (not meaning "thinned behind the edge" to laser dimensions) German, French, or American knifes. That is an almost ridiculous assertion... unless their knife skills are exceedingly poor. I really wish folks would stop using such nonsensical examples.

I totally understand the "zen" of the knife cut made by a fine handcrafted thin Japanese knife. I, too, admire it... but to be honest, it doesn't generally make the food taste much better. It's all good, though. :)
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