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View Full Version : Are Shun Premiers that bad? Thinking about a set for a beginner



johnson184
07-22-2013, 09:30 PM
Hey guys,
I'm relatively new to cooking, but I've got about $500 saved up for some quality kitchen knives. Not going to lie, I first got googly eyed when I saw a Shun Premier, and I'm seriously considering ordering this set (http://www.cutleryandmore.com/shun-premier/knife-block-set-p128717).

I have a couple noobish questions. Which knives are essential to have for a beginner? I believe in buy once, cry once so I'd like to invest in some quality knives. It may be bad for me to say this, but I really love the aesthetics of the Shun Premiers and was wondering if there were other quality alternatives that were also very nice looking. Searching through these forums, it seems most people here strongly dislike the Shuns as decent but extremely overpriced knives.

ChuckTheButcher
07-23-2013, 12:16 AM
I agree with the consensus on shuns. I'm not a big fan. Especially for the price. Check out some of the moderate priced brands on korin or japanesechefsknife. Hattori, Misino, Masamoto, Togiharu, Suisen, Mac are all decent brands. All you really need is a chefs knife "gyuto", slicer "sujihiki", and paring knife. At least to begin with. Maybe a boning or fillet knife if you like to do fish or butchery. Also a petty knife is a useful knife too but those are the three main knives. Korin has several sets of all three of these knives from misino and togiharu starting just under $300. I would strongly recommend these over shun. I prefer carbon steel knives, but if your bad about drying them off and taking care of them, then you might want to consider stainless steal. Carbon steel will rust but if you just clean them and dry them off you shouldn't have a problem. If they do get a little rust on them it is a fixable problem. I hope this is helpful.

chinacats
07-23-2013, 12:19 AM
Welcome to the forum!

As to Shun, just better stuff for the money. For $500 you can get a few necessary badass knives--and even a stone to keep them badass. I would suggest: gyuto, parer/petty (depending on preference), bread knife if you cut a lot of bread and you're all set. If you fill out the questionnaire you will get more specific help on gyuto and accompanying knives--it helps us help you and helps you think about some of the things that are important to you.

Cheers

Zwiefel
07-23-2013, 12:26 AM
Jon at JKI also has several starter sets like this...including some not listed on his website. Might be worth a call/e-mail to him, as well as Korin and JCK.

Crothcipt
07-23-2013, 12:30 AM
Shun's look very pretty. They will cut, but you can get a better knife for the money,even with as much bling if you want. Please fill out the questionnaire it will help us help you.

Oh ya :welcome2:

labor of love
07-23-2013, 12:31 AM
this line is fancy hammered damascus clad stuff, the aesthetic is in the same ballpark as shun premiers, but with better profiles, lower prices and better steel http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/gonbei/hammered-damascus-series.html

ChuckTheButcher
07-23-2013, 12:37 AM
I forgot about JKI. It's definitely worth checking out.

ChuckTheButcher
07-23-2013, 12:39 AM
Where is this questionnaire? I'd like to check it out.

Zwiefel
07-23-2013, 12:43 AM
http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com/showthread.php/12791-The-quot-Which-Knife-Should-I-Buy-quot-Questionnaire-v2?highlight=questionnaire

johnson184
07-23-2013, 01:27 AM
Thanks for all your advice so far, and keep them coming please! I'm reading each of them and soaking it all in!

I actually considered doing the knife questionnaire, but honestly... I'm new to all this and will be needing more than just a single knife. Maybe it's just me being picky, but it'd be great to just pick a single line of knives to buy from instead of mix/matching from various makers.
I actually had a few more questions... about how do you store your knives and is it difficult to keep them sharp? My buddy was the one who even alerted me to Shun and just recommended getting everything from them including honing steel and a knife block, but I didn't realize there were so many alternatives out there!
Is there a preferred steel material? I guess I don't really mind overpaying for Shun if they look beautiful and work well, but all these searches keep turning up information on chipping, steel quality, etc.

don
07-23-2013, 01:29 AM
this line is fancy hammered damascus clad stuff, the aesthetic is in the same ballpark as shun premiers, but with better profiles, lower prices and better steel http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/kitchen-knives/gonbei/hammered-damascus-series.html

+1 on this new line from JKI. Until these became available, didn't see anything that was similar to Shun Premier aesthetics, but with the profile and steel that is popular on KKF. I have a couple Shun Premiers (sold the 8" recently), and they are fine knives. If you get them on sale, they are quite nice. I personally like the Premier handles and haven't had issues with Shun's steel, my major negative is the pro belly profile.

EdipisReks
07-23-2013, 01:30 AM
I own 4 Heijis, a Singatirin Honyaki, and a white steel #2 yanagi/usuba set. having said that, i think you'd have a hard time beating that setup, if you aren't interested in spending the next 3-5 years learning to sharpen, and if you throw the steel hone away and replace it with a cheap ceramic one. it's the 3-5 years of sharpening experience that almost everybody here forgets. i can't forget it, because i've had so many pass-around knives come across my cutting board.

brainsausage
07-23-2013, 02:13 AM
VG-10 still dulls during use. I don't see how encouraging one to spend too much on a block of wood to hold too many knives in, is an excuse for not learning to sharpen. There's multiple sharpening services( Dave, Jon, Mr. Sugai) out there as well that could facilitate the purchase of a better two knives, as opposed to this questionable set IMO.

EdipisReks
07-23-2013, 02:17 AM
All steel dulls during use, especially carbon. Sending a knife out for sharpening is a real pain in the ass. The Shuns I send out to people seem to last most of them 2-3 years (the ones who this wouldn't be the case for don't send me Shuns), and these are foodies (and I'm always shocked at what comes back, but they are usually still "wife sharp"). Given this, I think it's a decent set. I only sharpen for friends, in an audio forum I run, and almost never for pay, so perhaps my group is strange.

brainsausage
07-23-2013, 02:26 AM
'Wife sharp' hah! I like that... You're probably right, I've just never had a good experience with either shuns or vg-10. I don't care for the shun profiles in general, and vg-10 gives poor feedback both when cutting and sharpening IMO.

EdipisReks
07-23-2013, 02:35 AM
The typical Shun chef knife profile is garbage, for sure. I've never had problems with the steel, though. I find that problems with steel go away when you have a good coarse stone and use it, though.

Brad Gibson
07-23-2013, 03:15 AM
Shuns are not the great things they portray themselves to be. In a pro kitchen they could possibly be the worst thing ever created. People get them seeing how shiny and cool they look and abuse them in the same way they abuse a German knife and they chip, break tips, and are probably the second most dull knives I see next to globals. If properly taken care of, I could see a shun being a great knife. You don't take a Japanese knife to a honing rod period. And you don't treat it like a beater that you can throw around and drop on the ground and it will be okay. Japanese steel is very fragile and should be taken care of as you treat a piece of crystal or a baby. Wipe it clean, set it gently, and most importantly CARE about! You need to take care of your knives and keep them sharp and I think you can find joy in any knife that you buy as long as you like the profile and looks of it.

EdipisReks
07-23-2013, 03:19 AM
Shuns are not the great things they portray themselves to be. In a pro kitchen they could possibly be the worst thing ever created. People get them seeing how shiny and cool they look and abuse them in the same way they abuse a German knife and they chip, break tips, and are probably the second most dull knives I see next to globals. If properly taken care of, I could see a shun being a great knife. You don't take a Japanese knife to a honing rod period. And you don't treat it like a beater that you can throw around and drop on the ground and it will be okay. Japanese steel is very fragile and should be taken care of as you treat a piece of crystal or a baby. Wipe it clean, set it gently, and most importantly CARE about! You need to take care of your knives and keep them sharp and I think you can find joy in any knife that you buy as long as you like the profile and looks of it.

there are lots of Japanese made knives that should be tossed in the trash, let alone put to a rod. Does this forum seriously have no sense of perspective?

jaybett
07-23-2013, 03:33 AM
Welcome to the Forum.

Dealing with higher end knives, the question you should ask yourself, is how much care are you willing to put into the care and upkeep? As with most things, the greater the price, the more skill is needed by the buyer to use the item and maintain it.

The German style knifes, such as Wustoff and Henkels are an easier to knife to use and maintain, because they are made out of a softer steel. Which means they can take a lot more abuse then a Japanese knife. When the edge of a German knife hits a hard object it will likely roll, while the edge on a Japanese knife will actually chip. The downside of a German knife is that they are heavy, don't get as sharp, and won't stay as sharp as long as a Japanese knife.

Japanese knifes are made out of a harder steel, which means the knifes can be longer, stiffer, lighter, and take a much keener edge then a German knife. Japanese knifes can be made out of carbon steel which will react, right in front of your eyes. Japanese knifes are more fragile then German ones. To get the most out of a Japanese knife, one has to learn how to sharpen.

Shun knives are popular because they are available in most kitchen stores. The stores usually have generous return policies, so you can return the knife after trying them. The typical policy of most Japanese dealers, is that once the knife is used its yours. The only way they will return it, is if something is wrong with the knife.

People first getting into Japanese knives, are attracted to Damascus. It is a very striking look. Most of us will pick up one or two. There is a realization, that it's better to have the money put into the performance of the knife, instead of the appearance, at least until one is a better sharpener. A lot of the high end knives are made out of Damascus style steel.

The main objection to Shun has been the profile on their chef knife. It is set up to rock chop, like the German knives. I think people coming from German knives, find the Shun chef knife, to be a natural fit. The Japanese chef knife the Gyuto is designed to push cut. Of all the chef knives, I've tried the Shun was my least favorite. I didn't like having that tip, waving around, especially in a small kitchen. I did enjoy the Shun nakiri and santoku, in a small kitchen.

Shuns are normally the first Japanese knife, that people pick up. I don't think that they are an easy knife, for a beginner to learn to sharpen on. Dave with Japanese Knife Sharpening, has noted that Shun's take the keenest edge among stainless steels, when they are sharpened on leather straps.

Except for manufactures I don't know anybody who is a fan of knife sets. The chef knife does 95 percent of the work in the kitchen. Everything else is secondary to it. I'd put most of my budget into picking up a good one, plus a few stones to maintain it.

When it comes to buying knifes all of us, benefit from an experienced dealer, who can answer our questions. All the dealers who have sub forums would be excellent resources. Most of us are comfortable recommending Jon at Japanese Knife Imports because, he will sell what a person needs, not necessarily what they want. He will explain why a knife is or isn't a good choice. Before Jon got the store, he was a member of all the forums. A knife nut who is living the dream.

Shun is a nice introduction to Japanese Knives, especially for people coming from German knives. The stores that usually carry Shun have generous return policies, so people can buy knowing that they can return the knife if it doesn't work out. Many people will be happy with their Shuns, for the few that enjoy Shun, but want more, Shun is a gateway to higher end knifes.

Jay

keithsaltydog
07-23-2013, 03:43 AM
Wecome to the Forum:) I have sharpened many Shun Premiers.I find they are easy to sharpen.You have to be careful not to mess up all that surface bling.The steel rod in that Shun set I would not use on the thin VG-10 blade.

For 500.00 you can buy a few quality knives with better Geometry & steel than the Shuns & have coin left over for a whetstone.Learning to sharpen whatever knives you get is the key to good performing blades.If for home a magblock strip on the wall is a way to store your knives.

bieniek
07-23-2013, 03:50 AM
Me actually thinking is there soooooooooo many alternatives to Shuns looks and F&F? Where are them? Masamoto? Really?

Yeah, Hattori comes to mind, and what else really? We can talk performance but this is for people that have already strong preferences.

I wouldve snagged those shuns, and had eyecandy in the kitchen.

Timthebeaver
07-23-2013, 03:51 AM
didn't see anything that was similar to Shun Premier aesthetics, but with the profile and steel that is popular on KKF.

Really? - Almost all of the big makers sell a Tsuchime/hammered damascus line - It's probably the most popular OEM blade out there, available in Yoshihiro/Togiharu/Kanetsune/Kikuichi/Takayuki/JCK flavours, plus others I've probably missed.

My two cents:

The profile of the Shun chef's is unconventional for a gyuto, and almost universally denounced on the forum. I am not a fan myself.
There is nothing wrong with their VG10 - It is a high-performance steel at good hardness. The tales of chipping/crap steel come from poor sharpening/user abuse and not least the fact that it is fashionable to criticise Shuns, which are not as esoteric as many knives discussed here.
The price of the Premiers is competitive with other VG10 "Tsuchime"/"Hammered Damascus" series, plus the Shuns have fancier handles than these. The best value for money in these series is probably the JCK Gekko, although Korin's curent 15% off sale puts the Togiharu hammered damascus (the same OEM knife imo) in the same ballpark.

Some will advocate that the 19c27/Swedish steel "Hammered Damascus" knives are superior to the VG10 knives.

bieniek
07-23-2013, 04:20 AM
Really? - Almost all of the big makers sell a Tsuchime/hammered damascus line - It's probably the most popular OEM blade out there, available in Yoshihiro/Togiharu/Kanetsune/Kikuichi/Takayuki/JCK flavours, plus others I've probably missed.


Come on... Togiharu hammered? Or yoshihiro damascus? Last time I checked out Shuns FF and feel were light years from yoshihiros, or Ive seen Gekko. Them feel very cheap, Im not saying they are bad, esp for the price, but FF or look is not the same league.
It is the bling, but theres nothing wrong in liking it.

Timthebeaver
07-23-2013, 04:27 AM
Come on... Togiharu hammered? Or yoshihiro damascus? Last time I checked out Shuns FF and feel were light years from yoshihiros, or Ive seen Gekko. Them feel very cheap, Im not saying they are bad, esp for the price, but FF or look is not the same league.
It is the bling, but theres nothing wrong in liking it.

Like I said - much more bling handle on the Shun, don't dispute that that the fit and finish is better either - which makes them good value.

The blade is the same material however.

bieniek
07-23-2013, 04:37 AM
I checked the website and this is what I would take for similar money

http://www.cutleryandmore.com/kasumi-damascus/professional-knife-set-p110037

Actually not a bad value, if you can get along without bamboo block.

or these
http://www.cutleryandmore.com/miyabi-fusion/knife-block-set-p129089

jimbob
07-23-2013, 04:52 AM
I was in your exact shoes not that long ago, $500 bucks to spend on some good knives. Thinking that shun and global were the bees knees until i came across this forum. You really dont need all the knives in those sets, i got a gyuto/chefs, petty and parer in the hattori fh line and it was absolutely all the knife i needed. I have since tried a friends shun premier and can honestly say my hattori was considerably better, the heat treat done on them is arguably the best on VG-10 steel. Now, i have a bonafide knife addiction and many more knives, but i would heed the advice these guys give you, which for the most part will be similar for most things, they know their ****. Also, i dont believe it is that hard to keep your knives usably sharp on stones, to get them screaming sharp is a different story....

labor of love
07-23-2013, 05:21 AM
shuns profiles are deal breakers, sorry. just watching all the wrist action required to use one makes me feel tired.

keithsaltydog
07-23-2013, 06:07 AM
shuns profiles are deal breakers, sorry. just watching all the wrist action required to use one makes me feel tired.

Some of the Shuns I have had to sharpen have so many waves & dips in them I have to use the edge of my stone,I agree it is not the steel or the bling that turn me off it is the profiles.

Though the larger Shun premier Gyuto is better that the 8" version.It is thin at the edge,sharpens up nicely,Very pretty knife.I can understand why people go wow seeing it.I feel that most all of Shuns chipping is knife abuse.They sell these things in all the department & Culinary stores cases of shun lines.Alot of people buy them.Think about it most people have zero knowledge about knife care,buy a pretty thin Shun wt VG-10 steel,break the tips put chips in the edge then I repair & sharpen them & give them a short version in no uncertain terms about knife care.
:soapbox:

ChiliPepper
07-23-2013, 06:12 AM
Have to agree with the steel question: if the maker knows its trade, Vg10 is not a steel to be snobbed per se. My first japanese knife was a Hattori HD and despite having tested very decent stuff like Yusuke's AEB-L or Yoshikane's SKD11, it still impresses me.Shuns? Not a fan for the profile and price but never tried them, so can't comment.I'd pick a selection of different knives over a set any day. And it's right: you need at least a waterstone and practice: a dull knife is not fun, brand notwithstanding.

toddnmd
07-23-2013, 06:51 AM
Johnson,

First, welcome!

Second, you're on the right track. Yep, the Shun Premiers look pretty, and feel decent in the hand, but you're going to find very few endorsements here, based on performance, profile, and chipping issues, and most people on here think you can get better steel than VG-10 (and Shun's VG-10 seems to be on the lower end of the VG-10 steels by various knife makers. You were already sensing this in the question posed in your thread title (the short answer is, "Yes, it is that bad--at least for the money you're paying." You can do much better.)

Many folks on here know an incredible amount about knives, and many of us are obsessed with them (I'm more the second than the first). The collective consensus is going to be that you should go with something different.

Very few people here are going to endorse a knife set in a block. Once people get past the idea of having a matching set (which isn't that hard a place to get to), you'll probably be able to see the wisdom of buying the shapes and profiles you need (at least at first--beware that you could be entering the slippery slope of the very pleasurable obsession of the knife quest), which gives you the option of getting good value at various price points. Most knife sets include some knives that get little to no use, which pretty much cancels out any of their initial value. I now really like looking at my knives and having various styles and makers in the collection—it looks so much cooler. And is so much better than any set from any individual maker.

The questionnaire is designed to elicit a response, so people can gauge what you know and like (or the opposite), and to give you helpful information. It was designed with community input and discussion. Simply put, if you take the time to put in answers (even non-answers are helpful), people are going to be able to give you much better answers.

Saying, “What knife should I buy?” is a bit like saying, “What car should I buy?” You’re not going to get good suggestions until you give some idea of how you are going to use either, what features are important or not, etc.

At the very least, what are you using now? What kinds of things do you most frequently cut? And you will need a way to keep whatever you buy sharp.

If you want to do this right, invest in a good gyuto—it will cover a very large percentage of most people’s needs. You can also look into a decent parer (or petty/utility knife), but it doesn’t have to match the quality of your gyuto. I think 120mm is a good all-around size. Or you could go with a longer petty and just use cheap Forschners for paring, and buy new ones occasionally. That is bigger than a parer, but still feels like a smaller knife, and the added size will give you some more options. I don’t think you need a sujihiki/slicer to start off unless you mention a strong need for that. You’ll also need to put some of your money into maintenance and sharpening.

You can get some entry level gyutos for ~$100, but you have a lot more, and better options at the $150-200 level (quite easy to go higher—just ask! ;-). You could spend $50-75 on the petty, and then will need perhaps a ceramic hone or strop, and at the very least a combination stone. It might also be a good time to upgrade your board, depending on what you’re using now. Edge grain at the least, maybe end grain if you care enough to want to spend that money on something that will extend the life of your edges the longest. Having a fairly large board is nice if you have the space—it can make prep easier and more enjoyable.

If you have money left, you could get a bread knife and/or suji/slicer. Or those could wait if you prefer (or if you need the time to save a bit more money).

Above all, the gyuto will most likely get the bulk of the use, so devote as much as you can to that (and things that will keep it performing at the highest level).

And keep your old chef’s knife around to use anytime you want to protect your new gyuto, to give to your less-careful friends and family “helping” in the kitchen, and for sharpening practice.

Mrmnms
07-23-2013, 08:32 AM
A big advantage for buying shuns may be the option to bring them back to be resharpened to the store you bought them from. For someone with no interests or skill in sharpening, a real plus. Maybe you're near someone who provides excellent sharpening. That gives you more options. Shuns are lovely, they are targeted to home use in my opinion, the profile is not designed for pros who will not rock the blade to chop with or use a blade for a 10 to 12 hour shift. If you can't resist after all these sound suggestions here, maybe buy just, on sale ( all the time). If you're still lovin it, buy the rest. They're not going anywhere

bkdc
07-23-2013, 08:42 AM
Shuns are not bad. If you like the profile, and if you like the steel, go right ahead.

They are bad-mouthed on this forum, and people even complain of the heat treatment or steel. But the uniformity and control of processes in the Seki City knife factories where Shuns are produced are pretty tight. If people are chipping their Shuns, it's usually not the fault of the knife maker but rather, the user. Shuns are no more chip prone than any other knife of the equivalent steel and edge thickness used in the manner in which they are used.

77kath
07-23-2013, 08:51 AM
This thread is inspiring me to send my shuns off for free sharpening. The service is invaluable if you don't know how to sharpen (though I expect to learn how in a few weeks). Shun knives are still sharp enough to cut you, even if you are being careful. I agree with the idea of trying one out before investing in a set.

daveb
07-23-2013, 09:49 AM
I discourage home users from buying Shuns because of the difficulty sharpening them. Unskilled use of a sharpening steel will chip the knife, unskilled use of the knife will break tips and chip. Shun does offer free sharpening, though I think there is a service and shipping fee associated with it and 4-6 weeks of delay. Local retailers here, even those that sell Shun, will not sharpen them because 1) Shun discourages it and probably will void any warranty associated with knife and 2) most retail stores "sharpening" setups consist of a behemoth machine with 2 grinding wheels set at 20 degrees. This can do a servicable job with German knives but not so good with Japanese. A dull Shun is duller than an Al Gore speach.

I've gifted Suisin Westerns knowing I'm probably on the hook for sharpening. Most home cooks, IMO, are best served w Germans, Messermeister Meridain, Wushtof Ikon or Henckels 4 Star. Steel them and take them in for sharpening.

johnson184
07-23-2013, 12:18 PM
LOCATION
What country are you in?
United States


KNIFE TYPE
What type of knife are you interested in (e.g., chef’s knife, slicer, boning knife, utility knife, bread knife, paring knife, cleaver)?
Chef's for sure, but also a couple others such as a paring knife.
Are you right or left handed?
Right handed
Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?
I honestly have not really tried many handles, but it seems Japanese styles are the most popular/recommended.
What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?
Since I'm interested in picking up several blades, kinda hard for me to answer this. My first knife... so I'm guessing 8" for the gyuto/chef?
Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)
Nope
What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?
Ideally I'd like to keep everything around $500, but I can stretch the budget more if it's something that really intrigues me.


KNIFE USE
Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment?
100% at home
What are the main tasks you primarily intend to use the knife for (e.g., slicing vegetables, chopping vegetables, mincing vegetables, slicing meats, cutting down poultry, breaking poultry bones, filleting fish, trimming meats, etc.)? (Please identify as many tasks as you would like.)
I'll be needing knives for just about everything as I'm also learning to cook as well. I'm sure I can pick up more knives in the future as I learn different types of food prep/cooking.
What knife, if any, are you replacing?
None! My first knives!
Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)
Since I'm learning, I think I'd ideally like to learn the pinch grip.
What cutting motions do you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for types of cutting motions and identify the two or three most common cutting motions, in order of most used to least used.)
Either the push cut or rocking. I think I'll probably select a knife more suited for push cutting instead of rocking though.
What improvements do you want from your current knife? If you are not replacing a knife, please identify as many characteristics identified below in parentheses that you would like this knife to have.)
Love the appearance of the layered/damascus and wood handles which is why I think I was drawn to the Shun Premiers in the first place. They look gorgeous lol. But I obviously don't need to buy them or a similar looking knife.

KNIFE MAINTENANCE
Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)
Yes. I use a wood board.
Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)
No.
If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.)
Yes... but it scares me that I may mess up.
Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)
Yes.


SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS
Here's some information about myself. I'm a medical student who pretty much just studies nonstop everyday, but I'd like to learn a new skill to help destress and break the monotony of studying. Sooooo I decided I wanted to learn how to cook! My parents can cook, but I live on my own so I have to teach myself. Been watching cooking shows like Gordon Ramsay cookery videos this month, and I realized these cheap knives I'm using are really pretty awful lol. Figured I may as well get a quality set and learn to maintain them as well. I've never sharpened knives before, but I'm interested in learning. Not going to lie, I am a bit worried about completely botching up the knives, but I suppose I could always youtube tutorials.

I know many suggest mixing/matching, but I'm a bit OCD about having everything match so I'd extremely prefer everything come from the same style/knifemaker. Otherwise... it'd just bug me endlessly. I suppose that's another plus for the large collection of different Shun Premier knives, but I think I'd like to learn push cutting whereas the Shun Chef Knives are more for rocking, right?

As I'm very new to this, links to buying them would greatly help as I'm having a hard time just finding them for sale and at the best prices lol. Thanks for all the help you've given me already, but I hope this also helps you guys advise me more!

Noodle Soup
07-23-2013, 12:51 PM
I think people worry too much about destroying their knives while learning sharpening skills. Assuming you aren't using power equipment, it is pretty hard to really destroy a knife by hand sharpening. You may scratch it up a little on the sides but that is just an appearance thing. I'm also guessing anyone in med training has fairly good hand/eye coordination and learning to sharpen should be a very easy skill to pick up.

Mucho Bocho
07-23-2013, 01:15 PM
Johnson, Others here will over far more sage advise than I, however for whats its worth, just keep an open mind. I was like you a few years ago, didn't know anything about knives (still learning) and all the talk going around was literally Japanese. It can be intimidating at first, but like medicine, the termonology will make sense if you spend enough time thinking about it. When someone say hipocampus or epiphyseal disc, your like--OK. But when somone says shinogi line or Uraoshi, you're like huh? We were all there once. Things will make sense if you put in the time and keep an open mind. This forum will teach you volumes, you might also make some friends along the way.

The other little tip i'll give you is let go of "OCD about having everything match so I'd extremely prefer everything come from the same style/knifemaker." Let me clue you in on something, everyone on this forum is OCD. Its a bloody pedantical forum deticated to Kitchen Knives and largely japanese knives at that. OCD is a prerequisite.

Mark my words if you buy a set of matching knives: If you buy anything other than Gyuto, Suijihiki and Petty/Utility you'll be getting knvies that you probably won't use.

cookinstuff
07-23-2013, 02:14 PM
Check out the Shiki's on jck the special edition with buckeye burl is sexy, vg10, sorta similar finish to shun but with a working profile. Never tried one myself, but they look the business if your into Shuns they should be right up your alley, and probably better. You seem to be stuck on the Shuns, so this is my suggestion, they kind of reminded me of Shuns and I really like the look of the paring knife in the series.

They have several series of knives, one being tsuchime damascus just like the shun, they make some really nice handles if you enjoy westerns. Not too expensive either, and cheap shipping from jck.

keithsaltydog
07-23-2013, 02:34 PM
Johnson don't be shy to learn sharpening.I enjoy it & find it a fine relaxed focus.A recomm. would be get a quality single chef knife,not fancy Damascus & learn freehand with it.If you get a fancy blade to learn you might scratch the sides & then it's not so nice as new.Not only will you have a sharp fine blade for your cooking duties you have a skill that frees you fr. someone else buggering up your knife.Some of the best U-Tube in English are Jon's at Japanese Knife Imports. his ---knife sharpening playlist--will steer you in the right direction.You do not need a bunch of stones to start either.A good medium stone like the 1200 Bester will get your chef knife sharp.

Then after you hone your skills if the OCD in you wants some fancy matching knives go for it there are alot of good choices out there.:)

toddnmd
07-23-2013, 06:49 PM
Mucho Bocho busted the OCD argument! Ha! We are a bunch of obsessed people here!

In the end, it's your money, and your choice. But most people on here are going to advise that you're sacrificing a good bit of performance and value to get that matching set.

Mrmnms
07-23-2013, 07:38 PM
How bout buying a 8 inch Forschner and a stone, both for under $100. Learning how to sharpen, and the process of sharpening can be great therapy. It's a good knife and you won't feel bad about scratching it up a little as you learn.

CompE
07-23-2013, 08:22 PM
I usually resist, but I'll pile on here.

Regarding the OP, stay away from that set that you linked. Shun Chef's knives have a lot of belly which makes them in theory, less useful for push cutting/better for rock chopping in theory, except steel is hard enough that rock chopping will damage the edge. The "sharpening steel" is also more likely to damage these knives than straighten the edge. That serrated utility knife is completely useless. I don't think that herb shears are particularly useful; I'd stick with a full sized take apart kitchen shear. I can't say anything in particular against the paring knife or block. Overall, Shun knives are overpriced for what you get, no matter if you are considering looks, performance or a combination of both.

It seems like you want knives that are a few steps above average, but also highly aesthetic, hammered damascus in particular. There are a handful of very similar affordable knife lines that are (or were) available, mostly in VG-10 stainless. As others pointed out, the Gonbei line from JKI, and as of now there's a Western Handled Togiharu Hammered from Korin. There used to be a few more lines like Inazuma/Gekko from JCK, but they seem to be going out of stock and not coming back. You can get an 8" chef's knife (although I'd recommend a 240mm knife instead) and a parer for about 1/2 your budget.

I strongly suggest that you get into sharpening your own knives. I really like the Bester 1200 to start, but if you think you can drop some money on it all at once, pick up Dave's core set of stones from Japanese Knife Sharpening. I'd love to recommend his DVD, but with a budget I think that you'd be better off sticking with Jon's YouTube videos to save a little money for either a stone flattener, another knife, a honing rod and/or stropping materials.

My 2 bits,
-Brandon

Dusty
07-23-2013, 08:56 PM
OP: I think that you knew the answer that you'd get when you posted here "Are Shun Premiers that bad?" You're obviously looking for a quality product, i think that you should look for something special rather than something 'not that bad'.

A lot of non-knife people I know like to have the big knife block sitting on their bench with a matching set of knives - I store my home knives on a wooden magnetic rack mounted on the wall, which I think a much cooler kitchen feature than a knife block. Perhaps if you really want to have all of your knives to look the same, just pick an aesthetic and stick with that, i.e western handled knives with dark handles, or wa-handled knives with dark horn ferrules. Were you to do this, only knife nuts would notice that they are from different ranges.

I'm not sure if this has been mentioned in this thread yet, but I like the idea, that if you are going to spend 80% of your time using your gyuto, then you might as well spend 80% of your knife budget and make that one knife great.

Gravy Power
07-24-2013, 12:30 AM
Here is what I have to say on the matter. I've never been a proponent of Shun's VG10 steel. Some have supported me, some have said it's my lack of ability. If it is the latter, then so be it. I agree with whoever said there is a lack of feedback when sharpening. I havne't found them to be too chippy when properly maintained, just a little more difficult to sharpen.

All of that aside. Adk yourself these questions. If you are OCD, are you going to be ok with all of that bling fading away withing a year. Those hammered damascus knives will not hold up well to minor scratches (fellow student had the Myabi version, and after a year, the center of the knife just looks unglossed and worn). Also as an OCD, are you going to be okay when the factory Shun mark's start fading or getting scratched away. The thing about these knives, is that you'll never be able to attain the absolute "bling" they come with out of the box. Where as with many other options, you can care for the non bling that the knives comes with, and in the case of carbon, even add a little of your own bling.

One more question to ask yourself. Will you continue to visit this site, or be a knife enthuisist after this purchase? If so, and with the more you learn, you will always regret spending that initial amount on these knives. It's not to say they are bad knives, it's just to say that when you spend some time in the community, you regret purchases you made on impulse while trying to jump in. I'm guily of it and so is half of this board. If we can stear you away towards a path that't right for you, then great. If your content with these, you should be, their decent knives. Bottom line, if you plan on being an active member here and learning more about knives in general, you should heed advice and avoid these things like the plague.

Amon-Rukh
07-24-2013, 12:49 AM
If you really like the aesthetics of the Shun premiers, you may want to have a look at the Miyabi artisan line. The aesthetics are almost exactly the same, but the miyabis are sg2 steel instead of vg10, have a flatter profile and an eased spine and choil, which the Shun I handled did not have. That said, I think the miyabis also skew toward overpriced. I'm not sure if Sur la Table is still running the sale they had on the 8" gyuto (around $140 or so, I think?) anymore; if they are that makes it a better investment. That said, I'd probably have a look at that new line from JKI first. :2cents:

Erilyn75
07-24-2013, 01:25 AM
I know I'm late to the party but I came here a few months ago asking for the same advice on the same knives. The very knowledgable members gave me a few recommendations and in the end I bought the Misono 440 gyuto and petty set from Korin. Words can not describe how much I love these knives! They are perfect for me as a home cook and the price is very reasonable. Every time I use it I think of the conversation I had here :)

Erilyn75
07-24-2013, 03:17 AM
Korin is having a 15% off sale too and many different brands of knives to choose from. I got the Misono 440 but you may like something else. I keep my knives in a drawer block because of space issues but the magnetic strip is rather nice and is more eye pleasing than a counter block in my opinion. I find it to be very "cheffy"

As a home cook I find myself using the gyuto/chefs knife for most everything then my petty and a cheap Victorinox boning knife for breaking down chickens. Occasionally I'll use my Tojiro bread knife for bread or tomatoes. Those 4 knives are the only ones I need for all of my kitchen duties and I cook a LOT! I've had the blocks and I never used half of them. No reason ill ever need a birds beak knife, I'm not making radish roses anytime soon lol

johnson184
07-24-2013, 05:23 AM
Wow, did not realize that all the "bling" on the Shun will eventually fade away. You guys convinced me that I should avoid the Shuns. I still have much to learn, but I definitely hope to remain a member of this community even after getting my knives. :)


That said... it seems like many of you are saying I will be using a gyuto for over 90% of the time. Should I just invest in a single high quality gyuto knife and slowly buy other knives later this year as I get enough money? (Just to clarify... the petty knife is for paring, the sujihiki is for slicing meat, and the gyuto knife is for everything else?)
Looking through this thread and searching the forums, it seems the Gesshin Heiji and the Suisin Inox Honyaki are extremely well regarded. The Heiji is definitely eye catching, but what sets the Heiji and Honyaki apart from other knives and each other?

I'm also getting the vibe that I shouldn't be afraid of sharpening, but do all Japanese knives follow the same basic sharpening procedures?

jimbob
07-24-2013, 06:44 AM
Sounds like your on the right track. Gyuto is definately most important, followed closely by a stone. (chicken and egg...) I think you have enough room in your budget for a very well regarded gyuto, a good starting stone and also a smaller petty or parer (i would go for petty). A gyuto will slice meat and even cut bread very well until you get more specialised knives. Both the knives you mentioned are going to be more than good enough. Most would say get something a bit cheaper initially until your confident in sharpening, and with these knives i would agree. For $300 you can get an excellent gyuto that some would even prefer over these knives.
Differences are mostly personal preferences when you get to this price range. And yes, all western style japanese knives (double bevel) follow the same basic sharpening technique. Single bevel is a bit different but id say most of the knives you are looking at would be double bevel.

bkdc
07-24-2013, 07:56 AM
If you really like the aesthetics of the Shun premiers, you may want to have a look at the Miyabi artisan line. The aesthetics are almost exactly the same, but the miyabis are sg2 steel instead of vg10, have a flatter profile and an eased spine and choil, which the Shun I handled did not have. That said, I think the miyabis also skew toward overpriced. I'm not sure if Sur la Table is still running the sale they had on the 8" gyuto (around $140 or so, I think?) anymore; if they are that makes it a better investment. That said, I'd probably have a look at that new line from JKI first. :2cents:


I think Miyabis are underrated. Other than the slippery D-shaped handle and weight imbalance on some of the 7000 and 5000 lines, they are great. The geometry on a Miyabi Fusion gyuto (VG10 steel) is superior to that of any Shun that I've handled. And the Miyabi is priced aggressively as well. I finally got a chance to handle and use the Miyabi Morimoto 600MC gyuto, and it is a true pleasure to use. The geometry on a Miyabi Fusion is identical. I could care less whether it is coming from a 'mass production' company instead of some of the smaller esoteric makers. If it performs well, it performs well.

When it comes to knives, the best thing is to handle and cut with a knife and take the one that feels the best. There's so much variation on handles that you have to really handle one to know what you like.

Ruso
07-24-2013, 10:10 AM
That said... it seems like many of you are saying I will be using a gyuto for over 90% of the time. Should I just invest in a single high quality gyuto knife and slowly buy other knives later this year as I get enough money?

Yep pretty much. With gyuto you can do pretty much anything you will do at home. For the peeling task, you can use your old paring knife for now and buy a petty once you decide on the model. For the petty I recommend something cheaper and stainless as it usually gets more abused then the gyutos....

jared08
07-24-2013, 10:20 AM
The miyabis have been slowly growing in price. I bought a miyabi kaizen 2 decembers ago at sur la tab, 240mm was 150 $ at the time. It was my first j knife (if youll call it that) and in every aspect I liked it better than any shun ive used yet.
But now that we have prpgressed past shun to a SIH and a heiji the real fun has begun. In all honesty, instead of dropping huge coin on that first knife which is gonna see a lot of wear and tear from learning to sharpen and how to cut in general, why not look for something appealing to pop up on BST? Lots of good deals for GOOD blades..
My $.02

Ruso
07-24-2013, 10:59 AM
In all honesty, instead of dropping huge coin on that first knife which is gonna see a lot of wear and tear from learning to sharpen and how to cut in general, why not look for something appealing to pop up on BST?

I tend to disagree. At least when I buy things I like to buy good quality things, knives included. If I spend $80 on an OK gyuto now, I will still buy the $300+ one later. So what is the point on spending the initial $80? It is better to buy a set of stones or a stone for that extra money. You can learn to sharpen on your old knives. Every household has them.

jared08
07-24-2013, 12:11 PM
I tend to disagree. At least when I buy things I like to buy good quality things, knives included. If I spend $80 on an OK gyuto now, I will still buy the $300+ one later. So what is the point on spending the initial $80? It is better to buy a set of stones or a stone for that extra money. You can learn to sharpen on your old knives. Every household has them.

I also would agree learning to sharpen on house knives is the way. But OP stated he is a med school student without any initial equipment, hes buying his first not upgrading.

Brad Gibson
07-24-2013, 02:40 PM
last night the pantry cook at my work let the broiler cook sharpen his shun santoku on a diamond steel and it got all scratched up. the kid now wants 100 dollars to get a new one because of the scratches. I just thought I would add this because I think it's funny.

bkdc
07-24-2013, 02:48 PM
Brad - that makes me feel really really really sad.

Brad Gibson
07-24-2013, 02:50 PM
Brad - that makes me feel really really really sad.

:rofl2:

Noodle Soup
07-24-2013, 03:46 PM
Sounds like more like bad technique than the fault of the diamond steel. I use one practically daily without doing that.

Brad Gibson
07-24-2013, 04:13 PM
Oh it definitely was.

ChiliPepper
07-26-2013, 05:34 AM
Well I think that for a beginner there might be quite a few gyutos out there under 200$ that will be quite performant, will give the OP satisfaction, and wont be intimidating when put through initial stone sharpening exercises. I'm sure everybody will be able to name at least a few. Maybe a better choice than going straight away to a 300+ $ option?

chinacats
07-26-2013, 11:37 AM
Looking through this thread and searching the forums, it seems the Gesshin Heiji and the Suisin Inox Honyaki are extremely well regarded. The Heiji is definitely eye catching, but what sets the Heiji and Honyaki apart from other knives and each other?

I'm also getting the vibe that I shouldn't be afraid of sharpening, but do all Japanese knives follow the same basic sharpening procedures?

You shouldn't be afraid of sharpening...that said, you most definitely do not want to try and learn by sharpening a Heiji. I think you should call Jon at JKI and get his opinion--he sells both the Heiji and the SIH and probably some knives much more suitable for your needs.

Jon's videos (free online) will explain the procedure very clearly; watch those and start practicing.

Cheers!