Should I trade in my knife? Shun Kaji or something more like the Moritaka?
My parents really made me happy with purchasing a very expensive Shun Kaji 7" Santoku for Christmas this year. Within their ability, it is essentially the best knife they could have purchased for me.
However, I feel like while it looks amazing and seems like I could make it perform perfectly well over the years, I might be happier with something like this guy in my hands:
http://www.This Site Not Allowed Here.com.com/moritaka8.html
I have read many forum posts about different knives and different perspectives. As a mechanical engineering student, I understand the steel differences and I am ready to invest in a sharpening stone (Still trying to decide which will be best) as well as a honing steel or ceramic not to mention the time investment for regular use. Any preferences on this would also help out. Currently looking into norton or shapton stone, and looking into idahone for a honer.
The cost difference is about $50 which could go towards the stone, but I am not sure. Would the moritaka be a much better blade? Is it just up to my personal skill level anyways? Does Shun still have lifetime sharpening going on? A little feedback in this regard would be great. I was also looking at a Tojiro, but I love the kurouchi and classic look of the moritaka and the reviews and what I have read are splendid. Any other suggestions in this price range are game!
Thank you very much, and Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays all. As you can imagine part of the equation is to make sure I dont upset my parents or make them feel like they failed me at picking out an awesome knife, they did an amazing job which I will make sure they know.
What country are you in?
USA - California
What type of knife are you interested in? all around, Gyuto most likely.
Are you right or left handed? Right
Are you interested in a Western handle or Japanese handle? Most likely Japanese
What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)? 240 or 7"+
Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no) No
What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? 250-300
Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment? 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.) Veggies, very little use on meat if at all.
What knife, if any, are you replacing? wolfgang puck box set of santokus made in china.
Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? 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.) push,rock,chop
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.) something that can hold a nice edge, but can be given a nice edge without tons of constant work. I dont use my knives everyday though.
Better aesthetics (e.g., a certain type of finish; layered/Damascus or other pattern of steel; different handle color/pattern/shape/wood; better scratch resistance; better stain resistance)?
I love classical style japanese knives. Kurouchi is very beautiful to me, even though I can see cutting some acidic rough foods and end up streaking it. A little bit of style does matter to me.
Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)? I am a big guy and can handle a heavier blade, but counter-space wise I am not sure of going for over 240mm. Will be getting an endgrain cutting board after this decision.
Ease of Use (e.g., ability to use the knife right out of the box; smoother rock chopping, push cutting, or slicing motion; less wedging; better food release; less reactivity with food; easier to sharpen)? If I go carbon, I want something that has decent anti-reactive properties. A good push cutter is something I would go for, as I want to improve my knife skills further.
Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)? I am willing to stone once a week, but I only use my knives maybe 3 times a week, but that can spike depending on how busy I am.
Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.) yes, I will be using endgrain wood for veggies and a plastic board for meats.
Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.) Not yet.
If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.) Yes.
Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.) Yes.
Congrats on the gift!
I've had Moritakas AS, Tojiros ITK Shirogami, and more than a few Shuns. Of these three brands, I prefer Shuns.
Moritakas take a great edge, but there are many issues with these knives. It's common that these knives develop holes on the edge. In fact, I have a 240mm Moritaka Kiritsuke that has come back from a passaround, and there appears to be a hole forming on the edge. As such, I'm out $200+ for the knife, as there's no way I'm selling it to someone.
Tojiro ITK Shirojami are just poorly fit and finish. The white steel is fun to sharpen, but a 240mm isn't worth more than $30.
As for Shuns, I've only had Classics and Premiers. I don't have the chipping issues that everyone else has with their Shuns, but I'm not that aggressive with my knives. I sharpen the Shuns with DMTs and they have responded well for me. Been trying to "upgrade" my wife's Shun Classic Santoku for a while now, and just this past week she warned me not to touch her knife.
For KU finish knives, I'm a fan of the Kochi. For an inexpensive KU knife, I thought that the Yamawaku was good.
If you want a relatively unreactive carbon, forget Moritaka - the cladding is a PITA. Be careful of reading too much into glowing reviews, there are plenty of people who have had a poor experience with Moritakas (myself included).
As a side note, if you're cooking a few times a week at home you certainly won't need to be using a stone every week.
I actually really like the look of the Shun Premier.
As far as I have read and understood the difference in sg versus vg isnt exactly much if anything. I am half tempted to just trade in for the premier for looks alone.
I will await other opinions before I settle on an option though, thanks for your reply Don!
"As a side note, if you're cooking a few times a week at home you certainly won't need to be using a stone every week."
Oh I know, but I guess the remark was more that I am willing to do so. Finally getting a more serious knife will probably lead me into cooking a lot more often.
Will your parents be cool with you swapping out the knife. If so , go for it. Shuns don't get much respect on this forum, but in the real world of non enthusiasts, people really like the fit, finish and eye appeal. You trade a little performance for aesthetics. If
I never handled some other knives, I'd still think the were "da bomb" . I sharpen a lot of them. People who treat them with respect are very happy with them. People who don't are disappointed they are not indestructible and get little chips when you use them on plates or dump them in the sink. If you don't go for a Shun, there are several very knowledgable vendors right here on this forum who will steer you towards an excellent choice.
I'm a home cook and my Shun Classic 7" santoku is one of my most used knifes. It's very similar in profile and looks to your Kaji but with VG10 instead of SG-2. Also the handles are different. I really like my Shun. I treat it well and don't have chipping issues. The santoku profile is nice. The weight and balance feel good to me and my D-shaped handle is comfortable. Mine has the grantons which I don't like (but thought looked cool when I bought it years ago).
Overall my Shun has been a great performer for 8 years - much better than my old Wusthofs. Within the last year I've thinned it a good deal and now it cuts much, much better.
I also have a Kochi 240 kurouchi gyuto (which Don mentioned) and it just blows the Shun out of the water. The grind is far superior - it just cuts so much better than the Shun (even with the tweaking and thinning). The distal taper on the Kochi is great. Combined with the gyuto shape the tip is so much more useful. The weight and balance also feel great. I find the 240 mm length to come in handy a lot too.
As for sharpening and thinning I find it easier and more enjoyable to sharpen the Kochi. I like to thin each time I sharpen. This helps to maintain the original geometry of the knife and prevents problems from building up over time. The Kochi has wide secondary bevels which make thinning easy. Just thin the knife to whatever finish you want and then sharpen the edge.
For the Shun first let me share that I don't find it difficult to sharpen. I don't have issues with burrs that won't go away. But the VG10 doesn't sharpen as easily or feel as good on the stones as the carbon Kochi does. Also, thinning is a pain. Or, more specifically, finishing and polishing the knife after thinning is a pain. The actual thinning of grinding down the knife and blending the bevels is pretty easy. It's just who wants to leave all those scratches on their fancy Shun? With my Kochi I thin on my King 1000 and stop there. With my Shun I thin on the King, polish on my Gesshin 4000 (my highest grit stone), then run through a progression of wet/dry sandpaper until the blade looks nice. This takes a lot of extra time compared to the Kochi and leaves the damascus cladding looking very muted. I leave it muted as I don't want to also spend time re-etching.
If I were in your position I'd keep the Shun since it was a gift and it's a nice knife. I'd also just sharpen the edge and send it out once a year to get thinned, polished and etched until you're comfortable doing it yourself.
The next thing I'd do would be to get a stone or two and an inexpensive carbon blade and practice, practice, practice. Learn to sharpen freehand and learn to thin. CCK cleavers are cheap and fun to thin and sharpen and cut with. They're especially good for veggies.
Being able to sharpen is awesome. Your knives will always be sharp and you'll get them just how you want them to be. But you're going to make mistakes as you learn to sharpen. It doesn't make sense to get an ultra high performance knife before you can take care of it. Because soon it won't perform that well and then, when you try to fix it, you'll just mess it up even more.
Learn how to get a sharp edge. Learn how to use different grits or strops without rounding the sharp edge you've created. Learn how to get even, consistent bevels. Learn about your knife's geometry and how to maintain it over time. Learn to feel for what your doing and not to go by the numbers.
Lastly, I've found that learning to sharpen is pretty easy (Jon's YouTube videos are great) but it can seem overwhelming or intimidating at first. Learning on a nice knife can add to that intimidation. All you really need is a medium stone to sharpen with and a coarse stone to thin with. I wouldn't worry about high grit polishing stones for a while. Also, I keep a stone wrapped with newspaper and use that for stropping and touch-ups between sharpening sessions.
Weird Wood Pusher
I come at this from a slightly different perspective.
My thoughts are that your parents did a good job selecting a knife as a gift for you.
I would keep the knife and use it often knowing the thought and care that went into selecting the gift for you.
To me it seems a slap in the face to say it is not good enough for you and you want something else.
When you are ready to upgrade just buy what you want. But keep the gift as a reminder of your parent's love and generosity.