I'm at that point in life where it's finally time to move out of the parents' house post-college and finally looking to buy the set of kitchen basics everyone needs, but I've been stymied by the choice of knife. I'd consider myself a pretty good home cook, though certainly not up to any sort of chef standards.
The knives I've been most experienced with thus far are a Wusthof Grand Prix 8" Chef and Shun's Ken Onion 8" Chef, though I've had some limited hands-on time with a half-dozen or so others. I've found that I vastly prefer asymmetric edges, though don't have enough experience to feel the difference between 100/0, 80/20, etc. I've found a pinch grip to be far and away the most comfortable option, and find it quite uncomfortable to use a knife with a bolster that doesn't run the full height of the return (my apologies if I'm confusing my terms here; I like the bolster setup on the above-mentioned Wusthof, not on the Shun, and definately not on something like the Shun Classic, with the bolster set back from the return).
General usage will be on end-cut rock maple boards for generic home-cook vegetables and whatnot.
Based on this rather limited experience, I believe that the set of features I'm looking for are:
--Somewhere around 210mm/8" range. Anything under 7" doesn't play well with me. A bit longer would be fine, though anything over 270mm is going to be too big for my board, I think.
--Bolster running the full height of the return
I'm not overly concerned about price, but would generally like to keep it under $500 or so if that's a reasonable target. Still, I'd rather buy a good knife once and have it last me than twelve mediocre ones.
Thanks very much!