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Thread: Looking for a professional-quality knife

  1. #1

    Looking for a professional-quality knife

    My girlfriend is a cooking enthusiast and she is going to be going to a culinary school and maybe starting a professional culinary career. I know that she wants a professional kitchen knife and I'd like to buy her one so that she can develop her skills. She likes the look of Shun knives that she has seen in magazines, but I have gotten the impression from my online research that they are not nearly as respected as other brands. So I'm trying to find the best knife for her, ideally with similar style but well-respected and with high performance.

    She is right-handed, but she has never used a single-bevel knife or any other professional-level knife. I think she will take good care of a professional knife, so rust resistance is not that important. I'm planning to buy just one knife for now, so I assume it should be a 240mm gyuto.

    I discovered the Takeda which seems to be really popular and the videos of it in action are impressive, but I am a little concerned about the kurouchi finish and whether she will like it or not. So if anyone has experience with Takeda knives, I'd appreciate your help. I apologize if these are stupid questions. :P
    • Does the rough finish negatively affect the cuts that you make? e.g., if it were used to slice sashimi, would you get a rough surface on the sashimi due to it rubbing again the rough knife surface?
    • Does the unpolished steel rub off on things or blacken your fingers or the food?
    • Do you think the look of the kurouchi finish is an acquired taste or is unattractive?
    • Do your friends with "flashier" knives wish they had your Takeda, or vice-versa?

    I'd also be interested to know of any other knives with similar performance to the Takeda. I have been eyeing the Moritaka Damascus and the Sakai Takayuki 63-layer Damascus, which both look more beautiful to me than the Takeda, but I have no idea how their performance compares.

    What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
    Japanese, high-performance, 240mm gyuto, 50/50 bevel, aesthetically pleasing.

    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
    To hone knife skills for culinary school and/or a professional culinary career. Replacing J.A. Henckels International knife.

    What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?
    Aesthetics-Dislike, the Henckels are boring.
    Edge Quality/Retention-Dislike, seems to have poor retention and the blade seems too thick.
    Ease of Use-Like
    Comfort-Like

    What grip do you use?
    Hammer.

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?
    Not sure what she uses currently--maybe slice, chop, and/or walk. But I'm sure she will be learning new techniques.

    Where do you store them?
    Wood block.

    Have you ever oiled a handle?
    No.

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
    Wood, bamboo, and plastic.

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
    Honing rod.

    Have they ever been sharpened?
    Yes.

    What is your budget?
    If it's worth the money then the sky's the limit.

    What do you cook and how often?
    Vegetables and seafood, every breakfast & lunch and 3-4 dinners per week.

    Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
    We both like all things Japanese so a Japanese knife is preferred.
    Last edited by tschmelcher; 05-20-2012 at 03:35 PM. Reason: Links weren't working so took them out

  2. #2
    Marko 225 Gyuto

    Made of 52100 steel, that will hold the edge very well for her and is not that reactive. Price is also good.
    225 is a good length and this one will probably follow her to the end of her career Id still go for wa handle, maybe octagonal or Markos meji style.
    Make sure to get one of his strops and throw away the honing rod.

    If you choose to go japanese start of with Carbonext. Japanese often use white or blue steel, takes a great edge, easy to sharpen, but doesn't hold the edge that well. You might want to have some stones as well?

  3. #3
    Senior Member DK chef's Avatar
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    WA handle or western handle?

    buy 2-3 knives, not more, petty, Gyuto and a bread knife bread knife is the cheap one, so money on the other 2.

    find out if you/she want´s stainless og carbon, maybe use some money on stones?

    in my opinion never use money on the big brands, they are over prized, you can get so much better pro knives half the prize and get much better performance, its not about the look,, but performance, dont care about damascus and handle look, thats second when you are using them in a pro kitchen.

    i have never used Shun knives, maybe they are good, but for me they are like Global or Mac, famous brand and over prized,

    find some good knives from some of the vendors here and get what you pay for.

    my opinion is only personal, and i have worked in a pro kitchen 17 years, used a lot of globals, mac and german knives, last 2 years japansese real knives, best performance ever 2 last years.

  4. #4
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    I own and use several Takeda knives but I probably wouldn't call them "professional quality." They are more expensive toys for knife lovers like myself Pretty high up keep on that rough carbon finish. I would suggest something like MAC or even Victorinox and F. Dick until she knows what direction she is actually going to take. Given the "Damascus knives" are all about appearance and are not really true Damascus, I would save money and skip them.

  5. #5
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    Being able to maintain and tune is the backbone with nice knives, just like with many other nice tools/machines. It doesn't matter how high of quality you buy if you can't maintain the edge. Sooner or later the knife will dull and wont be of much use unless you are able to maintain it.

    Stones and a couple of solid low priced knives is my recommendation. 1200 Bester and a course diamond plate to keep the stone flat and something like carbonext would be a great starting point. Once sharpening skills are solid and then progress to higher end knives.

    Having the backbone of good stones and good skills is essential.

    Just my 2 cents,
    rj

  6. #6
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    I second the marko 225, great length for what u are looking for. But as others have stated, dont forget stones to sharpen and a strop to maintain the edge.

  7. #7
    Senior Member DK chef's Avatar
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    i wish i have tried the Marko like the rest of you, so i could suggest the knife, looking forward to try it out. mingooch and Oivind? is that a knife for a new culinary student? i can only recommend Carbonext like som others here as a middle knife, otherwise i would recommend yoshikane and Shigefusa

  8. #8
    I was thinking a Wa handle with Carbon steel. I will check out some of the knives and stones on these forums. Thanks!

    DK chef, what Japanese knives have you been using for the last 2 years that you would recommend?

  9. #9
    Ah didn't see your reply there. I'll check out the ones you mentioned. Thanks!

  10. #10

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    Aloha..I am a culinary arts instructor from Hawaii and I would probably steer her away from a Japanese knife at this point in her career. She should learn proper knife handling, care, and sharpening techniques on something a bit more "disposable" like a Forshner or Dexter-Russell. Knives are one of the things at culinary school that tend to grow legs and walk away on their own (if you know what I mean) and it may be a bit sore in the pocketbook if a $300 Takeda were to be lost. Depending upon which culinary school she is going to there are often knife restrictions in place for beginning students. I know that Johnson and Wales as well as the CIA have required knife kits that all beginning students purchase so that all students have the exact same tools. That being said I personally own a 240mm Takeda gyuto and love its rustic look as well as razor edge sharpening abilities. If Japanese steel is still your choice then maybe something that is stainless steel clad maybe a better start in terms of easier care (check out the Hiramoto AS). Good luck in your search!

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