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Thread: What knife should I buy?

  1. #1

    What knife should I buy?

    Hopefully I'm posting this in the right section -- if not, whoops!

    Hi, my name is Brett, and I'm looking to purchase a new kitchen knife. While doing my research, I stumbled upon this forum and saw that y'all have a dedicated sticky for this express purpose, so I figured I would give it a shot. I just got a new job at a mediterranean restaurant, and a big part of my job is the prep work, which consists mostly of: shredded and salad Romaine lettuce, julienne Roma tomatoes, halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, julienne onions, and julienne roasted bell peppers, and fresh thyme, rosemary, and parsley. Plus some various other herbs and veggies for soups of the day, salad specials, and so on. I do not regularly work with the meats, so they are of little concern to me.

    The kitchen knives at my restaurant are, in a word, terrible. They are cheap, stamped, nameless chef's knives ranging from 7 to 10 inches. They clean their knives in the dishwasher, and store them by piling them up in a 1/3 hotel pan. None of them are sharp enough for me to feel comfortable using them without fear of cutting my fingers. I haven't worked there for long enough yet to know whether they use a sharpening service like my previous jobs, but I doubt it. It's really, really awful. I asked my boss if I could bring my own knife in to work instead. He told me that that was fine, and recommended that I never, ever let anyone else so much as touch it (like I need to be told that!).

    My primary goal is to get a knife that I can use at work without constantly thinking to myself "FML FML FML". Secondarily, it would be nice to upgrade my knife I use at home, which is an 8-inch Victorinox chef's knife (I'm pretty sure it's this one). My Victorinox treats me okay, for such a cheap, janky knife -- but only because the rest of my kitchen at home is just as bad .

    I imagine that any recommendations would be for online stores, which is fine, but if anyone happens to know a place/guy in the Santa Cruz / San Jose, California area, that would be even better.

    On the the questionnaire!

    ---

    What type of knife(s) do you think you want?
    I'm looking at getting either traditional chef's knife or perhaps a gyuto or santoku. I only have experience with chef's knives, but the gyuto seems similar enough, and the santoku seems to be more geared towards my needs (I think?).

    Why is it being purchased? What, if anything, are you replacing?
    Like I said, I'm trying to replace the super-crappy chef's knives. However, in order to really answer these questions and give you all some good info, we can assume that I'm replacing my Victorinox.

    What do you like and dislike about these qualities of your knives already?

    Aesthetics- I think it's plain-looking, if a bit on the ugly side. Aesthetics are not my main concern with the knife, but it does count for something.
    Edge Quality/Retention- It came very sharp out of the box, but rapidly slipped into Dullsville. I had it professionally sharpened once, and was dissatisfied with its retention. I steel it before, after, and during use in order to keep it reasonable sharp -- which is to say, sharp enough to be safe, yet dull enough to be annoying.
    Ease of Use- It's easy enough to use, as it's basically the same as the knives I learned to use at previous jobs (medium-sized chef's knives). When it's sharp, I like it; when it's dull, it's obviously difficult to use.
    Comfort- It's not particularly comfortable. The hard plastic does not conform to my hand, and the grip it seems to want me to use is what y'all call the hammer grip. Unfortunately, when I hold it in this way, I cannot use it for a damn. So, I just use my pinch-grip on it, which works okay because the "ledge" from the handle to the blade makes a nice big spot for my index finger to hand out on.

    What grip do you use?
    I usually use the pinch grip, but I occasionally find a reason to use the finger point (mincing a few cloves of garlic comes to mind).

    What kind of cutting motion do you use?
    My favorite motion is push-cutting, but that doesn't always work for everything, so I'll rock or walk on a case-by-case basis.

    Where do you store them?
    I'd probably store my new knife in my locker at work.

    Have you ever oiled a handle?
    Never. But, if it's simple/easy, I would be happy to learn.

    What kind of cutting board(s) do you use?
    At work, I use those roughly 24"x30" hard plastic, color-coded cutting boards that are common to restaurant kitchens. Y'all know the ones.

    For edge maintenance, do you use a strop, honing rod, pull through/other, or nothing?
    I've only really use a honing rod, but I have tried pull-thoughs before (I was not impressed). I've never tried a strop.

    Have they ever been sharpened?
    Like I said, my Victorinox was sharpened once by a pro at the Farmer's Market. I have no idea about the work-knives, but I doubt it.

    What is your budget?
    Hopefully around $75, but $100 would be okay.

    What do you cook and how often?
    I would typically use this knife for various veggies and herbs, like I said at the top. Probably little to no use with meats.

    Special requests(Country of origin/type of wood/etc)?
    Preferably a wooden handle, because they seem to reduce the stress on my cutting (right) hand, and plus they're pretty. But it's not a deal-breaker.

    ---

    Thanks a lot for your time, and I hope to hear back soon.
    - Brett

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Welcome!, you 'll get lots of great advice here.

    Do you want Stainless, semi-stainless, carbon? or do you not care?

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Welcome to the Knut House! If you could manage a trip down to Venice Beach to visit Jon at Japanese Knife Imports you would greatly benefit.
    You have come to a great place for guidance, though!
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by SpikeC View Post
    Welcome to the Knut House! If you could manage a trip down to Venice Beach to visit Jon at Japanese Knife Imports you would greatly benefit.
    You have come to a great place for guidance, though!
    Unfortunately, I very rarely find myself in the LA area. I might, however, be passing through while en route the the grand canyon later this summer. If so, I'll definitely keep him in mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by jm2hill View Post
    Welcome!, you 'll get lots of great advice here.

    Do you want Stainless, semi-stainless, carbon? or do you not care?
    I'm not real picky between the three. I've never had to care for a non-stainless knife, but I understand that it's mostly a matter of keeping it clean and dry, right? I always do that, regardless.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Crothcipt's Avatar
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    First of all welcome.

    You will get some great idea's here, and some you don't want to even look at. (just because you know they are to high of a price) I got my current work knives from ebay. They are Tanaka's santoku and petty in blue steel. They seem to hold a edge well enough that I only have to strop on leather about 2x a mo. I recommend that you do not use a rod on them. I ended up ripping of the cutting edge on the santoku.

    There are a few others out there that will be brought up, and seem just as good. This is just what I have when I started. Good luck on the search

  6. #6
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    It sounds to me like a carbonext and a king combo stone would be a good start.

  7. #7
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    Yeah. For under $100, Fujiwara will also do. If I were you, I'd push into the $150 range where a lot of nice options reside.

  8. #8
    Awesome, thanks for the replies. I've looked up each of the recommended knives, and found a couple others as well... has anyone here heard of Yamawaku? He's a Japanese guy, forges the knives by hand, and I get the feeling that he works out of his garage and uses Google Translate extensively. Anyway, he has 210/240mm gyutos for $63/$90 at his eBay store. Also, there's a guy selling a used 8" Shun for $75 over at KnifeForums' sales forum. From what I gather, this is a very good price for a Shun; my question is, is it a very good price for a knife? In other words, how much of that $75 is buying me the Shun name as opposed to a quality knife? One of my coworkers and the Kitchen Store lady up the street both seem to worship Shun, but I'm a little more reserved to jump the gun on it.

    For reference, I found a Fujiwara for $83, and a CarboNext for $105-$128.

  9. #9
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    Shun are good knives, but you are paying quite a bit for a name/warranty/F&F. 75 dollars is a good price tho maybe 50 off the original. I would rather have a Carbonext tho. Most people that worship Shun or any big name brand (Cutco, Henckels, Wusthoff...) have never really experienced anything else. When they do they change their mind.

    As far as dealing with 330Mate (ebay) for the yamawaku its pretty damn hard. It takes a while to respond to messages, and if he send you the wrong thing I've had bad experiences trying to get the right one. I would stay away from him. I also believe he badly represents some of the stones he sells, so I would just avoid it. My one experience was bad and I'll avoid doing it again for as long as I can.

  10. #10
    +1 on the fujiwara and buying a good starting stone--king combo has been the stone choice of many beginners, inexpensive and does the job. You can feel good about practicing your sharpening skills on that blade, and for the price the fit and finish is very nice. Stone likely will matter more than the knife...you will wind up replacing the knife eventually, but learning how to sharpen is a priceless skill. Good luck.

    Cheers

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