Advice on first "Real" Knife as a 50th Birthday treat to myself?

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Bendor, May 22, 2019.

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  1. May 22, 2019 #1

    Bendor

    Bendor

    Bendor

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    Location:
    Australia
    LOCATION
    Sydney, Australia

    KNIFE TYPE
    Gyuto, possibly K-tip but would want it to still have a reasonably curved profile

    Are you right or left handed?
    Right

    Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?
    Unsure, used to Western and the Wa handle felt alien when I tried it recently, but imagine that would wear off and I dont really like the look of the Western handle on a Japanese blade.

    What length of knife (blade) are you interested in?
    210-240mm

    Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no)
    Unsure, probably would prefer less maintenance than more and the pictures I have seen of patina dont thrill me but it seems photos dont often do justice in this hobby!

    What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife?
    $500AUD ($350USD) but preferably a chunk less and include a nice Saya in the price


    KNIFE USE
    Do you primarily intend to use this knife at home or a professional environment?
    Home use about every other day

    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.)
    Mainly prepping vegetables and boneless chicken / beef / pork

    What knife, if any, are you replacing?
    Mundial 5110 Set with 8" Chefs Knife https://www.bakedeco.com/detail.asp?id=21007 and older 10" Victorinox Rosewood (will still keep them around for more brutal / specific work)

    Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? (Please click on this LINK for the common types of grips.)
    Mainly pinch

    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/Pull, Rocking

    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.)
    Sharpness / sexiness!

    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)?
    Want it to be an impressive knife that I'm honoured to own and use so not looking for a plain blade, and as previously mentioned a wooden handle with a noticeable grain would be ideal

    Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?
    Currently I'm used to a heavy Western knife so there will be a learning curve in both feel and usage/technique, hoping you can suggest something that is a good transition but is not a compromised choice once I'm used to it

    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)?
    Dunno!

    Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)?
    About 30 years ago I was trained in a cheffing course to sharpen with a stone so not averse to learning again, but also using one of the local store's service is an option....but dont know how often I want to have to do either?!?


    KNIFE MAINTENANCE
    Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? (Yes or no.)
    Boos Hard Maple Rustic Edge

    Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)
    Currently only with a steel (can ceramic steels be used on Japanese knives?)

    If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? (Yes or no.)
    Sure

    Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? (Yes or no.)
    Definitely

    SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS
    As the thread title says, its to treat myself for my 50th birthday so would like it be beautiful and make me a proud owner, whilst being fairly simple to use as previously I have only used Western style.

    Since dipping my toe into researching this incredibly deep pool I have discovered that I am amazingly lucky (or as some as you have already pointed out - financially unlucky!) to live very near to both KnS http://www.knivesandstones.com/ and CA https://www.chefsarmoury.com/ so unless there is a very good reason I plan to buy it from there to benefit from their ongoing support and knowledge. I've already been into CA once and plan to make an appointment to visit KnS in the near future.

    Before I started researching this I really liked the look of the Shun Premier, but have been brow beaten on Reddit into seeing the error of my ways! I was also suggested the following that I do like the look of but still believe the CA / KnS route to be a better option.
    Miyabi Gyuto 6000MCT - https://uk.zwilling-shop.com/?cl=details&anid=34073-201-0
    Kramer Meiji 8" - https://kramerknives.com/product/meiji-8-chefs-knives-by-zwilling-j-a-henckels/

    From looking around it seems most people recommend the Tanaka and Wakui options from KnS....but obviously I'm still a noob and just winging it so any advice / recommendations would be much appreciated.

    One thing that has popped up a lot that I have yet to find a good source of knowledge on is the heat treatment and grind that people mention as important. I have found lots on the types of steel but very little on how to discern this?

    Thanks in advance,
    Ben
     
  2. May 22, 2019 #2

    Mute-on

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    Go to KnS. James is incredibly knowledgeable and will help you find the right knife for the start of your journey. You won’t do any better.

    Once you have exhausted KnS (possibly never) by all means look to the Australian craftsmen (Tansu, The 9, etc), the US (HHH, etc), the UK (Catcheside, etc), more from Japan (JNS offerings, Heiji, Watanabe, etc, etc).

    See where this is all going?

    Most importantly, enjoy the journey, and HAPPY 50th!!!!!!

    Cheers

    J
     
  3. May 22, 2019 #3

    F-Flash

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    +1, go to see James. He will help you out, and you get to see knives and handle them.

    http://www.knivesandstones.com/

    Contact him before going, he ain't always there.
     
  4. May 22, 2019 #4
    Since you are in AU then James is your man. Do consider the position of the center of mass. Many knives from James have custom (often ebony) handle which pulls the center of mass more towards the handle. Just something to keep in mind.
     
  5. May 22, 2019 #5

    Nemo

    Nemo

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    If you want a curved profile, you do not want a K-tip gyuto. A word of advice about the profile however- Japanese style knives are thinner behind the edge than Western knives. This makes them better with push cuts and slices, so rocking is not necessary as often. You may find that your cutting style changes considerably when you get a good knife.

    I would suggest a 240mm knife.

    Take a look at Tanaka Nashiji from KnS. Well within your budget. Fairly curved profile for a Japanese knife. It's a thinnish middleweight wide bevel, with a fairly attractive pearskin (nashiji) pattern above the wide bevel. Available in stainless clad ginsanko (stainless) or stainless clad blue2 (carbon). The blue2 is easier to learn sharpening on but ginsanko is not too bad to sharpen. James usually has hardwood sayas available although there has been a shortage recently.

    Great value knife and a great gateway knife.

    Some of the Kurosakis also have a fairly curved profile and are worth looking at.
     
  6. May 22, 2019 #6

    Lazyboy

    Lazyboy

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    Just be careful, breaking down poultry and breaking bones is def NOT a recommended activity for most gyuto ... use your current knives for that kind of rough and tumble?
     
  7. May 22, 2019 #7

    chinacats

    chinacats

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    Happy 50th!

    Tanaka from kns and you'll have $ left for a couple of nice stones.

    Cheers
     
  8. May 22, 2019 #8

    ian

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    Seems like there's often confusion about what is part of the form and what is part of the answer. I've seen replies like this more than once in the past month, at least.
     
  9. May 22, 2019 #9

    Lazyboy

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    my bad, read it on phone,

    Bendor, Crack on! Can't disagree on James at KnS. I had my own "5oth Birthday intro to knives" a couple years ago, and went for a 210 Kurosaki. http://www.knivesandstones.com/syou...10mm-aogami-super-stainless-clad-by-kurosaki/
     
  10. May 23, 2019 #10

    Bendor

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    Thanks everyone, called James just now and off to see him later this arvo....will let you know how I go!
     
  11. May 23, 2019 #11

    Godslayer

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    Going to say get a Tanaka from James, you don't want carbon but get carbon, get a 240mm Tanaka blue #2 Damascus with ebony handle and either single or double metal spacers. With a custom Saya it's either 399 or 428 AUD. I have three 240 Tanaka's and in my opinion it performs the best, the ginsanko one is also a stunning performer if you can't pull the trigger on a carbon, I recommend the none ebony handled variant of you can get it with brass front cap, it's crazy sharp looking, I believe mine is walnut. I'd also suggest a stone, a solid 1k would be a decent start.
     
  12. May 23, 2019 #12

    Bendor

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    So I visited KnS and met with Arun who walked me through the various options.

    I plan to go back there after I have time to mull it over (and can find a suitable time in my / their schedules!) to make a final selection.

    Currently I think I am leaning towards the Tanaka Ginsan Nashiji Gyuto 210mm With Ebony Handle http://www.knivesandstones.com/tanaka-ginsan-nashiji-gyuto-210mm-with-ebony-handle/

    To be honest I think that I'm too much of a novice to be able to differentiate between the various ones I tried as they all felt / cut beautifully if slightly alien to what I'm used to.

    Stainless does seem like the sensible option for me, particularly as Arun told me he sharpens his Carbon version once a week! Is this a mistake, should I be considering other steels?

    Re the handle, I find the ebony ones a little darker than I would like but they promised to look for one of the lighter versions. I think I will probably go for the single metal spacer with black horn ferrule, as I dont like brass and apparently the white spacer darkens over time.

    I notice people have suggested the 240mm which did feel good but I still wonder whether I need all that knife, can anyone advise reasoning for 210 or 240?

    Any further opinions would be appreciated and thanks again for the ones so far.
     
  13. May 23, 2019 #13

    Michi

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    Ginsan is a good steel, and picking something that is stainless is a smart move, in my opinion. If you get hooked, you'll have plenty of opportunities to experiment with reactive steels later.

    210 mm is a good size and will deal with all but the largest of jobs. Also fits into an average workspace without banging into stuff, and it's less intimidating than a 240 mm. You mentioned that you have a 10" Victorinox. If you sharpen that up properly, you still have a larger knife when you think the 210 mm isn't quite long enough.

    The Tanaka is a good choice, IMO!
     
  14. May 23, 2019 #14

    rob

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    Tanaka Ginsan is a fantastic knife, that is the knife i almost always recommend when friends ask what Japanese knife to buy. Size wise,210 or 240 is mostly personal choice. If you have a fair amount of bench space and a large board a 240 is nice. Many people don't so 210 is a great size.
     
  15. May 23, 2019 #15

    Ochazuke

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    I think that’s a great choice! Ginsan is a fantastic steel and as others have said, 210 is plenty of knife for almost anything you’d do in the home kitchen.
     
  16. May 23, 2019 #16

    Tanalasta

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    If you already have a 210mm - I find that it's hard to give up the 240mm. The larger size makes prep and balance that much easier. There's a reason why it is a popular size. If you have a large chopping board, the extra real estate and size does make a longer prep session that much easier. The 210mm however is perfectly fine and I too often reach for a 210mm for the smaller jobs.

    See if they will let you try the knives for a cutting session or at least a bit of time. There are a few new drops also on his website.

    So envious you get to actually go into Jame's store!
     
  17. May 23, 2019 #17

    Elliot

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    As a home user, the sharpening weekly is not anywhere in the realm of necessary, so I wouldn't worry about that.
    James is an absolute gent and his store is one I still shop at whenever possible, even though I am on the other side of the world. In fact, I will message them and ask if they can ship me something and pay slightly more -- just to see the business grow.

    Re: the knife specifically, I would have to agree with the many above that Tanaka Nashiji sounds like a very strong option here, especially for a "first" knife. I would get the carbon and not the ginasnko to fully experience the knife, but that's a personal choice. For the sake of offering a different thought, James carries Wakui in White #2 steel, which will be a touch easier to sharpen, albeit theoretically more "sensitive" - though I do think that's overblown.

    Good luck!
     
  18. May 23, 2019 #18

    MrHiggins

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    With regard to sharpening once a week, don't panic. I think you'll find that your knife will stay plenty sharp for much longer than that. It also sounds like you're very close to KnS, so you could probably pop in and have them touch it up for you when it needs a tune-up.

    I think you'll find, though, that a really sharp knife is a joy to use. Once you get used to that crazy-sharp feeling, it's very hard to go back to anything less. One day, when the good folks at JnS are sharpening your knife, you'll buy a wet stone because you'll want that freshly sharpened feeling more often. You'll then find out that doing little touch ups from time to time is enjoyable in it's own way. Then, the idea of sharpening every week will not only make sense, it will be something you look forward to.

    Please let us know what knife you decide on, and have fun!
     
  19. May 23, 2019 #19

    Bendor

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    Once again, input much appreciated.

    Apologies but is this the one you mean?
    http://www.knivesandstones.com/tanaka-blue-2-nashiji-gyuto-210mm-stainless-clad/

    Thinking I will go back and re-assess 210 vs 240 again as I really do have quite a large chopping board!
    https://www.crateandbarrel.com/john-boos-21x12-rustic-edge-maple-cutting-board/s633810

    Then I will try the both the Ginsan and Carbon Tanakas as well as the Wakui
    http://www.knivesandstones.com/wakui-gyuto-210mm-white-2-stainless-clad-hammered-finish/

    Was also considering this but maybe not entry level?
    http://www.knivesandstones.com/syou...-aogami-super-stainless-cladding-by-kurosaki/

    And this is beautiful but top end of my price range
    http://www.knivesandstones.com/kurosaki-fujin-aogami-super-as-gyuto-210mm/

    Lastly I realise how lucky I am to just drop around the corner to visit KnS, in fact I feel kind of guilty because I know all of you foreigners (!) would really revel in such a "toy shop"...hopefully in the fullness of time I will learn to properly appreciate the "toys"!
     
  20. May 23, 2019 #20

    Elliot

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    The Wakui is an incredible performer. A truly wonderful cutter and top flight knife for practical use.

    And yes, that's the correct link on the Tanaka. You could also consider the damascus line. It's one of the more subtle and beautiful dammy's out there to me. - http://www.knivesandstones.com/tana...uto-240mm-with-custom-octagonal-ebony-handle/

    I think 240 is definitely a good place to go. A lot of people, me included, end up having a mix of various sizes and prefer different sizes for different types (think light v. heavier), but both of these knives are good middle weights in my mind and a 240mm is a lovely, lovely choice in either regard.

    I honestly couldn't say one is "better" than the other, though some may have a different opinion. Some will speak of edge retention in blue steel. A COMPLETELY valid point. However, as a home cook with much shorter sessions and sporadic use, I think it's something that can be a little overblown for us. Context is key there.

    Lastly, re: Kuroaski. I don't have anything bad or good to say, really, just that I think Tanaka and Wakui would be better options. Of course, better involves bias and some may also disagree.
     
  21. May 23, 2019 #21

    Elliot

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    Also, apologies for following up and perhaps muddying the waters. I adore James and, as I mentioned, give him business whenever I can.
    That being said, in my honest opinion, the single best sub $500 USD knife on the market is a Toyama. The old maker is near retirement and is now making his knives with a stainless cladding. Otherwise, the historical knives (the ones I have) have been pretty reactive. This may actually be a good thing for you.

    http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/toyama-noborikoi-stainless-clad-blue-gyuto-210mm/

    It will be a "hefty" 210mm.

    Food for thought.
     
  22. May 29, 2019 #22

    Bendor

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    Just an update, went back to visit KnS today and had a long chat with James. As everyone has mentioned, he was very helpful and easy going, a pleasure to do business with, and I now realise how lucky I am to be a local!

    Onto my selection, I pulled the trigger on a Tanaka Ginsang 240mm that I collect Friday, and taking advantage of being in-store I was able to choose an "off-menu" Wa Rosewood handle....pictures to follow! :D
     
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  23. May 29, 2019 #23

    toddnmd

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    Nice choice. That knife beats many knives that are 2-3x the price, IMO.
    Even better with a special handle.
    Enjoy!
     
  24. May 29, 2019 #24

    chinacats

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    Score!!!
     
  25. Jun 1, 2019 #25

    Bendor

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    So I collected it yesterday and am really happy with the Rosewood handle and the Saya that are a fairly good match, particularly with the white highlights on the Saya matching the white spacers on the handle.

    As to the blade, it is beautiful and the balance and weight feels great even for a noob like myself. As yet I haven't had time / an excuse to try to it properly however the first thing I tried it on was a pear (fitting with the Nashiji finish) and some other fruit for my kids. Wow, thanks to Arun / James' sharpening it is like a razor and I was truly impressed with how the edges of the cut fruit were so perfectly angled as a result!

    Thanks again for everyone's advice on this, just what I was hoping for, now to resist becoming addicted to jknives!

    Photos as promised.... vkFrqknoSzKiY3QyO7F%mQ.jpg Qm1og%W3SwGXpydksWg1rg.jpg c8S1WU+ATdqgXXZeDfqUDQ.jpg FIpOe7fRT02xbBOJUfGJLQ.jpg QvRy5Lv1QD6GDChr6GN4kQ.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  26. Jun 1, 2019 #26

    MrHiggins

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    Very, very cool! Don't forget to show us your collection in six months or so...
     
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  27. Jun 1, 2019 #27

    rob

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    Enjoy!
     
  28. Jun 1, 2019 #28

    Michi

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    That's a very slick-looking knife, congratulations! Put it into your will. One of your children will treasure it.

    And take out that second mortgage first thing on Monday. Interest rates are dropping… ;)
     
  29. Jun 1, 2019 #29

    Xenif

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    Very nice! My first true japanese knife was a Tanaka, now I have three of them. Welcome down the rabbit hole :).
    That rosewood handle is very nice
     
  30. Jun 3, 2019 #30

    Bert2368

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    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019

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