Caught the bug, need help with first major chef's knife!

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mans727

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Hi all,

I caught the culinary bug during the pandemic. Being all cooped up, I decided to do a lot more cooking. Started taking some online courses, and it appears it's time to buy my first high end chef's knife. I'm only a home cook but typically whip up something at least once per day. I'm not strictly a vegetarian, but that's probably 75% of what I make. I'm allergic to poultry, so I would only be trimming beef or slicing fish occasionally otherwise. I'd prefer to have a combination of the sharpest and lowest maintenance blade possible. I've never used a whetstone before although I'd be open to learning. I started researching all the options, and the rabbithole appears to go pretty deep. I realize I'm in way over my head and could really use the collective wisdom of the board. Please lend me your expertise! Thank you



LOCATION
What country are you in?
USA near Chicago


KNIFE TYPE
What type of knife are you interested in (e.g., chefs knife, slicer, boning knife, utility knife, bread knife, paring knife, cleaver)? Chef's Knife: Gyuto

Are you right or left handed?
Left

Are you interested in a Western handle (e.g., classic Wusthof handle) or Japanese handle?
Japanese preferred but can be persuaded

What length of knife (blade) are you interested in (in inches or millimeters)?
8 in or 210 mm

Do you require a stainless knife? (Yes or no) No, but lowest maintenance possible preferred

What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? No max, but would like to keep it to around $500. Am open to being convinced otherwise.



KNIFE USE
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.)
All the above for vegetables. Very little meat trimming.

What knife, if any, are you replacing?
Adding to not replacing. Have a basic Wüsthof set and some ceramics.

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

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.)
Forward/backward slice, 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.)
Best combo of sharpness and low maintenance

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)?
No specific aesthetic, but I can appreciate an artistic touch. Stain resistance a plus.

Comfort (e.g., lighter/heavier knife; better handle material; better handle shape; rounded spine/choil of the knife; improved balance)?
Prefer lighter, do not like very short handles

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)?
The easier, the better.

Edge Retention (i.e., length of time you want the edge to last without sharpening)?
As long as possible.


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

Do you sharpen your own knives? (Yes or no.)
No

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?
Would prefer not to but am open to doing so.
 

Delat

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For low-maintenance I generally like R2/SG2, VG10, and SKD (technically semi-stainless, but mine acts just like stainless). Also blue super / aogami super but it does require a tiny bit more maintenance than pure stainless. Many here like AEB-L but I haven’t tried it yet myself.

Really no need to spend $500. Take a look at Yu Kurosaki, Makoto Kurosaki, Kobayashi Kei, Yoshikane, Yoshimi Kato, Shibata for very thin knives that fall through food, generally under $350. Myojin is super nice and a step up; usually about $100 more expensive but you can find them on sale. For something a little bit thicker and more substantial, I love my Shiro Kamo R2; tsunehisa probably also falls into that bucket.

I’d recommend budgeting $50 for a stone, something like a Shapton Pro 2k would be a good single stone to get you started. Or maybe a Shapton Glass 4k, but then you’d need to buy a holder for it.

There’s a couple great deals over on BST right now you should check out if you’re ok buying used.
 
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Being left handed adds to the complexity. Brands like Tsunehisa are quite neutral though and can be had in ginsan (S3, G3, etc.) which is easy to sharpen and stainless.

I'd recommend getting a quality but lesser expensive knife and a good 800-2000k stone such as the King Neo 800 or a Shapton Pro or Glass 1k or 2k along with a flattening stone.
 

mpier

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There is also a nice Sukenari 210 SG2 K tip on BST, they are great knives and it is a good price as well!
 

mans727

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Thanks for the suggestions. Seems like the Yoshikane is very popular on this board. SKD? Or super blue? Going further down the rabbithole, Konosuke YS seems to be a Yoshi on steroids. Would you recommend looking at that too?
 
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Thanks for the suggestions. Seems like the Yoshikane is very popular on this board. SKD? Or super blue? Going further down the rabbithole, Konosuke YS seems to be a Yoshi on steroids. Would you recommend looking at that too?

Just be aware, that most of the knives you're going to be looking at, unless specifically stated, will be ground with a bias for right hand users.
 

timebard

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Thanks for the suggestions. Seems like the Yoshikane is very popular on this board. SKD? Or super blue? Going further down the rabbithole, Konosuke YS seems to be a Yoshi on steroids. Would you recommend looking at that too?

Yoshi is available in SKD and white #2 - if you're after low maintenance I'd definitely take the SKD version. And be aware that SKD is semi-stainless, not fully stainless... "low maintenance" in this case means you can get away with leaving it on the board for a couple hours, but if you make a habit of leaving it wet/dirty overnight, dumping it in the sink, etc it can still rust.

The YS is a perfectly good option if you're inclined to spend more for a little more attention to detail in the finish. Don't think it'll perform any differently though.
 

mans727

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I
Yoshi is available in SKD and white #2 - if you're after low maintenance I'd definitely take the SKD version. And be aware that SKD is semi-stainless, not fully stainless... "low maintenance" in this case means you can get away with leaving it on the board for a couple hours, but if you make a habit of leaving it wet/dirty overnight, dumping it in the sink, etc it can still rust.

The YS is a perfectly good option if you're inclined to spend more for a little more attention to detail in the finish. Don't think it'll perform any differently though.

I have no problem cleaning and drying immediately. By low maintenance, I mean I'd prefer to keep my sharpening sessions as infrequent as possible.

Would any of these have an equal, or near-equal, grind for my lefthanded affliction?
 
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Another thing you can do is call Epic Edge, Japanese Knife Imports, Bernal Cutlery and more and explain to them what you're after and that you're left handed. They're all very helpful.
 

Benuser

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Just be aware, that most of the knives you're going to be looking at, unless specifically stated, will be ground with a bias for right hand users.
And even when stated as ambidextrous or 50/50, the geometry is optimised for right-handers, with a convex right side and a flat left one, and the edge off-centered to the left.
Has to do with left-handers being traditionally ignored in Japanese culture.
I have yet to see truly neutral Japanese knives, other than lasers.
Apart from steering and wedging problems that are likely to occur after a few sharpenings, expect produce to stick at the flat left side right from day one. Not all retailers are very open about this question, to put it mildly.
Misono and Masahiro have all their series in a lefty version as well, with a fully inverted geometry.
 

mans727

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And even when stated as ambidextrous or 50/50, the geometry is optimised for right-handers, with a convex right side and a flat left one, and the edge off-centered to the left.
Has to do with left-handers being traditionally ignored in Japanese culture.
I have yet to see truly neutral Japanese knives, other than lasers.
Apart from steering and wedging problems that are likely to occur after a few sharpenings, expect produce to stick at the flat left side right from day one. Not all retailers are very open about this question, to put it mildly.
Misono and Masahiro have all their series in a lefty version as well, with a fully inverted geometry.
Oh man. This is gonna make this so much harder. I cut mainly produce, so I really would prefer there to be less stick when slicing. Any lefties out there than can lend a (dominant) hand?
 

tostadas

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For mainly veggies, I'd recommend the Myojin SG2. Mine have been 50/50 grinds, and they're really thin at the edge. So they fly thru even the densest root veggies. The steel is pretty low maintenance. It's stainless (not semi-stainless like SKD), and SG2 has good edge retention compared to most steels in the same price range.
 

Benuser

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I may be wrong but I think @adam92 is left handed.

Be patient and like I said, call around to vendors and talk to them.

Also, maybe edit the title to include "left hand".
Sorry if I'm a bit sceptical about what vendors tend to tell. And makers putting a symmetric edge on an evidently strongly asymmetric blade in order to sell it as ambidextrous, which is just irresponsible.
 

labor of love

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I literally just tell vendors I’m left handed before I order and they usually can find a 50/50 or close to it in inventory. Except for watanabe lol. I have one coming in a few days which was gamble
 

Delat

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Western smiths tend to do 50/50 bevels, if you feel like exploring that option. The ones I follow tend to not do much in stainless though. A dunk in coffee will tame reactivity if you’re ok with that, then you just need to select a higher alloy steel if you’re looking for good edge retention.

This is a pronounced example of what people are talking about with regards to a righty-biased grind. You can see the left side of the blade (right side in the photo) is flat, while the right side is convexed for food release. The core steel (the dark line) is offset to the left to provide more cladding on the right for the convexity.
3DECA94B-48A3-42FC-BF5F-FE14252C6BC9.jpeg


Here’s a symmetrical s-grind from a Western smith. There’s Western smiths who can do a custom for you under $500 but you’d typically wait a few months at least.
41D22F95-1AD5-4527-822C-AEB717BEC5E2.jpeg
 

mpier

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I’m a lefty and never had any problems with getting blades with a 50/50 grind most good vendors are pretty straight forward about selling you the appropriate blade like K&S, CKTG, EpicEdge or Carbon knife of course there are many more to list
 
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Just to throw another semi stainless option out there, I've found my SLD knives to be very stain resistant. Something like the 210 Kaeru form JNS could also be a good option.

ETA: I just looked at my Kaeru, it might not be as neutral as I was thinking...
 
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blokey

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Western smiths tend to do 50/50 bevels, if you feel like exploring that option. The ones I follow tend to not do much in stainless though. A dunk in coffee will tame reactivity if you’re ok with that, then you just need to select a higher alloy steel if you’re looking for good edge retention.

This is a pronounced example of what people are talking about with regards to a righty-biased grind. You can see the left side of the blade (right side in the photo) is flat, while the right side is convexed for food release. The core steel (the dark line) is offset to the left to provide more cladding on the right for the convexity.
View attachment 175296

Here’s a symmetrical s-grind from a Western smith. There’s Western smiths who can do a custom for you under $500 but you’d typically wait a few months at least.
View attachment 175297
Got really a lucky cutom just under month with ShiHan, but typically much longer if not already closed.
 
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