I’m ready to get a quality chef’s knife. Wisdom please?

Discussion in 'The Kitchen Knife' started by Et Vinum Carnis, Jul 10, 2018 at 2:33 PM.

  1. Jul 10, 2018 at 2:33 PM #1

    Et Vinum Carnis

    Et Vinum Carnis

    Et Vinum Carnis

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    I tried to add explanations where they might be helpful.

    LOCATION: Mississippi, US

    KNIFE TYPE

    What type of knife are you interested in? chef’s knife

    Are you right or left handed? Right handed

    Are you interested in a Western handle or Japanese handle? Probably not the most important criterion for me. I’m a home cook without knife training, and the “hook” just makes it feel familiar, but maybe that’s essentially just a set of training wheels that can come off at some point.

    What length of knife are you interested in? 8” is familiar to me. Anything longer would feel unwieldy without a lot of practice. My hands are small. I wonder if shorter than 8” would be a good idea, as in more maneuverable and manageable.

    Do you require a stainless knife? Yes, I assume, because I’m a home cook and want to minimize upkeep effort.

    What is your absolute maximum budget for your knife? $150 +maybe another 20% if it makes a big difference


    KNIFE USE

    Primary use environment? Home

    Main tasks? Slicing then chopping veggies; slicing meats (dividing a raw flank steak, slicing a roasted pork loin); trimming the fat and gristle from the edges of meats; breaking down a roasted chicken; occasionally mincing garlic, celery, and onions. I won’t use it for filleting fish or cutting bone.

    What knife, if any, are you replacing? An unimpressive Calphalon 8” chef’s knife. Part of our 8-year-old knife block wedding present.

    Do you have a particular grip that you primarily use? Finger Point, all the way. The Pinch Grip feels unsafe (probably because I’ve been using dull knives), and the Hammer Grip feels uncontrolled.

    What cutting motions do you primarily use? Rocking 80%, Slicing 18%, and Walking 2%.

    What improvements do you want from your current knife? I’m simply wanting to upgrade to something that’s reliably sharp, easy to maintain, and lighter than my big-box store mass market chef’s knife. I also enjoy a precise fit and finish. If we were talking about cars, I want to go from mid-level Toyota to mid-level Lexus, not Porsche. I’d like edge retention because I’d prefer not to have to get into sharpening as a side hobby. Shipping it somewhere once a year to be sharpened would be perfectly fine.


    KNIFE MAINTENANCE

    Do you use a bamboo, wood, rubber, or synthetic cutting board? Yes, bamboo and wood.

    Do you sharpen your own knives? Not really. Just an electric knife grinder with a steel rod follow-up. I’ll NOT do that with a nicer knife.

    If not, are you interested in learning how to sharpen your knives? Not now.

    Are you interested in purchasing sharpening products for your knives? Not really, but I wouldn’t want this to drastically limit my choices somehow. If this makes a huge difference, then fine I guess. I’m handy and comfortable with things like that, but I’m trying to make this easy.

    SPECIAL REQUESTS/COMMENTS: Thank you for reading and sharing your wisdom!

    EDITED TO ADD: Ok, I’m getting the picture from further researching the forum that everyone is going to suggest that I commit to sharpening my own knife regularly as an integral part of owning a nicer knife. If that’s the case, I hear you, and I wonder if there are ways to handle that on the easier end of a spectrum. I’m a tinkerer, and I could see myself really getting into sharpening as a little obsession for a month, and I’m hoping to avoid that and make this be a true upgrade to my lifestyle in the kitchen rather than a new chore, if that makes sense.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018 at 2:40 PM
  2. Jul 10, 2018 at 2:50 PM #2

    Spipet

    Spipet

    Spipet

    "This is the last knife I'll ever buy"

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    I would suggest a Kaeru from JNS :).
     
  3. Jul 10, 2018 at 3:11 PM #3

    Et Vinum Carnis

    Et Vinum Carnis

    Et Vinum Carnis

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    You think that would be a good knife for me even though I rock cut as opposed to push cut?
     
  4. Jul 10, 2018 at 3:23 PM #4

    Nemo

    Nemo

    Nemo

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    Japanese knives are generally lighter and more nimble. You will probably find that a 210mm gyuto is plenty nimble. My first knife was a 210. Every gyuto I have bought since is 240 or longer. It took a few minutes to get used to my first 240.

    Be aware that Japanese knives have a flatter profile which is less suited to rocking & walking. Also, the edge is thinner and the steel is harder and more brittle, so is vulnerable to chipping if sideways forces are applied, such as occur with walking, scraping (flip the knife and scrape with the spine instead) and go a lesser extent, rocking (the key is to avoid rotating the knifecwhile the edge is in contact with the board). Besides, Japanese knives excel at other cutting styles such as push-slicing.

    In your price range, I'd have a look at Tanaka Ginsan Najishi. A wide bevel knife which is thin without being a laser. Quite a curved profile (but much less so than a German profile). The cladding is stainless and it has a najishi (pearskin) finish above the wide bevel. The Ginsanko steel is pretty easy to sharpen for stainless (but not as easy as carbon steel), with reasonably good edge retention. The spine & choil an the KnS (Knives and Stones) version is very nicely rounded and it comes with a nice ebony octagonal handle. KnS has a "lite" version for a few dollars less. It has a less well rounded spine and choil and a cheaper handle (although reports on the spine, choil and handle of the lite version are generally still fairly positive). Food release is fairly good for a thin knife but don't expect workhorse like food release from this kind of knife.

    The Tanaka Najishis are also available in stainless clad blue2 if you are prepared to look at carbon steel.

    Although I haven't used them, if I lived in USA, I'd also be looking at some of JKI's entry level stuff, perhaps the Gesshin Stainless or Uraku. Maybe a USA member will kindly be along to comment shortly. While at the JKI site, check out Jon's excellent series of sharpening videos.

    Sharpening is not a chore. It's something you do while putting chores off
     
  5. Jul 10, 2018 at 3:46 PM #5

    daveb

    daveb

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    +1 on Tanaka G, just enough belly for a little rocking. Suggest not walking.

    JKI's Gesshin Stainless would also be an excellent choice.
     
  6. Jul 10, 2018 at 3:58 PM #6

    Spipet

    Spipet

    Spipet

    "This is the last knife I'll ever buy"

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    I would say this is still possible. Maybe not ideal, but its a good all-round profile and a good reason to do push cuts more often as well!
     
  7. Jul 10, 2018 at 7:12 PM #7

    JaVa

    JaVa

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    I'll jump on the Tanaka ginsan nashiji bandwagon. It's the best choice for your demands and budget. Though they are very thin behind the edge so I 'd be VERY careful if rock chopping. you need a gentle touch and light thoughts!
    ...and no jay walking on the board.

    The Kaeru, Geshinn Stainless and Tanaka nashiji B2 are all great options too.

    If you want to pick up sharpening the Sigma select II stones is one of the easiest ways to make sharpening very quick, easy and enjoyable work. The SS2 stones were specifically designed for sharpening SS. They're pretty affordable too. Just be careful not to over do it with them because they eat a lot of steal pretty fast. Then again that's what sharpening mostly is, a rock eating metal until the metal is sharp. OK technique has some part in it too, but luckily Jons videos are there for that.
     
  8. Jul 11, 2018 at 8:33 PM #8

    Keith Sinclair

    Keith Sinclair

    Keith Sinclair

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    Actually good technique is more important than taking off a lot of steel quickly esp. for a beginner on a relatively thin behind the edge Tanaka. Like the sigma select for chisels.

    The Tanaka Ginsan lite would be a huge step up from what you are using now. The Ginsan steel is pretty easy to sharpen. It is one of the better knives in your price range. Nashiji finish real chisel carved kanji. Not your dime a dozen shiny stamped logo blades.
     
  9. Jul 11, 2018 at 10:10 PM #9

    JaVa

    JaVa

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    Technique is way overrated. Everyone knows that there is no such thing as a technical problem that can't be solved with ignorance and brutal force?
     
  10. Jul 11, 2018 at 10:53 PM #10

    DitmasPork

    DitmasPork

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    MacPro. Hits all you boxes.
     
  11. Jul 12, 2018 at 12:03 AM #11

    Barmoley

    Barmoley

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    To a hammer everything is a nailo_O
     
  12. Jul 12, 2018 at 1:40 AM #12

    Keith Sinclair

    Keith Sinclair

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    :D I've seen people spending way to much time sharpening taking too much steel off the blade and worse destroying the geometry over rather short periods of time with sloppy sharpening. All you have to do is go into any large kitchen & check out the shapes of chef knives high heels & bird beak tips . Had a chef that would wail away on a quality yanagiba forever with a lot of pressure on the backside. He would do this every time he cut sashimi for Brunch.

    My yanagiba's did not put a micro bevel edges were razor sharp. Of coarse edge was fragile but only cut sashimi & sushi topping with it. Touch up after cutting a lot couple of light progressions and edge leading burr removal. Never more than a couple minutes & back to sharpest knife in the kitchen.
     
  13. Jul 14, 2018 at 5:47 AM #13

    never mind

    never mind

    never mind

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    Thank you for very detailed answers to the knife questionnaire. According to your answers, 8” knife is about 210mm, so maybe you might want to look at Takayuki VG10 210mm. I don’t own the knife. The Vg10 steel can be a big upgrade in your cutting apparatus, and some people like the hammer-finished appearance as well. ...You use finger pointing grip, so you might like a Japanese handle (wa-handle). The knife has a western handle as well (yo-handle), and clocked in happily within your stated budget. Mac Pro seems nice as well, and perhaps will feel more familiar to you than Takayuki VG-10 when you use it.


    The knife feels solid and robust. Many people rock this knife and walk it just fine on the cutting boards. I imagine once you are familiar with it and good steel, you can try laser knives with harder steel later on. Whatever stone/s you will buy, your former knives will also go up to crazy sharp with those stones without problem. No need to throw knives away. Welcome to the forum!
     
  14. Jul 14, 2018 at 5:58 AM #14

    never mind

    never mind

    never mind

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    U can use a jig or sharpening system like Edge Pro until you like to sharpen it freehand.
     

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