BF wants a Shun, but.....

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by pdxcher, Nov 23, 2016.

  1. pdxcher

    pdxcher

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    Hi all.

    I’m new here so thank you for any help and/or suggestions.

    Background

    I want to purchase a knife (or two) for my BF for Christmas. He has wanted Shun knives for a very long time. It’s right up there with him wanting All-Clad. Ugh. So, I started my research. From what I’ve always heard, Shun’s were Japanese made to German specs (no clue what that means), so they’re different than say MAC knives. Again, no clue, so bear with me. During my research I’m seeing that Shun’s aren’t always the best choice – not a bad one - just that there are better knives out there for the money.

    Preference

    I currently have a set of MAC Professional knives. BF wasn’t keen on them, but once I had them sharpened, had him watch a video on how to cut with Japanese knives, and told him he can’t slam them around, he loves them. BUT the handles are too small for his big hands. I’m an Asian woman, I love my MAC’s because they fit. I realize knives can be a very personal choice, so whatever I buy, I need to be sure I can return them OR he can try them out himself first.

    Options

    Here’s why I’m writing….I have heard GREAT things about Murray Carter knives. I can’t afford many of his pieces, but he does have some affordable stuff ($1k is not affordable; $200/knife is way more affordable for a damned good knife). What are your thoughts about him? I ask, because I live about a mile from his shop. I got my MAC knives sharpened there. Do you usually use your indentations when sharpened? Sorry, tangent. Figured I’d ask about Carter or other options, or heck, is Shun still a good option?

    I’ll try to answer what I can. It’s a bit difficult because I’m trying to surprise him. And we'll probably have two of some pieces as I intend to keep my MAC knives around - good thing I have a 22" knife magnet holder thingy.
     
  2. rick alan

    rick alan

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    You can't even get a paring knife from Carter for 200, and his Muteki series is especially not worth the money. 

    Your BF doesn't want the Shun, he just wants the bling, and there are far better performers for the money that can satisfy that and more. Here is just one of the makers:  http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shkar2da.html

    These knives are just as blingy and also great perfomers, but more durable:  https://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/collections/hammered-damascus-series

    Now he just needs to learn how to sharpen, unless he has that down already.  No sense buying a Shun (their sharpening service is not worth the postage) or any other pricey knife unless you can sharpen, or have someone to do it for you.
     
  3. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Then of course here are those who feel their experiences of a particular product are good simply because their experience is too limited to know of any better.  Of course some at least would like to know better, perhaps even pdxcgher's BF, and of course granny bloomers have absolutely nothing in common with VS apparell and the analogy simply doesn't apply here.

    But that of course is all mostly irrelevant as the OP came here because the predominance of opinion she has come across clearly indicates there are better knives, in every way, to be had for the money, and indeed there are.

    And pdxcher, to explain what is meant by "Japanese made to German specs,"  that refers to the big belly curve and high tip of German knives.  Prior to the 1920's no German knives where made like this, rather they all resembled the French profile which is relatively flat and has the tip situated below handle-level.  The new German variation was a marketing strategy as it made sharpening knives with full bolsters (finger guards), easier to sharpen.  In the kitchen it really has more disadvantage than advantage.  Japanese knives are relatively flat in profile and otherwise like those of the classic French design, which were also very thin behind the edge, also unlike German knives, and Shuns, of today.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
  4. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    Welcome to cheftalk. Murray Carter is highly regarded, Im jealous you live so close! His cheaper knives are made by apprentices under supervision but some of those apprentices have been there for years.
     
  5. foody518

    foody518

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    If you look at pictures of the Shun chef knife compared to your Mac's you'll notice the difference in knife shape/profile

    Does your bf pinch grip?

    Can anyone who's used the Itinomonn ho-wood handle comment on its relative size? I've got the burnt chestnut handle which is quite large, was curious if the ho-wood handles are as well. @MillionsKnives @Rick Alan @Mike9
    OP, I assume that since you were considering Carter knives that stainless clad carbon is okay
     
  6. rick alan

    rick alan

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    I have huge hands so "large" in general is a very relative term here. But looking at the picture:

    http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/itinomonn-kasumi-240mm-wa-gyuto/ .... you see that the ferrule is oval shaped, and in effect nicely slender. 

    My Takamura Migaki perfecetly suites the in-hand fine slicing I do so much of, but for the knife work most do the Itonomon is hard to match for price and performance.  It doesn't have the faux Damascus cladding, but for classiness a nicely engraved kanji on the blade beats a mere decal that will soon wear off, faux Damascus or no.

    To get back to one of the OP's original concerns, what makes a kitchen knife worth more than a 1 or 2 digit figure is a thin edge and consistently good heat treat of whatever high quality steel is used, and good geometry.  You would think it only logical that these are the only kind  knives worth spending the money on.  And if the consensus doesn't recommend a knife it is simply because it doesn't meet those 3 criteria, especially when a knife doesn't meet any of those criteria very well.

    @pdxcher, just out of curiosity can you find out which Shun, if any in particular, your BF was interested in?  They have a number of different lines, in both VG-10 and SG-2 steel.  
     
  7. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    Itinomonn handle is bigger than any other wa handle I have by like 20% it is using D shaped shigefusa handle.
     
  8. pdxcher

    pdxcher

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    Thanks for the info on alternative brands. Why must they be all sold out? Hehe. As for sharpening, neither of us knows how, however, Murray Carter Cutlery is down the street and they sharpened my MAC knives and it wasn't expensive (well, IMHO it wasn't, I think I paid $10/knife). And I agree, I think he likes the look of the folded metal. It's not like he's ever used a Shun. If he has and he absolutely loves everything about it, then I probably would get it for him. 
    Thank you for the "Japanese made to German specs" explanation. And for the support of looking beyond Shun. My mom had given me my MAC's, mostly because we have small hands and she felt they'd be a great addition. They were, I love them. But if I have to breakdown a chicken, I grab my German knife since they're less likely to chip. For my BF, I'm trying to balance cost, usage, beauty, and finding a good knife worth the money. 
    Thanks! Trust me, when I found out who he was, how highly people regarded him, I had to take my knives to get sharpened. Granted, I have no idea if he did it himself, but it was that or one other place that got so-so reviews. I swear I thought I saw that he has sharpening classes once in awhile at his shop too, but can't seem to find the info again. Maybe he told me in-person. 
    I don't believe he does a pinch grip. I'll have to pay attention when he uses a knife again. Does that affect the knife he should get? Or type he should use? As for stainless clad carbon, I'll be honest, I have no clue what makes it different. However, I'm pretty sure BF wouldn't know the difference either. Again, I'm pretty sure (may need to ask tonight) BF likes Shun's for their look (folded metal) and feel (larger handle - comfy to him), but otherwise, I don't believe he knows how it actually cuts. So, a knife being stainless clad carbon may not matter. 
    That itinomonn is a pretty knife. :) And yes, I realize "large" is relative. Especially since I have tiny hands. haha. 

    Wait. Are you saying some knives have fake lines/folding (I'm assuming that's what the Damascus is)? Wow. 

    From what I can see recently (search history is great) he was looking at Classic (which I told him to not to move on from). Premier 9-pc set, Blue, Edo....he has no clue what he wants. And while looking at my search history, I see Shun's are 50% off at Williams-Sonoma until Monday (guess I'd better make a decision by then, in case I do go Shun route).
     
  9. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
  10. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Wow pdxcher, despite the Holidays you've really done some thinking on this.  It's nice to know your efforts have been worth while, and this is why we take the time to explain things as we do here in the Knife Forum.  We really want people to have that wow experience when all is finally said and done.

    In the sub $200 category the Geshin Gonbei 210 (8.25") with Japanese handle is still available.  Availability in general is a problem with performance-level Japanese knives, but if time is not an issue, oh they are so worth the wait.

    You have a limited selection of 50% off at WS but, good news in a relative sense, if I had no options but an 8" VG-10 Shun chef knife the one I'd pick is the one on the sale, the 8" kuritsuki http://www.williams-sonoma.com/prod...un-favorites-promo|promo-shun-favorites-promo

    For $99, and as a gift for someone who is not actually performance oriented, I have to say it does look like a reasonable choice for you.  So it looks like the easy choices of the moment are the Gonbei (great steel and everything else, definitely my pick) or the Shun Classic.  Either way your BF is going to be very happy with his new knife.

    Murry's $10 sharpening is definitely worth it, so I believe you are all set there.  Now it's just "decisions, decisions."
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
  11. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Oh, PS

    Faux Damascus does not mean "fake layers."  It simply refers to there being a core steel section, the stuff actually doing the cutting, that is separate from the layered cladding, the so-called "Damascus steel."  So "faux" refers to the fact that these layered section are not functional, but just there for show.  Lots of knives use it, some very expensive and great performing ones too, but it does not add to the performance of these knives, it's purely asthetic.  Actually real Damascus steel is not even a layered construction, oh but that's just a whole nother story....
     
  12. foody518

    foody518

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    @pdxcher by the way this one is still in stock (for now)
    http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/itinomonn-stainless-kasumi-240mm-wa-gyuto/ :)
    I asked about the grip because that can affect how versatile one is to different handle types and sizes. With a pinch grip, which is a good grip to use for many cutting tasks, these differences tend to matter less. The one handle I've had issue with as someone with small hands was actually a handle that ran too big in circumference :/
    Carter knives are stainless cladding with a carbon core steel that is exposed for the last cm or so. That part will react and form patina, or rust if not wiped and dried fairly promptly during and after use.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
  13. pdxcher

    pdxcher

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    Thanks! And I agree, on sale is great. I'm keeping this option in mind, especially for the price.
    Thanks Rick Alan. I always do my research, as thoroughly as possible. I want the best for my money (even if the money doesn't stretch that far). If I read Shun's are worth every dime, it may just not be for everyone, then I'd get them without hesitations. Even my MAC's, I know aren't "the best" but I know my mom does her research too and will get good stuff. I'm grateful for them, especially considering how much I had to use my 8" santoku (I'm not a cook, but I had to cut 6 lbs of potatoes a week for my dog - he had kidney failure). Love that knife. 

    Just to confirm that I'm looking at these correctly, both of those are santoku's, right? I like the Geshin Gonbei. Do you know how that compares to my MAC Pro's? It says it's not as thin as their other line, Gesshin Ginga. However, I do like that it's tough, durable, good edge retention. 

    Glad to hear Murray's $10 is worth it. :) That was the first time I've ever had knives professionally sharpened. All I knew was I had to find someone who knew how to sharpen Japanese knives. I'm grateful he's right here. :)
    Oooohhhh! Well, that's good to know. I thought maybe it was just like some logos that come off after awhile. 
    Have you purchased from that website before? I'm just wondering how long shipping takes. I'm assuming the knives are coming from Denmark (where it's based)? Thanks for explaining about the pinch grip. I'm pretty sure he doesn't use one and I know he dislikes my MAC's because the handles are so small. I think the knives move around too much in his grip. And bummer about Carter's; I am definitely not buying BF anything that will rust. My XH already rusted two of my MAC's and stated, "knives don't rust". AUGH! I was able to clean it, but yeah, don't mess with my knives! And BF is even worse about leaving my knives with food all over it overnight. Maybe he doesn't deserve nice knives. ;)

    Thanks for the options everyone. So far, I think I may go with the Gonbei. Mostly due to price and look....because I know these are all good knives. 
     
  14. foody518

    foody518

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    Plot twist, if he likes scooping up food with the cutting edge, there's a stainless Gesshin Chinese cleaver at Japanese Knife Imports for around $150 ;) EDIT: oh no! Hadn't realized it sold out :/
    But it seems like that Gonbei should be a good choice
    I've bought from JNS before and had about a week turnaround on delivery time. Pretty impressive. Though you're right, would not buy non-stainless for folks who are liable to even rust 'stainless' knives
    Most santoku are around 7 inches or so, uncommon to find longer, and I believe the 210mm Rick is referring to is a gyuto (chef's knife)
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
  15. rick alan

    rick alan

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    I'd really like to give a more in depth reply, you deserve it, but I just haven't got time right now, and it's looking like decision time for you. So in short, the Gonbei really does look like the best choice for the two of you.  Along with having the looks it's a thin knife but you can treat it much like your MAC, it will get at least as sharp and will hold its edge significantly longer. It will even have good food release.  And a 210 gyuto simply has more utility than a santoku.  For the money I do not think you can do better.
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2016
  16. pdxcher

    pdxcher

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    Haha. Plot twist. Love it! 

    Not bad on the turnaround time, I'm impressed. Good to know. 

    I agree on not getting him non-stainless...at least until he learns to take care of them better. :) 

    What do you think of the nakiri instead of a cleaver? I've never had either one, but my chinese friend only uses a cleaver (the big on, not the size of the nakiri). I thought maybe it might be useful?

    There's a matching nakiri to the gyuto that Rick suggested. 
    Aw, I appreciate it, I do! You (and the others) have given me tons to think about. I am pretty sure I'm going to go with the gyuto (unless someone throw something else in the mix). I know he likes the santoku, but trust me, he reaches first and foremost for my chef's knife. 
     
  17. pdxcher

    pdxcher

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    First, I wanted to say thanks to everyone. I decided to go with the gyuto that Rick suggested. And at that price, I'm thinking, maybe I can try to find another piece? I know foody518 suggested a cleaver.

    Below is a picture of my current collection. I have a few other odd knives that I rarely use that aren't shown. In fact, the knife that no one really uses is the 4th knife from the left (actually, I have no clue what to even use that for). Heck, even the bread knife gets used more. Thoughts? 

    Oh, the gyuto I buy will replace my MAC chef knife on the very left. 

     
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2016
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  18. foody518

    foody518

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    I think it's a fun complement to the main knife, but not that versatile to be a main knife. Today while shredding nappa cabbage I was very happy to be using a 240mm gyuto, and by and large nakiri just do not come in that length

    If you do a lot of slicing of roasts, grilled meats, etc. a sujihiki/slicer could be a good addendum. Or if you have found your bread knife to be a bit short for some loaves, a longer bread knife like a ~10 inch MAC Bread Knife. Korin's got a 15% sale on knives for a few more days http://korin.com/Knives/MAC_3
     
  19. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    I have very large hands, but have never found any handles to be problematic. I suspect that BF has not learned to use a pinch grip. MACs are such good knives, I'm inclined to say he should learn a proper pinch instead of getting more knives.

    The second joint of the third finger should be pressed gently against the back of the blade at the ferrule, the rest of the finger wrapped loosely around the handle. The thumb and forefinger gently pinch the blade as far forward as necessary to have a comfortable grip. The last two fingers do nothing. If the knife is extremely sharp, the pinch itself can be almost nonexistent.

    With a grip like this, most of the handle is just there as balancing weight, not something to hold onto.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
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  20. pdxcher

    pdxcher

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    oh, nice bread knife! Unfortunately, I don't need one. And it sounds like there's really no use for the nakiri. Oh wait, the sujihiki, is that what my smaller MAC knife is (second one from the right)? Although, the sujihiki's look longer. We do grill meat a lot and since it's winter, lots of slow cooker meals, haha. Hmm....that may be a thought. Thanks for the suggestion!
    It could be that, I really am not sure. Maybe I'll have him try it out and see. Gratefully, he's willing to try things, just not try washing my knives asap. ugh.