Chef's Knife Recommendations For a Hobby Chef

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by Mike Weathers, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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    Hi there,

    I'm a long-term lurker on the forums, but I finally registered to ask for some advice on which direction I should head when purchasing a knife. I'm finally back in the market for a Japanese knife, and I'm pulling my hair out pouring through the advice that you've all given to many over the years. All of my experience with Japanese knives have come through Shun and Miyabi. I had a full set of Shun Classics that have lasted me for the last decade, but they've finally been sharpened enough that they can't hold the thinner edge to which I've become so accustomed.

    I'm hoping to pick up a new, utilitarian knife that can handle doing most prep jobs in the kitchen; I spend a fair amount of time chopping greens, root vegatable, etc, but also red meat and chicken. We eat very little fish. I purchased the Shun Dual-Core Kiritsuke earlier this year, and I've come to learn that, even after adjusting my technique for the shape of the blade, I just can't use it effectively. I'd like to sell it and purchase something different. I'm thinking to go the way of a gyuutou instead, with hope that the blade shape will fit my technique a bit better without [as much of] the frustration of learning to use a new knife. I'm willing to spend up to about $300 for a new knife, but I'm hoping to branch out into the larger knife world and away from Shun (after reading through your many aspersions on the brand through the years). I don't have a means of sharpening a knife myself, but I'd love to learn if it means I can procure and maintain a great knife that will last through the years.

    Apologies for the long-winded post. It seemed like it was easier for you to help in earlier forums with extra information. Please help!
     
  2. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    What about the shun kiritsuke shape specifically? I recall it is pretty flat already? What is your ideal shape?
     
  3. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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    I prefer it to be a bit more rounded. I learned my cutting techniques with a western-style chef's knife, and I'm a bit clunky with the flat blade of the kiritsuke (I expected to have less difficulty since I've spent a fair amount of time using a nakiri knife, but it just didn't translate). The gyuutou should be right on the money for me. I've never owned a blade longer than an 8", but I was considering going for the 240mm gyuutou. I know very little about the differences in metal types and different brands, hence my post here.
     
  4. rick alan

    rick alan

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    First thing to understand then is technique. The big-bellied German knife that you call "western," and which typifies the Shun Classic profile, was the result of a marketing scheme. Up until the early 1900's all chef knives where fairly flat profiled and ground thin, which allowed ease of rapid chopping and push-cutting. Germans got the "brilliant" idea to put in a big belly, high tip and thick blade, right to the edge. The big belly meant you could sharpen the knife a whole lot without having to concern yourself with the full bolster (another sorry innovation and story) and creating concavity. A thick blade requires less straightening in the heat-treat process and a thick edge requires less grinding, cost saving measures. And so instead of lifting this heavy knife entirely off the board and futiley trying to get that thick edge to fall through something in a rapid chopping/short-push motion, as is most efficient, the big belly and high tip was use for rock-chopping, a slower/less efficient process. Eventually the tips got too high even, as if more was better.

    So what it comes down to is that a light flat-edged blade works better than the heavy-thick belly-boys, but you have to learn to use it differently. That being said, a conventional gyuto with a good flat and a bit more round at the tip is going to be more versatile compared to the kiritsuki.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  5. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    If you couldn't sharpen the knives yourself, who has been doing it for you? A decade is not long enough to sharpen the Shun's so high up that you can't get a thin edge. Whoever did the sharpening for you must have been very brutal with them knives.
     
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  6. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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    I know the technique is different, and I'll likely keep the kiritsuke as a slicing knife for the time being (after I send it back to Shun for sharpening). I've always had mine sharpened by Shun, rather than locally, since I assumed they'd have a better idea of what they expect from their knives. After the last time I sent them for sharpening, they advised that the blades could no longer be sharpened to the 16 degree angle, but had to be taken to 20-22 degrees because of the number of times they'd been sharpened.

    I'm fairly confident that a gyuutou would suit my needs well, I'm just curious which gyuutou you'd all recommend given my background and intended use. I'd seen the Itinomonn gyuutou recommended a number of times historically through the threads on the subject, as well as a Masamoto KS.The Itinomonn seems to have changed relatively recently with fewer favorable reactions, and I thought I'd reach out to the community for advice rather than pull the trigger on something that I wouldn't be happy with (as happened with the Shun Dual Core Kiritsuke).

    To sum up my question succinctly: given all of the earlier experiences, what might you recommend in the way of a gyuutou?
     
  7. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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  8. millionsknives

    millionsknives

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    Your sharpener has been taking off a lot of metal with power tools and has no idea how to thin a knife or the basics of sharpening. This describes too many professionals.
     
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  9. rick alan

    rick alan

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    More than a few have complained about the Shun sharpeners taking off way too much metal, like ridiculous too much. Consider the service a gaff.

    Geshin Gonbei hammered, great knife, great steel, and has the bling too. The 210 is currently sold out but they have the 240. You don't have to spend $300 on a knife, maybe get some stones and learn to sharpen, it's not hard to do at least as good as Shun's service:
    https://www.japaneseknifeimports.co...ducts/gonbei-240mm-hammered-damascus-wa-gyuto
     
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  10. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    It makes sense now that you said Shun did all the sharpening. They're just trying to systematically destroy your knives so they can sell you new ones! Sneaky little bastards they are.

    If you're just a hobby chef and almost didn't think twice before buying a knife that expensive, I don't think you'll have to worry much about which knife to get. Just choose the shape, the size, and the look that you like the most. Most of the knives in that price range are all good anyway. I have quite a few knives and I can't say that I like one more than the other. They're all great to me in their own ways.
     
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  11. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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    I had no idea that using Kai to sharpen the knives was a problem, but it makes perfect sense now that you've explained it. Sharpening a double-bevel sounded rather intimidating, hence my using the service. Is the learning curve for sharpening easier with white vs. blue steel? I'll go to YouTube University and learn to do it myself with my next knife, but it seems to make sense that I should buy something a tad less expensive to learn with.

    I really appreciate the recommendation for the Gonbei. I had never even heard of the brand, and that's exactly what I was hoping to garner from the community. I knew there had to be better options that Shun knives for that price range. I admit that I'm not scared off by the price of a $300 knife, as long as the product is high quality. I just look at it as $32 a year for daily hours of entertainment!
     
  12. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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    One thing I neglected to mention earlier is that I'm right-handed, so I don't have any particular need for an ambidextrous knife. My wife doesn't often use the higher-end knives we own, but she's a righty as well.
     
  13. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Q: Is your tongue in your cheek?

    I've read of "problems" with Kai/Shun sharpening but it most often seems to be when there is a problem with the blade, like chips or inappropriate sharpening that is then sent to a pro for correction. I sent a chipped and tip-bent in for repair (not Kai/Shun but the shop they used when they weren't doing the sharpening themselves) and they did remove a noticeable amount of metal, but it seemed quite appropriate for the repair required. But never used them for a "normal sharpening".

    Like you, I have too many knives and I like them all... sometimes for different reasons and few/none would be considered a one-knife-does-it-all knife.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017
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  14. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Well the truth is often said in gest, whether intentional or not. And the edge on these shuns does start out rather thick to begin with, much thicker than any knife pretending to be Japanese anyways. Just out of curiousity Mike, about how many times was this knife sent to shun for sharpening, and did it ever have any significant damage?

    To address the righty/lefty issue, it does make a some difference on double-bevelled knives that have asymmetrical profiles across the entire faces, but lefty´s often use them anyways with little complaint.

    As far as spending more on a knife, it wouldn´t make sense here unless you wanted high-wear PM steel, an unusual steel, a particular look, and/or a ¨"very" thin edge and otherwise specific kind of grind.

    You can still get real nice lasers for under $200, for 210´s anyways, but if you really want to persue this could you otherwise be more specific here?
     
  15. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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    They were sent for sharpening maybe as many as 6-7 times for some, and as few as twice for others (my steak knives that see substantially lower usage). There was at least one time where there were a number of visible nicks in the blade, though not so bad that it would merit taking away *too* much metal. Then again, and by my own admittance, I'm a complete novice when it comes to sharpening. I'm hoping to use my older Shuns to practice so as to take better care of the newest addition to my kitchen collection:

    https://www.chefknivestogo.com/moasgy25cu.html

    After reading through a substantial number of older posts, it seemed like the AS would be a suitable option for learning and my first entry into a true Japanese knife; I understand it's a bit pricier than some might advise for a person not working in a professional kitchen and without training on sharpening for care and edge retention, but my kitchen is probably the only area of my home in which I don't mind dropping a bit of scratch to enjoy myself. Any advice you can offer for getting the most out of blue steel? I've previously worked primarily with stainless, and I'm really excited to be looking at something different.
     
  16. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Would it be possible, Mike, for you to post a pic of the edge that can't be sharpened properly? I'm really curious what kind of edge erosion 6 or 7 sharpening has yielded for you.

    BTW, it is quite possible that home cooks spend more on knives than do most pros. :) My philosophy is to spend as much or as little as it takes to satisfy your needS and desires (not anyone else's).
     
  17. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    This is such a bad philosophy that I regrettably follow. It's what put a hundred knives in my hands and put all my savings in the sellers' hands. :(:(
     
  18. rick alan

    rick alan

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    half dozen or so sharpenings, safe to say Shun did the usual hack job. They can still be thinned, but Shun won´t do that for you.
     
  19. rick alan

    rick alan

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    I was suffering jet lag first I responded to the shun sharpening. Shun is just full of sh.t saying the knives can´t be sharpened to 16 dgrees, and actually they typically deliver their knives at 20deg+. Just another of many reasons to forget about shun. Poor qpr, lots of marketing bologna, ethical disonence and just plain bull.
     
  20. Mike Weathers

    Mike Weathers

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    Sorry guys, didn't mean to take so long to respond. I'm having some technical difficulties with my phone at the moment, so the photos are a no-go right now. I suspected it was a bit strange when they painted that statement with a broad brush across the board for the many knives I had sent in - basically my entire block. My 8" chef's knife (sharpened 5-6 times), my nakiri (sharpened 5-6 times, though my wife abused this one), my utility and pairing knives (both sharpened 5-6 times), and even my steak knives (sharpened twice as they see little use). I ended up bludgeoning tomatoes when they first came back, and I called to find out why the knives were so different than usual upon receiving them back, and they advised that they'd still be useful but never as sharp.