Hello CT! Can you help me choose a good knife?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by MVM, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. MVM

    MVM

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exp:
    1
    Nice to meet you all! I have gone in a bit over my head looking for a new knife so I figured best to ask for some professional advice. My budget is $100-600 - I am willing to spend the extra money for something that will really last, my hope is to use this knife daily for life if I spend over $300.

    In a perfect world my knife would be;
    -Sharp with great edge retention
    -Very durable
    -On the heavy side (over 10oz?)
    -8.5 - 9.5 inches
    -Wide for my big hands and extra weight
    -Western style handle

    The two knives I found that really tick all these boxes are unfortunately a bit expensive but the shape and weight of them looks perfect, I would love to find something similar but cheaper.
    https://www.mtckitchen.com/takamura-hsps-pro-yo-deba-knife-240mm-9-4/
    http://www.epicedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=85490

    Not as heavy (maybe less durable) or wide but the other nice ones I have come across that are much cheaper;
    https://www.chefknivestogo.com/katksa18.html
    https://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/collections/all/products/suien-vc-270mm-gyuto
    https://www.japaneseknifeimports.co.../products/gesshin-ginga-270mm-stainless-gyuto
    https://www.mtckitchen.com/sakai-takayuki-inox-gyuto-knife-270mm-10-6/
    http://www.epicedge.com/shopexd.asp?id=95838

    I thanks you for your time and look forward to hearing from you!
     
  2. benuser

    benuser

    Messages:
    1,768
    Likes Received:
    86
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    Can you please elaborate this notion of durability? A very heavy knife like a 550g yo-deba has simply another function than a 220g yo-gyuoto. If properly maintained, i.e. with waterstones, they will both last almost for ever. Well, the gyuto may need a good thinning from time to time and eventually lose a bit of width, but still be very functional. The best knives I've ever used were 120 and 70 years old, and had always been in use. On the other hand, a poor sharpener can grind away a very abrasive resistant Wüsthof in just a few sharpening sessions involving powered equipment.
    Better look for a middle of the road 240 gyuto with a Western handle, get used to the light weight and slightly forward balance, and the high performance resulting from the hard steel and fine edge, and enjoy.
     
  3. galley swiller

    galley swiller

    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    52
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Benuser is absolutely right to speak of "properly maintained" knives.

    Before any recommendation can be made, we need to know if you know how to sharpen or are willing to learn. Any recommendation we might make will simply be worthless if you don't maintain the edge and the blade. All knives dull with use. That's just the truth.

    A former contributor, Boar D. Laze, once put it this way: "If you don’t know how to sharpen, don’t want to learn, and won’t or can’t invest in one of the choices which don’t require much learning – my suggestion is to stick with very cheap knives. Anything expensive is just a waste of money."

    GS
     
  4. galley swiller

    galley swiller

    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    52
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Also, there's a lot we would need to know before any meaningful recommendation can be made. For instance:

    What country are you residing in? (Cutlery availability is significantly affected by location)

    What cutting surface are you using or intend to use?

    What types of food do you cook, or would like to cook? Cutting vegetables can be much different than using a chef's knife against bone. For the latter, you may be better off with acquiring a separate "beater" knife.

    How many people/meals are you cooking for at a single time?

    Chef knives are the workhorses of the kitchen. But a paring knife (or small petty) is an essential for detail work. And for foods with a tough crust and a soft interior (breads, and such vegetables as tomatoes), a long, thin, serrated edge blade is also need. Do you have either of those?

    Are you willing to spend money buying good sharpening gear, and time and effort to learn how to properly use it?

    What type of cutting surface do you have? That makes a significant difference in how quickly a knife edge will dull in use. If available, are you willing to spend get a quality cutting board and to properly maintain it?

    GS
     
    benuser likes this.
  5. MVM

    MVM

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exp:
    1
    Thank you both for the quick and thoughtful replies!

    @benuser /galley swiller - My notion of durability is mostly related to the knife edge holding up. I have never invested much into knives and the issue I always run into is the knife dulling very fast. I have used what I imagine are more typically considered cheap, heavy European knives which is why I want something which is similar to what I am accustomed to, feel wise. That being said, your points make great sense and I would be willing to adapt to a lighter knife if that is the consensus suggestion. I think when looking at the Japanese knives the word "brittle" frightens me. I never put my knives in the dishwasher so no durability concerns in that regard.

    As for sharpening, I am no expert - I have only regularly used a honing steel. Of course if I invest in a good blade I would either learn to sharpen, or send to a professional for actual sharpening. I am very willing to buy and learn to use good sharpening gear but I would prefer a blade that holds up well mostly by honing, rather than removing material as you mentioned. I realize I might be imagining something that does not exist.

    In my home I cook daily, mostly for myself but up to four people at times. I do have a paring knife and a serrated knife but the chefs knife gets used 90% of the time, which is why it's my focus to invest real money in. I cut lots of vegetables and meat - cutting bone will not be a requirement of this knife. I cut on a wooden block.

    I hope my answers make sense - Please let me know if you would like me to elaborate on anything.

    Thanks again!
     
  6. galley swiller

    galley swiller

    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    52
    Exp:
    At home cook
    We really do need to know the country where the country is that the knife will be shipped to. Availability is really, REALLY based upon national distributors and a (very few) international sellers.

    Learning to sharpen isn't that difficult. The main problem seems to be getting past the point of thinking it's too difficult.

    GS
     
    benuser likes this.
  7. MVM

    MVM

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exp:
    1
    @galley swiller knew I forgot something. Delivery will be to California.
     
  8. benuser

    benuser

    Messages:
    1,768
    Likes Received:
    86
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    About the use of a honing steel: it works only very shortly.
    Dulling is caused by abrasion and deformation of the very edge. This deformation -- getting out of true -- happens when steel got fatigued. Steeling remediates, in the sense that the edge is restored. But the fatigued steel is still there, and even a bit more fatigued than it was before.
    A real solution is abrading the fatigued steel and build a fresh edge.
    I tried a few times how steeling operates. Cubing beef on a crappy poly board, with a freshly sharpened soft carbon steel blade. After half an hour performance started to diminish, beyond the acceptable. Steeling allowed to work again for some ten minutes. Steeling again helped for two minutes or so.
    Maintenance on a stone though will abrade the fatigued steel, and the new edge will hold almost as long as one fresh from the stones after a full sharpening session.
    So, look for a knife with a great edge retention AND learn sharpening.
    Best edge retention I've seen so far were
    https://japanesechefsknife.com/products/jck-natures-deep-impact-series-gyuto-180mm-to-240mm-3-sizes

    and the Ryusen Blazen's R2/SG2

    Sharpening the carbon core of the Deep Impact is much easier than with R2/SG2.
    But some prefer a full stainless. That being said, Aogami Super isn't very reactive once a patina has installed, which occurs almost immediately.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
  9. MVM

    MVM

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Exp:
    1
    @benuser Thanks for that information! If I understand you correctly, you're saying that no matter what blade I buy I should plan to learn to use a sharpening stone for best results? Since you sound like an expert on the subject, how often do you suggest I do this vs honing? Any particular honing steel or stones you suggest?

    For your knife suggestions my only concern goes back to the shape and weight - The main reason I am attracted to the "heavy deba" knives is the knuckle clearance they give and the added weight. It's also nice that they seem to be described as usable for more heavy duty work with less delicate edges. If I learn to sharpen, as you are suggesting, I suppose edge retention wouldn't be as huge of a priority as I initially thought. though I have never done it, it would be nice to not worry about chipping the edge of my blade. Would that information alter your suggestion?

    Thanks again!
     
  10. galley swiller

    galley swiller

    Messages:
    450
    Likes Received:
    52
    Exp:
    At home cook
    To get this posted as fast as possible, I'm recycling earlier posts I've made to other threads, along with commentary:

    What I would recommend would be the following:

    Chef's Knife: If you willing to use a slightly longer than 9-1/2 inch blade, then a Mac BK-100 would be my recommendation (about $110 on discount, 10 inch - 255mm - length). The BK-100 is often found used by line cooks in restaurant kitchens.https://www.chefknivestogo.com/macchse10chk.html
    A smaller and thinner alternative is the Mac HB-85. https://www.chefknivestogo.com/macchse8gy.html It's a no-frills Japanese gyuto. On line, the discount price is about $70. It uses Mac's (proprietary "Original" steel and is mostly sold to professionals. It's 8-3/8ths inches long (210mm).
    My take on benuser's suggestion of the JapaneseChefsKnife.com "Deep Impact" is that it's a very good knife, but not necessarily one I would recommend to a noobie. I don't have any real issues with the blade, rather than to comment that it definitely needs to be maintained with appropriate skill. The core steel, Aogami Super, is superlative, when done right. And I am assuming that JCK would not be sending anything other than quality blades. Koki (the proprietor of JCK) is a person who tries to make sure things are done right. But at $210 for the 240mm blade, it's almost twice as expensive as the Mac BK-100.

    Utility Knife: Mac HB-70. This would be the knife for smaller jobs (especially if you choose the larger BK-100 above, or if more than one person is prepping in the kitchen at the same time). About $60 on discount. Multiple sellers on eBay at the discount rate.This is where I might have recommended a santoku. Generally, I don't recommend them, since other knives (such as the gyuto) are just better overall knives. And the chef's knives I list above are just better all-around knives. The HB-70 is listed here, since it's the nearest equivalent in feel to a small French Sabatier-pattern chef's knife.

    Beater Knife: Old Hickory 75-8 slicing knife, 8 inch length carbon steel. Under $12 from Amazon. Mac knives are like almost all other Japanese high quality stainless steel knives - they have very hard steel, which makes for wonderful edge taking and retention. Unfortunately, that comes at a price - if the edge encounters frozen materials or bone, it can cause pieces of the edge to break off, a phenomena known as "chipping". To avoid that, a "Beater" blade can be used around bone. Old Hickory knives are made with 1095 steel. You can put a good edge on them. BUT... the Old Hickory does need thinning before use. One advantage is that will give you sharpening and thinning practice on a very inexpensive knife.
    Paring Knife: Victorinox 3-1/2 inch fibrox handled spear point. Just a few dollars. They will get worn down fast enough in sharpening, so you may not want to invest a lot.
    Bread Knife:
    Victorinox, at least 10 inches long, fibrox handled stamped steel. The serrated edges are difficult to sharpen, so most chefs replace them when they start feeling dull. I prefer Victorinox for their steel ("X50CrMoV15", aka "4116" steel), which is better than most other inexpensive serrated edge bread knives. There are a number of sellers on eBay for around $30.Magnetic Blade Holder: Getting a big wooden block just takes up valuable counter space. Instead, go for a magnetic blade holder. Whether you want cheap or something with more class is up to you. Here, I'm just recommending cheap. Harbor Freight Tools has an 18 inch long bar for just under $5.
    Cutting Board: The BoardSmith 2" x 12" x 18" end grain Northern Maple. This is a very good board. Thick enough nor to easily warp. Splurge here. Just over $120. http://www.theboardsmith.com/product/maple-2-x-12-x-18/

    Mineral Oil for Treating the Cutting Board: I get mine from a local grocery store at $4 for a pint. Look in the pharmaceutical area for mineral oil. It's exactly the same thing that is sold for cutting board treatment on line for $10+ for 8 ounces. Then slather it on in multiple applications until the board won't accept any more oil. The board needs to be saturated in oil, until it just refuses to accept more.

    Sharpening Stones: Chef Knives To Go offers a 3-stone kit with magnifier and deburring felt for $170. These will handle almost everything you need to do. https://www.chefknivestogo.com/3pcstoneset.html

    Angle Guides: For freehand sharpening, this is one idea I kick myself for not thinking about earlier. Just $11. Rather than spending on an Edge Pro, use the stones in the above kit, and these AngleGuides to develop hand sharpening skills. Cheaper in the long run and arguably as good or better.
    https://www.chefknivestogo.com/anguforshst.html

    Some tricks for sharpening: When you have used the AngleGuide to feel the proper angle, keep your wrist rigid. That will maintain the proper angle as you lightly sweep the edge across the stone. If you also use your torso as the body in motion (while keeping your wrist rigid), then that will also minimize angle shifting during sharpening.

    Honing Rod: Idahone Fine Grit Ceramic Rod, 12 inch length. Also known as a "sharpening steel", it's used to align the edge of your blades. One caution: don't whack the edge against the rod. Instead, quietly lay the edge at an appropriate angle against the rod and gently let the edge slide along the rod.$32.
    https://www.chefknivestogo.com/sharpeningrod.html

    That's my take of the most effective "Bang for the Buck". Just over $500.

    Galley Swiller