Japanese Knife Set Advice

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by nathan089, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. nathan089

    nathan089

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    Hi All

    Im looking for some advice on upgrading to my first decent set of knives. Ive spent the last few nights reading quite extensively and have come to realise that there is just too much to absorb and it seem like trying to research "whats the best wine". Im hoping that i can get some feedback on what i should be looking at based on the following criteria.

    Pice - not a big issue, i like having the "best" having said that ~$300 per knife is roughly were i am at.

    Blade Type - I dont have experience with non stainless knives and dont want anything that requires extensive maintenance, however i want something that can really hold an edge. I will be the only person using these knives so right handed is fine.

    Sharpening - I have very mininal sharpening experience. Id like a set of knives i can use relatively heavily (for home use, every day) and send of for professional sharpening 6 monthly or annualy.

    Handle Type - I like wa handles preferably rounded or D shape.

    Blade Look - Im some what vain and really do like the damascus, san mai  and the beaten designs, purely from a looks standpoint, though i understand that on a purist level these things might "damped" the feel of the knife.

    Blade Style - I like the idea of using traditional Japanese style blades and learning their associated techniques but would like advice based on the following...I do a lot of fish filleting, seconded by chopping vegies and slicing meats. I currently use a set of Analon knives which are cheap generic style knives. I so either which way i guess i will need to adjust to any new set of knives and techniques.

    Location - I live in Australia and i am some what limited in my ability and access of a decent store to get to feel knives so will be buying sight unseen and will rely solely on advice and what i can read up on.

    Quanitity - Id be looking at starting of with 3-4 knives as needed in addition to a steel, and once again due to my vanity, i require them to be all the same brand.

    Thanks in advance for any help and advice. It will all be greatly apreciated.

    Cheers

    Nathan
     
  2. mike9

    mike9

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    Welcome to ChefTalk - There are so many choices, makers, steels it can be dizzying.  However with high end knives comes the need to learn to maintain them.  A plus to learning to sharpen is you get to fine tune your knives to your cutting style.

    If you haven't already done so head on over to http://www.kitchenknifeforums.com - there are a bunch of guys from Oz there who are quite active on the buy, sell trade forum.
     
  3. kevpenbanc

    kevpenbanc

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    Where in ozz are you ?

    Chefs Armoury have shops in Sydney and Melbourne and are definitely worth a
    visit. If you can get there :)
    http://www.chefsarmoury.com/
     
  4. nathan089

    nathan089

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    Hi, thanks for the advice. I deffinately wish to learn how to maintain them, however i sort have though that would be like learning to drive in a ferarri. I was planning on using my old knives to experiments with different edge types. But in the interim i am looking for some knives that can hold their own for a year or two.
    Im up in brisbane unfortunately. Ive spent alot of time on their website, they look really good. In fact that was where i was going to send my knives for sharpening.
     
  5. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Okay. Here goes. I'm not going to give a full-on diatribe; if you want that, search the ChefTalk wiki thing for my very long article about J-knives. I'll give my considered opinions and others can jump in. I don't use stainless, so I'm not going to give brand or model advice: I don't know enough about it. Others are collector types and will be able to provide such information.

    Ignoring bread knives, which are sort of their own problem (but cheap), you will eventually want the following:
    - anchor knife, almost certainly a French chef's knife
    - small utility knife, either paring or petty
    - slicer
    - filleting knife
    Based on your description of your cooking/cutting patterns and appearance preferences, I recommend:
    - 270mm wa-gyuto
    - petty knife
    - 300mm yanagiba
    - excellent French filleting knife
    Why?

    The French-profile chef's knife, in a good length, is the single most versatile anchor knife. Shifting to an usuba or something is nuts unless you really know what you're getting into, and I don't even want to think about trying to sharpen a stainless one.

    Because that big wa-gyuto is big, you're going to want a really effective small knife, and the petty is more versatile than the paring. More expensive, though, and if you're under a budget at all this is a great place to save money.

    I happen to like a yanagiba for slicing, and when I need slicing where I'm afraid of hitting bone or something, I usually just use my gyuto--or once in a while a ham slicer. I don't like sujibiki, because they seem to me to overlap a lot with gyuto.

    You say you do a lot of fish-filleting, and yet you do not mention a deba-bocho. That suggests to me that you already know how to fillet with a French-style filleting knife. Stick to that. Filleting with a deba is completely different, and in my opinion not worth learning unless you happen to think it's cool or (as in my case) you didn't already know how to fillet any other way.

    I personally dislike all kinds of blade decoration and such--Damascus, etc.--because I think it's ugly, not because of any functional issues. So I can't advise you there.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  6. isabella123

    isabella123

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    Chris, I like your idea of the 270 mm size for the gyuto.  The problem I'm finding with hand forged knives is that 270 mm gyuto's are often in reality more like 280 - 290 mm while the 240 mm are more like 250 mm.  

    Under these circumstances, which size would you recommend…280/290 or 250?
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
  7. benuser

    benuser

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    There's a lot of confusion about blade's length measurement. Japanese tend to produce lengths in steps of 30mm according to a traditional unit. But this length corresponds with a lot of Wa-blades to the distance between tip and ferrule. With Yo-blades, some makers measure the distance between tip and heel, while others apply the one from tip to bolster. So, some makers are known for running short or long. If it matters to you, ask a reliable reseller to actually measure it.
     
  8. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    I tend to think bigger is better.