Looking for knife recommendations... with personal history!

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Hi guys! So, I'm just now starting to get interested in higher quality kitchen knives. I've been very into knives and knife collecting my whole life, but it's primarily been pocket knives and outdoors style fixed blade knives. Oddly enough, I have always had a love and passion for cooking, though it's only been at home. My career is in IT, and while I feel very much called to food work, I feel a bit stuck at this point in my life. Never having worked in a professional kitchen, I know that I would start off as like a line cook or whatever making min wage, and that's a far cry from my current salary, which is just under 6 figures. I have recently been offered the opportunity to spend a few hours a couple days a week helping out in my good friend's Thai restaurant. I told him that I'm not looking for a career change at this point, I just want to see how my home skills can be improves with exposure to a professional kitchen. I'll get min wage, but I'd pretty much do it voluntarily just for the experience.

As I said, I have always appreciated knives and also cooking. I am the primary cook in my family, preparing virtually every meal. And while I have pocket knives and woods knives that are into the multiple hundreds of dollars, for some reason I never thought it relevant to pick up high end kitchen knives, which I would use on a daily basis. I've gotten by with cheap Farberware and other Walmart quality knives.

On the plus side of this, I'm already comfortable with sharpening and maintaining good edges. Maybe that's why I've been able to deal with cheap knives for so long. As a fan of Zero Tolerance pocket knives and as a result, KAI... I went with what seems to be the natural move for most people and picked up 2 Shuns - the 7" santoku and the 10" chef's knife. I've been browsing the forum for a bit as I've been looking at CKtG inventory and looking for reviews. I've seen how BDL recommends against Shun for the money. I wasn't aware of so many other quality knives and for me, the Shuns are light years ahead of where I've been. I know the frequent criticism of the Shun chef knife is the higher tip/larger belly and that seems to be true looking at many of the other options. In that case, I feel like the Shun santoku also has more belly than most santoku's - providing that lower tip and what seems to be a bit more of a common gyuto edge profile. I'm still learning my way around both knives... but I'm also open to other suggestions.

I think I would like to get a Wa handle style knife. Is this just a personal preference thing, or is there any reason to go Western style over Wa? I think to my mind, the Wa style just gives the more hand-made impression, aesthetically. The Masamoto KS 270mm Gyuto seems to be a popular recommendation and looks quite nice. The Shiro Kamo AS 240mm seems good, too. I think I'd really like to stay under $300 for my next knife, but if there is a good reason, I'm open to spending a little more - hence the consideration of the Masamoto KS. I've seen many glowing reviews of this blade.

If anyone has other suggestions, I'm all ears. There seems to be a surprisingly limited amount of YouTube reviews for chef knives compared with pocket knives/woods knives/etc.

If it matters to your suggestions, my knife uses are for fruit and vegetables only. I don't eat, cook, or cut meat. No judgement or anything, just including it if it makes a difference for usage.

Thanks all!
 
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Welcome to CT
Are you looking to go more French/ Japanese in blade profile?
Are there other aspects you're looking for that is different than your Shun?
You're okay with going non-stainless?
Wa vs Western - save you 1-2 ounces of weight, more tendency to blade heavy balance
How are you sharpening your current knives?
 
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Welcome to CT
Are you looking to go more French/ Japanese in blade profile?
Are there other aspects you're looking for that is different than your Shun?
You're okay with going non-stainless?
Wa vs Western - save you 1-2 ounces of weight, more tendency to blade heavy balance
How are you sharpening your current knives?
Thanks!

- Yeah, I guess looking to try a Japanese style blade profile. I guess I didn't really realize the difference when I ordered the Shuns. Seems that the consensus is that the Shun is more of a German style. So I figured I should try one out to see which I really prefer. 

- Basically, I guess I don't know what I don't know. For the most part, I'm happy with the Shuns so far. Getting the hang of the feel of a higher quality knife is a little bit interesting. Just open to trying different styles.

- Yes, I'm okay with going non-stainless. Most of my outdoors knives are high carbon - 1095, A2, etc.

- Thanks for the clarification! I guess I'd still like to stick with a Wa style in that it's something different than I'm used to, so if I'm going to get into higher end kitchen knives more seriously, I should change it up a bit. 

- I'm comfortable with several sharpening methods, but I'm using water stones with pretty good success thanks to YouTube channels like VirtuoVice and Burrfection. 

I may also be interested in getting a smaller petty style knife, too. So either a larger gyuto or a smaller petty knife would be great suggestions. If there are good options in the $100-$200 range, I'm certainly open to those for getting my feet wet, but if I should be spending $250... or $350... or whatever to really get something quality, then I'm open to that. 

Cheers!
 
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If what you have is the Shun Classic Chefs, it should be pretty noticeable when you look at this http://www.williams-sonoma.com/prod...YEtvhRcH7r0-zb29rcf2l011Mt7XwhcmbVxoC7HTw_wcB 

compared to these below


Or knives like the Misono and western handled Masamotos http://s64.photobucket.com/user/aurochs_2006/media/NewMisono022.jpg.html .  Less good for rocking technique, great for push/pull cutting

Make sure to also check out JKI's knife sharpening playlist. The working witih carbon steel knives, sharpie trick, deburring, thinning, and tip sharpening videos are definitely worth highlighting. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEBF55079F53216AB

Are you looking for something laser-y, or thin behind the edge but with a sturdier spine, or just a heftier knife overall?

Again with the petty - looking for something pretty laser-y, a bit taller for board work, a bit more substantial, etc.?
 
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@UncleMalice   welcome to cheftalk.   There are no right or wrong answers here.  It's all about your preferences, cutting skills, and sharpening skills.  You will find pretty much EVERYTHING is a tradeoff in some way,  that's why i have so many knives..

ex.

carbon vs stainless

laser vs workhorse

sharp bevel angle vs more obtuse

distal taper or not

blade height

monosteel vs iron clad vs stainless clad

shiny bling damascus vs mirror polish vs patina

The trend in high end kitchen knife forums a few years ago was laser thin knives all day.   They do cut well, but food release is bad because of the flat grind, and they wear out faster (take off a lot of metal sharpening out chips i'll tell you what).  These days sturdier workhorse knives are in mode.  

It's all preference and personally I have dozens of knives that I use for different tasks.   If you are getting one to start I recommend a mid weight gyuto under $200.  You can find a lot of threads on here with recommendations.   If you are going carbon, consider a stainless clad so only the edge is exposed carbon steel.   Cutting food is a lot different than outdoor knives because many common ingredients are acidic, you'll even notice reactivity in onions with their pyruvic acid.
 
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Uh fwiw if you are spending time in a Thai restaurant,   get a chukabocho (japanese steel made chinese cleaver) and learn how to use it from those guys

There's a reason why sugimoto #6 is the most used knife on the old iron chef series in japan.
 
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Thanks foody!

Yes, when I discovered the more traditional Japanese style knives, I realized how different they are from the Shun. I can't say which I prefer yet, since I don't have a Japenese style, but that seems to be the preference of many, so I'd like to give it a shot before I get too set in my ways.

I feel like I want something thin behind the edge, but not super fragile... I haven't had anything too laser-thin though, so I'm not sure. I do like them to have enough height that I can use them on a board as necessary.

I'm considering the Shiro Kamo. Looks like a good price to get into several of the design characteristics that I'm looking for. Any input?

http://www.chefknivestogo.com/shkaaspe15.html
 
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Is this the knife that will be used at your friend's Thai restaurant? I'd steer clear of of soft iron cladding to be conservative. The cladding on these things tends to be way more reactive than the core steel. If you let up on the routine described in the 'working with carbon steel knives' video, expect to be scrubbing off rust. Ask me how I know...

http://www.knivesandstones.com/syou...-aogami-super-stainless-cladding-by-kurosaki/ Similar to the one you were looking at, but stainless clad

Stainless clad carbon-

Kickass reach buy - https://www.japaneseknifeimports.co...270mm-kurouchi-stainless-clad-carbon-wa-gyuto or ask about restock time on the 240mm's

Stainless clad, thin behind the edge cutters http://www.japanesenaturalstones.com/itinomonn/ whenever the 240/270mm knives restock

On both of those, microbevel if needed.

Full stainless options-

http://www.knivesandstones.com/syousin-suminagashi-r2-damascus-gyuto-240mm-by-shiro-kamo/ this one runs a fair bit taller at the heel (toggle USD if it's not automatically like that)

http://www.knivesandstones.com/tanaka-ginsan-nashiji-gyuto-240mm-with-ebony-handle/ my understanding is that the profile on the Tanaka gyutos are more curvy without as defined a flat spot

Western handled options

https://www.japaneseknifeimports.co.../gesshin-kagero-240mm-powdered-steel-gyuto-nt If you're okay with going up to $300 you could just get this and call it a day. @Rick Alan  could probably say more about the Kagero. I've only drooled over one in person once...

http://www.echefknife.com/yoshihiro...-gyuto-chefs-knife-back-pakkawood-handle.html Another one that should have a more familiar weight with the western handle. Good edge retention though the OOTB angle I found a bit too acute to really take advantage that. It doesn't quite resolve to a nice flat spot right at the heel, recurves a touch.

http://japanesechefsknife.com/SwedenSteelSeries.html#SwedenSteel Monosteel carbon. Not as thin behind the edge and probably runs a little softer compared to the rest of these recs, but not bad either. Quite noticeably asymmetrical. Has good convexing on the right blade face to help with food release. Great profile. You might want to get it going with a little patina before taking it into a kitchen if you'll be prepping lots of acidic/reactive foods. Tip should be thinned out a bit if you expect to do lots of dicing of onions

On potentially getting a chuka-bocho - check out the Suien VC cleaver and the Gesshin Chinese Cleaver with Western Handle. If you keep these things sharp and at least decently thin behind the edge, they just fall through foods

Maybe a little hard to gauge at this point what height on a petty would suffice for your needs. I've used a 150mm length ~28-29mm height petty on a board before, but it's not a knife I think about really doing chopping with. That and I have size S hands and pinch grip. How do you grip?
 
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Thank you both for all of the replies @MillionsKnives and @foody518! Lots of good info here to think about...

I do pinch grip for the most part. Given the low price, I did go ahead and order the 150mm Shiro Kamo AS petty just to get a feel for the type and see how I like it.

The Syyousin and the Yoshihiro look quite nice. Thanks for the recommendations.  I'll have to see about the chuka-bocho/cleaver. Are they significantly different in function than a Nakiri? I've had those recommended as well, but not sure how I feel about the design. I guess I'll need to see what they have/use in the restaurant before making any further decision/purchases.

I have a feeling this is going to become an expensive collection in short order...
 
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If you have not already looked into them, give Kikuichi knives a look. If you like Japanese profiled knives, it does not get much better than this. If you know what you're looking for, they do custom orders as well.

http://kikuichi.net
 
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Thanks @foody518 - that's a good vid. I saw it yesterday in the JKI playlists. Makes sense. Hopefully they have one in the restaurant that I can play with a bit.

I'll check out Martin Yan.
 
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Thank you both for all of the replies @MillionsKnives
and @foody518
I'll have to see about the chuka-bocho/cleaver. Are they significantly different in function than a Nakiri? I've had those recommended as well, but not sure how I feel about the design. I guess I'll need to see what they have/use in the restaurant before making any further decision/purchases.

I have a feeling this is going to become an expensive collection in short order...
Completely different. In my opinion, a nakiri is a mediocre knife to start with, and now that it's expensive it stinks. A Chinese chef's cleaver is brillian, and still cheap.

My question is very simple: what is everybody else in the Thai place using?
 
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Thanks @MillionsKnives, I'll give that a read.

@ChrisLehrer - I'm not sure yet. I suppose I'll wait and see what they are using in the kitchen. Thanks for the clarification vs nakiri. Can you recommend a good "cheap" cleaver? I tried looking on CKtG and the ones I was finding were in the $300-$400 range. If there's something decent around $100 or so, I'll probably pick one up anyways to experiment with.
 
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I can recommend cleavers from $10 to $1000 haha

If you are just trying out the cleaver format, go cheap but not too cheap chinese made carbon steel.  Chinese stainless is awful in my experience.   If you go too cheap on carbon, you might find some real thick knives.  Worth a look in chinatown restaurant stores if you have one nearby.  Or ya know check at the restaurant and see what they use. 

I have the small cleaver version of this chinese made cleaver and it is nice and thin at the edge, great cutter. It'll give you an idea of what cleavers are about and what a nice thin grind can get you cutting performance wise.   My only complaint on the smaller one the spine is thicker and flares out so you can't pick stuff up off the board with the front of the cleaver like I want to.  (using the edge for that dulls your edge).  I believee that the full sized cleaver blends the spine in more gracefully:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Fre...-Vegetable-Household-Slicing/32693595889.html

Step up money wise from there look at CCK cleavers.  about $100 for a CCK 1103 (2?) last time I looked.    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckcleaver1.html

In the japanese chukabocho world suien VC at $160 is a great deal.  I own two..  http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/ChineseCleaver.html

And finally look over here, just make sure you are getting a thin vegetable knife not a thick bone chopper http://www.chefsmall.net/
 
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Awesome, thanks! I do have an oriental market that I shop at frequently, so I'll check out their kitchen supply aisles. I know they have a ton of stuff. Maybe I can find a cheap one to get some experience and then step up if it's something I like using.

You guys are awesome. Thanks for all the help!
 
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First, it comes with a protective film so it is completely non reactive.  Even after removing that with acetone, it is the least reactive carbon steel I have used. 
 
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