Need some opinions on my next chef knife

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by mrchris, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. mrchris

    mrchris

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     Hey guys.  Stumbled upon this site just the other day while looking for reviews on chef knives and found this site.  The info has been very informational and I especially enjoy BDL's posts.

    I currently own a Henckels 240mm chef knife, the kind with the yellow handle, and I would like to upgrade.  I've been in the service industry for about two and a half years so I don't know much about knives.

    Budget: No more than 400$ CDN, preferably around the 200-300 range.
    Style: Japanese Gyutou(stainless steel)

    I live in Canada and I would like to order from Paul's Finest online because it saves me a lot of hassle and time as opposed to ordering from a US site.

    I've got it down to 2 knives:

    The Misono UX-10 240mm Gyutou, pricing in at $275CDN
    The Grand Cheff 240mm Gyutou, pricing in at $175CDN

    Which is better?  I would think that because the Misono knife is more expensive, it would be the better knife but I know that is not always the case. 

    I've also been reading the posts in this forum and I'm interested in the Masamoto and hattori brands. 

    A website(preferably North American) with either of these brands would be much appreciated.  All recommendations and opinions are welcome.

    Thank you,
    Chris
     
  2. mrchris

    mrchris

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    Also, I have a fine ceramic steel for maintenance and I know a sushi chef who will do the stone sharpening for me so no issues there.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Mr. Chris,

    Thanks for the kind words.  Here's a little bit about the two knives you asked about.  

    UX-10:
     

    The UX-10 is extremely agile, but it's a little on the narrow side. Extremely agile, rewards good skills -- but not a lot of knuckle clearance.  Some sort of Swedish steel, probably Sandvik 19C27.  Holds an edge very, very well -- and that's a good thing since you're not going to be doing your own sharpening.  Shouldn't need much steeling.  GREAT handle.  The blade is a bit on the flexible and whippy (althougn not as bad as some).

    There's a little controversy over whether the UX-10 is difficult to sharpen or not.  In my limited experience it isn't; but people I trust and respect as very good sharpeners have told me the knife is difficult to thin and re-profile. 

    Grand Cheff:


    Wider profile than the UX-10 but not especially wide.  Very good handle -- but not as good as the Misono.  It's not quite as agile as the UX-10 but has more knuckle clearance and is easier to keep square to the board.  If it doesn't reward good skills quite as much, it doesn't punish as much either. 

    The blade alloy is also Swedish, AEB-L made by Uddeholm which is a clone of Sandvik's 13C26.  It's what's called a "strip steel" which means it was developed for razor blades.  As you'd expect it gets very sharp.  To frost the cake, it also gets very sharp very easily; and can be thinned just as easily -- not that it needs much work. 

    On the other hand, it's only hardened to HRC 58 and does get out of true pretty easily.  On the other hand it steels up very well. 

    A lot of blade for the bucks. 

    Bottom Line: 

    These two knives are in the same performance class -- but within that class at opposite ends of the price spectrum.  Unless the UX-10 really suits your style, the Grand Cheff is a much better buy. 

    Other Thoughts:

    Paul's is excellent.  One mark of that is that he's the only North American retailer with a decent selection of Grand Cheff.  (Seito Trading in New York will order from the catalog, but they don't really have any stock.)  I'm not sure about the ins and outs of buying a knife from a US e-tailer and having it shipped to Canada.  I understand that Canadian customs can be expensive.  It may be easier having your knife shipped directly from Japan.

    If you're interested in brief analyses of other knives in this class of western handled, Japanese manufactured, mass-produced, stainless (enough of a mouthful for you?) take a look at this.  It may be of help.

    Hope this helps,
    BDL
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
  4. bleugirl

    bleugirl

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    Hello, MrChris,

    My I proffer my humble opinion?  CBL's advice is so accurate, from my limited experience.  I have purchased a Misono UX.  I love it and his profile of the knife, from what I have found, is straight on accurate.

    I found it to be very agile with a fantastic handle, very, very comfortable and did hold an edge very well, as I have used it almost every day for three months chopping, cutting and slicing heavy, dense and fibrous vegetables and the like.

    I am only an aspiring cook at home.  Truth be told, but I have found what CBL has said to be very, very true.  

    It has performed as stated by CBL.  I love the knife and sharpening I cannot comment on.  I, alas, am not skilled in such an art, but I was aware that I will have to send it out for the proper sharpening and am content with that. 

    I hope this helped.

    Good luck,

    bleugirl
     
  5. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    CBL is me, I think.

    BDL
     
  6. mrchris

    mrchris

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     Ok, new question.  I'm undecided on these Gyutou:

    Sakai Takayuki Grand Cheff
    Hiromoto G3
    Masamoto VG

    Also, has anyone ordered online from www.japanesechefknives.com  ?
     
  7. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    The three knives you mentioned, and the three more I'm adding are all wonderful. If you really want one more than another for even the silliest reason it's still a choice you'll be happy with for a long time.

    Enough with the forest, enough even with the trees.  Let's talk about the leaves.  

    Masamoto VG:


    Like nearly all Masamotos the VG is an all around great knife.  Great handle (ergonomically), great geometry, great edge characteristics -- you name it.  The outstanding characteristic though isn't any particular characteristic but the overall rightness of the knife.  Masamotos are a lot like good Sabatier carbons in that way.

    Fairly tall, but excellent agility nevertheless.  Easy to keep square to the board.

    Perhaps a bit "blah" looking.

    VG does not stand for VG-10.  The knife is probably VG-5, if that makes a difference to you.  

    Over the last couple of years, Masamoto has had some issues with poorly fitted handles on their western handled knives.  If you decide on a Masa you want to communicate with the dealer and tell him politely you expect him to select a knife with a properly fitting handle.  If you put a gun to my head and asked about any other criticism of the Masamoto VG, it's a little on the whippy side.

    If I were buying a stainless, western-handled knife for myself, the VG would be one of two I'd consider.  The other would be an Ikkanshi Tadatsuna. 

    Grand Cheff:


    I'm not sure that I have much to add to what I've already said.  It's a very good, well finished Japanese chef's knife with good geometry and a comfortable handle.  A lot of bang for the buck.  The outstanding characteristic is how easy it is to sharpen to extreme sharpness.  But since you're not going to be doing your own sharpening that's not such a huge advantage.  Holds the edge fairly well.

    Hiromoto G3:

    Hiromoto's claim to fame with their western-handled Tenmi Jyuraku series (G3 and AS) is the high quality of the blade alloy and thin geometry at a relatively reasonable price.  The handles are narrow; and if you use a tight grip that could be a problem. 

    Hiros aren't exactly polarizing, people tend to either love them or like them.  I'm a liker.  In terms of geometry and overall ergonomics they're good but nothing special. 

    I actually bought 4 Hiro AS a couple of years ago.  We tried them for a few months but moved them on because we didn't like them as much as my old carbon Sabatiers.

    Ikkanshi Tadatsuna:

    You didn't ask, but you should know.  Pricey, or at least comparatively pricey-ish.  The same G3 alloy, but a much better kinife than the Hiromoto G3 -- which is a darn good knife in its own right.

    Very good handle.  Very thin blade for a western handled knife, but not particularly flexible compared to the other knives mentioned except for the MAC.  Best edge taking and holding characteristics of any knife in the class.

    Fantastic F&F.  Everything fit, and the spine and back were beautifully arched. 

    Another great all arounder, without quite matching the feel of the Masamoto. The overall equal of the MAC.  What the MAC gains with its handle the Tadatsuna matches with its slightly better overall geometry, edge characteristics, F&F and good looks.  

    Duckfat, a CT poster with a lot of knife knowledge, just bought a bunch of them and he's very enthusiastic -- more like rapturous.  Tadatsuna wa-gyuto are a dime a dozen around here, but yo-gyuto (western handled) are much harder to find.  It took me a lot of time to find someone who'd let me use and sharpen his western handled Tadatsuna, but I finally did it.  As you can gather I was impressed.

    I would definitely consider this knife for myself in carbon.

    MAC Pro:


    You didn't ask about this either, but it should be on your short list.  Best handle in the business, better than the UX-10 and the Masamoto.  I've never heard from anyone who didn't love it.

    All around good knife, better than the Hiromotos IMO.  Perhaps not the same sense of perfection as a Masamoto but a good deal stiffer.  In fact, very stiff by Japanese made knife standards.  Also, very well finished as Japanese knives go.  People used to western knives have no trouble adjusting.  "Best of both worlds," is a fair characterization.

    Excellent support from MAC USA.  If there's any problem MAC USA will correct it. At least two dozen people have bought MAC Pros based on my recommendation.  Two of them had problems (bad handles), neither bought directly from MAC USA, yet MAC fixed it without question and immediately if not sooner.

    I don't care for the silk screened graphics.  If you don't either, don't let them bother you.  They'll come off in a few months with regular use and washing.

    The MAC Pro is an excellent knife with its stock, 50/50 symmetry, 15* flat bevel.  But for whatever reason really comes into its own with a 50/50, 15/10 double bevel.  At 15/10 it's as good as anything with a western handle. 

    Togiharu G-1:

    Another fine exemplar of the class. 

    Very slightly less good (at least overall) version of the Masamoto VG.  The geometry is extremely similar.  The handle is POM (which I actually prefer to wood), but is a little narrower and shorger than the Masa's.  I can't put my finger on why I don't think the Tog handles as well as the Masa.  Less money though.

    The brand name belongs to an international dealer Korin.  If the knife is sold under a different name by someone else, I'm not aware of it.

    The G-1 actually seems to be VG-10; at least according to Korin.  But as a practical matter, I don't think VG-10 is any better than VG-5. 

    It's knife hobbyist dogma that the G-1 and VG are made by the same OEM manufacturer.  That doesn't make it true, just sayin' is all.

    JCK:

    Excellent e-tailer.  The owners, Koki (speaks, reads and writes English) and Jemmi (his Dad) are fantastic. 

    I've bought about half a dozen knives from JCK over the past four or five years and never had any problems.  On the contrary in fact.  Things came quicker and went through customs more easily than I would have thought possible.

    I'm aware of a couple of issues with poorly made Mizuno Tarenjo knives that were not resolved particularly well -- which involved the same very complicated fact pattern  Since you're not buying a Mizuno, it's not sufficiently germane to go into it 

    Suffice it to say that JCK is great but not perfect, and any purchase you make is almost certain to fall on the great side of the ledger. 

    Koki gives great service.  If you do decide to buy a Masamoto VG through JCK, make sure you tell him you want a really good handle.  He'll most likely tell you that it's problematic, but will jump through a lot of hoops to make sure you get a really good one.  His own standards are very high especially if you tell him you're relying on him.

    Bottom Line:

    IMO, the MAC Pro and Masamoto are probably the best knives in this category for you.  Neither is particularly "thin," but I don't think you care much about that as both stay sharp for a good long time and neither has much propensity to wedge. 

    I'd throw the Grand Cheff and the Ikkanshi Tadatsuna in there as well.  However, you don't do your own sharpening so you'd lose the best part of the Grand Cheff, while the Ikkanshi Tadatsuna might be more than you wanted to spend. 

    Hope this helps,
    BDL
     
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Wow,wow,wow,

    I have been a chef for 3 years and was a butcher for 16 years. I was not the cut from a box butcher I was a, "they walk in on their own and they go out in little white packages. I have been a chef for a dinner, to a Resort. I have a culinary degree and thousands of hours of knife work under my belt so that was all leading up to this. I have never, never spent more than $50.00 on a knife. I use all forschner knives. I sharpen my own maybe twice a year and steel it every time I use it. I like this brand because it is sturdy and holds its edge. I use a steel I have used for 30 years.It is a rosewood handle medium grade and 16 inches. The steel of the knife is German made and does not chip unless vandalized. In fact I now am a chef for a frat house and one morning found my knife had been thrust into a #10 can of tomato sauce 5 times and it had 3 small chips in the tip and they sharpened out. I truly believe a good knife handler is like a pro golfer, its all in the skill not the instrument. I have cut chicken and duck backs and carved roast beef with the same knife. The web sight I found was cutleryandmore.com knives for under $50.00. They sharpen well, are balanced and clean up like new. If you are looking for something pretty you won't be able to use it in the trenches. I never cut on anything other than a cutting board and never loan my knives out. I did once and ended cleaning up blood because they weren't used to a sharp knife. Sorry for being forward but I an old and passionate about my knives. 
     
  9. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Having spent way too many years working for private clubs and drinking far too many soda pops with an awful lot of pro golfers I almost hate to give you the bad news.
    Pro golfers don't use off the shelf clubs. Each shaft is cut to precise custom lengths, each head is custom bent to angles that benefit their stroke. So if I had a single Honyaki in my kit a pro golfer is walking around with a full bag of them. Ideally tools for any trade will match ones skill level and vice versa.
     
  10. duckfat

    duckfat

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    "Duckfat, just bought a bunch of them and he's very enthusiastic -- more like rapturous.  Tadatsuna wa-gyuto are a dime a dozen around here, but yo-gyuto (western handled) are much harder to find. "


    Thanks BDL. Indeed I am thrilled with the Ikkanshi-Tadatsunas. I decided to let them go until I felt I needed to put them on the stones. These are by far the sharpest knives I have ever seen OOB. I sharpened the small gyuto just this week. It was certainly different then VG10 both in terms of hardness and the edge I was able to achieve. I think I was laughing like a mad scientist when I was done. My only regret? Not having these years ago. 
    I'm almost done updating my kit. I still need a Deba or a Western Deba and I've got my eye on the Masamoto VC but I'm waiting for the summer sale at Korin. The more practical (cheap) side of me is looking at the Tojiro DP. 
    I also need one more (yea right) WA gyuto. I really wanted carbon for this one but I like the Tadatsunas so much I'm really thinking about the Suisin Honyki. The other option is the Masamoto KS although Koki keeps trying to temp me with the Masamoto Honyaki. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
  11. Guest

    Guest Guest

    Dave:

    There is nothing wrong with Forschner. (or Victorinox, same company) They make very sharp, quality, affordable knives that get the job done. I have used comparably priced knives that left me struggling and sometimes even cutting myself because it was so dull and uncomfortable to hold... so for the affordable segment, Forschner/ Victorinox is the only brand I trust to buy.

    Thing is, I have more expensive knives and the difference is night and day. I was cutting carrots, for example, and the Forschner could not cut completely through straight... i was slicing it lengthwise to make planks (to julienne) and the knife came off at an angle. of course, i changed my cutting technique and was able to make it work. Later, i got out my more expensive knife (a Shun) and, using the same technique that did not work well with the Forschner, sliced through it like it was butter at room temperature.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2010
  12. mrchris

    mrchris

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    Ok, me and my girlfriend both want to order the Masamoto from JCK.  Should one of us vary our order and get one of the Hiro knives so we can test both?  Also, since they have a flat shipping rate and my sushi buddy has agreed to show me how to sharpen properly, I would like to order some whetstones from JCK as well.  Could you provide some recommendations?

    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/WhetStonesForSale.html


     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2010
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Which Masamotos?  The VGs? 

    Masamotos are outstandingly good knives.  Better, in my opinion, than Hiromotos.  The one thing you do want to watch out for with them is F&F, especially handle-fit (which may or may not still be an issue, it seems like Masamoto fixed it).  Let Koki know that you expect good handles, and he'll at least pick through his stock to make sure you get the best he has.

    I'm not a huge fan of JCK's stock of stones.  Still, if you're new to sharpening on benchstones, JCK's 1000/4000 combination stone is reasonably priced for what it is, and would make a good first stone -- just be aware that you'll (a) what a coarse stone in a year or so; and (b) outgrow it completely in a couple of years at most -- if you haven't already broken it or used up the 1000 side. 

    If you can afford it, you'd be better off starting with 3 Naniwa 10mm SS stones -- 400#, 1000#, and 3000#.  After you've learned to handle the 3000# and your credit card has had a chance to recover you can think about adding a true polishing stone like a 10000# (in 10mm or 20mm), and about buying 20mm rather than 10mm as you start to wear your first set out (the 1000 should last at least three or four years).   

    BDL
     
  14. mrchris

    mrchris

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    Here's the e-mail I got back from him: 

    Dear Chris
    Thank you very much for your inquiry and interest.

    You are currently interested in Masamoto VG Series Gyuto 210mm and Gyuto 240mm.

    Masamoto Western Style kitchen knives sometimes have "not well finished part" on the handle. If your first priority is quality, we can recomend Hattori, Misono or JCK Original items more.

    But for your shopping Masamoto VG Gyuto items, we will select the best condition one from our inventory. (We can select the one from 4Pcs to 6Pcs of VG-5021 and VG-5024.)  We will do our best to prepare the good condition of good items for your shopping and shipment.

    Thank you very much again for your inquiry and interest.

    If you will have any questions, please let us know and help.

    We will look forward to your reply.

    Best Regards

    Koki Iwahara

    JapaneseChefsKnife.Com

    Which VG is better?

     
  15. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Well, the only difference is length.  The model no. that ends in 21 is 21cm long, and the one that ends with 24 -- you're never going to guess -- is 24cm.

    Length is a very personal thing.  As for myself, I prefer 27cm to 24cm, and consider 21cm to be way too short.  If you've got a decent sized board and decent skills, you'll get a lot more productivity from a 24cm than a 21.  Besides, six knives give you better odds than four.

    The "skill" which makes all the difference is a grip allowing you to keep your wrist straight so that elbow, wrist, and knife point are all on the same line, and that allows you to control the point of your knife, intuitively, simply by looking.  It's the same as aiming a pistol, a pool cue, a fencing foil, a hand saw, etc.  

    Most (but not all) skilled users prefer the pinch grip -- me too.  If you don't already know how to do it, I can describe it pretty easily.  There's a little more to it than just pinching -- but not much.

    Finally, a Masamoto is just so darn right compared to almost everything else.  You'll hardly notice the extra length, at least not compared to most other makes.

    Even so, not only can I not make the choice for you, it's one I should not.  If you don't have already have 10" skills you should know in advance that the price is going to be a couple of months of awkwardness while you develop grip and board management skills.  

    BDL   
     
  16. mrchris

    mrchris

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    I've got the skills.  I've used 10" knives since forever.  The 8" one is for my girlfriend.  Pinch grip is just when you hold the knife by the blade at the bolster right?
     
  17. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Originally Posted by MrChris  
    There's a little bit more to the pinch grip, but not much. 

    1.  Pinch the blade between thumb and forefinger just in front of the bolster (just as you said). 

    2.  Close the rest of your hand around the handle, keeping it very relaxed (always).  Tension will cause you to cut crooked, and will also cause you to tire.  It's a bit of a vicious circle in that fatigue will also cause you to over-grip.  A soft grip requires practice. 

    3.  Keep your wrist straight in order to make the knife one with your arm.  It helps some people to come over the top of the knife a bit.  

    4.  Always hold the knife so that the vertical axis of the knife is square to the board, unless you want to make a horizontal or bias cut.  Check frequently.

    5.  Not technically part of the pinch grip, but it goes along with it:  Put your left foot forward (if you're a righty) so the natural angle of your right arm is square to the board.  This means that squaring the food to the board will help you make straight cuts naturally and comfortably.  You won't have to swing your elbow out.  It's like aiming a pool cue or a hand saw.

    I guess I lost track of the purpose of this knife.  You're buying it for your girlfriend?  As I said length is very personal, but I still favor the 24cm over the 21cm, for all the reasons previously given -- and then some. 

    However, on general principles I do not favor telling a girl-friend what to do -- especially as it relates to the kitchen.  I think traditional gender-roles put them under a lot of pressure to know everything (or at least significantly a lot more than you), which can make offers to "help" or "teach" seem like criticism and interference.  While it's true that our society has moved beyond those roles and that most modern mothers can't cook well and don't teach their daughters to do so either -- it doesn't frikkin matter.  A lot of women (most?  nearly all?) feel it anyway.  Tread lightly Kimosabe. Happy is a lot better than right. 

    First Rule:  If she's unhappy, you're miserable. 

    Still, a Masamato is so easy to handle that she won't notice the extra length in a bad way.  Plus there are all those other great reasons. 

    Bottom Line:
      If it's a surprise for her, go 24cm; if she doesn't like it, exchange it and blame it on Koki, Masamoto and me.  Print this post, it will help fix the blame.  If it's for both of you, even more reason to buy the 24cm. 

    Your Bro,
    BDL
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2010
  18. mrchris

    mrchris

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    She went to culinary school, a fairly good one too, so she does know more than me.  Still, we do squabble over little things in the kitchen.  For example, I like salt more than her and I over salt her food sometimes.  I was going to buy one for her and one for me and she told me she likes the 8 inch knives but you're right, I should get her a longer one.
     
  19. mrchris

    mrchris

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     It's in the mail,  I'll let you know what I think when it gets here :)
     
  20. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Let us know how it goes.

    BDL