New Chef's knife and stones

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by dcruisin, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. dcruisin

    dcruisin

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Hello,  

    I'm new to this site as well as the knife scene, but feel like I've gained a wealth of information these past few weeks from you all.  Thank you!

    Currently I have a 10+ y.o. Wusthoff Grand Prix "set."  I don't abuse them; no dishwasher, frozen food or hacking on bones.  However, I'm sure they suffered some from my son;/  As, well I didn't know they should be promptly dried after hand-washing.  I've had them sharpened many times, but probably not as often as I should have.  While they were awesome sharp at first, they've never been since. 

    I've been wanting a new chef's knife for a while and then I saw the Shun premier Chef's knife.  I was so excited, read many reviews rating it very well and I thought it was beautiful.  It was on sale for $120 and I was ready to buy.   That was until I did some research and open came Pandora's Box!  So here I am.  

    I'm practicing my knife skills and will probably take a class to better them but, only intend to prepare and cook for enjoyment.

    I'm looking to purchase a 8-9" western handled gyuoto.  

    Important to me:

    Edge retention

    Fit and finish

    Of course sharpness

    Not too fussy (upkeep)

    I'm not entirely sure but since I don't really rock the knife I'm guessing a french profile.

    Price expectation is $150-$250

    While I value value;) I'd rather have a very nice knife that I love to use and has great fit and finish.  In other words, I'd rather pay a little more for a knife that is beautiful to use and look at.

    I'm kind of excited about sharpening my own knives, but I don't want a real fussy one.  I think I'm more partial to the idea of whetsones vs edgepro and would like some recommendations on 2-3 stones that will work best with the following knives I'm looking at:

    Hattori FHSE $227 210mm/255 240mm JCK

    Gesshin Ginga (Japanese Knife imports, $165 

    Masamoto VG $151.0 JCK 

    Konosuke HD (semi-stainless) $206 at CKTG

    I would consider the Mac professional mighty (although it does not excite me;) and am curious why the Mac superior is never mentioned.

    Any thought/recommendations on these knives (or others) and stones that will work best with said recommended knife?

    Thanks,

    Dawn
     
  2. dcruisin

    dcruisin

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Oops! I meant I'm curious why the Mac Ultimate is never mentioned.
     
  3. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    198
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I don't push the MAC Superior because it doesn't feel as familiar to western hands as the MAC Pro. I don't push the MAC Ultimate because I don't believe it's worth the extra price compared to the Pro (the extra hardness doesn't make any real difference), and because there are several better knives at its price.

    Since you're used to heavy, awkward German knifes, you'll probably find that 240mm (about 9-1/2") is the "sweet spot," when it comes to Japanese made blades.

    The Hattori FH is a very good and very beautiful knife. Unless you love its looks, it's a bit overpriced for what it is. For several years, the alloy Hattori uses, VG-10, was regarded as a sort of wonder steel by much of the knife community -- especially advertisers and retailers. It has its good and bad points, yes; but say what you will the FH is VG-10 done right. It's beautiful, comfortable, gets sharp and the profile is good but not great. From a performance standpoint it's no better than the less expensive Masamoto. It doesn't do the things the Kono and Gesshin can, and isn't any sturdier.

    The Masamoto VG is nearly perfect from a practical standpoint. It doesn't have quite the edge taking properties of knives made with more exotic alloys; but compared to almost anything else in or around its price range it's very good in that respect -- they're better than most good home sharpeners can exploit. The "profile" is outstanding and will win you over in no time. However, it's a bit flexible compared to what you're used to -- which may or may not be an issue for you, it isn't for me. All in all a very comfortable knife and one with which I'd be happy.

    The VG is one of the two knives I suggest most often to people moving up to their first good Japanese or first really good chef's knives. The other is the MAC Pro, which for what it's worth I end up suggesting more often for its stiffness, warranty, reliably good OOTB (out of the box) edge, F&F (fit and finish), warranty, and the strength of its US support. While I recommend the MAC more often, If I were buying a knife in its class, I'd choose the Masa for its superior profile.

    But you're the star of this thread. What makes you prefer the Masamoto over the MAC to the point where you've eliminated the MAC from the conversation. If it's looks, don't be afraid to say so. Looks count heap much plenty. Also, don't worry. No one's going to push the MAC. The question is about your reasoning process,

    As "lasers," the Gesshin Ginga and Konosuke HD have a lot in common. While they're both outstanding knives, everything considered, unless you want semi-stainless, the Gesshin is probably more bang for the buck than the Kono. Both are ultra-thin and ultra-light lasers, and both are better than the Hattori. Better than the Masa? Not so much better as different.

    Speaking of "bang for the buck" CKtG's three stone set (Beston 500; Bester 1200 and Suehiro Rika) is an outstanding deal, and a very good way to go if you're looking for very good -- as opposed to entry level -- stones. (Note: I do some writing for CKtG.) You can save a fair amount of money by going to lesser stones such as King -- but they're considerably slower and require more maintenance (flattening). If you buy the Masamoto, I suggest getting a good hone (less than $40) too. Your other three choices aren't really good hone candidates; the Gesshin and Konosuke are too thin, the Hattori too likely to chip.

    Sharpening is its own conversation; one we should have. Gotta ask: Why bench stones over an EP?

    BDL
     
  4. mano

    mano

    Messages:
    140
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Other
    I have the Konosuke HD and a VG10 based Hattori HD and love them both.  They're good looking knives.  For me, at least, I use the thicker Hattori for work that the laser isn't best suited for such as taking tough skin off squash.

    The Carbonext at JCK is the best of both worlds and a great bargain.  It's the Camry/Accord of gyuto's; utilitarian, but it does everything well.  I gifted mine to a friend after getting the other two more expensive gyuto's and would gladly take it back and use it as my only knife.  The fit/finish of mine was good and if you tell them you want a saya it's a cheaper than other places. 

    With the money you save on the Carbonext, buy some good water stones.  A 1K and 4K or 5K are all you should need.Mine are Shapton glass stones, because they don't require soaking and do a good job.
     
  5. dcruisin

    dcruisin

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    @BDL

    Yes, I think it is looks that turn me off from the MAC.  I don't want it to be so, but I think that's it.

    At this point I am deciding between the Hattori FHSE and the Masamoto VG.  I am partial to Hattori.  It is absolutely beautiful to look at, but the Masamoto gets the raves.  From what I understand the Hattori has great F&F, performs very well, very nice to hold, but is a little chippy and the profile is not as good as the Masa.  The only con I read about the Masa is that sometimes the F&F isn't the best.  Are these statements correct?  Two important considerations for me are which one holds an edge better and the appearance.  Maybe you can help me tip the scale?

    Regarding bench stones vs EP.  My understanding is that stones take some time to master and EP's learning curve is much faster.  However, it seems that sharpening by bench stones is a more simple set up, one I'd be more likely to do more often and have less limitations.  I am not sold on either.  What do you think?

    Thanks,

    Dawn
     
  6. carpenter

    carpenter

    Messages:
    64
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    I have a Massamoto 270mm HC Gyuto and the F&F looks good however, the scales are slightly smaller than the tang and the rivets stand slightly proud.  It is not noticable by the eye but you can certainly feel it with your finger.   It doesn't affect the knife but it is a bit irritating.  Given the choice for a do-over I would still pick the Masamoto HC.  Not for nothing, but I replaced my 10" Forschener with the Masa.  I like the length of the Forschener but I find that the extra 3/4" on Masa takes some getting used to--mainly when useing the tip to slice onions before a dice and just swinging it around the kitchen.  Maybe a 240mm?  Of course the grass is always greener.
     
  7. sameguy

    sameguy

    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    That is exactly what I've found in the first week of using my Masa 270! But I'm loving it. The extra size is only somewhat intimidating the first time, but at the same time I'm re-teaching my hands and right arm proper technique by being more careful with the extra length and blade height.
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    198
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Originally Posted by dcruisin  
    Well, your recap of the differences is very much my way of seeing them; but I'm not sure if those are majority views are not.  I'd choose the Masa because the profile suits me.  And, perhaps not so paranthetically, not only have Masamoto F&F issues seem to have been largely resolved since they changed how their western knives' handle scales but you can get most dealers to give you "pick of the litter," simply by asking. 

    The Hattori is definitely better looking and has VG-10's edge property advantages and disadvantages (but is less chip-prone than most); while the Masa has as close to perfect a profile as you can get, with all of VG-1's edge property advantages and disadvantages.  I'd choose the Masa, but that shouldn't weigh much in your calculations.  It's just a reflection of my gyuto priorities which value profile very highly and take my particular sharpening skill set and and style into account.

    Don't let anyone tell you that looks don't matter, they add a great deal to the pleasure of using the knife.  While that might be more for some than others, the important thing is to be honest with yourself and not to shortcut your own preferences by adopting someone else's.  Similarly, if you don't already have a developed knife action, you might find a particular profile less important than another would.  But don't discount the natural feel of a Masamoto gyuto too much.  There's a reason nearly everyone likes it -- it's really that good.
    If you can't already sharpen, an EP will get you outstanding results in about a quarter of the time it will take to get adequate results on bench stones.  But an EP is more expensive than an "adequate" set of beginner's stones (but about the same price if you consider a full set of "good" stones). 

    Once you become addicted to sharpness your knives set your sharpening schedule.  I doubt you'd be intimidated by EP setup and take down; but maybe.  Worth discussing.  Also if you don't mind, what limitations do you think you might encounter? 

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  9. sameguy

    sameguy

    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Home Cook
    I'll chime in now. I just spoke to Mark and told him I was considering the EP/Chosera "Full Monty" kit along with an EP/Atoma 140 and the 12" Idahone, mostly because I'd kind of like near-instant gratification and don't have time to make a hobby of sharpening. I did not expect him to down-sell me, but after I told him my needs he suggested starting out with the Apex 3 and adding stones to it later. I asked about the polishing tapes (included in the Apex 4 kit) and he said they work well.

    Not a minute after I got off the phone with Mark, my sister called. I told her what I was considering and she said she has a whole collection of German and stamped knives that could use work, and the same story at mom's house (mom has a LOT of knives, many of them old European carbon and inox). I figure I can practice on all their knives before I get around to polishing my Masamoto! I went ahead with my original plan: Full Monty, Atoma and Idahone. And there goes another paycheck! LOL

    Now to start saving for the honesuki and maybe a nakiri on the next trip.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  10. dcruisin

    dcruisin

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    I've been deliberating over this knife for a month now, ridiculous I know!  I keep going back an forth between the Masamoto VG and the Hattori FH. The Masamoto was out of stock for a while so I thought it would buy me time to think about it.  I've read all I can about the differences between the two and I'm still undecided.  

    From what I've read the pros of the Masamoto has over the Hattori FH is the profile (of which I don't know which profile would suit me better) and possibly and slightly better grip?  The Hattori's pro being the appearance/fit and finish.  The Hattori is $70+ more, which isn't a huge factor for me.

    At this point, my question is which one has a better blade- edge retention, ease of sharpening, and of course sharpness as well as any other important factors. 

    In the meantime I am anxiously awaiting a Sabatier Nogent 6" Slicer 6 (thanks BDL;) and am thinking of taking Mark's (CKTG) suggestion to get a Naniwa Aotoshi 2k Green Brick and practice sharpening on my Wusthofs.  

    What do you think?

    Thanks,

    Dawn
     
  11. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

    Messages:
    2,011
    Likes Received:
    180
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    I got a Masamoto VG for my wife and it's really quite wonderful. Personally, I am a convert to single-beveled knives, but I must admit that this VG is a treat to use. So easy! In many ways, it reminds me of my first really serious knife purchase, a Masamoto KS wa-gyuto.

    The thing is, these knives don't really look like anything, and they seem almost bland in a way. And when you cut with them, everything is precisely perfect. You keep waiting for bells and whistles, or something, but instead you get quiet perfection. Sharpening the VG is so quick and easy I was at first convinced I was doing something wrong. I put a bunch of polish on, too, just to see, and it's all good and stays there. I have trouble falling in love with this VG because it somehow doesn't have a lot of personality, but I confess that I simply cannot find anything wrong with it. And it's not a question of "well, I guess it's good," either -- it's terrific. Durable? You do NOT want to know what my wife has done with it. We've had words about this. How many times have I come down in the morning and found it covered with who knows what, for who knows how long, just sort of sitting in the sink? (She never did that before -- I wouldn't have bought her a Masamoto knowing this!) And you know what? Clean the blade, dry it properly, and it's like nothing happened. I can't understand it.

    Anyway, I like the Masamoto.
     
  12. dcruisin

    dcruisin

    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Hey Chris, 

    I loved your story, I can almost hear you telling it!  I think I get it now;)

    BDL- You recommended getting a good hone for the Masamoto.  What type, brand do you recommend?
     
  13. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

    Messages:
    8,550
    Likes Received:
    198
    Exp:
    Cook At Home
    Idahone "fine" (aka "1200") 12" ceramic.  It's as good as anything on the market and quite reasonably priced.  Spend the extra $5 and get the wood handle. 

    BDL
     
  14. chefknivestogo

    chefknivestogo

    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    The only issue with the idahones is that they are a little fragile so guys that take them to work often crack them. They're cheap enough so that it's not a huge deal but still annoying. I'm working on getting leather sheaths made for them. Hopefully I'll have some in ready to go in 30 days.
     
    wobelix likes this.
  15. phaedrus

    phaedrus

    Messages:
    1,556
    Likes Received:
    129
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Aside from the Idahone I also like the DMT CS2 (that's the model, IIRC).  It's aluminum with ceramic over the top.  Not quite as fine as the Idahone but I can't fathom how you could ever accidentally break it.