The battle still continues? Japanese vs. European knives?

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Joined Apr 3, 2012
hi there everyone,

i stumbled onto this site/forum/thread while doing some research on my next investment in a knife. after reading through the replies in this thread i have to thank you for helping me to realize what i've known all along when it comes to purchases: other people's opinions have value and should be taken into account, but in the end you have to buy what you feel most comfortable with. the other thing is a reminder of something my dad taught me years ago: use the right tool for the right job. with that in mind, there's some great insight in this thread and another similar one i took a look at earlier, and i fell pretty comfortable in continuing to use the knives i have but i'm looking forward to the arrival of my japanese cutlery version of a sports car.

speaking of which, the most hilarious thing about the j vs e knife discussion is that several of the same arguments could be made about japanese and german cars, but in reverse, with the german car being more delicate than the japanese car that only needs regular oil changes to live forever...
 
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Joined Dec 12, 2010
With the 3 restaurants I have some experience working in (USA), I agree with duckfat and foodpump, and that is that the knives are supplied by the kitchen and are typically beaters. 

A funny exception would be Salty's restaurant that many folks know from the various forums.  I've been there 3 times and his head cook, the #2 guy behind him, has his own knives.  His main knife is a Shun chef knife- go figure, LOL!  And he's friggen great with it.  I think many of the grunt/prep guys who don't have experience use knives from the kitchen, which if you work at this restaurant the "kitchen's" knives are a bit atypical.  The last time I was there the new guy was using some custom knife that was probably $500 - another LOL!

I like european knives and feel like they're good/fine.  I like japanese better for my home environment where I can sharpen as much and often as I want and can handle them delicately. 

I find knife choices are very, very, very much personal preference (within reason).  One of my pet peeves of this forum is that some of the advice given is given moreso as a fact, as if there is no personal preference allowed at all.  Common examples of this would be:  santoku knives, german knives, and chef knives shorter than 270 (and gasp- don't you dare go all the way down to 210).
 
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Joined Aug 7, 2008
The knife guys like FP is talking about with the beater rentals are very common now. They just come back around every other week and slap the knives on a grinder. That is rapidly becoming the norm for grunt work in the average kitchen here.

If any one thinks German knives are a thing of the past or have all been sent to good will or melted into scrap as J-knives have become more popular they might get a kick out of this;

http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2011/02/25/the-fish-butcher/
 
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Great video, thanks for the link! For crazy mad amounts of some prep tasks, a German knife just can't be beat in my opinion.

I liked his comment about a medium sharp knife. I understand perfectly. Have thought about starting a thread here about having a knife being too sharp, but didn't think a lot of people would understand. I get it though.
 
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Solid point Cheflayne. It might be hard for those who haven't spent some time breaking down fish in a commercial setting to understand the concept of what he meant by not wanting his knife to be too sharp, although he did touch on it briefly. If you watch the video I'd place a fair wager his idea of medium sharp is a lot sharper than what many think of as super sharp!

It's been a while since I looked at this but if memory serves me well (which it may not) Eric Ripert has Corian handled Nehohni's as his house knives, not that I wouldn't expect most of his people to have their own tools and be very skilled with them.

Dave
 
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Some people say a more highly polished and slippery edge is "sharper" than one that's got a bit of tooth.  Others, including me, define "sharpness" differently.  Anyway, Ripert is talking about polish.  You want a bit of tooth for fish butchering, at least up to the point of portioning.  On the other hand, you want a knife that's sharp enough that you don't have to do much (if any) "sawing." 

BDL 
 
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This is a very good point.   When I cut up fishies, I want to use one(1) stroke/slice/draw whatever, for each cut/portion.  I'm not so sure however, that I want any "tooth". Could you please explain that idea a little bit please. TIA for the help here. 
 
...  On the other hand, you want a knife that's sharp enough that you don't have to do much (if any) "sawing." 
 
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Justo Thomas, the fish butcher, is the one who made the comment about medium sharp. I am not about to speculate what a guy who does a thousand pounds of fish on a weekend day was actually saying about his knife, nor what he wants in knives; I do understand him though.
 
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If I'm not mistaken the prep cook Tomas mentioned something like ... that if the knife is too sharp it could cut into bone which could then be included with the fish portions/filets. I suspect this would then require extra prep work to remove the bone pieces.

I have experienced this fileting salmon with a sharp Victorinox filet knife... made a poor decision on where to cut and ended up cutting into the backbone versus sliding on top of it.

The prep room I once worked in was not unlike Tomas's work except larger with maybe a dozen prep cooks mostly working on box after box of veggies.

Ripert is very lucky to have Tomas.. it's a tough job physically and mentally.
 
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If the only thing keeping you from leaving pieces of fish backbone in fillet portions is a dull knife, you've got issues beyond sharpening. 

BDL
 
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