What is a better purchase than Zwilling or Shun?

Discussion in 'Cooking Knife Reviews' started by TheSon, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. TheSon

    TheSon

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    Hello all. I am not a professional chef and would like help selecting a really good line of knives to enjoy in my kitchen. I have used the same chef's knife and paring knife for a really long time - Chicago Cutlery's Walmart-level 1H12D. I have decided I want some really good knives now and am not sure what questions I need to answer to help determine which to get.

    Internet shopping, I fell in love with Zwilling Pro. I love the design and style of them, particularly how the bolster flows between the handle and blade.
    I went to Williams-Sonoma to handle chef's knives, but they only had Wusthof and Shun. The Z-Pro-comparable Wusthof IKON and Classic IKON has a REALLY heavy handle and was a noticeable workload for my hand, just holding it and moving it in the air.
    (I was able to find some Zwilling Pro elsewhere, and they are not like this and feel good.)
    Then I handled the Shun Kaji and Premier! WOW!!! It was like a part of my hand, and INCREDIBLY sharp. The Premier would be a beautiful addition to my kitchen, on my walnut knife magnet.
    I really liked them and almost bought them before researching and glad I waited.
    I have read that Shun knives are good knives, but priced higher than they are really worth and that the metal is lower-quality than others in the same range.
    Supposedly, other knives are much better for around the same price. I've looked on the internet for several weeks and can't figure out what brand to get.

    I intend to get a 8'chef's, 6" utility, 3.5-4" paring, and 7" Santoku...at a minimum. I have in my shopping cart the Z-Pro 16-piece set with 3" paring, 4" paring, 5" serrated utility, 5.5" prep, 7" Santoku, 8" bread, 8" chef's, 9" sharpening steel, 6 steak knives, and shears. Of these, I don't care about the 5" serrated or 5.5 prep and would add a boning or filet knife, 5" Santoku, 2.75 bird's hook peeling, and a slicing knife (probably the carving set).
    I'm not sure how I feel about the greater-curved chef's knife, as opposed to their "traditional" chef's knife that's shaped like the one I already have.

    With my knife research, I also added Shun's 9-piece with 3" Vegetable, 4" Paring, 6 1/2-Inch Utility, 8-Inch Chef’s, 9-Inch Bread, 9 1/2-Inch Slicing, Honing Steel, and Kitchen Shears.
    The steak knives aren't a priority and don't have to match, but I do like the Z-Pros. I haven't had any steak knives in years anyway. I always just use a butter knife.

    SO...
    Since the Shun's are seemingly over-priced (but I love the color of the wood handle), I'm unsure about having to send them for sharpening, I don't know how I feel about the Zwilling chef's knife shape, and the black handles don't really blend and flow with m kitchen, I have been trying to find others I like. I was trying to look at Misono, Tojiro, Dalstrong, Zelite, Sakai, Enso, and Masahiro but have had trouble qualifying and comparing. I found japanesechefsknife.com, and what seems like a good selection. Now I'm looking at JCK, Shiki, and Masamoto. (I also found MAC Professional)

    Which, of the following, would fit best for home kitchen use? Should I stick with the Zwilling Pro or Shun Premier? Something else?

    I showed the metal, hardness, bevel, thickness, and weight

    JCK Original Kagayaki
    VG-10 Damascus, 60-61, 50/50, 2mm, 193g
    JCK Natures Gekko
    VG-10 Damascus, 60-61, 50/50, 2mm, 191g
    JCK Natures Deep Impact
    Aogami Super Clad, 64-65, 50/50, 2mm, 182g
    Shiki Shikisai
    VG-10 Damascus, 60-61, 50/50, 2.8mm, 196g
    Shiki VG-10
    VG-10, 60-61, 50/50, 2.5mm, 214g
    Shiki New World
    VG-10 Hammered Damascus, 60-61, 50/50, 2mm, 172g
    Masamoto CT (I assume NO, since it's not stainless)
    High Carbon, 58-59, 70/30, 2.2mm, 189g
    Masamoto VG
    Hyper Molybdenum Vanadium, 58-59, 70/30, 2mm, 180g
    Masamoto ST
    Chrome Molybdenum Vanadium, 62, 70/30, 2.2mm, 165g
    MAC Professional MTH-80
    Don't know metal, hardness, or bevel, 2.5mm, 184g



    Thank you all for any help and insight.
     
  2. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Why do these always seem to read very similar? Might be more than a coincidence.

    Hang onto your keyboard, son... this is likely to be a wild ride.

    But welcome to the forum.
     
  3. TheSon

    TheSon

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    I've read some similar threads and thought I was being descriptive enough to forego a wild ride and get straightforward help. I'm sorry if I cause a stir or battle.
     
  4. chefsing

    chefsing

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    Knives are like cars, you get what you pay for. Saying that, that are far more premium sets you can get beyond Shun or Zwilling and genuinely don't find the prices as offensive. While for preference I still stick to some German brands for for heavy loaded butchery, my knife roll has been slowly transitioning into just Shun brand. The weight/feel/flexibility of steel simply work fit most comfortably to my hand and my needs and I can sharpen them with ease myself without much difficulty. I also have lifetime warranty on my Shun so if a tip breaks I Just send it in and get a new one(has happened with a 7 year old 10".) So for me, I'm saying stick to Shun or stick to your initial gut feeling- its your hands doing the work so do what feels and works best for your needs. As for the looks not matching/looking the flow of your kitchen, that is on you.
     
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  5. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Welcome to chef talk TheSon, and simply don't pay attention to the rare comment coming from the peanut gallery.

    As already stated, wusty and shun, in general, are not good dollar value. Definitely forget Dalstrong, and similar clones found on Amazon.

    The wusty pro (the only good dollar value from wusty) and Vic Fibrox are on par, and a mainstay of affordable knives used in restaurants, the wusty holds and edge better, the fibrox has a better profile, and I suspect is also thinner at the edge. Both have those lousy NSF handles but they can easily be reshaped to you heart's desire with a dremel and it's sanding drum.

    Before going on:

    Pairing knives you should probably continue considering as dimeadozen

    What size chefs are you looking for?

    Do you need butchery knives?

    Will you consider carbon, at least for non-acid foods?

    What is your sharpening scheme (a very important consideration in knife selection)?

    And, your biggest vaguery/omission, how much you want to spend?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  6. TheSon

    TheSon

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    I planned on sticking with an 8" chef's knife. I've never used another size or wished I had a different size.
    I figure any other knife I want could be considered a dime-a-dozen, but I wanted them to match. I do have a few super cheap paring knives from the 80s that I love and keep in my silverware drawer for a quick small job, just want my main (displayed) group to match.
    I probably don't need butchery knives, but not sure. I'd like to have the knives I mentioned. I don't necessarily "need" them since I've used just a chef's and paring for YEARS, but I would definitely use purposed knives if I had them. I may only use a slicing knife a few times a year, but it would be nice to have the option. Heck...I use my chef's knife for carving turkey. I feel a slicer may be a nice option...same for the other knives.
    I guess I could consider carbon. I was thinking stainless for ease of care and since it's general home kitchen.
    Sharpening scheme...For my Chicago Cutlery, I sharpen when it needs it. If last time I used it I noticed a slight change in the ease of cutting, I sharpen it before I use it again. I hone it probably every other time I use it. My sharpener has 17* and 20* guides. I use the 17* guide.

    Sorry I didn't give a budget number...I thought my description of what I was considering gave an idea. I should have been direct and specific. I want to spend <$1k for all of them. I'm looking at less than $150-175 for a chef's knife. With the right justification, I could go a little higher. For example, if the Shun Premier 8" chef's knife is worth it's price higher than the Zwilling Pro...there's no problem spending the extra money. Same for that list of others at the end of my original post.
     
  7. TheSon

    TheSon

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    Meant to put the numbers here too:
    (For example, if the Shun Premier 8" chef's knife $185 is worth it's price higher than the Zwilling Pro $150)
     
  8. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    I think you might want to look in a mirror and ask this question if yourself: am I willing to pay $??? for the knife that meets my needs and appeals to me.

    I was more than willing to buy Shun knives at the price they were asking at the time. And although an unpopular opinion around her... I still would. Yes, I shopped around until I found a mild discount but the discount was sport, not a necessity. Same logic for all of the knives I’ve bought over the past 45 years, most of which I still have and use.

    Getting input from others is good but you need to satisfy yourself. Shun Premier 8” is my daily use knife. Others, of course, depending on the task... and since I have acquired way more than I’d ever need, depending a bit on my mood.

    Your desires are diverse and many; your budget is way more than adequate. Figure out what’s going to make you happy and enjoy the experience.

    If you want matching knives, and there’s nothing at all wrong with that, look into some of the smaller sets. Shun, for example, once had a 3-piece set comprised of a 8” chef, 6” utility, and 4” paring. Beyond that only a bread knife and maybe a boning knife would be needed by most cooks.

    Good luck!
     
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  9. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    For hard steel knives, though... you will really need to study a bit on sharpening. Steels are not very useful, nor are many machines. There are numerous threads on that topic. :)
     
  10. TheSon

    TheSon

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    Yes, I get that. I guess something that makes me gun-shy is reading about lesser quality metals in Shun. I got the impression that other brands may have better quality metal for the same price range. Basically, that Shun has made more of a name-purchase of itself and is able to charge same prices for lower quality because people see/hear the name and that makes it automatically good.
     
  11. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    So... how are you going to resolve your self-doubt? What do you need to know... and If what you are fishing for is an opinion on what you should buy... how will you know who has the correct opinion?

    If you are that “gun shy” about Shun, take it out of the equation. Move on to whatever else turns you on.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  12. TheSon

    TheSon

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    I'm not particularly looking for an opinion, but information about quality of other knives in the same range. I wish I had links to what I've seen regarding Shun, but basically that honing and sharpening reveals pitted metal.
    If this is not a concern for me in my kitchen, that would be good information.
    I'm really just wanting to learn which knives are best quality/cost. If there's not really the difference I perceived...then that's good information too.
    Maybe Bose is a good example. Bose is a really popular name for "awesome" speakers. I will never buy Bose. They may not be bad, but they aren't actually as good as the name implies. Admittedly, I do have Klipsch, but I went with the Reference series.

    I imagine I'll be VERY happy with any of them, as I've had no usage problems from my Chicago Cutlery in many years. But going from a Pinto to a nicer model, I want to get the best quality for the price.
     
  13. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    Pitted metal???? Never heard that; never read that; never experienced that. Interesting, though.

    If you are talking about edge nicks... that’s a fact with hard steel knives when used in a less than ideal way - cutting bones, twisting on cutting board. That’s not a Shun problem but related to the thinner, harder steel with shallower edge angles in Japanese knives.

    Good luck with getting the best quality for the price. Those kind of trade-offs are extremely difficult to make... especially when you don’t know how to measure “best”.

    Getting a better blade than what you have is the easy part. Almost anything will do that. :)

    WRT Bose, I think you could have said “.. they aren’t actually as good as the PRICE implies”. One really can’t say that Bose products are crap... there may be better and there may be cheaper (but maybe not at the same time). Shun has a fair number of haters too; some had bad experiences and some just don’t like them because they are too commercialized. Even if they were free some folks wouldn’t want one. But calling them crap is a bit extreme. See the similarities between Bose and Shun?

    Good luck figuring out what’s really important to you.
     
  14. brianshaw

    brianshaw

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    As a completaside... have you ever researched that term, reference, as it is used in consumer stereo gear. Generally a marketing term that is only loosely correlated with engineering or performance specifications. I fell for that one many years ago with RSL speakers. Not bad, maybe even generally good, and quite affordable... but that’s mostly why they were used in many studios... not really because they had any magical “reference” qualities.

    And just like with knives, there were schisms of opinion. Read this; I’m one of those who are still using their speakers 40 years later with several refoamings...

    https://rslspeakers.com/our-story/

    Speakers, knives, and wives share something in common... if you choose well, maintain them as required, and are not extreme in opinion/needs... you’ll likely not need to replace them for a long, long time!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  15. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Ahh me, my reading does get creative at times, as I thought you indicated your were a professional chef. Hmmfff.

    How do you sharpen your knives, that is, what exactly are you using?
     
  16. TheSon

    TheSon

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    Yes, PRICE is what I meant and should have said. As far as the word "reference" is concerned...that is to me just the model name of the speakers. Takes more than just speakers to get reference.

    Just a Work Sharp Guided system. I realize with higher quality knives I'll probably need appropriate stones, but this is great for my cheap-o knives.
     
  17. Eli Small

    Eli Small

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    I don't know if I dare comment but here goes. I personally found myself in the same position not so long ago, I was in a kitchen store on the coast of Maine and the owner swore by wustys. I looked at the classic Ikon and when I handled it I found that the handle was very comfortable, however when I more closely examined the classic, I found that the only thing I paid extra for was the handle. The blade was essentially the same and when I looked at the steel composition on their website, I found that it was the same for their high end knives.
    Fast forward a few months when I found myself in a Williams Sonoma, I began a discussion with one of the workers and he swore by Shun. I do share your opinion on how well shun feels in your hand and they are a very sharp knife. Another thing I noticed was that they did offer different types of steel as opposed to Wüsthof. Shun is mostly made of carbon steels which due to the tighter grain of the steel allows a razor edge to be reached, however the Damascus they offer is more likely to chip than their other steels due to the nature of Damascus. Damascus as you most likely know is composed of differing hardness steels folded in so as to add support from the stiff steel while making it easy to sharpen. This also makes it hold an extremely sharp edge, but the were the two differing steels meet is delicate and tends to chip. If I were to buy their knives I would find on that is made with their blue steel, which refers to grade, not color.
    Finally we arrive at Zwilling, these are the knives I turn to personally enjoy using, however as with Wüsthof their blades that are made in Germany are made with the same steel and profile. (They do offer cheaper knives that are produced in China which are stamped steel, meaning that are punched from a sheet of steel. While these are sharp I would not recommend them for someone who plans to do a lot of cooking) I personally use their four star line, however it is a bolstered knife which with a lot of use can present problems. It is a partial tang knife which means that the handle is not as strong as one with a full tang but I have never run into any issues and it makes the handle a little lighter. I have friend who received a 5-piece set of Zwilling pros around 20 years ago and while I haven't used them, I did sharpen them for them and they take a very nice edge. I didn't really enjoy the handle but that has more to do with personal preference then actual quality.
    If you are looking for affordable knives with good quality then I would recommend victorinx they are the best bang for your buck.
     
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  18. TheSon

    TheSon

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    Interesting. I'd have never thought about them. They're "just" the Swiss Army people. I like the Grand Maitre in rosewood! ...but it looks to be as heavy as that beast of a Wusthof I held. I think I'd want to find a place to handle first. I'd also like to find more specs on them. That Wusthof was REALLY handle-heavy.
     
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  19. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Eli is mostly spot on, except that all wustys and henk/zwil are stamped, the only thing that is hot-pressed are those terribly worse than useless full bolsters (well the half-bolsters too), which do nothing so much as get in the way sharpening and cusing many knivesto come through bent, mostly to the right it seems. Relatively poor steel, thick edges and big inefficient round bellies. Shun really only differs as it's better steel and lighter handle (still rather heavy by Japanese standards). A Tojiro DP is a significant improvement over Shun premier and classic and at significantly less money.

    vg-10 is not the best steel to sharpen, even experienced sharpeners find most vg-10 offerings a bit of a pain, you really have to know how to deburr. It's an unexciting steel from my perspective. Gets sharp but doesn't stay sharp for long, though it does hold a serviceable edge well. Speaking of JCK offerings, Hattori does a good job heat treating V-10, and that's the important part.

    My recommendations here introductory level would be all Geshin Stainless, good steel and nice thin grind. But for the Gyuto/chefs you might try the Takamura Chromax, and don't sweat the mismatch in handle. These are a very affordable and a very good introduction to Japanese knives. You'll have plenty of money left over for sharpening supplies.

    JCK have lots of nice offerings, their Deep Impact series is the pick out of your selections. Too bad the Geshin Ikazuchi is out of stock. Blue super is reactive, but significantly less than lower alloy carbons. Just make sure you the edge dry.
     
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  20. TheSon

    TheSon

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    Excellent information, thank you.
    Nice to know about the VG-10. I was kind of assuming it wasn't anything special.
    Looks like most of the Gesshin Stainless is sold out. I kind of like the Takamura Chromax.

    Your recommendations are knives with a higher HRC. I was tending to lean away from those because of that and greater chance of chipping. Bad thinking?