Congrats on your Shun knives! My friend got them through Amazon too I think. Do they require special sharpening procedures like Global knives do? Since Japanese knives are single bevel, I'm not sure if you would need a honing steel.
A sushi chef once showed me how to test a knife's sharpness....it's a little scary at first...hold your knife and make a fist w/ your other hand, with your thumb on top. Gently place the blade on your thumb nail and apply a little pressure. If it is sharp, it will stick. If it is not sharp, it will slide. Test different sections of your blade, you will probably find the tip is duller if you do rocking motions while chopping.
Please don't slice your finger off! =)
Only Shun Pro Knives are single-edge - the Shun Classics are double-edged. Most Japanese manufacturers make their western style knives double-edged. Most of Global's are as well, although their Japanese style ones (deba, sashimi or yanagi) are single-edged.
Don't steel a single edge - especially thin blades that are hollow-ground on the back - you'll ruin the edge.
Be less vigorous steeling any soft-steel knife, including the soft-steel core with stainless cladding, than you would with a western style hard-stainless steel. You should still use a steel, but you will find that you don't need to steel as much before or after each use. I guess this is just common sense.
There are many levels of sharp - the thinnest, finest honed and polished edge is the best for sashimi, where the tongue can feel very fine imperfections and you want the piece of soft fish flesh to have edges as smooth as silk. But a good degree of sharpness with just enough of a microscopic rough edge to provide a bite, but not enough to create friction as the cutting proceeds, is what's good for most kitchen duties.
Be sure to handle them before you buy.
Along with all of the other brands already mentioned, check out MAC Knives as well.
Columbus Cutlery is great, and you can also wander over a bit farther down to the Wok Shop in Grant Avenue. They have a nice selection of knives at all price ranges and for the home chef or commercial kitchen that are different from the usual suspects that would you find on bridal registries.
And after you buy them, DO NOT shove them in a drawer unprotected where they can rattle around and bang against each other and on the side walls of a drawer.
I have some Wustof Grand Prix knives, and I like them a lot. You can find and demo them at Sur La Table. I know there is one is Berkeley but I'm not sure about SF.
I have a 8" chef's, Santoku, and pairing knife. You want to test the grip to see which knives fit your hand and feel comfortable. You may not want to buy a whole set if there are some knives you don't think you'd need, but sometimes it'll save you money to buy a set.
My friend just bought Shun knives. They look really cool because of the layers on the blade.
I just ordered Shun knives from amazon. WOW...fantastic deal...8" chef, utility, paring, sharpener, bamboo block...all for 175, free shipping no tax (after promo code was applied).
Went to Sur La Table in Santa Monica today, but they were all sold out of the Shun chef knives....I was lucky I checked for this deal online at amazon though.
There's a thread down below about the different types of knives...a few days ago...i tested them all out, I liked the way the Shun felt the best. It just felt "right" to me. The D-shape + wood handle and the weight of it was better than the Wustoff and Global (at least in my own hand).
I was actually at a Sur La Table last night, and according to someone at the store, Shun knives - of all the knives they have tested - retain their sharpness the longest. One of the chefs at their classes put it best "The best knife is the knife you are the most comfortable with - both with the weight and feel in your hand. Don't buy something that someone tells you to buy. You wouldn't buy a particular brand of jeans if they didn't fit you right."
I bought this for my christmas present last year and while more much more expensive than the Messermeister I was leaning towards, I have had no regrets. This shop is in Alameda and conveniently close to popular chowhound mexican favorites in the fruitvale area so make it a dual purpose field trip. Japanese knives are currently very popular and it is worth taking a look at some good ones as a comparison before you jump into the more well known German lines.
A lot of people are fans of the Japanese made kitchen knives which can be found at various places if your city has a Japan Town, which I believe that SF does? If you are not certain, ask at a local sushi place. I personally find that they don't fit my hand well (such a personal thing) and I always go back to Wusthof, avaiable at Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, and many places online.