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need a versatile knife, suggestions

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panoz Dec 20, 2006 04:46 AM

I recently moved across the country, and had leave all my cookware behind in storage. One of the equipment being a forged Global 8.25" Chef's knife. My roommate has one of those $20 for a 15 piece plus block knife set. As you can imagine, you get what you pay for. No matter what I do with the steel (we don't have any whetstones), it does not get and stay sharp.

I want to get a good versatile knife in the interrim. I'm already very happy with my Global chef's knife, and I've had a lot of "chop time" with a Henkels, which I find to also be an excellent knife. But I don't want to spend nearly as much on something I already have.

At first, after doing a lot of research, I found a comparison of several German vs. Japanese style knives on a site called "cooking for engineers". While not the highest performer, one was deemed one of the best value. The knife was a Japanese made western style chef's knife called "Tojiro F-808 8.2-in Gyuto". In the testing it performed better than the Tojiro professional line. I even found a place locally where I can get it at a decent discount, less than $45.

I went to take a look at it, and to get a feel for it. It is lighter than my Global (180g vs 268g), but it has a comfortable grip. Like many Japanese knives it's very thin, made of a hard steel (60-61 rockwell), and very sharp.

But as I was looking, I still couldn't shake the feeling that I'm unnecessarily buying something I already have. Should I get a completely different kind of knife that is just as versatile as a chef's knife, like purchasing a santoku instead?

What would you do in my position? I'm interested in hearing about other decent but inexpensive brand/line knives should I look at?

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  1. k
    Kelli2006 RE: panoz Dec 20, 2006 05:42 AM

    Panoz, The best knives for those on a budget are Forschner stamped steel knives. Most people might be surprised, but the Forschner knife is ubiquitous in the food service industry because they are tough, extremely sharp and the handles are a contoured Fibrox that is non-slip and extremely comfortable. I am a professional baker and I probably couldn't do my job W/O the inexpensive Forschner paring knives.

    A santuko knife is very useful and great to have in your knife arsenal, but they are best used for prepping vegetables.

    http://www.cutlery.com/forschner.shtml

    Panoz, are you any relation to Don Panoz of ALMS fame?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Kelli2006
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      EclecticEater RE: Kelli2006 Dec 22, 2006 12:07 PM

      I second the Forschner even though I have a Shun, among others. Great value for an inexpensive knife.

    2. t
      The Loaf RE: panoz Dec 20, 2006 07:56 AM

      I have 2 suggestions. One is to get a similar knife, but in carbon steel (yeah, the kind that if not wiped down after use will discolor, etc.) This kind of steel is not out of date, just different--generally easier to sharpen, etc. It is also the kind of steel a lot of those razor sharp sushi knives are made of. Look at the Hiromoto High Carbon HC-4 @ http://japanesechefsknife.com/ It's a little bigger than your Global--but, perhaps surprisingly, doesn't seem so large b/c the weight of japanese knives are generally lighter than you'll find in your typical German blades.

      The other possibility is to pick up a low-cost cleaver, which many people use instead of a chef's knife. An all purpose chopper, slicer, scooper, you-name-it. Maybe you'll discover you love it. Here's a link to a recent review of one choice: http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

      Knifeforums.com kitchen forum is loaded with people dispensing knowledgable advice. Your Tojiro knife gets mentioned there quite often. Any of the choices I mentioned should be under $50. Good luck.

      1. UnConundrum RE: panoz Dec 20, 2006 12:06 PM

        Ditto the two links The Loaf gave you. Only thing I'd add is that if you're looking for something different, or a new experience, try a slicing cleaver. Some of the guys over at the knife forum swear by them, and do all their cooking with one. I personally don't have one, but they've had great results with rather inexpensive cleavers. Head over to the forum and read some of their reviews :)

        1. t
          Theodore RE: panoz Dec 20, 2006 06:06 PM

          Get the same knife and that way, when you send your knives out for sharpening, you will always have one to work with. Also, I'm guessing you will have a sous chef in your kitchen and then you won't have to fight over who get's the Global. ;)

          1. r
            RiJaAr RE: panoz Dec 20, 2006 06:38 PM

            ok,i think this is the company i'm thinking of. this sounds cheesy, but i have one of these and its actually not bad, my moms had a foreversharp for 25 years, no problems, plus, if it ever does break or get dull they send you a new one. i saw a demo in a store once..he did actually saw a board in half lol, it was kind of corny, but i love the knives
            http://www.miracleblade.com/home.html...

            it sounds like you already have a good chefs knife. i suppose these stay sharp because they're serrated, but still i like them.

            1. Magnapro RE: panoz Dec 21, 2006 12:35 AM

              Go to restaurant supply and buy Henkels commercial yellow handle for everyday prep. Get a good diamond steel. Victorinox also is very affordable and performs well. Perhaps some ceramics for your delicate work. you can put together a very versatile and super knife set if shop around.

              1. SanseiDesigns RE: panoz Dec 21, 2006 03:09 AM

                It sounds like you are on an expat assignment - perhaps in Asia or the EU? With that in mind, here are some considerations:

                1. What is the purpose of the knife you want to buy? What function(s) will it serve? That will dictate the type of knife you want to get. If you are in Asia - one of the most versatile knives used in Asian cooking is a Chinese cleaver. You can mince, chop, scoop, flatten, tenderize, and crack (e.g. crab shells) with one knife.

                2. Based on where you are located look for functional, high quality knives you would have difficulty finding at home, and that will provide value for you where you are living. While I was living in Latin America, UK, and Asia I always looked for culinary tools that I would use and were not common in the US.

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                  AppleSpam RE: panoz Dec 21, 2006 05:10 AM

                  I have the knife you're looking at buying. It's a great knife with a steel quality that you won't find in any other in the same price range. While the Forscher and Victorinox lines are great for professional kitchens (where low maintainence is a must) I'd recommend the Tojiro over them for home kitchens as you won't be doing nearly as much prep. The only caveat is that you may have to buy a waterstone to keep it singing sharp over the long run (a piece of fine grit sandpaper glued to floatglass works nicely as well)

                  As for buying a santoku or some other shape. If you feel comfortable using a chefs knife/gyuto I see no reason to get a santoku. They generally come in smaller sizes (which are less efficient for most tasks) There's really no point in diversifying simply for the sake of "variety"

                  1. w
                    will47 RE: panoz Dec 21, 2006 05:23 AM

                    Aside from the Forschner, Mundial has a line of forged knives that are available quite cheaply ($22-30 for an 8 or 10 inch chef's knife.

                    Or get a Santoku - the Japanese site above has a couple of Damascus steel ones for quite a reasonable price.

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