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Help me pick a new chopping/vegetable knife

Okay, I have (had) four knives to my name. I'm fine with that, really. One just died. The other three are no-names that for some reason we call "Job's Daughters knives," maybe because Job's Daughters was selling them — a paring knife, a bigger version of the paring knife, and a serrated bread knife. I'm cool with them.

The one that died was a Calphalon Contemporary 7" santoku. I liked it. Someone tried hacking a coconut with it and chipped the blade, so now I'm looking for another knife that makes me happy.

Difficulty: under $50. I love good-quality equipment and I'm willing to care for it; I'm just not ready to spend tons.

• vegetables: slicing, dicing, chopping, etc.
• sometimes cheese and fruit stuff
• *maybe* pineapple or a hard squash occasionally, but if you like a more delicate knife, go ahead and recommend it, because my Job's Daughters knives can deal with hard stuff. Or at least, I wouldn't cry too hard if they got hurt.

We never cut meat or deal with meat.

I don't have any predefined preferences. I liked the santoku, though the dimples seemed a bit gimmicky. Introductory research points to a nakiri style knife, but beyond that I don't want to poison the idea well. I'm totally new to putting thought into buying a knife, so of course I'm instantly obsessed and really looking forward to your suggestions.

If any more info can help, let me know and I'll be happy to provide.

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  1. I got a Forschner 40520 chef's knife at Cash & Carry for under $30.
    It rests right next to the expensive Shun I got as a gift a few years ago, but I usually myself reaching for the Forschner.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mrnelso

      Damn Chem you're quick! Shiny; check out chefknivestogo.com and in particular the Tanaka nakiri and the Tojiro nakiri. I think a nakiri,santoku or a petty style knife will fit the bill for all your cutting needs.

      1. re: mrnelso

        Thanks mrnelso and petek! I'll look into those now.

        Plus thanks to everyone for awesome suggestions and advice so far.

        1. re: mrnelso

          Someone gave me the 10" Forschner about 5-6 years ago and I really like it. Unlike the OP I have too many knives. It's a very versatile knife, with a few (minor) drawbacks. It's somewhat light, and the blade has a little bit of flex to it. So... NO COCONUTS with this knife, mkay? Otherwise I use it almost all the time.

          It doesn't *look* like the most impressive knife you'll own, but it does get very, very sharp.

          And it retails for about $30. A lot of culinary professionals (of which I am not one) use these because they're cheap and the hardened rubber/plastic handle complies with all health code regulations. They don't last forever. Eventually after many grindings/sharpenings, you'll need to replace it. But as I said, I've had mine for 5-6 years, sharpening it maybe once or twice a year, and it's still going strong. Steeling it keeps it very sharp.

        2. I've become more and more enamored with flat profiles as time goes on. I like the CCK small cleaver that I just got, but the extra height does take some getting used to. Just last night, I was thinking if I did it "over" again, I'd go with a Hiromoto AS santoku (carbon steel, cladded with stainless.) Which is not in your price range. I would check out the Tojiro shirogami santoku, which is in your range.

          1. I'll bite , just get the santoku fixed , should be less than 20$ and you already like it and have it.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Dave5440

              Yes, you could,as Dave5440 suggested,fix your old knife or you could by yourself a nice new shiny knife :D Or maybe do both.

              1. re: Dave5440

                Getting pics of my newly-notched knife up now. I dunno if it can be fixed. It's also newly bendy in a few places along the blade. Oh. Here they are now:

                  1. re: Dave5440

                    Yeah, it looks like a big chip and who knows if the structural damage is deeper -- which it very well could be.

                1. Under $50 will be tough to get very high quality stainless steel knives, but there are some solid ones
                  First, it depends if you want a stainless steel knife or a carbon steel knife. A stainless steel knife is easier to take care of for very obvious reason. A carbon steel knife is on average sharper at the same price point. Santoku is really evolved from Nakiri.
                  Some knives to consider are the Victorinox Santoku. Nothing spectacular, but they are good knives and are better than Calphalon Contemporary knives:
                  A wild choice is the Dexter-Russell DuoGlide knife. It has won multiple awards including Arthritis Foundation and Housewares Design Awards. I don't have this knife per se, but I have many Dexter-Russell knives, so I am very aware of its solid and reasonable quality. Again, good knives, but not great knives. Here is a website:
                  Here is a great site to buy from:

                  There is one Santoku I suggest you to look into is the Misono Molybdenum Steel Santoku. I know they are slightly more expensive than what you are looking for ($63, $70 and $75), but they are good decent entry level Japanese santoku. I have recently communicated with Koki Iwahara, and this is a knife line he recommends for entry level Japanese knives and I agree. You can scroll down:

                  If you are willing to invest up to $100, then there is another line I really want to recommend to you.

                  If you are opened to carbon steel knives, then there are several great and inexpensive knives.
                  The CCK Chinese Chef’s knife: decent steel and excellent knife profile. Really, one of the best knife profiles I have seen for vegetable slicing. This is one of my personal favorites, if not THE very favorite. You can get it very inexpensively in West Coast Chinatowns, but if that is not an option, you can get it here:
                  Tanaka Kurouchi Nakiri (blue paper steel): excellent steel quality and decent knife profile. To be able to buy an Aogami (blue paper steel) knife at this price point is a real bargain. However, you need to know how to sharpen a knife to get this one because the edge profile can be wavy and may need some works. I had to put about an hour of work to fix the edge. If you know how to sharpen knives, and want a great steel at a cheap price, this is it:

                  Many of these knives have been mentioned by others because they are good knives.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    According to japanesechefsknife.com after Feb 28th there will be a 60% increase on the price of all Misono knives so if you're interested you better hurry.

                    1. re: petek

                      :) I know a lot of people like Misono, and I like it too, but I don't love them. Ironically, I have been hunting for an inexpensive stainless steel santoku knife for almost a year now, just slowly looking around. I don't really need it, but I figure if I want a new knife, it will be a Santoku. I want my Westernized Japanese knives (like Santoku and Gyuto..) be stainless and my traditional Japanese knives (like Usuba and Nakiri..) be carbon steel. :P

                      I have considered of course the Hattori HD series Santoku:


                      The Ittosai Kotetsu Sanoktu which is rumored to be the same knife (though they have difference HRC hardness



                      Shiki Tsuchime Damascus Twinkle looks good too, but maybe not what I really want:


                      Of course, I also want a 10,000 grit water stone. :P

                      P.S.: Minsono prices right now are fine, but I will not remotely consider them if there a 60% increase. They don't worth it. Really, would you buy a Misono UX gyuto for $254? There are much better knives at that $250 price point.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Chem: Maybe you should look into a Moritaka santuko.$120.00 at chefknivestogo.Light weight and wicked sharp!!

                        1. re: petek

                          I know. I know. If I expand to carbon steel, I would definitely look into Moritaka. In fact, I seriously thought about getting a Moritaka Nakiri until I read some horrible stories about it from Dave Martell. Notice, it was my top choice for nakiri in my original post:


                          I also would consider Hiromoto AS Santoku -- if I am opening up to carbon steel. However, like I wrote earlier, I am trying to limit all my Western-Japanese knives to stainless and all my traditional Japanese knives to carbon steel.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            The knife forum guys have been singing the praises of the carbonext line of knives.

                            They are said to sharpen like carbon steel (though not quite as well as Shirogami or Aogami and their variants), rust only the tiniest bit more readily than VG-10, and have better edge retention than a Hiromoto AS (which if true, is freaking impressive).

                            The price isn't bad - $100 for a 180mm santoku. I had been looking for an excuse to buy a knife from this line (likely a sujihiki), though my recent Yusuke purchase put that on hold for a while.

                            The santoku is currently sold out, but you said you were being patient.

                            Of course, that's only if you are considering carbon steel knives. But if I may be frank, for someone like you who doesn't subject his knives to a professional kitchen and has shown willingness and ability to take care of his knives, I don't see the downside of carbon steel, Westernized knives or no.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              Yeah, Koki said that is a good line of knife. It is easy to sharpen, take a good edge and a bit more rust resistent than most carbon steel knife. That stainless vs carbon steel restriction is just something for me to diversify my knife collection (both type and possibly steel). The CarboNext does look very interesting and I will consider it.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                i've been waiting since the last batch in january sold out of the 240 gyuto of the carbonext line. now that it's available i don't have the resources to spend on it.
                                funny how life works out. that's a knife i've wanted for some time and i'll probably get it eventually...i just hope koki doesn't think i'm messing with him when i keep asking to be put on the mailing list when the come available :P

                                1. re: cannibal


                                  Yeah, I am impressed with the JapaneseChefsKnife offerings. On average, they are a bit higher end than Chefknivestogo, and they offer good quality knvies. The JCK Kagayaki CarboNext, theKagayaki VG-10 and the Kagayaki Aogmi series all look good, I think. Of course, the Hiromoto AS line is very good value too.

                                  P.S.: Maybe it is time to create a new email account, so Koki won't think you are the same person. Just kidding. :P

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      CK: I knew KNEW you'd be commenting, you are just going to have to accept the mantle of "go-to-knife-info person" sorry, but you asked for it.

                      you might find the book Cruddy by Lynda Barry amusing, a major sub-theme is the appreciation of good knives.

                    3. I really like the nakiri style...the blade has a little more curve than the santoku (which suits my style) and the uniform blade width is a little easier for scooping things off the board).

                      I also recently picked up an Anolon "Kyotsu" knife, which as far as I can tell is something Anolon made up...but I really like it. The overall blade is shaped like a really wide santoku (even better for scooping than the nakiri), but the curvature of the blade is much closer to that of a German-style chef's knife. I now prefer this guy to the Nakiri. I have found that the kyotsu is ridiculously awkward and off-balance if you don't use a proper pinch-grip. On the positive side, it will help reinforce getting into the habit of holding it properly. On the negative side if you are accustomed to some other grip and have no desire to start using a pinch-grip, you'll really hate it.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: jzerocsk

                        "I really like the nakiri style...the blade has a little more curve than the santoku (which suits my style) and the uniform blade width is a little easier for scooping things off the board)."
                        The average nakiri has a little LESS curve to its blade than the average santoku. Is this what you meant to say? Of course, profiles vary from maker to maker, but still that is the overall trend.

                        Also, I would just call the Kyotsu a santoku. I've seen other santokus with pretty much the exact same profile, though the extra curve (and bolster) on that model is more typical of Western makers than traditional Japanese ones.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Maybe I have the terminology wrong...I mean the "rocker" of the blade...my santoku definitely has less rocker than my nakiri. Neither have much at all, but the nakiri has a little more of a curve. They are both inexpensive mass market brands (one is a farberware, but I don't remember the other offhand).

                          I don't doubt there are other manufacturers making similar blades to the kyotsu, that's mostly why I pointed out that I think that Anolon made that up. I can't find anyone else that makes a knife called "kyotsu".

                          1. re: jzerocsk

                            Hi Jzerocsk,

                            There is no official curvature specification for Nakiri vs Santoku. However, in general, a Santoku has more a curvature than a Nakiri. Here is the Moritaka website and you can see its Santoku has more curvature than its Nakiri:


                            Kyotsu maybe a new name, but the Anolon Kyotsu's geometry is not very different than many Santoku that I know.

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I agree, my Moritaka Nakiri 165cm has very little curvature - much less than either my Kato 165cm or Akifusa 180cm Santoku.

                            2. re: jzerocsk

                              You mean that it's easier to rock your nakiri while chopping than your santoku, correct? If that's the case, I don't doubt you. But I was pointing out that your nakiri and santoku are unusual in this - on average, nakiris have straighter edges than santokus. There are exceptions and it would seem your knives are one of them.

                              Honestly, it's kindof a moot and acedemic point I'm making anyway, since nobody buys a knife without at least seeing a picture of it, in which you can gauge the curve of the edge.

                              As for the analon knife - calling it a "Kyotsu" as opposed to a santoku is just a marketing gimmick. You're right - there is no traditional knife design referred to as a Kyotsu. I was just pointing out that knife has more or less the same design as other Western-made santokus. That doesn't mean it's a bad knife, necessarily. Just that it's still a santoku, albeit obviously one with a Western market in mind.

                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                LOL...we are on the same page...the nakiri rocks better than the santoku. That's interesting that the santoku typically has more of a curve, as based on mine (and a few other inexpensive mass-market santoku with similar shapes) I had simply always believed that the santoku just doesn't fit my chopping style as well as the nakiri, but the one I really love turns out to be a santoku underneath its trademarkable name.

                        2. For your coconut, a machete or a Woodman's Pal.


                          1. As much as I love my Forschner Rosewood santoku, I hesitate to recommend it if there's the chance it might get the same treatment as your Calphalon. At $30, it's too expensive to go a-whackin' with.

                            Instead, I'd seriously recommend a Kai Pure Komachi 2 santoku:
                            Very sharp, good steel, great company (they make the Shun line), nice ergonomics, lifetime free sharpening, & a great price.

                            Do you have TJMaxx or Marshall's local to you? My local TJM just got a bunch of Pure Komachi knives in & they're all priced at $7.95 or less.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Eiron

                              Ooh. The Destroyer of Knives just told me he had that knife! The pink version, rather, with the dimples.

                              I'm in complete BFE here, so no TJMaxx or Marshall's. But that's cool; the Komachi is $9.95 on Amazon. I swear, I'm not always that mean with knives! I try to be nice!

                              Here's the plan right now. May change in the next 24h, hour, or minute.

                              1. Order either the Komachi or Victorinox santoku from Amazon, which will run either $10 or $30. Get this, this is how weirdly BFE this is. I went to the only place I thought might have the Victorinox knives to hold and try, a local outlet mall with three kitchen stores. The knives they had were all Chicago Cutlery, Wusthof, Henckels, some fancy name in the Le Creuset store, etc. Somehow missed the Victorinox/Forschner name entirely. I really hoped to get to hold one of those light knives first to get an idea, since I don't think I've ever owned a lightweight one, but I won't be having that luck. I think I'd like a lighter knife fine, though.

                              2. All this talk of Japanese knives has us WAY curious. We're really fascinated by the nakiri knives. The only thing keeping us from getting the Tojiro or Tanaka (or Tosagata! bored farmers pounding steel in winter!) is the fact that I have no idea how to sharpen or hone a knife and what I've gleaned is you need to use a water stone and they seem to run about $30 or more. So anyway, if I can feel comfortable with the idea of learning how to sharpen, I definitely want to get one because it sounds FUN. And the knife itself, doesn't it look really choppy? Like it could double as zombie defense or something.

                              Man, now I know what "a little knowlege is dangerous" means. I just KNOW I know barely enough to get myself in trouble and say something dumb like "does this cd tray double as a coffee holder?"

                              1. re: Shiny Cooking

                                LOL, is that good or bad that he had that same knife? The Forschner Rosewood santoku is silly-light at only 100 grams.

                                Do you have a "comprehensive" hardware store nearby? There's one near me that carries a wider selection of knives than any of the kitchen stores in 3 local towns! Another good store for trials is Bed Bath & Beyond.

                                J-knives ARE great, but many are MORE brittle than your Calphalon. (I'm sure you've already read that.) Sharpening is easy; just take it slow & keep a positive attitude with it.

                                1. re: Shiny Cooking

                                  cd trays DO make good cup holders, they just don't always revert easily. and cd's make good coasters.

                                  I don't know that I could buy a knife over the internet, for me it's ALL about the hand-feel, don't let the sharpening intimidate you, I used to be around a bunch of serious woodworkers that could discuss the merits and carbon steel content of anything, they'd just sort of go into a hypnotic zone (setting up their angle and picturing the planned movements) when sharpening their chisels. there are threads on this subject and just go buy a bunch of junk at a thrift store and practice on those.

                              2. I have similiar requirements for my knives and also didn't want to spend more than $50. I happened upon a Gunter Wilhelm "road show" at my local Costco and picked up a 10" chefs knife and a 7" Santoku for $35 each. I'm extremely please with them for the price, they seem way better than anything else I've looked at in the $30 range.


                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Rick

                                  I also picked up the Gunter Wilhelm 7" Santoku knife at Costco for $35 last week. It is absolutely a steel steal at that price because it retails for more than double (see their website, to which Rick linked directly above). If you're interested and see it at one of the Costco road shows, grab it - they seem to sell out fast. (I know because this was the second time I tried to purchase one there.) You can even test it out at their table. (They provided a tomato.) And if you take the knife home and decide you don't like it, you can always return it under Costco's no-hassle return policy.

                                  1. re: Arthur

                                    I bought a 8" chef knife and a 3.5 Paring knife at Costco, Fredericksburg, MD, yesterday.
                                    Here is a link re a discussion as to where these knives were 'made.'

                                    Just to confirm the language on the back of my 8" chef knife plastic/carboard cover, it says:

                                    "Designed in U.S.A. Crafted from 440C steel made in Germany, finishing and packaging in China." and "Fully Forged German Steel."

                                    On the 3.5 Paring knife, it does not say any of the above "Designed in U....." as it does on the 8" knife. It only says on the plastic/cardboard packaging: "Fully Forged German Steel."

                                2. I have a Wusthof Classic Granton edge 7" Santoku Model 4183 (Granton edge = dimples) that I like very much. I was able to score it (new) on eBay for under $50.
                                  On the other hand, for years before I got this I used a way cheap (under $10) Chinese cleaver for veggies and everything. Just needed to run it over a stone every so often to keep it reasonably sharp.

                                  1. I would look at Fujiwara from CKTG. They make carbon and stainless but I would recommend the FKM stainless line.


                                    They are a bit higher priced than $50 but the santoku or 210 gyuto are $72 each and the 240 gyuto (a great size that can function as a chefs and slicer) is around $84.

                                    The Forschner is great for $30 but for a little more you get a really great knife.

                                    1. I've been checking out the sale knives at TJMaxx. Mostly I've gotten the colored KR paring knives, but also picked up a 'Swiss Pro' nakiri that looked interesting (less thatn $20). Initially I was disappointed in it because it is heavier than the Japanese nakiri I bought at a large Japanese grocery in Seattle. but it's growing on me.

                                      There are so many variables that affect how a knife feels - size, weight, blade thickness, shape, handle material and shape, etc, that it is hard to say which one is best. Price and reputation may help, but I hate to spend $50+ on a knife that I end up liking less than $10 one I already have. So I've ended up experimenting with expensive ones that look good, and accepting that some will work out, and some not.

                                      1. Update and KNIFE TEST! Okay, the $10 pink Komachi santoku arrived today. It's so light I think I'm going to try to scratch my nose with it or something and wind up with a giant breathing hole in my face.

                                        Plus! Since it did have a lifetime warranty, I tried taking the Calphalon back to BBB. They allowed an exchange without a hitch, so I have a 7" Calphalon again.

                                        We did a test! Cut up sweet potatoes and white potatoes for mixed home fries. We alternated knives on the same kinds of cuts. While the Komachi performed excellently, the Calphalon bested it in every test. It sliced more softly and cleanly, with a tad less effort.

                                        Surprisingly, vegetables also stuck more tenaciously to the Komachi, in spite of its non-stick coating. I wonder if the dimples on the Calphalon helped it in that respect — our Komachi is dimple-less.

                                        I used both right out of the box with a quick wash, no sharpening or anything, so I don't know if perhaps that may have had something to do with it. Maybe I'll run the Komachi thru my weird sharpener later and see what happens.

                                        I'm glad I got both. Now I have two slicing/prep knives that work well so two can work easily in the kitchen.

                                        Even though it's a bit inferior to the Calphalon (and at 1/3 the price I wouldn't expect more), I'm still geeking over the Komachi set in the CLEAR KNIFE BLOCK which is $50 at Amazon. 8 brightly colored knives in a clear block. How awesome is that?

                                        16 Replies
                                        1. re: Shiny Cooking

                                          Thanks for this wonderful review! I'm thinking of going & getting a couple from TJM for myself, even though I know they'll be nowhere near the quality of the Shun line. (Actually, these would be great knives for when the kids move out.)

                                          I think the Komachi might sharpen up quite nicely; let us know how it sharpens up for you.

                                          So will the pink knife become the "for The Destroyer's use only" knife? (Maybe the color will calm the user?) :-D

                                          1. re: Eiron

                                            "Maybe the color will calm the user?"

                                            Maybe Komachi will come up more colors and better color names like Le Creuset.

                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                              You will NOT turn this into a Le Creuset thread! :-P

                                              So you think if Kai used names like Tangerine, Blueberry, Grape, Mint, Habanero, Raspberry, Guava, Banana, etc, they'd sell more Komachi knives?


                                          2. re: Shiny Cooking

                                            "Surprisingly, vegetables also stuck more tenaciously to the Komachi, in spite of its non-stick coating."

                                            The nonstick coating may come across a bit confusing. It is for ease-of-clean-up and rust prevention, just like nonstick cookware are pretty easy to clean up. It is not the same kind of sticking as in potatoes slices stick to a knife blade. One has more to do with foods forming chemical bond to the metal. The other has to do with foods forming a vacuum seal and stick to the blade. A Teflon surface prevents the former, but not latter.

                                            1. re: Shiny Cooking

                                              Shiny, I forgot to ask:
                                              Is the pink knife the one labeled as the Asian Chef/Santoku? The nose of the blade looks a little narrower than their purple & yellow santokus, & also more slender than the 7" Calphalon santoku.

                                              I really like the side-by-side comparison format you presented. How do the knives compare for comfort? The handles look similarly shaped for a full-palm grip, & the Komachi bread knife I tried was extremely comfortable when I held it this way. Do you think the difference in weight & balance between the two knives has an impact on the way they cut? (For instance, does the extra weight Calphalon help it glide thru food?)

                                              I agree, the clear block set looks fun!

                                              1. re: Shiny Cooking

                                                Nice review! Anyone know how the Komachis compare to the Kuhn Rikon colori knives?

                                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                  Don't know, but think about the possibly of matching different colors. I bet the red color from Komachi is not the same as the red color from Kuhn Rikon.

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Thanks, Chem! I have the KRs and they seem to be the same genre as the Komachis. Love the sheathes on the KRs though - don't tk the Komachis have that.

                                                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                      Yeah, I don't think the Komachi come with the shealthes neither.

                                                  2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                    "Anyone know how the Komachis compare to the Kuhn Rikon colori knives?"

                                                    Compare how?

                                                    1. re: Eiron

                                                      "Compare how?"

                                                      Which line offers brighter colors?

                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        LOL, what is this, Jeopardy? Are you guessing an answer again, like in the Shun thread?

                                                        1. re: Eiron

                                                          I found out more information. The following information should be very useful.

                                                          I know Pure Komachi offers 12 different colors, whereas Kuhn Rikon has 14 colors. 14! that is almost 20% more than 12!

                                                          More importantly, Pure Komachi appears to offer one color per knife type. In other words, the 6.5" Chef's knives are only pink and the 8" Chef's knives are only purple, whereas Kuhn Rikon offers different colors for the each knife type. Consequently, Kuhn Rikon is a more dedicate brand and understand the needs for mix and match colors. I also believe there is a higher chance of "new" color coming from Kuhn Rikon.

                                                          1. re: Eiron

                                                            For slightly less important information, Kuhn Rikon claims their knives are made of carbon steel, whereas Komachi knives are made of 420J2 stainless.

                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                              Haha. I'm interested mostly in performance. :-)

                                                              1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                :) In that case, maybe Kuhn Rikon knives are better.