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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.

Uses:
• 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:
                    http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-4752...
                    http://www.amazon.com/Victorinox-7-In...
                    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:
                    http://www.dexterduoglide.com/
                    Here is a great site to buy from:
                    http://www.katom.com/135-40033.html

                    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:
                    http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/Mol...

                    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:
                    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/cckclea...
                    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:
                    http://www.chefknivestogo.com/takuna1...

                    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:

                        http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/HDS...

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

                        )

                        http://korin.com/Suminagashi-Santoku-...

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

                        http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/SHI...

                        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:

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725600

                            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.
                              http://www.japanesechefsknife.com/KAG...

                              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

                                    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.