HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Looking for suggestions for a knife as a weding present for vegetarians

  • m

I want to get a really nice knife to go along with one of my artisen cutting boards for our nephew and his bride to be. They are vegetarians, I don't hold that against them ;) but I also don't know exactly what the best knife would be if you are only cutting vegetables. I personally prefer a western chefs knife, I know many people like the santoku style knife and from reading on here, it appears there are some other styles that might also be very good for just vegetables. I know they don't have a good knife, they're just getting started and neither of them have jobs as rocket scientists or brain surgens, so money is tight for them, so I want to get them something that's really nice, but also very practicle. Something they will have for a very long time and can use and enjoy everyday.

I've looked around a little and have found some interesting knives, but I'm not familiar with many of the Japanese brands. Is Hattori a good brand, and if so, do I go for the Santoku, the Petty, the Guyto, or the Nakiri? Or are there other brands and styles that I should give serious thought to? I'd like to get them something a little out of the ordinary, so the Kitchenaid Santoku is out of the running. Thanks, I know you guys and gals will come through.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. HI,

    I am going to reply by making an assumptions. I'll assume that your nephew and his bride to be are not knife people. By this, I assume that they are not the type that would really get into the differences in steels, forcing a patina on carbon steel, and hand sharpening on water stones. If they are this type, then I recommend a Takeda Nakiri or a similar knife -- http://www.chefknivestogo.com/naboas1... But, assuming that they are not, I am going to assume that they would not want to take the extra care carbon steel requires. They also might not want to take the care that very hard, brittle, steel requires to avoid edge chipping. And they might want to use an electric sharpener, or some other 'easier' method than stones. (Keep in mind that a good set of stones is as much of an investment as the first good knife.) With all this in mind, I would recommend a nice, but readily available, stainless santoku or nakiri. This could be European (any of the nicer Henckels or Wusthof) or Japanese (Shun or MAC). I know this is not a specific recommendation, but I hope it helps guide you a bit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jljohn

      Thankyou, it's actually more help than you might think as you brought up many very good points that I really hadn't thought about. And your probably right, they are probably not knife people. Just looking for that out of the ordniary gift.

    2. How vegetarians do they go? I think there a few versions. I don't know if there is a knife just for vegetables, but a nakiri style knife is fairly good for vegetables, a santoku is also good for vegetable and a touch more versatile, and a gyuto is most similar to a French Chef's knife.

      Now, those are styles. You can, of course, get a German made Wusthof Santoku or a Henckels Santoku. Conversely, you can get a Japanese made Santoku. That is up to you. They have their advantages. I do like the Japanese made ones due to personal preference.

      Hattori is a very good brand, although some may argue that you can get similar quality at a low price point.

      34 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Oh, yes, to be a bit more specific.
        If you are interested in Japanese made knives and a bit less generic, then I have two recommendation which are not too expensive:
        (1) Tojiro DP:
        Tojiro is known to be high quality, and reasonably priced.

        (2) Fujiwara FKM
        A bit softer than Tojiro DP, so it is easier for people who are not used to Japanese hard steel. In other words, more forgiving, but slightly not as high performance.

        Please also let us know what is a price point you are comfortable. Do you also want the Damascus pattern to look pretty?

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          The fujiwara FKM is pretty ideal for this kind of thing. I'd say the difference in performance vs a Tojiro is pretty negligible compared to the difference it makes in terms of non-knife-nuts not having to worry much about chipping. I bought one for my mom a little while back. Very attractive, decent OOTB edge, decent geometry.

          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            Thanks, Chem and cowboy, those are great suggestions. As far as price point, it's a weding present, I don't give those but once in a lifetime, so anything under a couple of hundred is in the range, no Kramer. It's more important that they have a usefull tool, but I would also like for it to be a bit unique, not somethig that's going to be in every kitchen, so I want it to look good as well as function. The Damascus pattern is attractive and gives the knife a more unique look, but that's not critical. I like cowboys take on the fujiwara FKM as being a) utilitarian and practical and b) attractive with a good edge. A little more flair would be nice though, but certianly not a deal breaker. You guys are great!

            How vegetarian are they? Funny question, I was listening to NPR yesterday and they were talking about vegetarians and how some don't count fish or chicken. I guess if that's the case I'm a vegetarian and don't count fish, chicken, beef or pork. I'm assuming, a just vegetable kind of vegetarian, but I must admit I don't really know for sure.

            1. re: mikie

              I will throw a few more at you.

              Shiki Tsuchime Damascus and Rysen Tsuchime Damascus can be attractive and are under $200 and stainless steel.


              If you don't mind going above $200 and have something unique and hand made, then you can go for a Watanabe Nakiri which is considered to be very good by kitchen knife experts on several other forums. I have one:


              It has a carbon steel edge, but it is switched in between by stainless steel. So it is a bit easier to take care of. Nevertheless, I have a feeling that this one is a bit too involved for your nephew and his wife since they have never had good knives before.

              "I was listening to NPR yesterday and they were talking about vegetarians and how some don't count fish or chicken."

              Yes, that is very true. Here is a list of semi-vegetarianism.


              1. re: mikie

                Mikie, what you might want to consider is getting the Fujiwara FKM, as the "good special" knife, then choosing some daily, servicable, not afraid to use, knives of different styles, like these:


                I have :
                11" length x 2" width, pointed end (0.19 lb) - 3rd photo - $4.95
                7.5" length x 1" width, paring knife (0.09 lb) - 4th photo - $2.95 And they are really workhorses!

                They are not over the top, shave your chin, keep in a safebox knives, but take a good amount of use and perform well. As you can see you could pick up a few other styles for very little more and give then a whole range of knives with one the shining Star, the Fujiwara FKM

                1. re: Quine

                  "They are not over the top, shave your chin, keep in a safebox knives, but take a good amount of use and perform well."
                  I'm thinking you could probably make one of those shave-your-chin sharp if you were so inclined.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    LOL, Yes I have done that. :-) Edge holds well.

                    1. re: Quine

                      Kiwi knives (the one you recommended) can definitely be sharpened to the point for shaving arm hair, but I won't describe them as "edge holds well". The edge holds good compared to low grade knives, but not anywhere close to a mid range knives like Tojiro or Fujiwara.

                      Neither Tojiro nor Fujiwara should be considered as "over the top" or "keep in a safebox knives". They are much cheaper than a typical Wusthof or Henckels and they can be used in real professional kitchens as work horse knives.

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                        Perhaps. The point was more rather than getting one expensive knife for a couple who have none or few, get a good mid-range (and for an inexperienced person an Eighty buck knife is sorta seen as a safebox knife) and also a range of good serviceable, kind to new hands, and not break the bank if they misshapen it knives. A replacement can be had for under $10. Trying to suit the described receivers. And it's a couple, so what might be perfect in one of their hands may not suit the other, so a range of knives is thoughtful.

                        1. re: Quine

                          "...and also a range of good serviceable, kind to new hands, and not break the bank if they misshapen it knives. "

                          If that is the logic, then mikie should NOT get the $60-80 knife to begin with -- with or without $6-10 Kiwi knives.

                          Really, if the concern is that his nephew may destroy the $70 Fujiwara FKM knife during sharpening, then having a couple of Kiwi knives along the gift set will not prevent his nephew from mis-sharpening the Fujiwara knife. It will still happen regardless. Won't it be better to send a knife sharpening DVD or book? On top of that, it is not that easy to ruin a Western design double bevel knife during sharpening.

                          Unless what you are saying is that his nephew should just use the Kiwi knives on the daily basis, and only use the Fujiwara on special occasions. Now, if that is what you meant, then we have the situation of "self fulfilling prophecy". In other words, the Kiwi knives become the very reason why the Fujiwara becomes "the safebox knife". The Kiwi knives prevent the Fujiwara from being used.

                          For what it is worth, mikie is looking for a knife under $200, like the Shiki Tsuchime Damascus and Shiki Premium Damascus. I just fail to see the point of buying someone a $200 knife to only throw in a couple sub $10 knives in the mix. It is like receiving a >$200 All Clad pan and a <$10 Walmart nonstick pan together in the gift box, or receiving a 20 year single malt Macallan Scotch whiskey (>$200) and a Jim Beam Bourbon Red (<$10) together. I think these send some really mixed messages. Mike is also giving his nephew a really good hand made cutting board too. Should he also throw in a few of these $1-2 cutting sheet?

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            While I personally wouldn't buy a $200 knife and thow in some plastic ones, I don't think that is what is being suggested. What I see being suggested is gifting one "good use" knife along with a few practical ones. I don't think this sends mixed messages at all. It says, to me, here are some good solid knives and I've also included a really good one for "special" use. A very expensive "ideal" knife may very well not be either appreciated nor used in the way intended nor as it would be by an experienced chef. Just like gifting a 25 year old bottle of whiskey would be wasted on me, who does not drink whiskey and would not appreciate it nor appreciate the difference between it and a "lesser" whiskey. In the same way, a mid range but very good knife with some "daily use" knives would be a reasonable practical approach for beginning chefs.

                            It's all about knowing your audience and trying to do the right thing for them instead of doing what I would like done for me. Just as I would not gift my SIL with a 200 dollar All Clad pan (not a chef, wouldn't appreciate it, in her hands would be no better than a 50 dollar pan from Target), I wouldn't gift my foodie, cheftastic DH with a 50 dollar pan from Target as he would appreciate and appropriately use the 200 dollar pan.
                            Not everyone is a knife aficionado. The key is in knowing your audience and gifting accordingly instead of gifting as though all are equally proficient and/or appreciative and/or capable when it comes to the gift intended. JMHO.

                            1. re: freia

                              First, it is a bit confusing here. The knife, Fujiwara, is actually $60-70. The $200 is mike's budget for a knife. Most of the knives we have suggested to mike are much less than $200.

                              "Not everyone is a knife aficionado"

                              True. The way I see it is that if I don't think the person can take care or appreciate a $200 knife, then get the $100, if not that, then get $50.... If you look at my exchange with mikie is that I am pushing the price of gift knife down not up which is why the $60-70 Fujiwara was suggested by me.

                              What I don't understand is to give a person a $200 knives along with the a bunch of $5 knives.

                              To use whiskey as an example, if I am buying a friend who is new to whiskey, then I may get him 2 bottles of 10-12 years Scotch of different brands. If I am buying a friend who appreciates Scotch, then I may get him one bottle of a 18 year Scotch. But I just don't see the point of getting a $200 Scotch and then some $8 Jim Beam. If you know the person do not understand Scotch at all, then why get the $200 Scotch? If the person do appreciate great Scotch, then what is the purpose of the $8 Jim Beam? I can see that as being a funny joke, but that is about it.

                              "In the same way, a mid range but very good knife with some "daily use" knives would be a reasonable practical approach for beginning chefs."

                              Again, back to the actual knife being discussed. It is a $70-80 Fujiwara knife. There is no reason why a Fujiwara (much cheaper than Henckels or Wusthof) cannot be a daily use knife. Why would mike need to included a bunch of $5 Kiwi knives along with a $70-80 Fujiwara knife? If that logic is sound, then every Wusthof and Henckels owbers should also need get a bunch of sub-$10 knives. The $5 Kiwi knives are relatively good for their prices, but they are not really that good in absolute term. The steel is soft, the edge does not hold very well...etc. They are not as good as the $25 Dexter-Russell or Victorinoix knives. Again, Kiwi knives are good if your budget is below $10, but once you hit above $25, there are better knives.

                              "Just as I would not gift my SIL with a 200 dollar All Clad pan (not a chef, wouldn't appreciate it, in her hands would be no better than a 50 dollar pan from Target), I wouldn't gift my foodie, cheftastic DH with a 50 dollar pan from Target as he would appreciate and appropriately use the 200 dollar pan."

                              Yes. Either give the person a good $200 pan or a few $10 pans. Try to fit the gift to the audience. There is no need to get a $200 pan and then a few $10 pan and wrap them together in as a single gift.

                              Anyway, at the end, it is mikie's choice, so I will just let him decides, and I will focus on the sub-$200 suggestion.

                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                I think it's important to note, I'm not trying to equip their kitchen, that's neither my objective or my responsibility. I make an attractive cutting board, I put one in the family gift exchange a couple of Christmasses ago and and it was the "dirty santa" exchange, got really cut throat. However, I want to make the gift more than a cutting board, so it seemed a nice knife to go along with the board would be appropriate. I could get a utilitarian knife for $50 or so, but I can aford to spend more and buy something they probably wouldn't purchase for themselves. If they need more knives, well that's an issue they will have to deal with. I like the idea that a gift is something special and something you probably wouldn't splurge on yourself, that's part of what makes a gift special regardless of what you spend on it. I wouldn't spend $50 on a really accurate tire guage, but I thought it was fantastic when my kids bought me one for my birthday.

                                1. re: mikie

                                  I've been on the receiving end of well intentioned gifts that have been "out of my league" so to speak. In particular, electronics. Well meaning DB likes the best and brightest and shiniest of all electronic gear and believes that it is his duty to pass such items on as gifts. I, on the other hand, being a computer and gadget ignormaus aka Luddite, can't use the vast majority of items he gifts to me. Heck, I just bought my first cell phone 3 months ago. Seriously. And I rarely use it. Anyways, a universal remote control that controls all my AV equipment with one button is a great idea, but the reality is that I only want to turn my tv on and off, and my satellite on and off, and my receiver on and off. There are 3 simple buttons. SO even if the fancy remote is awesome, terrific, latest technology, if I have to figure out how to program it through online connections, I just simply won't use it. Well intentioned gift that is wasted on me. This is what I mean about knowing your audience.
                                  I think a great knife that one wouldn't normally buy is a great idea, IF the giftee involved is a chef, appreciates knives, and has the wherewithall to appreciate the significance of the gift. Otherwise, it is really simply wasted.
                                  I returned my fancy remote control. I still use my on/off switches on my old remotes.

                                  1. re: freia

                                    I think if one cooks, one needs a "good" knife and a good cutting board to use it on. Unless the extent of what one cooks only requires a can opener, in which case, it would indeed be wasted, a good knife makes a very poor can opener. However, if you're concerned enough about what you eat that you're a vegetarian, I'll just take a leap of faith that you're not opening a can of pork n beans for dinner. We were married for 10 years before we had even a decent utilitarian knife, so giving someone a good knife has some significance for me, it's something I'm confident anyone who cooks at all can appreciate. It's not a Kramer or something only a knife person could appreciate, just a good solid, nice looking piece of kitchen equipment.

                                    1. re: freia

                                      "I think a great knife that one wouldn't normally buy is a great idea, IF the giftee involved is a chef, appreciates knives, and has the wherewithall to appreciate the significance of the gift. "

                                      I won't say a $70 Fujiwara knife (as the knife being discussed) as an out of the world knife. It is half the price as a Henckels or Wusthof knife. That being said, mikie may be looking for something more than this. More importantly, mikie is making a very special and beautiful cutting board. So if a $70 knife is going to be considered as a "waste" on his nephew and his bride to be, then one has to also question if mikie should make the cutting board -- which would worth more and take more appreciation to use.

                                      Your example of universal remote is different. In your case, one would need extra time and skill to start to use it, where as a 3 simple buttons one requires a swallow learning curve.

                                      The Fuijiwara or Tojiro knife has better blade profile, longer edge retention and better balance than an inexpensive $5 Kiwi knife. It does not take more skill to start to learn to use a $70 Fujirwara knife than a $5 knife. In fact, I would argue less because many of these $5 knives came with chipped and dull edge, and I had to sharpen them before I can use them, whereas the $70 Fujiwara would be ready to go. The wood handle of the Kiwi knife is also not water proofed, whereas the Fujiwara is. By every measures, the $5 Kiwi knife actually takes more efforts and skill to use and care. I own, used, sharpened these $5 knives, so I have a good understanding of these knives.


                                      Everyone can enjoy a knife which is sharper, and hold its edge longer -- without any additional skill. The comparison should be made to a pair of well insulated gloves vs a pair of not-so-well insulated gloves. It takes the same skill to wear the gloves, but one set will keep your hand warmer for longer.

                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                        I think my example stands up well if you consider not the microdetails but the concept I was trying to get across -- mainly, that what seems like a great gift from one person's perspective as they appreciate and use said item is wasted on another that either doesn't care nor can't use the gift in question to its potential. Thus even though it is the latest and greatest, it is a gift given with the giver in mind, not the recipient. That was the concept I was illustrating, not the microdetails of the number of buttons. And not that it was a "waste" but perhaps giving an appropriate gift with the recipient in mind is a solid concept, rather than determining as a gift giver what the recipient "should" have.
                                        Sometimes gift givers get caught up in their own expertise and the gift becomes more about the gifter than the giftee. That was the point of my illustration.

                                        In any event, I was trying to simply say that to give one 80 dollar knife and several less expensive knives as a starter set is perhaps more in keeping with the skill set of the recipients in question. And it was a legitimate response by an earlier poster. And I still stand by that. If the skill set isn't quite there, it doesn't matter how long the edge lasts, or is sharper, if the user doesn't appreciate it. Again, an illustration of how a giver may have certain "must haves" in mind that may not reflect the appreciation level of the recipient. Heck, if the recipient uses a glass cutting board, really, would the expensive knife make a difference after 20 minutes? Not that they are, I again am using an example in a macro sense, not the micro sense (yes, it may take 2 days, not 20 minutes, yes, the edge may last marginally longer on one knife than another in this situation, yes, the OP mentioned a hand made cutting board during this conversation, but that isn't really my point...)
                                        However, I am not the gift giver, so best of luck to mikie! These gift recipients certainly will have a great knife I'm sure.

                                        1. re: freia

                                          "I was trying to simply say that to give one 80 dollar knife and several less expensive knives as a starter set is perhaps more in keeping with the skill set of the recipients in question "

                                          But that is exactly what I was trying to tell you. It actually take more consideration and skill to use these less expensive knives in question. I have used them. I have sharpened them. I own them. You are basing on the assumption that the $5 knives take less skill to use than the $70 knives, but that is not true. Cheaper knives do not equal to easier knives, just like the fact that the cheapest car is not the easiest car to drive and care for. It is my understanding that you do not own them, and somehow got the idea that they are easier to use. They are not.

                                          "If the skill set isn't quite there, it doesn't matter how long the edge lasts, or is sharper, if the user doesn't appreciate it. "

                                          No... I have to disagree. These less expensive knife take more care to use. They will actually go dull much faster, so the user actually need to sharpen the knife much more often. The handle soaks up water fast, so the user has to be very careful to keep water away from it....etc I am surprised that you are discouraging the idea of getting a $70 knife. We are not talking about a $700 knife.

                                          "Heck, if the recipient uses a glass cutting board"

                                          Mikie is giving them a nice cutting board. Like I have said, if you think this $70 knife is too much for the recipient, then wouldn't mike's handcraft cutting board also be a waste too?

                                      2. re: freia

                                        Stupid question-What's DB? I don't think anything on this list is what you mean

                                        1. re: Dave5440

                                          Well in keeping with CH, where DH = Darling Husband,
                                          DW =Darling Wife, you have daughter, son, SO, so DB can either be Darling Brother or Darling Boyfriend. That's what I though, at least.

                                          1. re: Quine

                                            Geesus, all of those are new to me

                                            1. re: Dave5440

                                              yeah, it's pretty much CH specific. MIL=Mother-in-law, which will let you figure out SIL and BIL. :-)

                                              1. re: Quine

                                                DB is dear brother, DH is dear husband, DMIL is dear mother in law...maybe we should start a thread about the use and intention of internet abbreviations LOL!!!! Actually these abbreviations are pretty common on other boards, too, not just CH I think?

                                        2. re: freia

                                          "I think a great knife that one wouldn't normally buy is a great idea, IF the giftee involved is a chef, appreciates knives, and has the wherewithall to appreciate the significance of the gift. Otherwise, it is really simply wasted."

                                          I am not sure I agree with this. Unless one eats out 100%, or has a full-time personal chef, a person who cooks and eats absolutely needs one knife. Most would say that such a person needs three knives (chefs type, paring type, and serrated/bread type). There is no doubt that a good knife makes the cutting aspects of food prep easier and more enjoyable, and a good-looking knife will improve the aesthetic of wherever it is stored (block or magnet). I suppose the real issue is the proposed spread on the spectrum of knives. If the bottom / top of the spectrum are $100 German knife / $400 Japanese, then you might be correct. The difference between such knives may not be fully appreciated by the receiver. But, if we are talking about a $10 chefs knife / $100 German or Japanese knife, then I think that just about anyone who has ever picked up a knife in the kitchen will appreciate it. I believe the real problem in choosing the very high end knife for a non-knife nut is not lack of appreciation. It's a lack of an ability to care for it properly.

                                        3. re: mikie

                                          " However, I want to make the gift more than a cutting board, so it seemed a nice knife to go along with the board would be appropriate."

                                          I agree. I think your thought of making a good cutting board is pretty awesome. Again, I would love to see your beautiful cutting board when you are ready. I think a decent knife is a very good gift because a great cutting board without a decent knife is just meaningless.

                                          How much you want to spend on the knife that is really up to you, but I think the knives suggested by cowboyardee, Eiron...etc are all good knives. One good knife and one great cutting board for the couple is a great idea.

                                          As I have mentioned to freia, these Kiwi knives are very good valued knives considering their prices. I don't regret buying mine, but it actually requires more consideration to use. I wrote a review on the Kiwi knife awhile back.

                                          The blade came chipped. The handle is rough and is not water proof. It soaked up water like a sponge. It is not that comfortable to hold -- not painful, but not comfortable. The blade is semi-soft and cannot hold an edge for long...etc. A bit worse than Dexter-Russell. The blade is very thin, which is both good and bad, but it definitely takes a bit more attention to use this very thin blade yet soft knife. It is a great value knife considering it was less than $10, but they are actually not very friendly to a novice.

                                          1. re: mikie

                                            This topic might be getting more complicated than what you may have anticipated. My tiny bit of advice is to give the couple your handmade cutting board and a decent 8" chef's knife. I'm sure they will appreciate it although I know there are members of my family who would not understand what a fantastic gift you have in mind.

                                            1. re: John E.

                                              but I'm pretty sure you shouldl send ME a handmade cutting board, and I'll let you know if you should give one as a gift.

                                              :D ;D ;D

                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                I think mikie is the one making a handmade cutting board.

                                                John E., are you also into wood working?

                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                  I've done some woodworking in the past. Now it's more carpentry as we complete an addition to our northern Minnesota cabin in the woods.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    I see. So maybe sunshine was indeed asking you to make a cutting board then. :)

                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                      actually, Sunshine realized that it was Mikie, and clicked on the wrong "Reply" -- I blame the multitasking.

                          2. re: mikie

                            Hi, mikie: "...but once in a lifetime..."

                            Well, that's a great theory. Tag along with me sometime when the Family Law calendar is called!

                            If I might suggest, how about a one-off, custom knife handled in a wood that means something to them? Something made for them and them only has a certain cachet, don't you think? These can be had for a few hundred, since you're only buying once.


                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Hi Kaleo,

                              Yah, I know the odds, but that's really not my problem. "You" get maried as many times as you like, I'm only buying one present. I would likely reconsider if there was a death, but other than that, I'm only good for one weding present. ;)

                              Custom does have that certain cachet, that's why they get the custom cutting board. I will admit I don't know enough about knives to have a custom made knife and have any clue about it. Cachet or no, I think it's beyond my scope.

                      2. As far as vegetables, a serrated tomato knife is really nice to have.

                        1. I think you already have a lot of good suggestions on the knife, so I'll just add a few comments. First off, for vegetarians, I do think a Japanese knife is the way to go. My first thought is a nakiri, but not being "knife people", they may not get it. A santoku might be more familiar and will still be very versatile.

                          Since you are wiling to drop a couple hundred, I would suggest that not all of it go to the knife. You can get a decent knife for much less. You are already getting a cutting board. That is important. You wouldn't want to give them a nice knife and then have them cutting on plate or something. I would suggest that you also include knife storage in your gift, unless you know they have a good storage solution. You wouldn't want them throwing that nice knife in a utensil drawer anymore than you would want them cutting on the wrong surface. In addition, a book on knife technique and/or sharpening might be a good addition to the package. Or a class on same. A whetstone or just the business card of a good professional sharpener wouldn't hurt either.

                          You give a good knife to an uneducated cook, and they have a good knife experience for a few months, but then the knife is dull and they are back to where they started. Give them the means to care for the knife and maintain the edge, and you've created a new "knife person" - that may not mean a big collection of knives and whetstones, but just someone who appreciates their knife, doesn't abuse it, and maintains the edge, whether they do it themselves or outsource it. This goes a long way towards making cooking enjoyable for them.

                          1. OK, so you've got some really good suggestions so far. Is anything ringing with you yet?

                            I know you're giving an exquisite hand-made cutting board, but I don't see any where what amount you want to spend on the knife.

                            Since you admit that they're not knife people, I'd definitely recommend a santoku over a nakiri, & stainless over carbon.

                            My favorite "special" brand is Shiki Premium Damascus in Quice Burl Wood handle:

                            For something unique but a little less expensive AND a little more care-free, I like the Kanetsugu Pro-M Series:
                            http://japanesechefsknife.com/ProMSer...: 401px; HEIGHT: 233px

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Eiron

                              "For something unique but a little less expensive AND a little more care-free, I like the Kanetsugu Pro-M Series: "

                              That is one of the two series of knives what Koki (Japanesechefsknife owner) recommends for first time Japanese knife user.

                              For first time user, he recommends Kanetsuga Pro-M and Misono Molybdenum Steel Series


                              mikie did later specify the amount as "o anything under a couple of hundred is in the range"

                              1. re: Eiron

                                Thanks Eiron, those are really nice, I like the Shiki that you suggested and the one Chem suggested as well, both are well in the price range I have in mind.

                                MeIMM, some good ideas, especially the protection for storage, I'll definately keep that in mind.

                                1. re: Eiron

                                  The Pro-M is another good rec. I think the contoured handles are a nice bonus for people who aren't used to Japanese knives, and like the fujiwara, the steel shouldn't be too chippy.

                                  Another not-super-chippy knife that Mikie could consider is the Glestain.
                                  The look is pretty out there, and they're hand-specific, but they're great knives and I don't think I've ever read a bad review.

                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                    Oh yes, the infamous nonstick knife blade. :)

                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                      I thought those pretty Kuhn-Rikon knives were the infamous non-stick blades.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        :D It depends on the definition of nonstick.

                                        Maybe nonstick as in cleaning up since the Teflon coating on Kuhn Rikon knives should able to do that, but probably not nonstick as in potato and tomato stick to them.

                                2. No. A knife or set of knives is the wrong thing to give a pair of newlyweds. I did so twice, despite my mother's advice. Both couples are now divorced. Give them a nice salad set, or some outrageously expensive spices. Sometimes, the old wives' tales are true.

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: RosePearl

                                    Isn't the old wives tale is that the wedded couple will separate from you, not each others?

                                    1. re: RosePearl

                                      or give them a coin or small bill and tell them to give you the coin before they open it....then they've paid you for the knife, and it counters the bad luck.

                                      Or a gift certificate for a knife -- then you haven't physically given them a knife.

                                      it sounds silly, but there are many, MANY cultures that consider a knife to be a very unlucky gift -- it's believed to be a severance of a relationship -- in both Eastern and Western cultures.

                                      1. re: RosePearl

                                        Sometimes, the old wives' tales are true

                                        Isn't it something like 50% of all marriges in North America end up in divorce? I doubt all of them recieved knives as gifts....

                                        1. re: petek

                                          but it's rather interesting, at a minimum, that giving knives as gifts is a no-no in so many otherwise disparate cultures.

                                        2. re: RosePearl

                                          One of my daughters got two carving sets for her weding. She and her husband are still together after 6 years or so. The bad news out of this was that they returned the wrong carving set. They kept the crappy one because they didn't know anything about knives and didn't bother to ask Dad. You couldn't carve a turkey if it were made of butter with the set they kept, Calphalon or something, it's not even a company that makes knives for themselves. They returned the Hinckles Pro.

                                          I have given all my children knives at one point in time or another, my son had knives on his Christmas list and my daughters all got knife sets for Christmas a couple of years ago to go with the cutting boards I made.

                                          I my family the curse seems to be watches (as in time running out). The last gift I received from my grandfather was a watch. A number of years later, the last gift I received from my father was also a watch. I asked my wife for a watch twice without the same effect, so perhaps the curse has worn off, hahaha ;) I'm not giving anyone a watch.

                                          1. re: mikie

                                            "They kept the crappy one because they didn't know anything about knives and didn't bother to ask Dad."

                                            Ha ha ha.

                                            " I asked my wife for a watch twice without the same effect, so perhaps the curse has worn off, hahaha ;) I'm not giving anyone a watch."

                                            A clock is definitely a no-no gift for birthday according to the Chinese culture.

                                          2. re: RosePearl

                                            A sample size of two doesn't prove the truth of old wives tales.

                                            1. re: RosePearl

                                              The Urban myth is about not giving knives as a gift as it severs the relationship between the giver and receiver, which is prevented by the receiver giving the giver a penny or some token.

                                              1. re: RosePearl

                                                I would suggest double-checking with someone close to them as to whether or not they'd be upset at the gift of a knife, and then full steam ahead, since very few people worry about the superstition any more.

                                                As for the actual knives, as a vegetarian, I do a lot more work with smaller/midsize knives than big ones, because I'm often chopping small things. Don't go too nice for someone who doesn't know much about knives -- instead, how about giving them a few gift certificates for sharpenings somewhere that you know will do a good job along with the knives.

                                              2. I certainly would not attempt to give you any advice on knives after all of the good information you have already received here. You wrote something that brought back a funny memory however. You wrote "...neither of them have jobs as rocket scientists...". Someone at work years ago used a similar phrase "you don't have to be a rocket scientist" when speaking to a young employee. Anyway, it turns out that the young man's brother really WAS a rocket scientist, he had a degree in physics from the U.S. Naval Academy and was stationed on a boomer (ballistic missile submarine) and his duty was inspecting and maintaining the Trident missiles. After talking to the kid (he was 19 while I was an aged 25) I realized that he was in the wrong line of work (radio announcer making little money) and he really should go to school. I know he got a college degree, but whatever happened to him after that, I don't know.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: John E.

                                                  The kid at age 19 has a degree in physics from the US Naval Academy?

                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    His brother did. I will edit the post to make it more clear.

                                                2. Mikie,

                                                  Let's take one step back. Both nakiri and santoku are good Japanese vegetable knives. So before anything, it is important to narrow down the knife style first. A santoku is a bit more versatile than nakiri, but a nakiri is exceptionally great at slicing and dicing vegetables, and a nakiri is definitely more unique. If you are not sure, then I agree with Eiron -- go with santoku. Next, the choice is between stainless steel vs carbon steel. I also agree with Eiron that stainless steel is the more conservative choice here.

                                                  The Japanesechefsknife website has improved its browse ability. This link is to the stainless steel Damascus knives:


                                                  The least expensive is the Gekko line which is one of JCK own brands. It is not very good looking, but it is only $110 for a Santoku with a VG-10 core and a Damascus like pattern (very similar to the Kanetsune Santoku offered by Japan Blades and very likely to be the same knife):


                                                  I personally think the two Shiki and Ryusen Santoku fit your criteria well which Eiron and I suggested earlier.

                                                  If you want a denser pattern on the blade, then you cannot beat Hiromoto Damascus Santoku for $180-200 (right at your limit). Some people love this pattern, but some find it too busy:



                                                  Now, if you think your nephew and his wife-to-be will be better off with a nakiri or a carbon steel knife, then please let us know, and we will make our suggestion accordingly.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Chem, I think you and Eiron have come to the same point and that has really answered my main question. Although I beileve they are just veggie vegitarians, my nephew is the convert to this style of eating and I am yet to meet the lovely bride. As such, I'm leaning toward the Santoku style for its versatility. I was considering the nakiri as a vegetable only knife, but I now believe the santoku's added versatility makes that a better choice for a couple that probably (like 99% certian) doesn't have a selection of good knives.

                                                    I am looking for something functional, but also something that stands out as unusual and attractive. Unless I knew they were really into knives, and I don't know that they are, I would never purchase a carbon steel knife. With carbon steel, comes a lot of responsibility for care and that's not for the average Joe.

                                                    A big thank you to all you guys here on CH for helping me sort this out and for the many very good suggestions. Now Mrs. mikie and I will sit down and pick out someting, and I'll get started on a special cutting board.

                                                    1. re: mikie

                                                      Of course, you do realize you're going to have to post pictures of the wedding board, right? :-) After the Blessed Event is expected (don't want to give it's appearance away early), but please don't deny us the presentation!

                                                      1. re: mikie

                                                        "and I'll get started on a special cutting board."

                                                        Oh, you haven't started yet. :)

                                                        Like my buddy Eiron said, if it is not too much, please post 1-2 photo of the cutting board here.

                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                          Will do, and again, thanks for helping me through this. You guys spend way too much time thinking about knives to be normal, but you already knew that, right? But then, that's why I asked here, because I knew you wold have all the answers. Thanks,

                                                    2. Not as a specific knife suggestion, but I am wondering about gifting an actual knife, vs a gift certificate with some recommendations. Working in several different kitchens, and using the equipment on hand, I do notice how the different handles affect my hands, which I think are on the smaller side. Before I purchase a knife for myself, I like to "try it on". Do you know whether or not the intended couple are of average size?

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: KarenDW

                                                        I have often brought this issue up! As a woman, in a man-made world; counters are too tall, handles are too wide, knives do not fit, the balance is wrong, working 8+ hours of knife work, painful hand fatigue, etc. Not important here...or at least, anytime I brought it up. Here, on this board, knives are critiqued by men. I have found that a handle that fits, a knife that balanced in my hand, and worked well when used for 8+ hours, is not a valid criteria for judgement, here. Note: I hear you. Some others here may not.

                                                        1. re: Quine

                                                          You might find more like-minded thinking here than you realize:


                                                          Or this thread where the main factor in what knife was widely preferred was the handle:


                                                          Lots of people are big on balance and feel in the knives they like. Me personally, not so much. But I'm admittedly in the minority. (BTW, I really HATE a sharp spine on a knife, but luckily that's easy to fix yourself if you find your knife has that problem


                                                          To me, an actual knife feels a little more 'right' as a wedding gift than a gift certificate and advice - the newlyweds are busy enough, I'd think, without knife shopping - though I could see why that makes sense from the standpoint of someone who is concerned about feel and balance and handles. A lot of the better online vendors accept returns if it is quickly clear that the knife doesn't feel right in the new owner's hand.

                                                          1. re: Quine

                                                            I don't think anyone else has suggested this--a good bread knife would be another option to go with the board. That would depend, of course, on whether the board is to be sized and shaped appropriately for slicing/serving bread. It seems to me that bread knives are a bit more standard than others in size and shape, so you're not having to guess at their preferences. And they will certainly find themselves using the board and knife when they entertain, so they can show off your gift.

                                                            1. re: Cliocooks

                                                              You have made me think of another idea, as if there aren't enough here already. I recently gave a set of four decent knives to a friend of my father's. (This is my Dad's neighbor in Arizona. He's has helped out my dad a lot.) Although this guy is in his early 60s he and his wife apparently have never really had any decent kitchen knives. The set I gave him were thrift store finds but were forged, German knockoffs. The set included all the knives anyone really needs in the kitchen, a chef's knife, utility knife, serrated bread knife, and a paring knife. I didn't send a cutting board however.

                                                            2. re: Quine

                                                              I suspect that most people posting to these threads haven't actually used their knives for several hours a day, every day. I have done that, and the knives I most prefer are generally not name brands. They're the ones with the best balance and feel, and which are easy to keep sharp with simple tools (in my case, a DMT diamond hone.)

                                                              I had a Calphalon Katana that I really liked but was too hard to take care of. I had and still have a forged 10" Victorinox with curved handle, but for some reason recently it hasn't felt right in my hand. Currently I'm very fond of my 6" Ikea Gynnsam that seems to be capable of handling tasks I previously would've used an 8" or 10" knife for. I also own, but haven't yet used, a couple of wide-blade Dexter DuoGlide knives that came from Restaurant Depot.

                                                              The point about choosing a knife that's easy to maintain is a good one. That makes me think that a cheap Ikea knife and a good sharpener would be a better choice than an expensive knife alone. Cook's Illustrated really likes the Chef's Choice knife sharpeners. I haven't used them, though somewhere I have one given to me by a friend. And if they have a good sharpening tool, they can buy another knife if the one you choose doesn't fit their hands.

                                                              As for the rest of you, I urge you to use your knife for five or more continuous hours, and see if you still like it as much as you thought. You shouldn't have to do that for more than a couple of days in a row to have the answer.

                                                              1. re: KWagle

                                                                "I suspect that most people posting to these threads haven't actually used their knives for several hours a day, every day."
                                                                Admittedly, several of the knife nuts frequenting this particular forum are not professional cooks. A couple are. In the interest of disclosure, I personally am not a professional cook, though I have used a knife for extended periods on a generous handful of occasions (a bunch of cooking competitions and a couple times I've catered large events). A sharp spine has been far and away the factor that makes a knife most uncomfortable in my hands when cutting for several hours. I've also found knives that are especially handle-heavy unpleasant. The handles themselves are seldom such a factor for me, but I might just be blessed with non-achy, easily adaptable hands.

                                                                But before you go dismissing the recommendations and advice here on the basis that it's at times given by non-professionals, consider trying out some of the recommendations first hand. Likewise, check out knifeforums.com and kitchenknifeforums.com. There you'll find much of the same zeal for Japanese blade design that you see in some of the posts here. You'll also find that a very large proportion of the posters are professional cooks.

                                                                A basic point of contention between those who argue that 'feel' and 'balance' trumps all and those who make recommendations based on more objective qualities in a knife boils down (in part) to a difference in philosophy between Western knifemaking and Japanese knifemaking. Whereas Western knives tend to have contoured handles and tend to market and differentiate themselves on the basis of ergonomics and balance, Japanese knives tend to use one of a few traditional and relatively simple handle shapes and tend to differentiate themselves based on materials and blade geometry. In effect, the differences in balance and handle comfort between two random Japanese knives of the same kind (say, two 10 inch gyutos) will tend to be more understated than the difference in balance and feel between two random 10 inch Western chef knives (though ironically, several of the dominant Western chef knives on the market have strikingly similar balance points and 'feels'). When picking between a Sabatier and a Wusthof classic and a Dexter-Russell, it makes more sense to stress the difference in feel than it does when picking between a Tojiro DP and a Hattori and a Hiromoto.

                                                                "That makes me think that a cheap Ikea knife and a good sharpener would be a better choice than an expensive knife alone."
                                                                I agree completely that sharpening is far more important than what knife you buy. Incidentally, even if you know from experience which knives you like and don't need recommendations, you'll find a great deal of useful sharpening information written here by us homecooks.

                                                                1. re: KWagle

                                                                  I like to echo what cowboyardee has said. Before that I Iike to point out that Calphalon Katana is made of an ok steel, but it is notorious for its strange handle and odd balance point. I have played with one. It is odd. Although I have not worked 8 hours straight in kitchen everyday, many of us have prepared foods for more than an hour or so, and some of us (like me) can extrapolate data. When my Tojiro knife remained sharp and felt comfortable in my hand after an hour of work, but my Kiwi knife started to get dull and felt slightly comfortable, then I can reasonably "extrapolate" that the Kiwi knife will only feel more dull and more uncomfortable in 2 hours, 4 hours and 8 hours...etc. Unless for some really odd and strange reasons, the Kiwi knife is not going to give me a sine function of "edge sharp, dull, sharp, dull.." I don't believe that is possible -- that a knife can automatically get sharp after getting dull.


                                                                  I agree that a good sharpening strategy is more important than just buying a great knife because all knives will go dull. This is important for home cooks. On the other hand, it is also important to note that mikie is buying a knife for home cooks, so that the 8 hours straight information is not as important. If I am buying a car to commute to work, then I don't really need to know how it handles at 180 mph, whereas a drag racer may need to know. But like cowboyardee said, many of these knives are highly valued by other professional chefs.

                                                                  1. re: KWagle

                                                                    I used my knives for 8-16 hours a day most days until recently, and I know very well the knives that worked for me. In the beginning I used my Henckel Pro S Santoku for probably 90% of the tasks, the rest I would use various Nella (Victorionoxesque knives) to fill in. That was before my Miyabi and Utility.

                                                                    Most recently, with all my knives, I used Miyabi 7000mcd Santoku for probably 60% of tasks, the Kochi Japanese utility knife for 35% of the time, and then again random Nellas for things like putting holes in olive oil cans, cutting lobsters up, etc.

                                                                    The handle on the utility knife is extremely comfortable, and the shape is very good, its just a little bit small to do everything. The Miyabi is heavy, but very comfortable regardless. Always with a new knife I develop a new blister for the first 2 or 3 days because of the different feel of the spine, but with my knives that always goes away. The MAC I used back in the day at one place had a sharp spine and it always gave me a painful blister so I didn't enjoy using it.

                                                                    A cheap knife and a good sharpening system is one thing, yes its good because you can keep your knife sharp and everything, but as I was able to afford it, I am much happier to have very good knives, as well as a good sharpening system. That means I don't have to sharpen my knife as often, and can get it sharper when I do sharpen it. My western knives I could hone and keep sharp and they held their edge reasonably well so I didn't have to do a full sharpen so often My Japanese knives I don't hone on a steel, but they hold a sharper edge, longer because of the inherent properties of their metal, and so again, I don't need to sharpen as often. I am eventually going to get a strope though so I can keep them even sharper all the time, but I digress.

                                                                    I am not using them as often now, since I have no job, but I still do use them every day to make lunch and dinner. I rotate between them, but mostly use the utility now as it works best with the utterly useless rubber cutting board. When I eventually do get the ability to get an apartment and do move out, I will use my nakiri more as its my most recent purchase, but yeah.

                                                                    1. re: KWagle

                                                                      If you use your knife for half an hour a day, and you really like it the whole time, it would be pretty dumb to give it up because it wouldn't work out when used for six hours straight.

                                                                2. I double-dog-dare you to buy the couple a Usuba. They're vegetarians, so they deserve to suffer. >=)

                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                  1. re: shezmu

                                                                    "They're vegetarians, so they deserve to suffer."

                                                                    Ha ha ha. Usuba is one tough knife to wield. It has a steep learning curve to use, and a steeper learning curve to maintain (upkeeping, sharpening).

                                                                    Now, that is a knife which his nephew may not able to appreciate -- neither would most people. That being said, I am sure that is not the goal of mikie.

                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                      But if they're able to master the knife, they'll be two of the most badass vegetarians ever. :p

                                                                      But to be serious for a second, how about a konosuke HD/laser? The knife would stump almost anything a vegetarian would throw at it and it would (hopefully) teach them to respect their knives.

                                                                      1. re: shezmu

                                                                        of course the process of learning to respect a knife might also dampen their piano-playing career...!

                                                                        If they aren't into knives, then buying them one of these knifes would be akin to buying a Testarossa for someone who doesn't even have a driver's license.

                                                                        1. re: shezmu

                                                                          "But if they're able to master the knife, they'll be two of the most badass vegetarians ever. :p"

                                                                          Yes, they would be very badasses. I have several knives with me. I am not as fast or as knowledgeable as cowboyardee and others (cowboyardee regularly enters food prep speed competitions for chopping hours on straight). Still, I am reasonably efficient and quick. I have to say that the usuba is tough knife to fully take advantages of. It is still great for regular use, but it is also meant for some highly skill works like Karsuramuki rotary peeling and Ken needle cut...etc. So in this sense, it is a very tough knife. It is also tougher to sharpen in my opinion. Certainly, it is easier to mess up in a irreversible way.

                                                                          "how about a konosuke HD/laser?"

                                                                          I don't have a Konosuke HD, but I have heard great things about it. I know Petek loves his Kono HD . Petek has a Moritaka gyuto and loves it, but the Moritaka is a high grade carbon steel knife and it just takes a lot of attention and care in a professional working environment. So ultimately, he wanted a knife which is very high performance but does not require constant care. Kono fits his bill, and he is loving it.


                                                                          I wonder if a Konosuke HD is still a bit too much for mikie's nephew. It is a laser afterall, which is great in the hands of knife experts like Saltydog, petek and cowboyarde...etc, but may not be so great for a knife beginner. I won't have able to take care of the knives which I love now when I was in college.

                                                                          I would like to follow up with Petek on his thought on Moritaka and Kono HD again. I wanted to ask him that if "care" is not an issue, would he still like the Kono HD more than Moritaka. Thanks for reminding me.

                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                            "which is great in the hands of knife experts like Saltydog, petek and cowboyarde...etc"

                                                                            You flatter me Chem, to be put in such esteemed company is a great compliment,but I'm no expert,just a simple cook.
                                                                            I wouldn't go so far as to say a "laser" would be too much for a beginner,but you do have a valid point. Even though the Konosuke is a very robust knife I still handle her with great care.It takes some getting used to working with such a light,nimble knife,compared to the brutes I was using before(- the Moritaka which is still about 25-30 grams heavier than the HD),A lighter touch is definitely called for. Because she's so thin,there's a bit of flex to her,so I wouldn't smash any heads of garlic or do a lot of board "skating" with her.

                                                                            "I wanted to ask him that if "care" is not an issue, would he still like the Kono HD more than Moritaka."
                                                                            Yes! :-D

                                                                            1. re: petek

                                                                              '"I wanted to ask him that if "care" is not an issue, would he still like the Kono HD more than Moritaka."
                                                                              Yes! :-D'

                                                                              Cool. I wasn't sure if the reactivity/corrosion is the only reason. It seems like you prefer Kono HD regardless. Good to know. :)

                                                                              1. re: petek

                                                                                @petek - Cutting through bones and shells and smashing stuff is what western knifes are for. :p Also, what do you mean by "skating"? As for Moritaka knives, not to open a can of worms, but are the GC issues still there?

                                                                                1. re: shezmu


                                                                                  I will let petek answer on skating, but I think I have an idea what he meant. As for your Moritaka question.... what is GC? Is that like Grind Control, like Quality Control? I don't think the grind issue for Moritaka is an easy one to nail down. It isn't that every Moritaka knives have that issue or that none of them have the problem. it just appears that the occurrence is higher than other brands -- keep in mind there is no real statistic data. It just that more people complain about it online.

                                                                                  My Moritaka knife appears to have reasonable grind, but it does not mean others' are fine. This problem only reveals itself if you look for it or during sharpening, and most people just don't sharpen their knives or look for these.

                                                                                  Are you thinking about a Moritaka?

                                                                                  1. re: shezmu

                                                                                    @shezmu..At work we use "Nellas"(generic western style knives) for those types of hack jobs :D
                                                                                    Skating is a term I heard someone use over at one of the knife forums to describe the technique of rock chopping,esp larger quantities of herbs.Not a good technique to use with a sharp,super thin piece of steel on the cheap poly boards that so many pro kitchens use.

                                                                                    Of the 3 Moritakas I own,the 240mm gyuto shows the most GC issues(I was in denial for a long time...:(

                                                                                    1. re: petek

                                                                                      "the 240mm gyuto shows the most GC issues(I was in denial for a long time...:("

                                                                                      I believe you said the issue may be due to either your own sharpening technique or the factory grind. So are you more confident that the factory grind now? I remember you said the heel is over-ground.

                                                                                      In my case, my Moritaka honesuki also looked to have overground on the tip and on the heel as they are thinner (basically the two end). In fact, I think it was done intentionally to give the edge a slight curvature profile. It may come and haunt me, but it is probably not a real issue for a honesuki since I don't really need to make a complete cut on a cutting board.

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        "I believe you said the issue may be due to either your own sharpening technique or the factory grind. So are you more confident that the factory grind now? I remember you said the heel is over-ground."

                                                                                        Not really sure Chem.It could be a combination of both,I'm no expert.I;m thinking about taking it to one of the pro sharpeners here(Tosho or Knife) and letting them take a look at it.Maybe they can correct the problem,maybe not.

                                                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                  "I am not as fast or as knowledgeable as cowboyardee and others (cowboyardee regularly enters food prep speed competitions for chopping hours on straight)."
                                                                                  Just to set the record straight, I don't compete in prep speed competitions. They're just cooking competitions. Set up kind of like Iron Chef competitions, except with a bunch more people to cook for and no sous chefs, so they're all-day affairs.

                                                                                  I've put a good bit of work into learning to be fast and efficient and precise with kitchen knives, but someone like Saltydog would still surely tool me in a speed prep contest. I'm not quite at that level yet.

                                                                                  Back on topic....

                                                                                  The konosuke HD is an interesting proposition. For a 'laser,' it's supposed to have excellent edge retention and be pretty durable. But it's still a 'laser' and still not suited for cutting through chicken bones or prying things open or doing other rough kinds of jobs that users of German knives sometimes take for granted. On the other hand, I'm thinking that some of those qualities of a laser might actually be working in its favor for a first time user of a Japanese knife - mainly that it's so light and fine-edged that even an uninitiated user would realize immediately upon picking it up that it's not for opening cans. On top of that, it would pretty much guaranty that the recipients had never felt a knife quite like it - just picking one up leaves quite an impression. It would be an interesting gift.

                                                                                  My biggest concern would be that it's generally easier to mess up a laser by sharpening it badly than it is to mess up other double beveled Japanese knives. That's a whole nother can of worms, though.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    All this talk makes me want to go to Sakai now. If I ever move out of my fiancee's house and to Okayama I'll only be an hour from Konosule, thats too dangerous. Definitely interested in looking at them to get eventually.

                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                      "Just to set the record straight, I don't compete in prep speed competitions. They're just cooking competitions."

                                                                                      Damn it. I cannot remember straight. Thanks for the correction.

                                                                                      Maybe I will think about a laser in the future. For now, I have an usuba to learn/master and a honesuki to try (no chicken just yet).

                                                                            2. I guess a boning knife is out, but wouldn't they also need a nice paring knife?

                                                                              18 Replies
                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                They likely won't need a filet knife either ; )

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  Now, now, we still don't know what kind of vegetarians they are. :)

                                                                                  They could be Flexitarians or Pollotarians:


                                                                                  According to some of the definitions online, I am probably a flexitarian too. I eat about at least 10:1 vegetables and grain to meat. :)

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    If someone is a Flexitarians or Pollotarians or Pescatarian then they aren't really vegetarians, are they ; )

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                      I am a big eonough practical joker that a boning knife or filet knife is not out of the questin. Naturally, I'd have to switch it out in the end, but I don't know if the opportunity will present itself for such a prank. I love a good practical joke. When one of the other nephews got married I asked his bride what she saw in him and stated that once you strip off that fancy Army uniform all you have is a naked guy with a smile on his face. It did make her stop and think, but she maried him anyway. ;)

                                                                                      1. re: mikie

                                                                                        "I love a good practical joke"

                                                                                        A joke only appreciated if the other person(s) has a sense of humor. :)
                                                                                        Do you think your nephew and his wife (a) can recognize a boning knife and a filet knife? (b) would find it to be funny.

                                                                                        "stated that once you strip off that fancy Army uniform all you have is a naked guy with a smile on his face."

                                                                                        Ha ha ha.

                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          They would recognize the filet knife if I bought it at Bass Pro Shop ;)

                                                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                                                            I have always said if you can filet a fish, you can filet a grapefruit. Well, I haven't always said it, it started when my parents bought a winter home in Arizona and they brought boxes and boxes of ruby red grapefruit back to Minnesota each spring (and navel oranges, lemons, and Valencia oranges). A filet knife works well when segmenting a grapefruit and the occasional orange.

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              I wasn't going to say it first -- but since you started -- yes, I regularly use my knives for things other than the uses they were designed for....and a filet knife for grapefruit is just one of them.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                Same here, but more like using a meat cleaver to open a coconut, or using paring knife to open my letters....etc.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                  Whenever I catch a family member using a kitchen knife on letter opening I remind them to use a table knife.

                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                    I guess I should specify that I regularly use my knives for **cutting** tasks for which they are not designed.

                                                                                                    I keep a cheap-ass paring knife in the junk drawer for cutting string and cardboard and other junk -- it took me a long time to build up a block full of Wusthof, and the family knows better than to use Mom's cooking knives for a whittling project or similar.!

                                                                                                    I keep cheap-ass scissors in the junk drawer for the same reason -- then they leave my ancient but powerful and trustworthy Wiss kitchen shears alone.

                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                      We too have a couple of cheap paring knives in a drawer. When I was a kid, my mother kept her 'good' scissors in her dresser drawer and the rest of the household knew there would be a price to pay if anyone used them. She died four years ago, but I am sure her scissors are still in that drawer. She also had a ball of string which were not to touch. That was a holdover from back in the day when you mailed a package it was first covered in brown paper and then tied with string. Now that I think about it, does anyone else remember back in the day when the shoe salesman would tie your shoebox shut with string instead of using a plastic bag?

                                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                                      I forgot to you that I bought a set of very bad knives from Trade of Tools. They cannot cut anything, so I use them to open my letters.

                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                          "... we still don't know what kind of vegetarians they are..."

                                                                                          My son's friend says she's a vegan, but my son says she's actually more of a freegan.

                                                                                          That is to say, she likes the ideal of being a vegan, but really will eat anything as long as it's free.


                                                                                          1. re: Eiron

                                                                                            Vegan is a big deal. Recently, I met a very attractive woman. It turns out that she is a vegan. No milk, no cheese, no egg, no honey... no anything to do with animals.

                                                                                            A freegan is very different than a vegan. :) I am a freegan, but definitely not a vegan.

                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                              "... no honey..."

                                                                                              Oh yeah, I never thought about that - bee vomit! :-D
                                                                                              I guess I figgerd it had to be a "product" of an animal, while honey is dehydrated plant juice. With, uh, "bonus" enzymes!

                                                                                    2. I mostly use my knives for vegetables and I really like the Global knives. They make an 8" vegetable knife, but I prefer the 2-piece set: the Chef's knife and the parer. The two of them get all manner of veggies prepped beautifully. They're well-balanced, look cool, and I like that they are one piece of solid steel, no joints or crevices for gunk to get caught in. The pair lists for around $140, but I've found the set on sale online for $99. There are better knives, I guess, but I expect this couple will just be using the knives once or twice a day at most, and, to me, two, three and four hundred dollar knives will be wasted on people who are not really into that sort of thing.

                                                                                      Another great gift for vegetarians is a mandoline.

                                                                                      1. An up date on the kinfe I didn't buy and the cutting board I didn't make. Well, is seems the nephew and his bride to be like to travel light. According to my sister-in-law they prefer cash. I find nothing wrong with cash personally, I just feel you earn it not ask for it. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, or maybe just old, but when someone wants to give you something you just accept it grasiously. Obviously, that's no longer in fashion, it's a shame, a really nice knife and cutting board would have beed a great gift.

                                                                                        I do however, greatly appreciate all of the fantastic suggestions and advice from all of you.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: mikie

                                                                                          Thanks Mikie for the update. I was going to ask you about it just last week, but decided to wait. Yes, cash is the a bit more fashionable, but do they know you were thinking about making a cutting board? Anyway, it is a moot point.

                                                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                                                            but it is always the right color, it always fits, and it's never, ever returned as that weird present from crazy Uncle Mikie.

                                                                                            And who knows -- maybe they'll go buy a fabulous knife.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              I'm headed to Belgium in a couple of weeks, perhaps I should bring back some Euros, it's more colorful and comes in a variety of sizes.

                                                                                              1. re: mikie

                                                                                                heh -- but it's harder to use them.

                                                                                                1. re: mikie

                                                                                                  LOL - so you WANT to be known as "crazy Uncle Mikie"?

                                                                                                  Sounds like something I'd do. Along with a note that says, "I was going to make a unique gift for a unique couple, but was tiold you preferred cash." And include a picture of one of your show-stopping boards & an ink-pattern J-knife with the wad of Euros. ;-)

                                                                                                  1. re: Eiron

                                                                                                    to which *I* have the perfect solution -- I have the Euros, and will gleefully send them to Mikie in return for the kids' cutting board! LOL

                                                                                            2. Well boys and girls, guess what? The weding is a little over a week away and now the house executive makes a decision that yes, we are getting a knife and I am making a cutting board for the soon to be newly weds. Actually she made the decision a couple of days ago. Rushed out to pick up a maple board and then went knife shopping. Found what I think is a good deal on a Shun Kaji rocking knife. I was told it would be great for vegies. What do you guys think?

                                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: mikie

                                                                                                < the house executive makes a decision that yes, we are getting a knife and I am making a cutting board for the soon to be newly weds>

                                                                                                Wow, plans change quick.

                                                                                                As for Kaji rocking knife:


                                                                                                I won't say it is not a good deal. It really depends if you (or whoever) like the knife profile. It is probably too curved for me.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                  It's on sale for $129. The guy told me it's great for slicing and dicing. He's the local WS "knife guy", for what that's worth. Seems a bit curved to me too, but I suppose your style of cutting would influence that. I do use a rocking motion when I chop vegies. He also said it was "true Demascus", don't know if that's correct or not.

                                                                                                  Thanks for the advice.

                                                                                                  1. re: mikie

                                                                                                    <but I suppose your style of cutting would influence that>

                                                                                                    Exactly, it is a good knife if it fits your style (rather your nephew's style). It is not a good knife if he uses a different cutting technqiue. $129 is a good price. Kaji line uses a more expensive steel than the regular Shun line (VG-10), so $129 is good for a 7 inch SG-2 steel knife.

                                                                                                    <He also said it was "true Demascus",>

                                                                                                    Probably not, the true tue Damascus technique is long gone. I don't think anyone knows for sure. Although he probably means the line you see on the knife is rea from the manufacturingl, and not printing press image. :)

                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      Thanks Chem,

                                                                                                      It's probably the only good knife they have had, so he will just have to adjust his technique since I pulled the triger on this one, haha.

                                                                                                      The salesman talked about it being a truely laminated blade and that you could feel the layers, so you're probably right about the Damascus statement.

                                                                                                      It's a far better knife than I had when I was that age, hell, it's a better knife than I have at any age, what am I talking about.

                                                                                                      Anyway, I'm sure he and the bride will like it and the cutting board that I have to start on tonight. It's something they will have for a long time and that's the point of giving such a gift. A roll of paper towels might be usefull but soon it is gone and forgotten, the knife is usefull and should last a lifetime.

                                                                                                      Thanks again for all the help and input,

                                                                                                      1. re: mikie

                                                                                                        <It's probably the only good knife they have had, so he will just have to adjust his technique since I pulled the triger on this one, haha.>

                                                                                                        Ha ha ha. I was going to say that "he will just have to grind the knife to the shape he wants" For what it worth, $129 for a knife made of SG-2 steel is a good deal. So how did you get it for $129? Isn't Williams Sonoma selling it at $300?


                                                                                                        <It's a far better knife than I had when I was that age>

                                                                                                        How do you know? Based on price? Please tell me that you didn't open the box and started using his knife. :P

                                                                                                        Thanks for your update. Truly appreciated.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          "How do you know? Based on price? Please tell me that you didn't open the box and started using his knife. :P "

                                                                                                          Based on price, adjusted for inflation naturally, based on construction, based on steel type, based on reputation, based on any basis I can think of. Actually, by his age, I had moved up to Chicago Cuttelry Walnut Tradition made in USA, still not a chalenger in my opinion. Prior to that, whatever it was came from the grocery store and cost under $5, even adjusted for inflation. :) I had it gift wraped, so no, I didn't try it out. Darn!

                                                                                                          1. re: mikie

                                                                                                            <What do you guys think?>

                                                                                                            Hi. First of all, congrats. I’m sure your nephew and his bride to be will cherish and appreciate the gift as well as your efforts getting it. With that out of the way, how d’ya finagle a $300 msrp knife for $129?

                                                                                                            While I’ve never used it, SG-2 is a high end, powdered steel with high wear resistant. It should take and hold a fine edge for a very long time, but at the same will be more difficult to sharpen. That knife has too much curve for me, but your nephew…actually…his bride to be has the final say.

                                                                                                            <He also said it was "true Demascus",>

                                                                                                            Don’t think so. True Damascus forging is a bit of a lost art and probably only being done nowadays by master / custom blade smiths. The Shun “Damascus” blades that I’ve seen are a San Mai == Japanese term for a bunch of thin layers of metal wrapped around the core blade material to create the illusion of a Damascus blade…sort of like a hot dog or sandwich. Look closely at the bevel, the exposed core blade material is solid & doesn’t have layers of different steels running through out it like the real ones. Anyway, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t do anything and is just a bling thing.

                                                                                                    2. re: mikie

                                                                                                      The price is good.

                                                                                                      The shape is not really my style, but it's not a present for me obviously. The extreme curvature of the edge will tend to make this more of a specialized knife than most chef knives. It will be less efficient for straight up and down chopping, not too great for bread, maybe also less than ideal for very large vegetables or for cutting a lot of vegetables in a single stroke. On the upside, it's quite unique and will be pretty good at what it does - cutting things with a rocking motion like you would with smaller vegetables, herbs, etc, and guiding the hand of a beginner into that stroke. So I'm thinking the higher the likelihood that they'll have another more traditional chefs knife around to cover their bases (and also the more the couple likes to cut with a rocking motion), the better this present will be received.

                                                                                                      Also note that it won't fit into most knife blocks, so a sheath of some sort might be a good idea if the couple isn't using a wall magnet.

                                                                                                      As for the claims of 'true damascus':

                                                                                                      True damascus meaning wootz steel - certainly not. As others have mentioned, this form of crucible steel that had a striped look to it because of mineral deposits was the original or true damascus steel and was lost to the ages, although the technique was recently rediscovered (more or less). The shun kaji uses powdered metal core steel covered in patterned cladding. Nothing at all like wootz steel/true damascus. So no.

                                                                                                      True damascus meaning pattern-welded damascus: again, not really. Pattern welded damascus is also a traditional technique in which harder and softer steels were repeatedly folded together in forging to create a good mix of strength, toughness, and edge-holding ability. It looked similar to wootz damascus so it came to be called 'damascus' as well. There are some nice blades made with this technique. But in this technique, the edge of a blade is made of the folded steel. The edge here is just plain unfolded SG2 powdered metal. So the shun kaji is not truly a pattern-welded damascus blade either.

                                                                                                      That said, I don't think the salesperson was completely making things up. IIRC, one distinction between the shun classic and the shun kaji is that the kaji uses actual folded steel IN THEIR CLADDING, whereas the classic's CLADDING is made up of layers of steel pressed onto each other and perhaps sandblasted but not folded. What difference does this make? A mild aesthetic one, nothing more really. The knife would still cut the same if the cladding wasn't 'damascus' at all. There are minor implications for food release, but the difference is somewhere between minimal and non-existent. It's still a nifty feature though.

                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                        To answer Javabean, you shop around, be patient, and get lucky. I've picked up Staub enameled cast iron at similar discounts, and Hinckels 4 Star knife sets, eight pieces for just over $50. Every now and then there is a bargan if you can wait for it.

                                                                                                        I use a traditional western chefs knife and I seem to spend a lot of time rocking cutting. Now if I have a lot of vegies to cut, I pull out the mandolin, I like the uniformity.

                                                                                                        Cowboy, thanks for the lesson on steel, very interesting.

                                                                                                    3. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      That's a really interesting knife. I have a Swibo cleaver with that blade shape but it's too heavy & thick for everyday use.

                                                                                                    4. re: mikie

                                                                                                      I just saw that Shun rocking knife this week. It's really sweet, and I would grab one (or two!) if it weren't so expensive.

                                                                                                      But at the same WS, I saw a Henckels Cronidur wide 6" knife, and it has a very sweet rock too. I think it has the same blade shape as the Ikea 6" Gynnsam, which also rocks well and is $15. But I think I'm going to have to get the Henckel's to complement the Gynnsam.