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My God All of These Knives!

Hello all,

I recently just got married and my wife and I are looking into getting good knives that will last for years as we love to cook everything and anything. I am pretty much settled on the Japanese style of blades in a stainless if possible. While I know Shuns and Macs are out there, I feel as if they are too pricey and you are paying for a name from what I have read (Henck's and Wust's as well!). Our budget is roughly ~500$ and we need a just a few knives that will cover all the bases but won't break the bank. I would ideally also like to grab two knives that could substitute as steak knives (non-serrated) so probably around 5 knives total?

I know about JCK and chef-knives-to-go but my god navigating these sites is mind numbing! In addition, I do not care if it is knife-porn or a twig with a piece of metal sticking out of it. If it is sharp and holds its edge for a good while before needing sharpened then I am a happy camper; everything else is just gravy.

Thanks!

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  1. Forschner gets my vote. They are probably the most common to be found in restaurant kitchens, which says it all really.

    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/forschn...

    There are a couple of Santoku shapes in there.

    1. Robin is correct. Forschner/Victorinox knives are very good values.

      If you want something nicer, stainless, Japanese hard steel, then probably you can concentrate on these two brands for now: Fujiwara FKM, and Tojiro DP. They are considered very good value (relative low price, and good performance) knives. Oh yes, cutleryandmore is a reasonable site too.

      http://japanesechefsknife.com/FKMSeri...

      http://www.chefknivestogo.com/fufkmse...

      http://www.chefknivestogo.com/tojirod...

      http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro

      If you want a few more choices to think, then let us know. I don't want to overwhelm you. :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Ill second the tojiro suggestion. Great bang for your buck. I know quite a few people who absolutely love the brand.

      2. I got a wushtof 6 inch chef, a pairing knife and a tomato knife. That is all I ever need i think. I know you like different styles but all brands run different sales every so often. Wuthof has a knife of the month promo. For $500 you should have plenty to buy the long lasting bunch of knives no matter the brand, might need a little time to look around and find the deals. My wuhstof was on sale for something like $60. It is the classic line. (hated the feel of the gourmet line)

        I did buy the cheap version of the forschner chef knife as well ($32, with a weird foam-ish handle ) when I read that it was as good and i really hated the feel of it. It was light, the handle was not comfortable and nothing comparable to my wushthof.. I think it was not the right type.

        Finally if you just got married, a few good knives will really last you a lifetime, and are a worthy investment. I wish I had known that back then. Not that it was that long ago!

        If compromising , I would get the perfect chef knife no matter the price as long as you tried it and then go cheaper on the others..

        1. I like the Kuhn Rikon ones: http://kuhnrikon.com/

          I find that I only ever really use a couple: paring knife, serrated bread knife, chef's knife...

          1. I think it is really wonderful that you and your new wife enjoy cooking. Not all do in fact. + 1:

            +2: Is that given the fact that you two are just starting out, you do it together. Allow for individual creative moments, even when they end in failure. If her spontaneous flambe blackens the ceiling, be kind and supporting when you step in calmly and quietly with the extingusher. Assure her it will be better next time.

            +3: You enjoy cooking, but remain realists enough to budget your cooking and kitchen expenses. Most in fact do not, and splurge. The extended Wedding gift list, one year later, to achieve perfection in the kitchen.

            The minute you come home finally with the Der Gizmo Whizbanger lifetime-sharp Inox, triple-creme-chrome steel knife with the electro-etched titanium handle, you will hear sadly that Der Gizmo Gmbh has just announced the Whizbanger 2 Ultimo. ( Which is why you received the huge 3 percent discount, no returns accepted ).

            A luta continua.

            So start with a good Chef's Knife, a good paring knife, and continue on being realists. And if you want as inexpensive as they come.

            Unless you two are in your eighties, I would venture to guess that your kitchen collection, including knives and cutlery is just starting. My wife and I have well over 200+ knives and received two more Globals this Christmas. How exciting !

            You will continue to enjoy cooking, no matter how close the MCD, AM/PM, or KFC is down the street. Budget funds aside including those for kids, travel, knives, pots, pans, hands on cooking classes, and other needful objects.

            Life is more fun this way. Don't buy them all now.

            1. All very good suggestions thank you! I am leaning more towards the Fujiwara or the Tojiro. However that hardness seems a tiny bit soft or am I imagining things? Wouldn't something 60 or more be better for longevity sake? Also the fujiwara are solid not clad correct?

              1 Reply
              1. re: abouttheedge

                <Wouldn't something 60 or more be better for longevity sake? >

                Tojiro is up at HRC 60-61, but Fujiwara is 58-59 I think, which is equal or slightly harder the new Wusthof Ikon (58). As for longevity, it depends. A harder knife is better against deformation, like edge rolling or bending, but a softer knife is better against chipping. Let's take an extreme analogy: a ceramic plate and a paper plate. A ceramic plate (much harder) hold its shape much better than a paper plate (much softer), but a ceramic plate can chip under high pressure where a paper plate won't. This comparison is a bit too simplisitic of course.

                So I will say this. If you have decent knife techniques, careful with your knives, and use a push/pull cutting motion, then I think the Tojiro DP will provide you an edge which is ever so slightly sharper and last longer. If you have never used a Japanese steel knife before, can be slightly rough with your knives and prefer to use rock chopping, then the Fujirwara FKM may just be ever slightly better against edge chipping.

                I am sure you know Tojiro DP is very similar to Shun Classic. Both VG-10 steel, both hardened to HRC 60-61...etc.

                <Also the fujiwara are solid not clad correct?>

                I think you are right. I am about 99% sure, but not 100% :)

                Edited: Of course, there are other alternatives too. For example, cutleryandmore have several other lines of Tojiro too:

                http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro

                http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro-...

              2. If you don't have a place where you can handle a large variety of knifes I offer this suggestion; Spend $25 on a victorinox chef, $5 on an accusharp tool and knife sharpener, and another $15 or so on a medium grit steel.

                Give yourself a year using and caring for this knife. It isn't a glamorous or pretty blade. It is a workhorse, the equal to a Honda civic as a commuter car, or spaghetti and red sauce as meal. If a year down the road you find yourself still wanting something flashier you will have made a small investment for the performance you will get. However if it is the utility and value you seek this knife will serve you well for years.

                1. If you want to make Koki's site (JCK) a bit easier to navigate just go to the JCK originals. Plenty of good selections there as well as the suggestions that Chem posted.

                  http://japanesechefsknife.com/JCKOrig...

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TraderJoe

                    I do agree with the original poster. Koki's website is a bit confusing in general, and extremely confusing in the "Special" section. The Special section is ridiculous long, and some of them definitely can be group under other section, like the Mizuno Honyaki Gyuto. I know it was a special when it was new, but it has been launched for at least a year if not two. It should be moved under "Mizuno" and not "Special".

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      I hadn't even looked at the section in so long I had completely forgot about it. I'm usually looking in the Masamoto section. Many of the etailer sites can be a bit confusing. It's a lot to take in for some one starting out.

                  2. After much pouring through Kokis site (mind numbing mind you!) I think I am starting to get a better grasp over the situation. Here are some I am looking at...

                    http://japanesechefsknife.com/KAGAYAK...

                    http://japanesechefsknife.com/KAGAYAK...

                    http://japanesechefsknife.com/Page4.html

                    http://japanesechefsknife.com/SHIKITs...

                    http://japanesechefsknife.com/SaiunDa...

                    and the tojiro

                    http://www.cutleryandmore.com/tojiro-...

                    Can anyone attest to any of these knives? Is there any special care needed for damascus blades? How about the alloys?(vg1, vg10, g3) Does the mirror finish on the Shiki change anything?

                    Thanks!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: abouttheedge

                      Except the Saiun Damascus series knives, I have one point or other recommend these knives to someone on CHOWHOUND. :)

                      Most of the knives you listed as well as most of the Japanese knives use VG-10 steel. It is a true and tried steel for kitchen knives. I have Shun classic and Tojiro DP knives which both use VG-10 core steel. I have played with Calphalon Katana knives which is made of VG-1. I feel VG-10 is better than VG-1, but I have not used a VG-1 long enough to be sure. People do not seem to agree about VG-1, and here are some exchanges:

                      http://www.knifeforums.com/forums/sho...

                      <Is there any special care needed for damascus blades?>

                      Yes, and no. If you do not care for the Damascus appearance, then there will be no special care. If you care for the Damascus appearance, then take care not to scratch the side of the blade -- especially during knife sharpening.

                      <Does the mirror finish on the Shiki change anything?>

                      Same as Damascus pattern. Just be more careful about not scratching the blade if you care for the mirror finish.

                      1. re: abouttheedge

                        I've never owned or used the last two on your list. The Kagayaki and Hiromoto are both solid choices.

                        1. re: abouttheedge

                          I'm not familiar with VG-1, but think its a lower or earlier variation of VG-10. While some VG-10's are better than others, most are very similar.  Overall, a very well balanced steel that doesn't do anything really well or bad.  G-3 / Ginsanko is similiar, but slightly easier to sharpen than VG-10. 

                          The Damascus, mirror, satin, etc. finishes are mostly cosmetic.  Overtime, the Damascus pattern will fade and can be restored with acid or mud stones. Mirror finishes look nice, but are more prone to food sticking and scratches really stick out like a sore thumb.    I've not worked on a  Damascus and mirror finish together on the same blade.  I haven't a clue how to refinish one as the process to get the mirror nice, would work against the Damascus and vis-versa. 

                        2. Three: A professional 8" Zwilling/Henckels chef's knife (my husband loves his for chopping); I prefer the smaller, lighter 6 1/2-inch Wusthoff, and several of the much less expensive 5" Calphalons (think Tuesday Morning). These smaller paring knives will become your "go-to" all-purpose tools that take a bit of a beating, so you may have to replace them every few years. That's why you don't want to invest too much in them. And you want a good serrated bread knife that also cuts ripe tomatoes without tearing them. Your investment is in the steel that will take and hold an edge, and in the "feel" -- you really do have to hold them to determine what feels right in YOUR hand. Go to a professional chef's store (in Southern California I use Chef's Toys) and try them out. Steak knives? Maybe. Depends on the blade on your daily silver...and you definitely can get these through a discount source. But you are going to have to shell out some bucks for your basic knives, which YOU WILL WASH AND DRY BY HAND...and an investment in acquiring good chopping skills will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life!