Entry-level knives: Dexter Basics vs US-made
After cutting myself on the *back* of a cheap knife (pushing down too hard), I decided it's time to finally get an actual chef's knife.
I've narrowed it down to the 8" Victorinox ($26), 8" Kom Kom Kiwi ($9), 8" Dexter Basics ($17), 10" Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe ($13), and a 7" Dexter Sofgrip Santoku ($23).
The Sani-Safe is the best deal, but I don't have a lot of working space, so I figure it might be a bit unwieldy. The Kiwi sounds nice for the price, but from what I've read, it's not quite as versatile as a Western chef's knife or Santoku.
So here's the question. I've heard good things about the Dexter-Russell brand, but most anecdotes I've found are about their various US-made lines. I don't know if those good things apply to their cheaper Basics line, imported from some unknown location. Does anyone have any experience with the Dexter Basics?
(I did find one previous discussion of this question, but there was some contradictory information in that thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/746908)
I have experience both at home and professionally with Victorinox/Forschner and Dexters. I don't like the plastic handle 8 inch versions of either lines. The bulky handle allows minimal to no knuckle clearance of my pinch grip and my hands are about average size.
I prefer an Update International (8 or 10 inch Chef's knife) in the Forged full tang line.
They have similar steel quaility as the Victorinox/Forschner and Dexters except with a POM riveted handle which looks like a much more expensive knife. As a bonus ... the bolster is minimal allowing sharpening the entire blade.
Other than the price I don't think there is much comparison between this knife and a Kiwi.
I'm mostly familiar with the Kiwi, and I've found the shape to be fantastic. The curve of the blade makes it mostly equivalent to a chef's knife, but the tallness of it makes it easy to scoop up vegetables, like you would with a Chinese cleaver. The pointed end makes fine work easier than with a cleaver, however. I'd actually argue that the shape of the santoku is less friendly.
Kom Kom Kiwi are good knives for their prices. They are many Kiwi knives of different styles. One of them looks like a Santoku, so that may work well for you.
I have several Dexter Russell, but I don't have the Dexter Basic. I would stay away from it.
Like others said, your current knife (which cut you) probably has a sharp spine. Just use a sand paper or a sharpening stone to round off the spine. It will be quick -- 5- 10 minutes.
<I've narrowed it down to the 8" Victorinox ($26), 8" Kom Kom Kiwi ($9), 8" Dexter Basics ($17), 10" Dexter-Russell Sani-Safe ($13), and a 7" Dexter Sofgrip Santoku ($23).>
A few more things to add. Between these series, Victorinox, Dexter Sani-Safe and Dexter Softgrip are all good choices. Kiwi is nice if you know what you are looking for. As for 8" vs 10", and Chef's knife vs Santoku, these are personal choices and you should go with your own preference. I know money can always be a determining factor, but the last thing you want is to get something you don't want or you don't need -- even if it is less expensive.
It is never cheap to get something you regret.
As many have stated, these knives are probably the best value knives you can find. Have fun.
Hi. The Victorinox/Forschner are amongst the least expensive, most decent knife that I know of. For the money, they're tough to beat it. I haven't played with the low end Dexters, but their better ones are good too.
Rounding over the spine makes a world of difference and is very easy to do.
In about 1980, while visiting St.Augustine FL, I walked into a knife store called The House of Ek home of the famous and very pricey handmade combat knives. I mentioned that I was looking for a decent/inexpensive chef's knife. He had one that fit the bill and recommended it enthusiastically. It was the R.H. Forschner/Victorinox 830-8, an 8-inch chef's knife. I believe it was under $15. It still serves me well now over 30 years later and I notice it's still available at under $30.
Dexter SaniSafe and Sofgrip sharpen easy, the Basics do not. They have a hollow grind to them and do not get as good an edge as the USA models.
The Sofgrip is really comfortable to hold the Basics and the Sanisafe not so.
What knives do you have?
FWIW any budget knife will have a sharp spine that needs rounding. I have identical Santokus one original that the spine can peel bamboo and one rounded off so people can see what a massive comfort difference that can make.